HC Deb 17 July 1835 vol 29 cc697-715

The House resolved itself into Committee on the Municipal Corporation Reform Bill.

On Clause 62 being proposed,

Mr. Parrott

wished to move an Amendment. This Clause gave the Council of every borough to which a separate Commission of the peace should be granted, power to grant alehouse licences. The Amendment which he wished to propose was to empower the Councils of boroughs not having a Commission of the peace, to grant licences to persons to keep inns, alehouses, and victualling houses in the same way as the Councils in the larger boroughs were empowered to do. He also thought it would be necessary to introduce a Clause specially to restrain the county Magistrates from granting licences in any of the boroughs. He therefore moved, that the words "to which a separate Commission of the peace shall have been granted" be omitted.

Mr. Grote

supported the proposition, which in his opinion would effect a material improvement in the Bill, and prevent jobbing and corrupt practices in reference to licences. The power of county Magistrates to grant licences in the smaller boroughs might easily be rendered subservient to improper purposes, and on that ground he supported the Amendment.

Lord John Russell

said, that although he felt justified in proposing that the power of granting alehouse licences, which had been enjoyed by the county Magistrates ever since the time of Edward 6th, should be taken away in certain cases, yet he was not prepared to do so in all cases. He was of opinion that in the larger boroughs, those persons who would be chosen members of the Council would be of sufficient weight and consideration, and would have a sufficient degree of responsibility imposed on them, to allow of their exercising the power of granting licences without the intervention of the Magistrates; but he could not agree that the same argument held good with respect to the members of the Council in the smaller boroughs. He had endeavoured to carry the improved principal as far as it was proper; but he was not disposed to give any great powers to the Councils of small and insignificant towns. He thought it would be better to leave these towns under the jurisdiction of the county Magistrates. He, therefore, begged his hon. Friend not to persist in the Amendment he had now proposed.

Mr. Aglionby

regretted that the noble Lord should oppose the Amendment, because he was sure that by so doing the noble Lord would not give satisfaction to the country. He entreated the noble Lord not to do anything to strengthen the political power which was already in the hands of the Magistracy. In that part of the country with which he was more particularly acquainted he knew that the licensing system was the strongest political engine the Magistrates possessed. It was well known the Magistrates were the mere nominees of the Lord-lieutenant, and that in exercising their power of granting licences they invariably favoured their own partisans; and as they themselves were only the nominees of the Lord-lieutenant, their partisans must necessarily be the partisans of the Lord-lieutenant himself. Now, it was likewise very well known that the Lord-lieutenant of the county of Cumberland entertained political opinions quite opposite to those entertained by the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department. He would, therefore, again entreat the noble Lord not to strengthen the power of his political opponents by resisting the present Amendment.

Mr. Lawson

deprecated the principle of giving the power of licensing to the Town Council in any borough. He begged to repudiate, in the strongest terms, the attack which had been made upon the Magistrates of the country; it was a gross libel.

Mr. Charles Buller

was quite willing to admit that the attack was a libel on the principle of the English law—but the greater the truth the greater the libel. The Lord-lieutenants jobbed in the appointment of the Magistrates, and the Magistrates jobbed in the discharge of their duty. He would prefer taking the power of licensing from the Magistrates in all cases.

Mr. G. F. Young

deprecated the attack on the Magistracy. He admitted that they had not in every case properly discharged their duty; but he thought the House ought not to condemn their character generally, on a few incidental circumstances.

Mr. Warburton

said, it was matter of history on the Reports of Committees of the House that the Magistrates had abused the power of licensing; and in order that the public might not be thrown prostrate before them, he should vote for the Amendment.

Mr. Arthur Chichester

defended the conduct of the Magistrates, and contended that they were a body with whom no nation could produce a parallel. He felt bound to oppose the Amendment of the hon. Member for Totness.

Mr. Ewart

objected to intrusting the Magistrates with the power of licensing, on the ground that it was not one for the exercise of which they were not sufficiently responsible, either to the Government or to the people. For this reason he should decidedly vote for the Amendment.

Sir Robert Inglis

defended the conduct of the Magistracy, and opposed the proposition of the hon. Member for Totness.

Mr. Parrott

, in deference to the opinion of the House, consented to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment withdrawn.

Mr. Lawson

rose to move a proviso, which he hoped would meet with the noble Lord's approbation. As the Clause then stood, the Town-Council were to be invested with the whole power of licensing. He wished to know now any individual could bring his action, having been refused, against the Council of any borough within the Act. The proviso he meant to propose was, to provide that the Corporate Funds might not be used in defending the action against any such individual, that he might have a fair chance against any Magistrate of the Town-Council by whom his license might have been refused. It provided, "that no Corporate Funds be ever applied to paying any penalties to which any Town-Council or Town-Clerk may be justly liable in any action or suit, or to the paying of any costs pending any action or suit, brought against them or him for the recovery of such penalties."

The Attorney-General

said, no action could be brought against any Town-Council, in which, if damages were obtained, it would not be a most gross misapplication of the funds of the Town-Council, to apply them to the payment of those damages. He could, therefore, assure the hon. Member that his proviso was wholly unnecessary, as the Corporate Funds could never be applied to such purpose.

Amendment withdrawn, and Clause agreed to.

On Clause 64,

Mr. Hughes Hughes

rose to repeat the Amendment which he had before attempted to carry, for giving the Recorder and Magistrates of the boroughs concurrent jurisdiction with the Town-Council, in licensing alehouses, &c. Having stated his reasons on a recent occasion, he should not trespass at any length on the Committee at present. But there were one or two arguments in favour of his Amendment, which he would just take the liberty of stating. He knew an instance in which, as the Clause stood, a charitable person having built some almshouses, and vested them in four aldermen of the borough, he would, by the Bill, be prevented from having any right to vote at all in the election of persons into his own charity, simply because he had vested in four Aldermen the right of electing and presenting unto the alms-houses, he would have no voice at all in it. This was one of the many instances in which the rights of persons now living would be affected by the Bill. There were many other institutions in which, if the founders were alive, they would protest against such alterations of the testament by which they appropriated their property to particular purposes. Now, if the power were placed in the hands of Magistrates acting under the King's Commission of the Peace, there would be a far greater degree of assurance that the election of persons into these almshouses would not be conducted for political purposes, than if the power were in the hands of the Town-Council annually elected. Would any one say, that, in charities solely vested in the Town-Council, those would not be much more likely to obtain the benefit of these charities who voted for them at the annual elections? or that those who acted under his Majesty's Commission of the Peace would not be expected to exercise the right of appointment in those cases with less view to political purposes, or the security of elections, than the Town-Councillors. The Magistrates could have no object to grant it, as the Town-Council would have. In many charities (at Oxford) they were vested in the Mayor, Recorder, and Aldermen. The noble Lord retained the Aldermen, and, surely, he might continue the Recorder and Magistrates, if there were any, in a borough, acting for that borough, conjointly with those charitable trustees, and the noble Lord might secure to them the right of presenting to those charities. As he understood, the noble Lord would have no objection to that, he was sure that his suggestion was founded in equity, and was agreeable to the will of the donors. Why should those persons be excluded from all connexion, in conjunction with the Town-Council appointed under the Act, as the charitable trustees. That was the nature of his proposition. Having urged it on a former occasion, he would not say any more at present. He only begged the noble Lord to bear in mind the case of the individual which he had mentioned, who, having vested four Aldermen with the right of presentation to the alms-houses, would, if the Clause passed as it stood, have, in future, no right of voting in the elections for his own charity. In conclusion, he begged leave to move the following Amendment—"together with the Recorder for the time being in any such borough, and all persons acting under the Commission of the Peace for the said borough."

Lord John Russell

"I am of opinion that all persons ought to be responsible for the duties imposed on them under this Act, and that there ought not to be imposed on them other duties, for which they will not be immediately responsible. I think this is the fault of the hon. Member's Amendment. We propose that the Town-Council shall appoint a certain number of persons as trustees of the charities in the borough—that it would make it their especial duty to take care of the interests confided to them in that capacity, and they would be amenable for neglect of duty or breach of trust. It is proposed to add to these the "Recorder and the Magistrates of any such borough." Now these, having other duties to perform, and qualified in a much different manner, would be much more likely to neglect the duties which the hon. Member proposes to throw on them, because engaged in other duties, and considering, naturally, that these were not immediately under their superintendence. We should put them into the situation of being personally liable to duties for which they were not personally hound, and reduce that species of security which is the best in all such cases—viz., the pointing out the exact persons to whom you propose the intrusting those duties, and the holding these, and these alone, personally responsible for the due performance of them. This consideration appears to me a sufficient reason for not agreeing with the hon. Member's Amendment, and, though I am as anxious as he is to separate all charities from political purposes, I feel bound to oppose it."

Mr. M'Lean

said, the argument of the noble Lord went upon the principle that the persons proposed to be added would be unable to attend to their new duties. Now, that argument would equally apply to the Town-Council, separated as it would be into different Committees for the better discharge of their duties, who might be all of them engaged as charitable trustees. He (Mr. M'Lean) was convinced it was the wish of the noble Lord to make such distinct provision as the case might admit of. But he would put it to the noble Lord whether Councillors might not, under the present Clause, erect themselves into charitable trustees. The Clause enabled them to elect not less than nine, but it did not point out the individual persons. Care was taken that the members for the Town-Council should be qualified for being members, but there was no provision against Councillors being elected who were trustees; and as they would be perfectly irresponsible, they might, any three of them, dispose at a meeting of all the property, no security whatever being taken of them as trustees. He saw the possibility, nay the probability, of such abuses; and he, therefore, thought that all possible precaution should be taken against such possibility of malversation in the charitable funds, and that security would be given by the admission of respectable persons, such as the Recorder, Magistrates, &c, into the management; he hoped that those precautions would not be passed over by the noble Lord in the final settlement of this great measure.

Lord John Russell

remarked that the case which the hon. Member for Oxford had stated was certainly a hard one. But it was impossible, in a measure of this kind to legislate for particular instances. Moreover, he must observe, that if the individual alluded to was remarkable for his benevolence and wisdom, the Town-Council would certainly pay some attention to his recommendations.

Amendment withdrawn.

On Clause 127,

Mr. Maclean

rose and said, that at the request of his constituents, he had given notice of his intention to move to add a proviso to this Clause, with a view to relieve them from a very disagreeable and troublesome ceremony. It had long been the custom for the mayor of Oxford, previously to entering upon his office, attended by sixty-two of the burgesses of the city, to appear before the Vice-Chancellor of the University at the high altar of St. Mary's-Church, and there to take an oath to observe all the customs and privileges of the University. Now this had always been felt to be a serious grievance by the citizens, and he earnestly hoped the House would now relieve them from it. It had always been his desire to maintain the privileges of the University, and on more than one occasion he had found the University willing to yield some objectionable claims, when their charter did not interfere. He trusted, therefore, that this extreme privilege would not be insisted on. He was not aware that the hon. Member for the University of Oxford entertained any objection to his Motion, and he should therefore move this proviso be added to the Clause—"Provided always, that in place and stead of the present custom of the mayor of the city of Oxford, previously to entering upon his office, attended by sixty-two of the burgesses, appearing before the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, at the high altar of St. Mary's Church, in the said city, and making oath to observe all the customs and privileges of the said University, the mayor shall, previously to entering upon his office, attend and take such oath before the Vice-Chancellor, at his residence, in like manner as is now done by the Sheriff of the county of Oxford."

Mr. Estcourt

said, that the proviso appeared to him totally inconsistent with the object of the Act, and if that was the only ground for opposing it, he should object to it on that score alone. But there were other reasons why he did not agree to the proposition of his hon. and learned Friend. This custom had been established for many hundred years, and it had never produced any serious inconvenience. It should be remembered also, that this privilege had been conferred upon the University by Royal Charter, and had been confirmed by successive Parliaments. He denied the value of the comparison drawn by his hon. and learned Friend between the Sheriff and the Mayor. The Sheriff took the oaths for himself, but the mayor for the whole of the citizens of Oxford.

Mr. Maclean

, in reply, said, that he should be very happy to leave the question to the consideration of the University itself, for he was sure that they would look at it in a liberal spirit.

The proviso was withdrawn.

On Clause 12 th—one of the postponed Clauses—

Sir William Follett

said, that in this Clause the noble Lord had conceded the principle that persons having inchoate rights to the property mentioned in it should be entitled to the full advantages to be derived from such property; but it appeared to him that the Clause as it was framed did not carry into effect the intention of the Bill. The noble Lord could, therefore, have no objection to the Amendment he was going to propose, as it was designed to attain the same end with greater certainty. He did not object to the person to whom the preparation of the lists was to be intrusted; but as it was agreed upon as a fundamental principle of the Clause, that all persons having inchoate rights should have their full enjoyment secured to them, he objected to the time and the mode defined by the Bill for this purpose. Every person to whom these privileges of property were to be reserved, was to have his name inserted in a list to be made out by the mayor on or before the 25th of October in this year, and no person whose name did not appear in such list was to have any right to such property. Now, he must observe, that by the Clause, no notice was required to be given by the person claiming any right to property of this nature, or by any person claiming on his behalf, but the mayor was to make out the list on his own authority, and when it was made out it was to be conclusive against every one not in that list, but not to be conclusive in favour of those who appeared in it. Now let the House consider the situation of a person having inchoate rights in a great trading town. Many persons answering to this description would probably be at sea when this Act passed. Were they to be deprived of their rights on this account? The case of a soldier or sailor on service would be similar. Were they also to lose their rights? Persons of all ages would be entitled under the Clause, yet how were infants without guardians to put in their claims before the 25th of October, 1835. Were they to be excluded? A very great number of persons of the poorer classes could not possibly get their names put on the list by the time appointed. Take, for instance, the case of Hull. A great number of persons who ought to possess these rights would not return to their native town till the time fixed had elapsed, and would it be fair that the noble Lord should say to them, "Here are a number of persons in the same condition with yourselves, whom we have admitted to the enjoyment of this property, but because you were away you shall be excluded?" The first thing he wished to do was to extend the time. The Bill could not pass before the beginning of September, and then there would not be above six or seven weeks for making out the lists. He should propose, therefore, that the day fixed should be the 25th of October, 1836, and he saw no objection that could be raised to this proposition, as it was not likely that any fraudulent claim would be made in consequence of the delay thus interposed. With regard to the right of any person not in the country at the time, he should move that no one should be put upon the list unless such person should have made out his claim within six months after his return to England, and in other cases, unless some sufficient reason, to be allowed by the mayor for the time being, for not having made his claim, should be shown, and in such case the mayor should be required to put such name on the list of persons entitled. He would take the opportunity of observing that the Clause which enabled Corporations to purchase out the rights of persons thus entitled was very objectionably framed. In the first place, it compelled every existing freeman to sell his rights. It gave him no option, but he was compellable, if the Council thought fit to buy, to sell his interest, and not only his own, but his wife's or children's. Another very strong feature of objection was, that the money was to go into the pocket of the husband or father, and no provision was made for the benefit of the wife, or children. The hon. and learned Gentleman moved an Amendment to the effect, the object described in his speech.

Lord John Russell

was understood to say, that the period of the 25th October, 1835, had been fixed, because at that time the old Corporations would cease to exist, and the new Councils would come into being. To the general extension of the time, he was not disposed to assent; but to some proviso, reserving the rights of persons absent beyond seas, he should have no objection; with respect to the other Clause, compelling the sale of freemen's rights of property, he did think that some such power ought to be given to the new Council, with a view to the general interest.

Mr. Lowther

supported the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Exeter, for extending the time in the case of persons beyond seas.

Mr. Warburton

thought it necessary that at some time a precise list should be obtained; and, therefore, that some limitation should be fixed for the case of persons beyond seas.

An Amendment was inserted as assented to by Lord John Russell.

Clause agreed to.

Sir Robert Inglis

in rising to move the Clause of which he had given notice, said, his object was, to make the Bill as perfect as he could consistently with his own principles. He did not mean to say that if the Clause proposed were adopted, he should think the Bill very materially improved; far from it. But if it were adopted, he considered the alteration would he consistent with the principles of the Constitution; and not inconsistent, even with the principles upon which the Bill was founded. The hon. and learned Attorney-General had stated, (in a speech which lasted for above one-quarter of an hour) with reference to the 128th Clause, that a fair majority of the inhabitants ought to decide whether a town should receive the benefits of the Bill, which under that Clause they were to be entitled to if they pleased. All he asked, in the Clause which he now introduced, was, that the Boroughs included in the Schedules annexed to the Bill might equally receive the privileges conferred by this Bill upon them if the majority of the Registered Burgesses should be willing to accept of them. But that it should not be enforced upon the inhabitants of those boroughs any more than upon the inhabitants of the town of Nottingham with respect to which, Clause 128 provided, that there must be a clear majority of the inhabitants accepting the Bill before the Charter of incorporation containing any of the provisions of this Bill could be introduced. He (Sir R. H. Inglis) asked the same thing for Liverpool, for Bristol, &c. namely: that when the Burgess roll was made up according to the provisions of the Bill there should be the assent of the majority of the Burgesses (to be ascertained in some way or another as it should be seen fit) expressed, before any other provisions of the Bill were introduced. There was not a lawyer in the House who was not aware that if the King were pleased to grant a corporation to the 658 gentlemen by whom he was surrounded:—that the Charter would be good for nothing till accepted by the majority of those gentlemen. It was not in the power of his Majesty to confer chartered rights, or demand chartered duties, without ascertaining that the majority were willing to accept the one, and receive the others. If he were proposing any plan which tended to weaken the just power of the King he should not expect, nor have any right to expect, the slightest attention: but he was certain that the Clause he proposed did not in any degree trench upon those rights. It merely required the promoters of the Bill should take the slight trouble of intimating their intention of imposing the Bill before they did impose it upon any borough. They were making a very great change: upon a given day, all the Corporations in England and Wales—all the Municipal Authorities, would cease to exist: and an entirely new state of Authorities would come into exercise. It might happen, (he entered not now upon general principles)—nay he would take it for granted, that they were right: but he still said, that it never could be right that they should impose upon the unwilling, and the willing, a uniform system,—and enforce it whether good or bad upon every borough in the Kingdom. Let the men who were willing submit to the measure: but let not those who were unwilling be constrained. Let not the Noble Lord make one uniform system applicable to all bodies Corporate—that was all he asked: that the same system (for instance) which was imposed upon Manchester should not be enforced with, out consent, upon Liverpool. The Clause he proposed was this:—"And be it further enacted, that, excepting so far as relates to the granting the burgess right to all the inhabitants of the borough—and the making up of the burgess-roll of the inhabitants of such boroughs (as hereinafter mentioned)—that no provision shall be enacted, or come into operation in any borough, until the majority of the Town-Council shall (by writing or in any other way) have accepted the Constitution thereby enacted."

Lord John Russell

objected to the Clause that it was wholely inconsistent with the preamble and recital of the Bill.

Negatived without a division.

Sir Robert Inglis moved the following Clause:—"That the Town-Council shall be styled the Court of the Mayor and Council of our Lord the King in and for the borough of A, and shall have the powers of a Court of Record."

Negatived without a division; as were also the Clauses moved by Sir Robert Inglis to the effect,—"That members of the Town-Council shall not be removeable, except by the absolute majority of the Burgesses registered in the borough:" "That Municipal Oaths shall be taken by the Burgesses, and by the Mayor and members of the Town-Council, and by the Recorder and Town-Clerk."

Mr. Brodie moved the following Clause:—"And be it further enacted, that in no case where there is a trust now existing for charitable uses, in which it is required that every person shall be disqualified to act in the trust, if he shall become a member of a body Corporate, shall any person, being such trustee, be disqualified to act in the trust, in consequence of his being elected a member of the Town-Council of any city or borough under this Act."

Lord John Russell

said, that it appeared to him that to agree to this Clause would be to set aside one of the provisions of the Bill.

Clause negatived without a division.

Sir John Yarde Buller

rose to move the insertion of a Clause depriving the Dissenting Members of Town-Councils from disposing of Church patronage. Under the Bill it was to be expected that numerous Dissenters would be elected Councillors; and in cases where the boroughs were possessed of property they would become possessed of the power of disposing of that property; including, of course, the power of disposing of Church patronage. The principle on which he ventured to propose the Clause was this. He did not think it useful that Dissenters should have any interest whatever in the management of the Established Church. And he found, on reference to a former Act, that he was not asserting a new principle. The 5th Geo. 4th (the Church Bill) provided that the members of the Church of England were to have the management of the Church property. And the 10th Geo. 4th (Catholic Relief) prohibited any Member of the Catholic Church from holding any such trust. He (Sir J. Y. Buller) thought it only fit that Dissenters should be placed in the same situation with respect to Church property as Roman Catholics were. But in stating his opinion on the subject, he thought he should not be opposed by Dissenters themselves as he found they had expressed a desire not to interfere with the management, or discipline, of the Church of England and among others, the lion, and learned member for Dublin, on behalf of the Catholics, had stated a very strong opinion on the subject. It might be objected to such a provision perhaps, that under the law it was well known Dissenters did enjoy the power of holding presentations to livings. But he could not see why the defect of the law on one point should be brought as an argument against remedying it when they had the means. The Committee of the Town-Coun- cil would under the Bill have the same Ecclesiastical patronage as the whole Council now had; and he, therefore, without further remark, moved the insertion of the Clause as it stood on the Notice-List. The hon. Member accordingly moved that the following Clause be added:—"And whereas certain bodies corporate are seized or possessed of divers advowsons or rights of presentation to rectories, vicarages, and other ecclesiastical benefices, and also of churches or chapels devoted to the purpose of religious worship, according to the rites of the Established Church of England: And whereas it is expedient that the exercise of such right of presentation, and the direction, care, and superintendance of such churches and chapels, and of all the matters and things relating thereto, be in the direction of, and exclusively vested in, members of the Established Church of England: Be it therefore enacted, that in every borough in which the body corporate is seized or possessed of any advowson or right of presentation to any rectory, vicarage, or other ecclesiastical benefice, or is seized or possessed of any church or chapel devoted to the purpose of religious worship, according to the rights of the Established Church of England, the Council of such borough shall, on the 1st day of November, in this and every succeeding year, nominate and appoint out of their own body a committee for the management of the Ecclesiastical property and affairs of such body corporate, such committee to be composed of persons being members of the Established Church of England, and such committee exclusively shall exercise the right of presenting to every such rectory or vicarage, and other Ecclesiastical benefices, and shall also have the entire and exclusive care, management, superintendence, direction, and control of the said churches and chapels, and all matters, proceedings, and regulations whatsoever connected therewith, and over which the body corporate have now any power or authority, and shall do or cause to be done at the costs, charges, and expense of such body corporate, all acts and things which the said committee may deem necessary or expedient for the maintenance, keeping up, and support of such churches and chapels, in the same manner and in all respects as the same have been hitherto maintained, kept up and supported by the body corporate to which the said churches and chapels belong.

"And be it enacted that all the acts of the committee for the management of the Ecclesiastical property and affairs of a body corporate appointed under this Act, shall be done at some meeting at which not less than one half of the whole number of the committee shall be present, and a majority of those present shall concur in such Acts, otherwise they shall be void and of none effect; and at every meeting the members of the committee present shall choose a chairman, and in case of equality of votes, the chairman for the time being shall have a second or casting vote; and all the resolutions of the said committee shall be entered in a book, to be kept by the Town-Clerk of the body corporate, who shall attend the meetings of the said committee, and the said book shall be open at all reasonable times without fee, to the inspection of any Councillor. Provided nevertheless that no act or proceeding of the said committee, in the execution of the powers or authorities given to, or vested in, them by this Act, shall require or be submitted for approval or confirmation to the Council."

Lord John Russell

thought that such a Clause would be improperly introduced in such a Bill as the present; and that it would be contradictory to several enactments of the Bill. The Bill gave no additional power to Dissenters—the principle was already by law established, and there were at present some Corporations in which they had a decided majority. Ecclesiastical endowments would only be disposed of in the same manner under the Bill as at present: if, therefore, they introduced such a Clause it would be without any immediate necessity, and it was placing the disability on religious grounds. He was not fond of introducing religious tests, and he was afraid that so far from strengthening the Church of England they would weaken it, by introducing restrictions which had been recently abolished. The greatest danger would result, in his opinion, from conferring peculiar advantages upon those of the Council who might happen to be members of the Church of England. Nothing could be worse than that there should be a corporate body of twelve—six of whom should have the power to dispose of Church livings, and the other six, being Dissenters, should be excluded from any participation in that power:—they would naturally say you have an opportunity of benefiting your friends, of which we are deprived. For his part he did not see that such security was necessary; there was none now, and it was possible for a man, although he might not agree with all parties of the Church, to dispose of Church property as conscientiously as the members of the Church themselves. There were instances without number of persons who do not belong to the Church having the power of nominating to its livings. He should resist the present Clause, thinking it unnecessary, while, if any such provision were introduced, the Clause proposed was not the best which might be proposed.

Mr. Goulburn

wished the House to understand the real state of the question. The noble Lord had stated that the Bill made no alteration in the state of the law at present, or with respect to the power of appointing to benefices. Now, he was at direct issue with the noble Lord upon that point; and he thought he could satisfy him and the House that the Bill did make an alteration in the principles laid down by Parliament; and if the noble Lord acted on principle, and really meant that things as to this subject should stand on the same footing as they did at present, he would not resist the alteration recommended for the purpose of giving effect to the noble Lord's own intentions. The noble Lord was aware that the livings which were in the patronage of Catholics could not be appointed to by those Catholics, but that the right of presentation to those livings was vested in those who professed the doctrines of the Church of England. When the Legislature thought proper to give relief to the Catholics they did continue this restriction on them by the Act of 1829. The right of appointment to any benefice was taken from them; and yet, by the general Clause at the beginning of this Act, the noble Lord substantially repealed that provision of the law. After the passing of the present measure Roman Catholics would have the power of presenting to benefices in their patronage. He (Mr. Goulburn) said, therefore, that if the noble Lord rested on the state of the law at present, he was bound, so far as to Catholics, to conform to that specific provision. But he agreed with his hon. Friend (Sir J. Y. Buller) that, independently of the express provision on the statute-books (of which he thought they had a right to demand the re-enaction), it was not proper that those who professed opinions at variance with the Established Church should have invested in them the right of patronage over that Church. The noble Lord might tell him that such an exception as that proposed would beget ill will; if they were conscientious men, he (Mr. Goulburn) did not believe there would be ill will. However opposed he might be to the Roman Catholics, he for one had no desire to appoint individuals to the superintendence of Catholic churches. He should feel it a most painful duty were it imposed upon him, from which he should urge Parliament to relieve him. And, therefore, as he said before, he could not conceive on what principle it was, that the noble Lord rested his proposal. The noble Lord said, that even if it were desirable to attain the object, it should be pursued by another course. He did not wish to quarrel as to the mode; if the noble Lord could propose any other method which, in his opinion appeared calculated to attain the same object in a manner more agreeable to the feelings of Dissenters, it was to him a matter of perfect indifference, he only wished to remove the dissatisfaction which he believed would remain if appointments in the Church were dispensed by parties dissenting from the Church; for he was certain, if any improper appointments were made, the public observation would be called to the character of the persons nominating, and a feeling would arise in the country which would render their situation little to be desired. He would press the subject no longer at present. He wished to call the attention of the House to the propriety of giving to the Roman Catholics a power which they never before possessed; and, with respect to Dissenters, extending to them authority which, on other grounds, he for one should have thought it inexpedient for themselves that they should hold.

Viscount Howick

observed, that when this question was brought forward the other night, hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side grounded their desire for the introduction of some such Clause as this, not upon the danger of Ecclesiastical patronage falling into the hands of the Catholics, but into the hands of Protestant Dissenters. They all knew that, in point of fact, in the great towns of this kingdom, the Catholics were few indeed in number; it was against Dissenters, therefore, that the measure of the hon. Baronet was chiefly levelled—it was of Dissenters that the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge entertained such a fearful jealousy. Now, with regard to Dissenters, what was the state of the law? Not only might they be members of corporations interested in Ecclesiastical patronage, but they might, at the present day, hold that patronage to any amount in their hands. It was true that the Bill for the Relief of Dissenters was proposed by his noble Friend, but after it had been carried by a considerable majority it was adopted by the late Government, and when that Act passed, the right hon. Member opposite (Mr. Goulburn), was a member of the Government, and was, therefore, in some sort responsible. By that Act a Dissenter might not only be a member of a Corporation, but there was nothing in the world to prevent a Dissenter from being Lord Chancellor or Prime Minister of England, and so giving away every Bishopric and a considerable number of livings. Therefore, it was not the principle on which Parliament had acted to distrust the exercise of that power in Dissenters, nor did he (Lord Howick) know on what ground that distrust should now, for the first time, be exhibited, and exhibited as to the patronage of Corporations. His noble Friend had stated (he thought correctly), that it was much better to leave the security against improper appointments to those who made the selection of persons to take orders than by filling up the livings, or presenting to churches. The ordination was in the hands of the Bishop, and it had been the principle on which the Legislature acted in the Test and Corporation Act (Repeal), to take it for granted that, as the Bishops had the power by law of selecting such as were proper persons to officiate as clergymen, so the Bench of Bishops were responsible if any improper persons were appointed, and, therefore, it might be permitted that Dissenters should choose from among the persons approved of by the Bishops, who were to be appointed to particular livings. That was a wise and just principle of legislation, and he (Lord Howick) must confess he thought that, far from contributing to the safety, or the honour, or the welfare, of the Church, the Clause proposed would only lead to injure and weaken it. They were much mistaken if they thought the Church of England could ultimately rest upon any other grounds than the affection, and esteem, and protection of the great bulk of the people of this country; and they were no friends of the Church who would wish to rely, not upon the broad ground of that love and esteem, but on laws and restrictions which one Parliament might pass, and another re- peal. On these grounds he should most decidedly oppose the Clause. He thought it would be impolitic, in the last degree, when they had swept away so many distinctions now existing, that they should again revive one which he considered they had so happily done away with. He thought that calling on persons to declare if they belonged to this or to that sect would increase the jealousy which at present existed, and widen those differences that too often prevailed. He, therefore, hoped the House would concur with him in resisting the Amendment now proposed.

The Clause was negatived.

Schedules agreed to, and the House resumed. The Report was received, and the Bill ordered to be read a third time on Monday.