§ Lord John Russell
could not acquiesce in the suggestion of the hon. Member. It was useless to postpone the Bill for a few nights. If the question was between not reading the Bill to-night and postponing it till next session, he should prefer the latter.
§ Mr. Hume
said, it was impossible that the Bill could pass, and if the noble Lord expected it to pass to-night he would find himself very much mistaken, and if it did pass it would do great injury to the cause which the noble Lord professed to advocate. The country had his Majesty's recommendation, and the pledges of the noble Lord and his predecessors, as to the removal of the church rate, which produced differences in parishes tending to place the Church itself in danger. From anything he could learn from persons in the Church, the measure brought forward by the Government was deemed harsh and ill-considered. The dissenting interest and many church men desired a reform; and if this Bill went elsewhere, it would be found too good not to come back. He entreated the noble Lord to listen to what he said, and not only he, but almost every body on that side of the House. This was only part of a system of reform, and in order to give his Majesty's Ministers an opportunity for reconsideration, he moved that the third reading of this Bill be postponed till this day fortnight.
§ The order of the day was read. On the question that the Bill be read a third time,
§ Mr. Hume moved, that it be read this day six months.
§ Mr. Lennard
complained that this question, which formed a whole, had been brought forward in different Bills, so as to make it embarrassing to collect the entire scope of the Government. The present Bill professed to regulate and fix the future incomes of the Bishops. Another Bill was before the House, which gave the Bishops a great increase of patronage. Suppose the Lords rejected this Bill, and passed that giving the patronage? There were many defects which might be seen if the measure came forward at once, but which escaped notice when the details were thus dispersed. There was yet a want of information to enable Parliament to legis- 344 late. He found in the Report respecting the see of London, that it had an income of 13,000l., which was said to be likely to decrease; but looking to the large towns which were growing up about Hyde Park, with large ground rents, he thought the income was likely to increase. Another objection was, that the Bill did not contain any provision for the surplus, if any should arise on the sees in future; it only provided that the larger sees should contribute to a fund towards the lesser, to a certain amount; but what was to become of the rest? There was only one benefit conferred by the Bill, that of depriving Bishops hereafter of holding livings in commendam; but in return there was the evil of translation and the inequality of incomes. But when Parliament was going to restrict the allowances to the Bishops, why not make an arrangement in respect to the larger livings? There were 5,000 livings under 200l. a-year, and a great many under 50l. On the other hand there were livings with enormous incomes. In the diocese of Durham there was one of 4,800. a year; another of 3,300l.; others of 2,000l., 1,500l., 1,200l., 1,000l., In Canterbury there was one of 3,000l.; in London one of 1,590l.; and so on. Why neglect the opportunity to equalise livings, by increasing the smaller from the larger? He could assure his Majesty's Ministers, that the Dissenters in the country were resolved to take the matter of church-rate into their own hands, and the Government would then find, that they would be obliged to abandon such measures as this.
§ Sir Robert H. Inglis
said, it was clear that this Bill did not satisfy two large bodies in this House: for the one, it went too far; for the other, not far enough. He opposed it, because it gave a vantage ground to those who thought that it did not go far enough, and who, in his judgment, sought the overthrow of the whole system of the Church. For the first time, in respect to England, by an Act of the Legislature, unsanctioned by the Church itself, it recognised the principle, that Church property was public property. He was himself very unwilling to occupy the attention of the House; but he was still more unwilling to admit such a Bill to pass without finally recording his opposition to its principles and its provisions. On two former occasions, indeed, he had requested the attention of the House to his opinions upon the subject; but on those occasions he had expressed rather the respectful sorrow 345 which he felt when he considered the authors of this Bill, than the deep aversion which he entertained for the measure in itself. The speech of the hon. Member for Weymouth on a late occasion, which, as he had himself spoken earlier in the debate, he could not then notice, left him no option, but compelled him now at once to state distinctly his views upon the question. From that' speech it appeared that his forebodings as to the effects of the Bill were realised, even while the Bill was still itself in progress. He told the House that he was not satisfied with it, and required more; another proof (if, after the experience of the last eight years, any were wanted) of the folly of attempting to satisfy enemies by concession. That hon. Member (without one word of praise,—praise which he, at least, might have afforded to bestow on the Church reformers within the Church—their individual characters he praised, but not their Bill—proceeded at once to consider, that the property of the Church was now, by the confession of its leaders, public property, which an Act of Parliament might equitably take, and redistribute. Under these circumstances it became his painful duty to oppose this Bill, not only as evil in itself, but as the foundation and justification of other evils. He did not deny the excellency of some of the objects contemplated by the hon. Member for Weymouth. He admitted the lamentable poverty of some of the ministers of the Established Church; but the destitution of one body of the Clergy, which he regretted, was not to be relieved by a kind of legalised robbery of another. If the destitution existed, let it be remedied by other means. The Church of England had not been endowed by the State. He knew the meaning of the cheers which here met him; and was prepared to answer the argument which they implied, in one word—the State, at the Reformation, did no more than confirm the measures which the Church, individually and collectively, had previously adopted. The State, therefore, had no right to interfere with the property which the State had not given to the Church. And how was the amount of that property ascertained in the present day? By a Commission, the least evil of which was, that it was the origin of the present measure. He had himself objected, in the first instance, to that Commission, as an inquisitorial proceeding into the property of one class of the King's subjects, which would not have been tolerated in another, and as sanctioning the principle, 346 that such property rested on different grounds. He had never denied that, if the clergy had sought aid, they might fairly have been required to state, in the first instance, what their own existing means were. But they had asked nothing, and ought not to have been required to make those returns upon which the present Bill, and its companion Bills, were founded. He stated this with great and sincere regard for the Ministers who had advised the present Commission, and with the highest consideration for those who composed it. But in justice to himself, he must add, that his opposition to such a Commission did not commence with the last change of Ministers. He had objected to it when it was framed by his Friends, and consisted of his Friends only. He objected to their Report, when it was signed by none but those in whose political principles he concurred. There was no precedent for such a commission in any good age of the ecclesiastical history of England; but, if its labours had been limited into an inquiry into the destitution of the great towns, and into the duty of providing, out of the national funds, a just extension of the means of religious worship, according to the national faith, he would have gladly accepted its recommendations. If, in short, it had called upon the nation to do, what as yet the nation had never done (never, till within the last twenty years, with the exception of the churches, voted, but not built, in the reign of Queen Anne, never, in short, devoted any part of the national revenue to the promotion of the national Church), he would have rejoiced in the authority given to such a proposal. But when he found, that the Commission proposed to re-constitute all the dioceses of England; to abolish three of its sees; and with two exceptions, to redistribute all its Episcopal revenues, he felt unmitigated regret and aversion at the contemplation of the measure. He had referred to the suppression of the Sees; he must particularise that of Man; which the sanctity of the name of Wilson ought to have been sufficient to protect—a see amongst the oldest in the empire, and the benefits of which have been, and are, most important to the people. At one time he had, indeed thought of introducing a clause to save this Bishoprick; but in this House the attempt would be fruitless. In these observations, he limited himself to the single Bill before the House,—without adverting to the companion Bills founded upon the Reports of the same 347 Commissioners. To parts of those other Bills he had the strongest objections; but he was bound to own, that his great objection was to the principle which would be recognized by the passing: of the first—the one now in progress. He would not advert, on the other hand, to any other remedy which might have been applied, in lieu of the proposed measures: though such remedy might be found in the internal economy of the Church itself. But nothing seems to have satisfied the Commissioners, but the retention of the identical number of Bishops, and the subdivision of all their sees, and the re-distribution of all their revenues. This, at least, is the substance of their Report. He was not prepared to deny, that if the matter were res integra, if we were now, for the first time, to divide England into dioceses, it would be better to make some alterations. But this was a minor point. His great objection was, that it subjugated the Church in its property and in its regulations to the control of the State; and, as he had stated on a former occasion, changed the character of the Prelates of England from great proprietors to stipendiaries. He did not deny that this might be done by the wisdom and the might of this House; but he did deny the right. He would admit that there were poor benefices which he would desire to see raised: but he would not admit that there were richer Bishopricks than the constitution and circumstances of civil society in England render desirable. He would contend that the Archbishop of Canterbury, for instance, had not more than enough for his obligations, not more than enough for his rank, not more than enough for his positions in comparison with those who are his associates in the other House; and let it always be recollected that, whatever be the wealth of these higher stations in the Church of England, it is open, in fact, to all the people of England. His right hon. Friend near him (Sir R. Peel) had lately referred to those who now fill the five great sees of England. He might refer to those who had filled them from the Reformation downwards, and might easily prove how few persons of noble birth had been placed in those eminences, and how open they had been to the humbler of the clergy. For the first two centuries, no one of noble blood had been raised to Canterbury;—from the Reformation to the time of the 348 present Archbishop, no such had been found in York. In Londont here had never been one, with the exception of Henry Compton,—but his greatest objection remained. It was true, that it was not as yet proposed to appropriate to any other than ecclesiastical purposes the ecclesiastical funds of England; but those funds were to be re-partitioned without any regard to the intentions of the donors. He had already said, that the state was not among those donors—they were the prelates and those nobles of other ages. He would take an example, which he had often quoted in private conversation, the case of Adam de Beke, the great Bishop of Durham, six centuries ago. He chose to leave his estates to that see. He might have left them (he would not say, to the ancestor of the Earl of Durham, for he admitted that there was a distinction between individual and corporate property,—but) to the corporation of Durham. Would the House in this day, have said, did it say, in any analogous instance—the corporation of Durham is rich, the corporation of Bristol is poor—give of what is called the superfluity of Durham to the poverty of Bristol. The answer was obvious: if Bristol be poor, and, for national purposes it be thought right to enrich it, it must be done from national funds, and not from the funds of any one other corporation. The principle was fatal to the security of all property; and the argument was as strong in the case of a bequest 600 years ago, as if it had been made ten years ago. In fact, if any one will were not safe, where would the Legislature stop in changing the distribution of private wealth? If it were obviously illegal and unjust to take from a lay body, could they justly seize upon the revenues of an ecclesiastical corporation? The hon. Member for Weymouth talked of assigning income to the Archbishop of Canterbury: and said, "Before I will assign 15,000l. a year to him, I must first relieve the poor curates; and provide for the destitute districts." He applauded both these objects; but he denied the right of the hon. and learned Member to promote either in this way. The funds of the Archbishop of Canterbury belonged in perpetual succession to that see:—they were held by an older title than any which any layman can show for any property in his possession:—they were gifts to that see: sometimes, it was true, gifts 349 of kings:—of kings, however, in their then character of the great proprietors of the soil: but in the greater number of instances, of Bishops and pious laymen.—The see of London was endowed in the same way; and the estate at Fulham had belonged to the Bishops by gift, from the 7th century. Yet it was with property such as this, that the hon. Member for Weymouth dealt, as with a set of playthings which he had himself purchased. When listening to the hon. Member for Weymouth, he thought of Sir Edward Dering, and of Sir Harry Vane; in what some might call a happier sera of the history of England. Without pursuing this allusion further, he was bound to own, that, in respect to the subdivision, proposed by the hon. Member for Weymouth, on the one hand, and by the Commissioners on the other, there was no difference in point of principle. Both disturbed the existing rights of property; both alleged expediency; both confined their re-distribution to ecclesiastical purposes;—how long this limitation would be conceded, who could venture to predict. For himself, he felt at liberty to say, that the effect of the concessions made in the last eight or nine years had not convinced him, that on former occasions, he had been a false prophet. But to this subject he need not now, or here, refer.—Once for all, he would say, that if this Bill did pass the legislature, it would form a most dangerous precedent. He objected to it in the first place, as interfering with the integrity and independence of the church; and in the second place, as interfering with the rights of property. Such interference might stop for the present with spiritual corporators; but the next step would be to attach the property of lay corporations; and he must be a bold prophet, who, after the doctrines laid down, and the examples here set, would venture to predict, that lay property in the hands of individuals would continue in its present security.—Under these circumstances, though perfectly aware of the inconvenience of supporting the hon. Member for Middlesex in the rejection of this Bill, considering that the motives of their objection to it were not only distinct but opposite, he still felt that he could give no vote on this question except in concurrence with that hon. Member, against the third reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. Fowell Buxton
denied the inde- 350 feasible right, and contended that if such a doctrine were admitted, it must prove a bar to all improvement. Surely the House must see, that if the position of the hon. Baronet were well founded, no alteration could ever be made in the destination of Church property, and then the apportionment of it made in the reign of Henry the 8th was invalid, for at that time the property now in question was the property of another Church, and the Protestants took possession of it. Our Protestant ancestors said, that what was called the property of the Church was a fund applicable to the purpose of instructing the people, and expressly granted for that purpose, and they hanged its destination, but always of course keeping that great object in view. Looking, then, at the question in all its bearings, he should say, that no reform could be satisfactory unless it met all the more glaring and positive defects in the present state of the Church. If the defects which he desired to see repaired were stated upon the authority of enemies of the Church, he might hesitate before he admitted those statements, but the statement of those abuses came before the House upon the authority of the Commissioners themselves—many of them churchmen, many of them Bishops; they admitted that a large portion of the clergy had great and numerous duties to perform in large and populous parishes, while the provision made for their remuneration was exceedingly scanty—that a very large portion of the people of England were without religious instruction. He complained of the Bill leaving the great and monstrous evil of inadequate instruction comparatively untouched, while it came recommended to them, on the ground of its being a great reform. In his opinion 10,000l. a-year was enough for the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was true, that 5,000l. a-year might be considered a small sum, but if applied to the improvement of the small livings, it would raise thirteen of them to 500l. a-year each. He thought further, that Deans would be sufficiently paid with 1,000l. a-year. Finally, looking at the Bill through its provisions, he could not help saying, that he thought it impolitic as a piece of legislation, and dangerous to the Church of England.
§ Mr. Charles Buller
I wish, Sir, to call the attention of the House and of the country to the extraordinary position in which his Majesty's Ministers have placed themselves by hurrying on this Bill in so astonishing a manner; for I will venture 351 to say, that, in all the annals of Parliamentary precipitation, nothing will be found that at all equals the course which has been taken on this Bill. Other important Bills have been hurried through Parliament, perhaps, as regards time, with even greater rapidity. But that peculiarity which attaches to this of all other measures is, that it does not contain one substantive enactment; it is a Bill which throws the duty of legislating for the Church of England, on another body; it is a Bill which, in fact, does nothing but make into law of Parliament a big blue book now lying on our Table, (the third Report of the Church Commission); that big blue book, containing more than 1,000 pages, and including several maps, painted in a way that puzzles the human mind exceedingly; that big blue book not having been placed upon our Table till this Bill was read a second time. I say this is unparalleled in the annals of legislation. I am not about to enter into the controversy with the hon. Baronet, the Member for the University of Oxford, to which he invited me, on account of a cheer I gave him. I want to ask his Majesty's Ministers by what insanity it is that they now come forward to alienate from them their supporters, in order to carry into effect the recommendations of Commissioners appointed by the right hon. Baronet opposite. The right hon. Baronet opposite may indeed be proud that, after we have driven him from office, and deprived him of its station and its pitiful salary—let me not be mistaken—I meant nothing more than that, after the right hon. Baronet has been deprived of office, and the salary which he does not, of course, regard—he still retained the substantial power of office. He has left to his successors a legacy of measures which they are carrying into effect. I am sure that, had such a proposition of Church Reform as this, been made by the Government of the right hon. Baronet, it would have been scouted by the country, and never carried in this House. But by this prudent manœuvre—by leaving it to a reforming House of Commons, a reforming Government, which displaced his Ministry upon reforming principles, he will carry it into effect, and by carrying this measure of "Church Reform," he will do more to keep up the bad institutions which he was driven from office for supporting, than if he had remained in power to this moment. I agree with the hon. Baronet, the Member for Oxford University, that it is unwise 352 to attempt to conciliate political opponents by concessions. I only wish Ministers would think of that. I know it is their object upon the present occasion to conciliate their opponents; but they will never succeed. And I say that these three measures (for it is idle to consider them separately) will alienate from them all their best supporters. The measures they have introduced for abolishing pluralities, is a measure for legalizing that abuse. This Established Church Bill is a Bill for legalising translations, and for legalising inequality in the incomes of the Bishops. And are not these measures calculated to disgust and alienate all those who, though sincerely desirous of the true interests of the Church, were to put an end to all these abuses. This is a Bill especially calculated to alienate the dissenting portion of the community from Ministers. They must, they do exclaim against a measure which will vote away all the revenues of the Deans and Chapters to the maintenance of the present enormous and unequally distributed Church Establishment, instead of going towards the support of the fabric of the Church, and thus reducing the amount of, or doing altogether away with, the Church-rates at present paid by those who are daily showing more unwillingness to pay them, and whom I hope will soon accompany that unwillingness by a determined resistance to this payment. Ministers will not of course think these remarks very friendly; but I wish them well, and they have much worse friends in this House than myself. I don't allude to hon. Gentlemen opposite, who to night have been cheering them on so loudly. I allude to those who have inspired them with the unfortunate notion that they can, with liberal professions, carry on the Government of this country upon Tory principles. I view their conduct with great regret, because I think it is depriving them of all their honest adherents, and that it is placing them in the position in which they were in 1834, and which enabled their adversaries for a while to eject them from office. I hope, that as they are not too late, they will yet perceive their error, retrace their steps, and abandoning this miserable pretence of Church Reform, bring forward some sound and substantial measure that will again entitle them to the sincere and hearty support of the country.
§ Lord John Russell
Sir, I feel that, after what has fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just gat down, 353 I cannot remain longer silent. Undoubtedly I was glad to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman express his regret at what he conceived to be an error on the part of his Majesty's Ministers; but I think that, if his regret were very deep, the hon. and learned Gentleman would have tempered some of the language with which he accompanied the expression of it; for, instead of its conveying anything like an amicable feeling, it appeared to be dictated by the utmost bitterness of political opposition. I confess I must plead guilty to the charge of not having acted, on the present question, with any party view. I conceived it to be my duty, whether I were in office or not, to attempt a reform of the Church, which, whether it might go the exact length of my views on particular points or not, should be an efficient reform of the greatest abuses and defects in the Church, and such as the leaders of the Church could concur in. Undoubtedly, another course might have been taken; I might have said, that I would never agree to any measure of Church reform, but one that should exactly suit every view I entertained on the subject—which should altogether prevent the translation of Bishops, and reduce the incomes of the Archbishops to the very lowest scale at which they could be enabled to live in comfort and independence. If, however, I had taken that course, I should have been met by the decided and active opposition of those who would resist such a measure, on the grounds that it was framed with extreme views, and that it must be made a matter of contention between us. I thought the better course to take was one which had the approval of those affected by the Bill, and whose assent implied a great concession on their part. They agreed that the excessive revenues of the Bishops should be reduced, that the number of their chaplains should also be reduced, and that a large sum should be applied to increase the incomes in parishes where the incomes were small. Sir, I own that such great practical effects, if they could be obtained, not only without opposition from those quarters from which opposition was to be apprehended, but with their concurrence—I own that such a result, in my view, appeared very much better for the interests of the country, very much better for the welfare of the Church, and for the cause of religious instruction, than keeping up a 354 battle on some precise notions which we might have entertained upon this subject. Suppose I had said, that the income of the Archbishop of Canterbury should be reduced to 8,000l., and that of the Bishop of London to 4,500l.;—it must be recollected that the Bishops sit in the House of Lords, and that they would not be likely to assent to such a reduction. But, after all, what would it amount to? The entire sum that could be saved by the proposed reductions in the incomes of the Bishops would not have exceeded 25,000l. a-year, and was it for such a sum that we were to lose the chance of carrying the present plan into effect without opposition? I must say, that as regards the progress of reform, it does seem much more advantageous to take the course which we have adopted than to incur the risk, by taking that recommended by some hon. Gentlemen, of losing the measure altogether; and I do think it better in all measures of reform, if we find those who are opposed to our views disposed to make some concessions, that Reformers should receive such concessions in a similar spirit, and endeavour to carry those measures into effect with as much concurrence and amicable arrangement as possible. The hon. and learned Member for Liskeard differs materially from my hon. Friend, the Member for Weymouth, whose motives I sincerely respect, and with some of whose views upon this subject (though I do not quite concur in all of his arguments), I own that I agree. But I think he has not done justice to the Commissioners with regard to providing the means of augmenting the small livings. We cannot go the whole length with my hon. Friend, and consider the whole of the incomes at present enjoyed by the clergymen of the Established Church as so much disposable revenue, to be distributed as we think fit. There is great difficulty, for instance, in respect of private patronage: with which, being in the nature of private property, we cannot deal without satisfying the proprietors. As to public patronage, that is patronage in the hands of the Crown, of the Bishops, or of the Deans and Chapters; there is a scale established, by which livings of less than 150l., with a population under 1,000, are raised to 150l.; if populations under 2,000 to 200l.; if under 5,000 to 300l.; if 5,000 and upwards to 400l. Now, according to this scale, the sum required to meet the wants of the clergy would be 355 145,195l.; the sum which it is estimated will be at the disposal of the Commissioners, according to this Bill, is 129,000l. They will be enabled, therefore, to appropriate a large sum towards attaining the objects which my hon. Friend has in view. With respect to the Bill now before the House, I confess, Sir, I cannot see it in the same light with the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, who has described it as legalizing evils, which it, in fact, diminishes. For example, said the hon. and learned Gentleman, "it legalizes translations." Why, translations are already legal. There would be no difficulty at this moment in removing a Bishop from a See with an annual income of 2,000l. to one of 10,000l., or 12,000l. Now, what does this Bill do? It enacts that the income of the former See shall be raised to 5,000l.; whilst the revenues of the latter shall be diminished to 7,000l. Is that legalizing translations? Is it not striking at the root of the evil as it at present exists, by equalizing, to a great extent, the incomes of the Bishops? I say, that this Bill, instead of encouraging—by nearly equalizing the incomes of the Sees, will almost entirely do away with translation. I am exceedingly sorry that, in my views of this Bill, I differ so materially from many of my hon. Friends. But I must say, I agree more with my hon. Friend, the Member for Weymouth, than with those who object to this Bill on the ground that a large portion of the revenues of the Church ought to go to the relief of Dissenters. My hon. Friend has shown, that a very large sum is required to augment livings under 120l.; and I must say I do not think you ought to appropriate any part of the Church revenues to the reduction of church-rates, while so many livings remain with such small incomes attached to them. As to pluralities, the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard says, that the Pluralities' Bill legalizes pluralities. To abolish them altogether would, under present circumstances, be very difficult. But I believe the restriction contained in the Bill will have the effect of discouraging and diminishing them; and I must say that in the case, for instance, of two livings—one worth 50l. the other 60l. a-year, situated near each other—it is much better to have one incumbent for both, with 110l. a-year, than to have two incumbents with incomes of 50l. and 60l. each. The object of preserving pluralities (so far as they are by this Bill 356 preserved) is rather to unite small, than to preserve large, incomes. It does not preserve the abuses of pluralities. It will do away, I believe, entirely, with nine-tenths of them. Sir, I must say, that however much I regret the opposition which this Bill has received, it does involve a very great measure of reform in the Church, and that it does, above all, assert an important principle, strongly deprecated by the hon. Baronet, the Member for Oxford—namely, that Parliament has a right to deal with Church revenues, and to superintend their distribution. I do not say that, after this Bill has passed, I shall not be ready (if at a future period the incomes of the Bishops shall be found too large), to vote for diminishing them still further. But I contend that the passing of this Bill will be advantageous, as preserving the good opinion of the country to the Established Church, by proving that the Bishops of that Church are ready, not only to concur in the correction of defects, but to yield to the general opinion of the country; and at any future period, if further reform should be considered necessary, to listen to any reasonable and moderate proposals having that object, I feel it, therefore, my duty to persevere in this Bill.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, he was unwilling to rise, from an apprehension that what he thought it necessary to say might expose him to misconception. The hon. Gentleman opposite (the Member for Liskeard) had seemed to argue as if the introduction of the present measure ought to be regarded in the light of a great political triumph to the opposition. There was not the least foundation for any such opinion; he himself had not the slightest interest in the result, and he could not look upon the proceeding at all in the light of a concession. The hon. Member for Liskeard had spoken of the present proceeding as apolitical manœuvre which had proved quite successful—it was no such thing. He and his friends were no parties to the Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. When he was appointed to the chief office in the Administration by the Crown, he advised the Crown, seeing a strong feeling in favour of reform in the Church—to issue a commission, and he did so in the full conviction that a reform which was sanctioned by the heads of the Church, which had the weight of their authority, and came recommended by 357 their high example, would be the most likely to prove satisfactory to the great body of the people, and be, therefore, permanently advantageous to the Church itself. He did think that by means of that consent they would be enabled to carry a measure of reform better calculated to impart efficiency to the Church in all its portions, than if it came without the approbation and goodwill of the bishops and of the dignitaries of the Establishment. When he retired from office, he retired from any connexion with the Commission; its continuance was a matter of perfect indifference to him; at the same time, he felt bound to say that he could not at all understand what object the present Government could have in bringing forward the present measure, except to increase the efficiency of the Established Church; but, in addition to that remark, he begged again to say, that he had no personal or political interest in the result; he had had no connexion with the measure, or with the noble Lord who had undertaken its introduction. To him it was no favour—no concession; justice, however, required him to say, that the parties concerned in the production of the measure appeared to have acted upon perfectly independent grounds; there was, therefore, no triumph on the one hand, and no disappointment on the other; and it would have occasioned him much regret if there had been any thing of personal or political feeling. There existed nothing that in the least approximated to feelings of that nature. The best possible proof that honest and upright feelings governed the parties concerned in the proceeding was to be found in this, that those who advised, and those who continued the Commission—that the Crown, the Commissioners, the heads of the Church, and others possessing patronage, were willing to relinquish that patronage, and to place it at the disposal of the Commission, to be made available for the purposes of a just, a useful, and a salutary reform. Who was there that did not know how valuable canonries and sinecures in the Church were? And yet many of these valuable pieces of preferment were given up by Bishops and others who possessed in them vested rights, and who, according to usage, might have bestowed them upon members of their own families, who naturally looked up to receiving such species of provision. They were clearly, then, influenced by a bona fide desire to pro- 358 mote the general good of the Church With respect to the particular Bill then under consideration, it did appear to him to go far enough in diminishing the incomes of the Bishops. He desired to see them in possession of incomes sufficient to support the decent and decorous dignity of their rank. He would not listen to any thing less; they ought to be in a condition to provide for their families, to defray the expense of residences in London and in the country, of contributions to charities, and of keeping up a liberal and becoming hospitality—in short, of all that might be requisite for enabling them to live upon terms of equality with other persons of similar rank. Bearing in mind these considerations, he should say, that 15,000l. a-year was not too much for the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he should defend 15,000l. a-year as well on these grounds as on that of the general interests of the Church. To those who proposed to reduce such an income still lower he should say, that they ought to inquire, could the expenses of the rank and situation be defrayed for less, and not apply themselves to a minute inquiry as to whether there existed elsewhere incomes inadequate for their purposes. To such description of inquiries he saw no limit. Their duty was to see what the highest rank in the Church required, and not to injure the efficiency of that for the sake of pushing inquiries to an extreme point in the opposite direction. Upon these principles, then, he should support the Bill, and he hoped nothing that he had said would prejudice the success of the measure.
§ Viscount Ebrington
would support the third reading of the Bill, because he concurred in its general principles and objects, though there were some of the details which did not meet his approbation. He would have been better pleased if they had reduced the larger salaries, and made a provision to secure the residence of the Bishops in their dioceses when they were not engaged in other duties. He should also have been better pleased if the territorial possessions of the Bishops were to be placed in the management of a Board of Commissioners, and a regular and fixed income paid to the Bishops in lieu thereof; he considered it would be more advantageous to the Church, as it would enable the Bishops to discharge their episcopal duties without the anxiety attendant upon 359 the management of large landed estates. He hoped that this suggestion would be considered deserving the attention of the friends of the Church in the other House of Parliament. With respect to another Bill before Parliament, namely, that which took away the patronage of the Deans and Chapters, and transferred it to the Bishops, he trusted that at this period of the Session his noble Friend would not press that measure, as they would not have time to give it sufficient consideration. He did not think they ought to deal with this patronage hastily, or until they had ascertained what was its amount. He had moved for a return on the subject. He considered the measure before the House would be found beneficial, and he gave it his cordial support.
§ Mr. Brotherton and Mr. Duncombe rose together. The former hon. Gentleman moved an adjournment of the debate.
§ The Speaker having put the question,
rose, and stated, that the hon. Member for Finsbury having been named by the Speaker, and being in possession of the House, and the hon. Member for Salford having, notwithstanding, made a motion, he did not think, a motion so made was regular.
§ The Speaker decided that Mr. Thomas Duncombe was in possession of the House.
§ Mr. Thomas Duncombe
proceeded. He professed that, notwithstanding the feeble attempt made by the noble Viscount to bolster up this miserable attempt of the Ministry to introduce reform into the Church, he would not sit in that House another day without expressing unequivocally his disappointment—nay, he would say, his disgust—at the conduct his Majesty's Ministers had thought fit. to pursue. He, at once, acquitted the right honourable Member for Tamworth of all responsibility as to the nature of the measure before the House It all rested upon the shoulders of the present Government. They might talk of the Irish Tithe Bill, and even the miserable pretext, the appropriation clause, as the security they offered to the public of their sincerity, but the Bill before the House would be the true touchstone whereby it would be ascertained whether the King's Ministers retained the confidence of the people. He objected strongly to the constitution of the Commission. It was exactly so constituted that no other result could flow from their labours, than that which he and many of his 360 friends looked upon with concern, and even disgust. Of the thirteen on the Commission, five were Cabinet Ministers, five were Bishops, interested in supporting the abuses complained of, and the remaining three were very respectable men in private life, but they were inveterate Tories. He was delighted to hear of the schism between the Bishops and the Chapters, and he thought it probable that when the Bishops and Deans and Chapters fell out, the proverb would be verified, and the laity were likely to come by their own. On another occasion he should repeat his objections to the unconstitutional and undefined powers which were given to this Commission. He was quite surprised that his Majesty's Ministers should ever have thought of intrusting such powers to a Central Board. If such a proposition had been made when the Tories sat on the Treasury side of the House, they would have had 100 or 150 Whig patriots starting up, whom not even the authority or dignity of the right hon. Gentleman's (the Speaker's) predecessor would have prevented from declaiming simultaneously against so unconstitutional a proceeding.
§ Lord Francis Egerton
said, that having possession of the House, he would retain that privilege but a short time. He had received a rebuke for being too concise in presenting a petition which had been intrusted to him by dignitaries of the Church. He was sorry that the mention of vested interests should have been received with any thing like derision, for if hon. Gentlemen made the case their own they would soon find that nothing could be more dangerous. Whatever were the merits of the petition, the petitioners, both as members of the profession to which they belonged and on the score of private character, deserved the consideration of the house, and he hoped that the allegations contained n it would be treated with attention. He gave notice, that when the recommendations contained in the fourth report of the church commissioners came before the house in a tangible shape, it was his intention to introduce certain amendments wich would embody the spirit and substance of their prayer.
§ Mr. Blackstone
wished to ask the noble word whether the two new bishops of Manchester and Ripon, were to have seats in the House of Lords, and what was the tenure by which they would enjoy that privilege?
§ Lord John Russell
, in reply, said that there was no doubt that the Bishops of Manchester and Ripon would be entitled to have seats in the House of Lords.
§ Mr. Arthur Trevor
rose, but was assailed by loud cries of "adjourn." He would ask, was this conduct creditable to a British House of Commons? [continued cries of "adjourn."] He would tell hon. Gentlemen who were making those unseemly noises, that such a course of proceeding was extremely undignified and unworthy, and he should, therefore, move that the Debate be adjourned.
§ The gallery was cleared for a division, but none took place, and the Debate was adjourned.