HC Deb 14 March 1837 vol 37 cc383-456

The House resolved into Committee on the Chancellor of the Exchequer's resolution respecting Church-rates.

Sir William Follett

felt himself indebted to the hon. Members who had just sat down, for allowing him a precedence. In the observations which he should feel it his duty to make on the important question which formed the subject of the night's discussion, it certainly was not his intention to embark on any observations with reference to the financial statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He should abstain from so doing for two reasons—firstly, because it was quite impossible for him, indeed he believed for any man, to add anything to the clear and convincing statements of his right hon. Friend, which were unanswered, and he believed, unanswerable; and secondly, because his objections to these resolutions would be equally strong, and to his mind equally convincing, even if the financial statements of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were as correct in themselves, and as accurate in point of detail, as he believed them to be incorrect and inaccurate. His objections were founded upon higher considerations. He objected to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's plan, because, in his judgment, it proceeded on a principle, which, if pushed to the extreme to which it was capable of being' carried, would be dangerous, if not destructive, to those principles upon which the national established church was founded. He was well aware that the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he introduced the subject of Church-rates to their notice upon a former evening, had thought it right to disclaim any feeling of hostility to the Established Church of these countries, or of sympathy with the opinions of those who expressed themselves in a mode which was hostile to that church's continued existence. He was willing to confess that no friend of the Established Church could quarrel with the sentiments which the right hon. Gentleman had thus expressed, any more than he could find fault with the tone or the manner which the right hon. Gentleman had displayed upon that occasion. But he must say, that, even at the very time when the right hon. Gentleman was making that statement, ignorant as he then was of the nature of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's plan, his fears had been, in some degree, excited by the great anxiety which the right hon. Gentleman then displayed to conciliate hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House, and make them., as he ex- pressed it, converts to his plan. If the right hon. Gentleman had been impressed with a sincere conviction that his plan was based upon those principles which he had just before so clearly enunciated, he could not see why he should have so eagerly sought to conciliate and make converts of hon. Members on the opposition side of the House. Did the right hon. Gentleman then suppose those hon. Members opposed to him were so bigoted to the present system of collecting Church-rates, as to oppose inveterately the introduction of any alteration whatsoever, even though founded on principles friendly to the maintenance of the Established Church? The right hon. Gentleman had been a member of the Cabinet of 1834, when the plan of Lord Althorp upon this same subject was brought forward [No! no!] The right hon. Gentleman was at least at that period a member of his Majesty's Government. Let him ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman. The plan of Lord Althorp was, undoubtedly, a plan for the abolition of Church-rates—a plan, by virtue of which, if it had been carried into effect, the present mode of collecting Church-rates would have altogether ceased. It was a plan, by which an equivalent for these rates was to have been provided out of the Consolidated Fund, by means of a vote of Parliament. Had the right hon. Gentleman experienced any opposition to that measure from his usual opponents. Nay, more, was not the right hon. Gentleman supported by Gentlemen on the opposition side of the House against a proposition advanced by the hon. Member for Middlesex, and identical with that which the right hon. Gentleman himself had now brought forward? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesex, had assured the House, not only that the plan was his, but that even the very arguments adduced in this instance by the Chancellor of the Exchequer were the same which he (the hon. Member for Middlesex) had fruitlessly advanced in 1834 against Lord Althorp's project. Those arguments had been urged in vain by the hon. Member for Middlesex in 1834, because they were then opposed by his Majesty's Ministers, and because Ministers were supported by hon. Members on the opposition side of the House. "If all this was as he had stated it to be, and if the hon. Gentleman (the Member for Middlesex) had declared without equivocation, that his Majesty's Ministers had become converts to his views, why should the right hon. Gentleman opposite feel any surprise if his opponents hesitated to become converts after a similar fashion—if they declined to follow the Chancellor of the Exchequer into the camp of the Member for Middlesex; a camp which was the common rendezvous of all those who were arrayed against the continuance of the Established Church in these countries? An hon. Member had said, that three years had wrought a conversion in the minds of his Majesty's Ministers—that three years had made them better politicians. He had certainly thought, until he had heard the speech of the noble Lord (the Member for Northumberland), whom he regretted that he did not now see in his place in the House, that the conversion of his Majesty's Ministers, dated from a more recent period, for in the month of June, 1836, the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, had said, unless he were very much mistaken, that "his opinion remained at that time unchanged, and that he was favourable to no plan for effecting an arrangement with reference to Church-rates, but that of Lord Althorp." When the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland, said, last night, with reference to the equivalent for Church-rates, that a state provision meant, in effect, a provision out of the endowments of the Church, had his noble Colleague, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, been present, he could scarcely have adopted that suggestion; for in that House, when questions were put to that noble Lord by the Member for Lancashire and by the hon. Member for Middlesex, the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, gave answers, which he well remembered. The noble Lord said, that "he had told the Dissenters distinctly, that he did not agree with them in considering that to be a grievance which they had put forward as such; that he had told the Dissenters distinctly, he would not yield to their complaints; that he had told the Dissenters distinctly, he never would consent to the introduction of an alteration in the system of Church-rates, without the state providing an equivalent." And the noble Lord had further said, upon the occasion referred to, that "he would not give the equivalent which was sought out of the revenues of the Church." If the noble Lord, according to the explanation given last night, by his noble Colleague, the Secretary at War, meant that an equivalent to the Church-rate, was to come out of the endowments of the Church, and that this was tantamount to a state provision—then, without imputing to that noble Lord any sinister intention, he must say, that the country at large, as well as that House, had been misled by the noble Lord. The impression within and without the House was, that his Majesty's Government adhered to the plan proposed by Lord Althorp in 1834, and were determined not to consent to any modification of Church-rates which was not founded on the principle of maintaining the sacred edifices of the nation by a state provision, or by a provision supplied by rates imposed upon the people and property of this country without religious distinction. Such was the prevailing impression throughout the country; and was the plan, let him ask, now exhibited, consistent with any such principle? On the contrary, wag it not based on a principle utterly at variance with that which was professed? Before he would enter into any examination of the proposed plan, he begged to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to a statement which he had made upon introducing this measure, and to which it was, perhaps, not so essential that he (Sir W. Follett) should now advert, after the speech which had been made the preceding night by his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for the Tower Hamlets. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has more than once, in the course of his speech, referred to places where Church-rates had not been levied, and had contended that, by the laws of this country, the Church-rate was not a compulsory payment—but that it was a mere privilege that the people had of taxing themselves or not, as they pleased. He must confess, looking at the general accuracy of the right hon. Gentleman, and considering the high legal authorities to which he had access, he was quite astonished at hearing the right hon. Gentleman make that assertion more than once, especially as he felt satisfied that upon this fallacious assertion the Chancellor of the Exchequer chiefly based the opposition to taking the funds for the repair and maintenance of the Churches out of the general taxation of the country. His noble Friend, the Member for Liverpool, had distinctly denied the accuracy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement with reference to the voluntary nature of Church-rates; and yet the noble Lord, the Secretary at War, rose from the side of the Attorney-General and repeated and adopted the dictum—argued on it—and contended that Church-rates were beyond all question, a mere voluntary tax, of the amount of which and the necessity for which the rate-payers were the sole judges? He perfectly agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, that if this were a true statement of the law upon this subject, it would afford him a very considerable argument in favour of his plan; but he (Sir W. Follett) emphatically said that it was not the law of this country—that it was not the law, and that it never had been the law. He would assert, that by the common law of this country, and he spoke in the presence of the law-officers of the Crown, and the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (who had alluded to this topic in his speech of the previous evening), from time immemorial there existed a legal and compulsory obligation upon all the holders of land throughout the country, whether they were resident or non-resident, to raise funds for the repair and maintenance of the parish churches. It was true that at the present moment this object was only enforced by the decrees of the Ecclesiastical Courts; and that the mode of proceeding in those Courts was dilatory and inefficient. [Hear, hear!] But were Gentlemen who cheered him aware, that the decrees of these courts were sanctioned by Act of Parliament—that, so early as the thirteenth year of the reign of Edward 1st, an Act was passed, authorizing these Ecclesiastical Courts to take proceedings to enforce the making of rates for the repair of the Churches; and that the proceedings in those courts might be, and had been, put in force, and that if the proper parties should apply, it might again be put in force, to compel the making of this rate; and, if the existing rate were not sufficient, to compel them to make up the deficiency? The hon. Gentleman, the Attorney-General, would probably tell him presently, that a case had occurred in which the Court of King's Bench had refused to interfere by mandamus; but let it be borne in mind that this refusal was made, not because the obligation to pay Church-rates, was not a legal and a compulsory obligation, but because there was another mode already subsisting for effecting its recovery by proceedings in the Ecclesiastical Court. Was not this a very different, nay, a totally different proposition from that which had been laid down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer? The principle laid down by him was, that there existed absolutely no legal obligation which rendered the payment of this rate compulsory. What had his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for the Tower Hamlets, said upon this subject in the course of his speech? He could not deny that there existed a legal obligation to support the fabric of the Church—he admitted the legal obligation in its fullest extent; but he dwelt upon the great difficulty which existed under the present mode of collecting Church-rates, and the unpleasant collisions to which they had given rise, which he was quite as willing to admit and to regret as any hon. Member could be. He did not for a moment deny that the observations of his hon. and learned Friend were quite correct, as regarded the present system; but he did think it somewhat illogical in the hon. Gentleman to infer, that because the present system was bad, he would therefore support the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Was there no mode of correcting the evils complained of, but the adoption of the right hon. Gentleman's plan? If the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets were really of opinion that no mode could be devised of curing the evils complained of, except the plan proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was, like Ministers themselves, a recent—a very recent convert to that system. If he was not very much mistaken, the hon. Gentleman had not very long since given a strong opinion in favour of the legal liability to the payment of this rate; for in a paper, which was signed by him and a right hon. Gentleman, a Member of the Government (he alluded to the hon. Member for Kircudbright), he found the following passage;—"We should also recommend that the payment of Church-rates should be enforced by the same means which are now applicable by law to the Poor-rates;" and both hon. Members went on in this document to state, that between these two rates they could see no distinction; neither could they perceive that any inconvenience was likely to result from the adoption of this plan. Such was the plan which had been recommended by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and by his Ministerial colleague. Whether it was practicable or not, he would not venture to say; at all events, it showed what was the opinion entertained by those hon. Members in 1832. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for the Tower Hamlets, had long been a Member of that House, and he was well acquainted with the feelings of that House, and of the country, when he made the declaration that the payment of Church-rates should be enforced exactly as in the case of Poor-rates. The hon. and learned Gentleman was in the House of Commons in 1834; and he believed that he had then voted in favour of Lord Althorp's plan. Did his hon. and learned Friend believe, that if the Bill of 1834 had passed into a law, they should now have heard any complaints upon the subject of Church-rates? His hon. Friend had, however, said, last night, that if Lord Althorp's Bill had passed, the Dissenters would have been placed in the same position in which they had been placed by the Test and Corporation Acts, and would have sought for its repeal. Now, did his hon. and learned Friend mean to say, that if Lord Althorp's Bill of 1834 had been carried, and the burden of Church-rates had been cast upon the Consolidated Fund, any further complaint would now be made upon the subject? He knew his hon. and learned Friend might say this:—that if that Bill were passed, the Dissenters would be virtually left in the same position by it in which they had been before, and that petition after petition would have been sent up, calling for the repeal of that measure. But would his hon. and learned Friend aver so much as this, that if that Bill had been carried, the Dissenters would have been able to raise a question on it equal in weight or principle, to that on the Test and Corporation Acts. [Mr. Baines: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member for Leeds cheered. Then he asked that hon. Member, whether he thought, if such a question were to be raised by the Dissenters, it would meet with any support throughout the country. He could well understand, and could sympathise also with a conscientious objection; and since he had had the honour of a seat in that House, he never had, either by vote or speech, opposed the removal of a grievance of that description; but he had yet to learn that the Dissenters could conscientiously object to the Legislature of this country voting a sum of money from the public funds, for the maintenance of that common religion which they all professed. At any rate, he did not think that those whose consciences raised no objections to similar grants to the Church of Scotland, or to the college of Maynooth, could make a grievance, similar in magnitude or principle to that of the Test and Corporation Acts, out of a grant of this nature to support the Church of the established religion of the State; and he was satisfied, that if such a grievance were made out by them, they would not meet that support from the country in its advocacy, which they had met with when complaining against the Test and Corporation Acts. He must say, that he regretted that the Bill of 1834, on this subject, had not been passed; it would have done much good; and at the same time he maintained that the Government of that day were responsible to the country for not having passed it. The noble Lord, the Secretary at War, last night excused the Government, on the ground that Parliament was dissolved at the close of the year 1834, and, therefore, that they were prevented from pursuing that measure. But why did they not pass it in the Session of 1834—when there was a majority of two to one in its favour in that House; and when it was well known that it would not be opposed by the party with which he had the honour to act? He would now come to an examination of the nature of the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this subject. In the first place, it was proposed to take away from the Church the benefit of certain funds, which had from time immemorial been applicable to the maintenance of its fabric, and to which the landed property of the country had at all times been subjected. And where was the equivalent proposed to be given for that which was so to be abstracted, to come from? Was it to be made up by the State, according to the emphatic Language of the noble Home Secretary in 1836? No; but from a different management of the other property, which the Church already possessed, and which, it was thought, was capable of yielding more than it did at present. In order to arrive at this desired result, the dignitaries of the Church were to be deprived of every control or interest in their lands. These were to be vested in Parliamentary Commissioners, who, if he understood the plan rightly, were to come at once into possession, and so the rights of the existing, as well as of all future Bishops, were to be taken from them. The right hon. Gentleman took care to state to the House, that especial provision would be made to leave the legal estate of the Church-lands, the same as it was at present. For what use, he should like to know, was this precaution taken, except for this, that when the Commissioners might find it necessary to bring an action on the subject of any of these lands, they might do so under the shield of the Bishop's authority. This Parliamentary Commission, be it observed, was to consist of a majority of laymen, come of them with salaries, in whom the whole property of the Church was to be vested, with authority to apply a certain quantity of the revenues derived from it in a way directed by Parliament. The noble Lord thought this one of the best features of the Ministerial measure; he considered it a very excellent thing to relieve the Bishops of all their present worldly business and concerns, from all interest in everything but their spiritual duties. He thought he had heard precisely the same observations, and the same arguments used in that House on a recent occasion; but then they were arguments used against the right of the Bishops to sit in the other House of Parliament; and he knew not how the noble Lord opposite, who resisted the force of those arguments on that occasion, could now consent to acquiesce in them, as a ground upon which to strip the Bishops of those lands, in the right of the possession of which they held their seats in the House of Lords. He asked the noble Lord, whether he thought it quite fair, that, admitting the principle to be a good one, that Bishops should be freed from all worldly concerns, under pretence of carrying out such a principle as that, the whole condition of the Church should be altered? Yes, the whole position of the Church in this country was to be altered by this measure; and in proof of what he said, he came now to a point upon which he grounded his decided opposition to the Ministerial plan. It was to be provided, that certain Commissioners were to be appointed by Parliament to hold all the Church property, and would be required to pay the sum of 250,000l. out of its revenues, for purposes to which no part of those revenues had hitherto been applied. Now, if it were admitted as a principle, which it would be if this measure were to pass, that Parliament had the power to direct the Commissioners to apply this sum of 250,000l. per annum in this way, he wanted to know what security they were to have that they would not, on some future occasion, direct the payment of a still further sum out of the revenues of the Church, to other purposes, to which, like that of Church-rates, they had never hitherto been liable. He did not know where the principle, if admitted at all, would end; or to what extent this Appropriation Clause of the English Church, for such it was, might not be carried. If Members of that House were from time to time to see reason for the adoption of the precedent now proposed to them in this measure, he really did not know to what extent it might not be applied, until, by its repeated exercise, they would strip the dignitaries of the Church Establishment of all their revenues, and leave them entirely at the mercy of the voluntary principle, of which the right hon. Gentleman had declared himself the decided enemy. It was for this reason that he objected to this measure; and, whilst upon the point, he must be permitted to express the regret with which he had listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets last night, when he condemned the conduct of noble Prelates in another House in regard to this Bill, which he designated as——he would not repeat that expression. If his hon. and learned Friend had used that term in reference to the Bishops, he (Sir W. Follett) would not be provoked into applying it to the Government; but he would ask, whether it was right or proper on the part of his Majesty's Government to come down to the House with a proposal to alter the entire constitution of the Church of this country, to strip its dignitaries of their rights and property, and convert them from the owners of lands into stipendiaries, at the good-will and pleasure of Parliament. He would ask, was it right, was it proper, to come down with such a measure as this, not only without having received any advice from those dignitaries on the subject, but actually without having given them any intimation of it? Was it extraordinary that, under circumstances like these, those distinguished individuals should take the earliest opportunity of expressing their disapproval of this measure? But there was another reason why the Bishops were called upon to come forward in this way as they had done. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, on introducing the measure, mentioned, that amongst others who were intended to be nominated in this Commission was the head of the Church Establishment. Now he did not mean to impute to the right hon. Gentleman any intention to mislead the House or the public, but certainly the impression on the minds of many persons was, that he would not have mentioned that most Reverend Prelate's name in this way, except with his concurrence; and this notion having gone abroad, it became, in his opinion, the incumbent duty of those distinguished persons on the bench of Bishops to take the earliest opportunity of making known to the country their opposition to the measure. He begged now to call the attention of the House to another point. When it was proposed to abolish the payment of Church-rates, of course it was understood to be the intention that those payments should cease forthwith, otherwise it would not be considered such a been as was intended. What was the calculation of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer? He calculated that the present interest of the lessee was on the average at least an interest of twenty-four years duration. Now, one of two things must necessarily occur. The right hon. Gentleman, by his cheers on the previous evening, had disclaimed his intention of selling the reversionary interest. He must then let the leases run out, and let the twenty-four years expire; and if he did not, he (Sir W. Follett) should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman in what mode he proposed to find a substitute for Church-rates, unless it were by the sale of reversions? There was no question that he must do it in that way. Let him also ask the right hon. Gentleman, supposing that this property was the property of the state, and to the rights of which he had a sincere attachment—let him ask the right hon. Gentleman, did he think it was a correct or economical way of disposing of the property of the state, to sell it for one-half its value — to sell at a great loss, and for the worst of all possible reasons—not because they were in want of money—not for the purpose of removing a grievance, but for the purpose of yielding to a cry which his Majesty's Ministers themselves admitted was not well founded; He was much disposed to believe, after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that the effect of this measure would be, as had been suggested last night by an hon. Member on the other side of the House, notwithstanding all the statements of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that for many years, at least probably as long as the present race of Dissenters existed, the fixing of a charge upon the Consolidated Fund. Again, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed that, because in certain parishes debts had been contracted on the credit of Church-rates, the debts so contracted should be left to remain a burden upon the respective parishes, to be paid by means of a rate levied for the purpose, he should like to know how the grievances of the Dissenters would be removed in this case. He always understood that the resistance to Church-rates was one of principle, not of amount; but if the Chancellor of the Exchequer left a debt of 800,000l. to be paid on account of Church-rates, what was that, in fact, but continuing and recognising the principle of the grievance of which they complained ["No, No!" from Mr. Baines.] The hon. Gentleman said "No!" He should be very glad to hear the hon. Gentleman explain the distinction which he imagined to exist between the payment of Church-rates and the payment of a debt contracted on their account. He should wish to hear the hon. Member's reasons for disputing that point. If there existed a religious scruple to the payment of a certain tax, he could not conceive how the amount in any possible way affected that scruple. But by the right hon. Gentleman's proposition these debts were to be charged upon the Poor-rates, and not the Church-rates. Did the right hon. Gentleman know that there was a different species of property affected by Poor-rates? Or had he consulted the law officers of the Crown on the subject? Poor-rates and Church-rates were in many cases levied upon different property. In many parishes property liable to Poor-rates was not liable to Church-rates, and did the right hon. Gentleman mean to transfer the burden from one particular class of persons to another? The right hon. Gentleman could not possibly adopt this part of his plan without in many places burdening persons with those debts, who had not been previously liable to Church-rates. He would now call the attention of the House to what, in his opinion, was a matter of great importance connected with this question; but, however, not so much a matter of importance in principle, as regarded the Established Church, as in the principles of justice and fair dealing towards the lessees of Church property. The right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had thought right, in support of this portion of his plan, to appeal to the authority of Mr. Pitt, in the mode adopted by him towards the lessees of Crown lands. First of all, he would remind the right hon. Gentleman, that that was no authority whatever for that part of his plan, which dealt with the sale of reversions; and he could not quote the authority of Mr. Pitt, as sanctioning such a waste in the disposal of Church property as would necessarily take place in the operation of his measure. In the case of the Crown lands, there had been no sale of reversions, the object of Mr. Pitt and the Government of the day was to improve the properly, so as to make it of the highest productive value to the Crown, consistently with the interest of the existing lessees. He did not conceive, therefore, that that formed a precedent for this or any other measure proposing the sale of a reversionary interest. Now let them look at the position of the lessees of Church property. It was said, that they had no legal right to compel a renewal of their terms. That formed the whole foundation for the present plan—a plan involving a compulsory enactment as regarded both lessors and lessees, to whom it left no choice, and against whom, if unwilling, it would be acted upon. The principle of the plan was, that lessees had no legal right to this property. But let the House examine if that principle were a correct one. It was quite true that the lessees could not go into a court of equity to compel renewals, but let the House look at the position in which they actually stood. As against the lessors they had no legal right; but what was their position in other respects? This property had been handed down through generations and centuries to the present possessors. It had been held so far back—nay, further back, for the titles were more easily traced than any freehold property. It had become the subject of family settlements, of mortgages, that would fetch in the market a price very little inferior to fee-simple lands, and had been held by the families of the present lessees for centuries. Still, it was asserted, that they had no legal right. But, had they not a legal right against every one but the lessors? Well, would the lessors renew? In the first place, the lessors always had renewed, and in the next, it was his interest to renew. He believed, indeed he was quite sure, that none of the dignitaries of the Church would incur the risk of extracting such fines as would prevent or throw obstacles in the way of these renewals. But it did not rest in that alone. Did not the right hon. Gentleman know, that by statutes restricting leases, the lessors were unable to go into the market and bargain, that the deans and chapters could not grant concurrent leases, and that the bishops could not grant them, unless, with the consent of the dean and chapters? They were obliged, therefore, to renew to the existing lessees, or to let the leases run out. Was the right hon. Gentleman aware, that they were not a continual, but a fluctuating body, and anxious, if the right hon. Gentleman pleased, to receive the profits of the property, for which purpose they should grant renewals to the lessees. If the lessee had no legal right, had the Legislature a right, to interfere between lessor and lessee—to interfere against both unwillingly? Had they a right to say to the lessor, that they would prevent him from granting renewals, and to the lessee, that he should not continue in possession of this property? Was there any precedent for such a course as that? He thought not. The Crown, in the case referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was the landlord, having a right to run the leases out, and intending to do so for its own benefit; and the Crown had come to that House, not for the purpose of demanding permission to do that, but for the purpose of giving a beneficial term to the lessee, which could not be done without the interference of the Legislature. But was that the case here? Certainly not; for here they were acting both against the lessor and the lessee, interfering between them, contrary to their wishes, and compelling them to do something, not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of somebody else. Was this a proper interference with private property? He did not mean to say, that this property was always to remain in the same state. He was perfectly aware of the disadvantages which arose in many respects from its present state; at the same time, he did not think that there would be any very considerable difficulty in altering the tenure of that property with due attention to the interests both of the lessor and the lessee. Of this, however, he was quite sure, that they could not do so by any general compulsory plan. It had been asserted that the terms proposed by the present measure, were advantageous to the lessee. In that opinion he did not agree, because, what might be advantageous to the lessee in one part of the country, might be disadvantageous to him in another. What might answer very well in Durham, might prove highly prejudicial to the interests of the lessee in Devonshire. They, therefore, could not act upon any general plan. It was essential to act differently towards different lessees, and it was equally essential that the plan, should be a voluntary and not a compulsory one. Was the right hon. Gentleman aware, that there was no property upon which money was so easily raised as upon that of Church-leases? He knew that this property was considered, or at least had been, until discussion had arisen upon it, less liable to objection than many freehold estates. It could not be denied, that money to a considerable amount had been raised on, and mortgage made and mixed up with, this property. But the course proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would destroy these securities, inasmuch as it would prevent the renewal of the terms under which they had been given and were held. The mortgagors had no interest, and would not purchase upon the right hon. Gentleman's terms; and the mortgagee had no interest, even allowing that he wished to purchase. Did the right hon. Gentleman then mean to grant compensation in such cases, and to pay off the mortgages? He could not take from the mortgagees their security, without in some way indemnifying them. What did the right hon. Gentleman mean to do in a case of an ordinary family settlement, one party being interested for life, and another party interested after the death of the first? He would not allow the renewal of the lease, and what would be the consequence of that? Why, the lease would run out, the tenant for life would have the full income out of it, and those in remainder nothing, But this property was not only settled by itself, but settled also with freehold property. Parties had purchased freehold property, and mixed this land up with it. Were they then to take this land from them, and thereby altogether destroy their estates? How did hon. Gentlemen opposite propose to act with regard to houses, and again with regard to mines? The noble Secretary at War had told them that mines were not included in this plan. He thought it would be found that they were. He wished now to know how it was intended to deal with them. It was said they were to be given at a certain number of years' purchase; but would it be fair to require the same number of years' purchase in the case of every mine—the value of mines could not be estimated in this general way—it must depend on the position, and on the state of working in which the mine may happen to be—it might be nearly worked out, or just began to be productive, and might require a large outlay of capital—or the capital might have been already expended—with all these considerations, with all these various descriptions of property, with all the settlements and mortgages to which it is subject, was that House to be told, that it was consistent with the eternal principles of justice to disturb them and the interests they involved, and to strip the present posessors of their property? Thus, the position of the lessee was, in his mind, a decided objection to this measure, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman, or his right hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney-General, who was so well versed in this matter, would explain to the House how, in his judgment, it was consistent with the principles of justice, and with this right—he would not call it a legal right—but what was in his estimation tantamount to a legal right—for the House to pass a law altering the tenure of the property against the will of the parties interested, and for the benefit of other persons. Upon that ground, if there existed no other, would he object to this measure. The right hon. Gentleman said, that the funds he was to raise would not come out of the pockets of either the lessor or lessee, but from the increased value of the land. He believed the right hon. Gentleman might benefit both the lessor and lessee by an improvement in the tenures, but he denied that it could be done by the present, or by any general or compulsory measure. With regard to that part of the funds which the right hon. Gentleman had expressed his intention of raising out of the rents for pews—if it formed any part of the plan to extend to parishes in the country a system which had only been adopted in the metropolis and large towns—the right hon. Gentleman would create more dissatisfaction towards his measure amongst the friends of the Established Church, than he could possibly give satisfaction to the Dissenters. But if these objections were not, as he thought them, fatal to the measure, were there no others? Suppose they could in justice and fairness, both to the lessors and lessees, get this increased income from the lands of the Church, were there no claims more pressing, no demands more urgent upon it, than that which they now affected to settle? After the statement which had been made by his right hon. Friend, and after the feeling manner in which the hon. Member for Weymouth had described the state of a large body of the population, how could those hon. Gentlemen who professed themselves strongly attached to the Established Church—how could the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had admitted it was the incumbent duty of the State to provide full means of religious instruction for the people, "a duty," said he, "higher and more imperative than that of providing for the national defence," how could that right hon. Gentleman, after such an admission, and in the face of those hon. Members and the country, think of applying any part of the revenues, or possible revenues, of the Church, to other than the religious instruction of the people. The noble Lord, the Secretary at War, had told them, that he was perfectly aware of the pressing necessity that existed for increasing the number of churches, and attending to the spiritual wants of that part of the population which belonged to the Established Church, and the noble Lord had said, that he would support his right hon. Friend in any proposition by which Parliament should be enabled to provide for those necessities. Did the noble Lord seriously mean, that he would advocate the resolutions before the House, upon the ground that the Dissenters objected to any application of the general taxation of the country to the repair of the fabric of the church, and that he could with that feeling, and a belief that that feeling was well founded, support a grant by Parliament for the erection of new churches, or for any purpose connected with the supplying spiritual instruction to the people? Was not the conscientious objection or religious scruple of the Dissenter quite as much opposed to the erecting of new churches out of the general funds, as to the repairing of the old ones? The hon. Member for Leeds assented to that proposition. In what, then, did the noble Lord consider the difference of the case he had put? New churches must be built, clergymen must be paid, and due provision made for the performance of religious ceremonies. Where would the noble Lord find funds for these purposes? Not in the voluntary principle, to which he objected, and not by general taxation, to which the Dissenters were opposed. It was not merely then the resolution, but the effect of the principle embodied in it, that in his mind made it so objectionable,—a principle which would prevent the noble Lord from coming to Parliament and asking for, or consenting to, any such provision for the maintenance of the Established Church. Were his Majesty's Ministers themselves aware of the extent of the concessions they were making? Were they aware that the party for whose benefit they were introducing this measure was determined to push it to the full extent, which meant nothing more nor less than the recognition of the voluntary principle? Now, he would say, that the speech of the noble Lord last night was as strong an argument against these resolutions as any that had been addressed from the opposition side of the House, because the noble Lord had admitted, not only the necessity and expediency, but the right of the State, to provide for the religious wants of the people. And yet, with that opinion openly expressed on the part of the noble Lord, he asked that House to vote in favour of resolutions which were founded upon a diametrically opposite principle, resting his support entirely upon the objection which the Dissenters had to such application of the funds of the country. He had now only one other point to which he wished to call the atten- tion of the House. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets had asked them, if they disapproved of the present system of collecting Church-rates, to vote for these resolutions, and that any objections they might raise to the details could be considered afterwards. He willingly admitted to his hon. and learned Friend, that he did object to the present system of collecting Church-rates, and that he was prepared to concur in the alteration of that system; but he would not vote for these resolutions, because nobody could do so who was not disposed to adopt the voluntary principle. He did not hesitate to say that the question rested upon that—upon the denial of the right to apply the general funds of the State to the maintenance of the National Church. But no one could vote for it, who was not prepared to sanction interference with the lands and property of the prelates and dignitaries of that Church. No one could vote for it who was not prepared also to adopt that part of the resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman, which vested that property in the hands of Commissioners, and prevented the Church from ever acquiring the full value of it. Neither could any one vote for it who was not prepared to sanction the principle of compulsory interference between lessors and lessees. He objected to the measure upon all these grounds; but if any hon. Member of that House objected to it upon any one of them, he could not consistently give his sanction to it. They had been told by the noble Lord, the Secretary at War, that the best support the Established Church, like every other institution of the country, could have, was in the affections of the people. He was by no means disposed to quarrel with that statement, for he believed its best support was in the affections of the people; nay, more, he was quite satisfied that they who in that House stood forward to defend that Church from the danger with which it was menaced, in the adoption of these resolutions, even if they should be in a minority, would, he was fully satisfied, find their strength in the affections of the people of England. But whether this question were popular or unpopular, it involved consequences far too vital and overpowering for any such consideration to sway him in the vote which he should give, and it was because his judgment was fixed—that the principle involved in this measure was dangerous—ay, and if pushed to its full extent, destructive of the National Church Establishment of this country, that he felt himself bound to vote against the resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman.

The Attorney-General

said, he should vote for this measure, because he saw in it security and peace for the Church, and great benefit to the public. He felt himself called upon, after the appeal which had been made to him by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter, to show to the House why it was that he could neither agree with his law nor his reason. It seemed to him that his hon. Friend had been misled by the zeal he always displayed as an advocate, and was blind to the defects of the case he had undertaken to support. He would not yield to his hon. Friend in his affection for the Established Church, both in Scotland and England. He was affectionately attached to that Church, in the bosom of which he had been born and reared. He looked with respect and regard upon the interests connected with it; he believed it to be of great benefit to the community at large; he wished to see it in the enjoyment of all its rights and privileges, and his only object in regard to it now was, that these should be secured, and that its utility should be extended. He was not for trusting to the voluntary principle, and he thought that that principle and these resolutions should by no means be placed upon the same footing. They could not, in his opinion, trust to the voluntary principle for giving religious instruction to the people. In great towns, and still more perhaps in remote districts of the country, unless religious instruction were provided by the State or by endowments, he much feared that ignorance and vice would prevail. He asserted that there ought to be an establishment, and that for the purposes of that establishment it was indispensably necessary that a provision should be made for the maintenance of the fabric of the Church, and for the performance of religious worship. The question was, whether the present mode of providing for the repair of Churches and for the performance of religious worship was satisfactory and could be continued? In his humble opinion, it was wholly inefficient, and he believed that a change in the law was absolutely necessary. His hon. and learned Friend had begun by taunting hon. Members who sat on (the Ministerial) side of the House with inconsistency; but he thought it would have been more delicate, perhaps, if his hon. Friend had just cast a glance to his right upon some hon. Members who sat upon the same bench with himself, and have considered whether he were perfectly correct in having directed his taunt to (the Ministerial) side of the House. He would be glad to know how the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire, who had cheered so much of late, had maintained his consistency by opposing these resolutions, and if he had not altogether altered his opinion upon the mode of regulating the temporalities of the Church. There was nothing short of impossibility which that noble Lord could not effect in that House, but to clear up these points he certainly would have to draw largely upon his ingenuity and his talent. His hon. and learned Friend had said, that he dissented from the law of the Chancellor of the Exchequer respecting the nature of Church-rates. He could only say, that he entirely concurred in that law, because he believed it to be the law of England, and he was willing to stake any character he might have on the rectitude of that opinion. He said, that Church-rates were not to be considered as a charge upon landed estates. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had alluded to the case of Scotland, and was correct in his allusion. The repair of Churches and glebe-houses, or manses, as they were called in Scotland, was chargeable on the land. Land there was held on condition that the Churches and glebe-houses should be kept in repair out of that land, exactly in the way that some lands in England were held on the condition of keeping certain bridges in repair. But Church-rates in England were placed on a different footing; they were a personal tax. It would be neither instructive nor amusing to the Committee to enter into an investigation of the origin of these Church-rates. There could be no doubt from the experience of the ecclesiastical history of the country, that the fabrics of the Church were repaired and built out of tithes. At what time the Church threw off that burthen on the laity did not precisely appear, but that it was thrown off could not now be questioned, neither could it now be questioned, that the repair and building of the fabrics of the Church became a personal obligation on every man according to his ability; though the land possessed by a man were taken as one criterion of his ability yet it was not a charge upon the land, but a charge upon personal property. The same was the case with regard to the poor-rates under the provisions of the statute 43 Elizabeth, by which that impost might be levied either on land or personal estates. The latter plan however, had been found inconvenient, and therefore all through England the poor-rates were levied on the lands. So also in the same manner were the Church-rates, still, however, it had been decided so lately as the year 1824 by the Court of Delegates, the highest Ecclesiastical tribunal, that ships might be rated to the Church-rates. Well, then, was it just that such a tax should be now imposed on those who derived no benefit from the Church it went to maintain and support? In its origin it was doubtless based on equity and justice, because then all men in this country were of the same creed, the same faith, the same religion, and it was in consideration of the benefit the ratepayer derived from the Church that the burthen was imposed upon him. But now, when there were so many different religious persuasions in this country, it was most unjust that the Dissenter should be called upon to contribute to maintain another religion, when he was put to the expense of erecting his own place of worship, and of paying his own spiritual pastor. He did not agree in the law laid down by his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Exeter, and on the contrary maintained that no analogy existed between tithes and Church-rates—that tithes were a charge upon the land, and that Church-rates were not. From the variety of religious persuasions which now existed, the Church-rates had become more and more odious; indeed, in some parts of the country they were held to be intolerable, such were the bickerings, scandals, quarrels, and litigation to which their collection gave rise. As to litigation on the subject it was without end. He could name a case in which he had been opposed by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdon, where the whole amount for which the litigation was commenced was 3l. or 4l. Church-rates, and in that cause costs had been incurred to the amount of several thousand pounds; and such was the feeling now in the country, that if the Legislature did not provide a different fund out of which to effect the building and repair of Churches, he was much afraid that erelong the Churches would be in ruins. The Legislature must effect a change in the existing law, and the only question was, what that change must be. His hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Exeter, seemed to think that the law ought to be made more stringent. He would say, that if resistance to Church-rates were made felony without benefit of clergy, and if the refusal to pay them was made a transportable offence, even then the people would not submit to the impost, nor could Church-rates be collected. He also denied the assertion of his hon. and learned Friend as to the mode of compelling the making a rate for repairs of the Church. When the rate had been imposed, an appeal lay to the Ecclesiastical Court, in which a man might be libelled for non-payment of the Church-rates, but there was no mode of compelling a parish to impose the rate. The Court of King's Bench would laugh at his hon. and learned Friend if he asked that Court for a mandamus to compel a parish to make a Church-rate for repairs of a Church, though it would be granted to compel the payment of parties who had advanced monies on the Church-rates; but he repeated, that as the law at present stood, there existed no mode whatsoever by which a parish could be compelled to raise a rate and repair the Church. True, in the olden time there was a remedy, for the Pope would have put a parish under interdiction if the Church were not repaired—would have cut them off from bell, book, and candle—would not have allowed them to enjoy the ministration of religion, the dispensation of the sacrament, or any other consolation, so far as the priest was concerned, which Christianity offered to mankind. But now, in these Protestant times, there was no remedy—there existed no means, civil or ecclesiastical, by which the imposition of a Church-rate could be effected. He challenged the hon. and learned Civilian opposite (the hon. Member for Bassetlaw), to point out to him any mode of proceeding which was afforded for such a purpose. The hon. and learned Civilian had said last night that he knew no means, and there were no means. What was the consequence? a Church-rate could not now be compelled, and in what manner could the law best be changed? It had been thrown out, the other night, by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, that a distinction might be made between the Protestants and the Dissenters—between the town parishes and the country parishes; in other words, that there should be one law for the town, and another law for the country districts. He admitted that, coming from the right hon. Baronet, this proposition had astonished him, for it was clear that by such legislation a permanent system of evils would be established. There would be no rule by which to determine what parishes should be placed under the one law, and what parishes should be subjected to the operation of the other law. This would be a complicated piece of machinery, inapplicable to the purpose for which it was intended, and would not work. The only practical plan which had been suggested with reference to this important question was, that proposed in 1834 by Lord Althorp, while the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, was still a Member of the Cabinet. What share the noble Lord had in the preparation of that plan, it was impossible for him (the Attorney-General) to say; at that time he had only filled a subordinate situation in the Government, and did not know the secrets of the Cabinet. But there was in that plan one provision of which he could not approve—in short, he thought the Bill to which he referred was the only measure of Lord Althorp's Government which contained anything like "thimblerigery." Who suggested that provision he knew not, but certainly the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) was then a Member of the Cabinet. In that measure it was proposed that the Church-rates should be charged on the English land-tax, and he felt bound to say, that he disapproved of that provision, because it was calculated to conciliate the people of Ireland to a measure, by which primâ facie they were to be aggrieved. The effect of such a charge on the land-tax would be as bad as if the charge was made as had been suggested, on the Conlidated Fund. If charged on the Consolidated Fund, there would be great and solid grounds for complaint in Scotland, in Ireland, and in many parts of this country. He knew that his constituents in Edinburgh revolted from the proposition, because they said they were taxed, not only to support the fabric of the Church, but also to pay the ministers of that Church in Edinburgh, and they therefore thought it unfair that they should be taxed also to maintain the fabric of the Church in England, and to contribute to the means for the due celebration of divine worship in this country. In Ireland the evil was felt to be equally great; there they paid their vestry cess, and they thought, very reasonably, that the same principle should at least be tried and acted upon in England. The Dissenters of England were dissatisfied with the proposition, because they said it was unjust to call upon them to pay such a tax, when they maintained their own chapels, and paid their own pastors. He had, however, certainly regretted that measure had not been carried into effect, for it was a measure of peace and conciliation; but now that he found that such a measure would be still more objected to than before, that it would not now be accepted, and that instead of being a measure of peace, it would now be one of exasperation, it was impossible for him to give it any longer his support. What then was to be done? The law must be changed; no plan at all feasible had been proposed or suggested, except the plan now brought forward by His Majesty's Government. That plan was new. No mode had ever been suggested or pointed out before, by which the property of the Church could be made available to the Church; it was not before know nor expected even by the hon. Member for Middlesex, that there was open a fund which might now be rendered so efficient. And what was that plan to be, but simply an improved system of the management of Church lands, whereby those lands would be enormously improved—whereby the wealth of the country would be yearly increased—whereby "plenty may prevail in the land?" It was by this new and improved management, that a fund was to be provided, without injury to the Church, without injury to the lessees of Church lands, and without injury to any human being. The fund that was wanting would thus be supplied to the general benefit of the whole community. To show the expediency and the efficiency of this measure, three things were necessary to be proved. Those three points had been met by his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Exeter, who had denied the proof of each and every one of them. In this respect, the hon. and learned Member had been much bolder than any other speaker on that side of the House, for even the hon. and learned Member for East Retford admitted two points out of the three. The three points which the Government had to prove were these—that there would be a fund; that such fund might be raised without injury to any individual, and that the proposed was the proper application of that fund. If they succeeded in making out those three points, it was all they had to demonstrate. With regard to the first point, he must say, that his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Exeter, had been rather inconsistent, because at one time he said the bishops would suffer desperately, and at another time his hon. and learned Friend argued that the lessees would be the sufferers. His hon. and learned Friend seemed to think, judging from his course of argument, that four persons might sit down to whist, and all rise losers. In this case, however, he submitted they would all rise winners. He would not enter into the calculations which had been made, because there were so many hon. Members who understood them so much better than either his hon. and learned Friend or himself. He would, however, just remark, that he believed the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had fallen into some most unaccountable blunders in respect to the calculations—blunders which, in the result, were more favourable to the scheme of the Government than to that of the right hon. Baronet. Instead, however, of entering into those calculations, he would, on the first point, refer the House to what had been stated by the hon. and learned Member for East Retford (Mr. Vernon), who had had practical experience on this subject, who had been cradled in renewals of Bishops' leases, and who told the House why the funds would be improved at least equal to the amount stated by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and also that the figures of the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel) would ere long be shown to be most egregiously and lamentably erroneous. Let the House, then suppose that the fund had been acquired as stated by the hon. and learned Member for East Retford, and then ask themselves whether it had been acquired to the injury of any human being. With regard to the Bishops, he would say, that considering what bishops were in the present day, it would be much better if they devoted themselves to their pastoral duties than to the embarrassments and vexations incident to secular concerns—such as negotiations for the renewal and making of leases. True it was, that in former times a bishop of Durham had marched forth armed cap-a-pie at the head of an army against the Scotch—true it was, that a King of England had inquired of the Pope whether the coat of mail worn by another bishop were his son's "spiritual coat." Now, looking at the rev. bench, constituted as it was in a manner to put beyond possibility the chance of a better selection, he apprehended they would feel themselves very much relieved by being absolved from embarrassing negotiations, which were much fitter for an actuary than a bishop. Suppose the Lord Chancellor, the Chief Justice of the Kings' Bench, the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and the Chief Baron of the Exchequer, happened to be paid now by the rents and profits of certain estates annexed to their respective offices; would it not be much better that those estates annexed to their respective offices; would it not be much better that those estates should be handed over to a general management, and when the quarter-day came, those high functionaries should be paid the net amounts of the salaries apportioned to them for the maintenance of their high rank and station, rather than they should be directly mixed up with the renewals of and the negotiations for leases of the estates in which they were interested. He was sure the change would add to their character in Westminster-hall. But he need not put this imaginary case, for the Master of the Rolls was formerly in the situation he had suggested; it was found inconvenient and under an Act of Parliament the estates were disposed of, and the Master of the Rolls was now paid at the Treasury. As to the bishops, there was no reason to suppose that they would at all suffer from being relieved of the management of their landed estates—the fruits of those estates they would still continue to enjoy, and this change would not at all interfere with their right to sit in the other House of Parliament. The change would give the bishops more time for political as well as religious duties—it would give them an opportunity of enjoying, to the fullest extent, all their rights and privileges, of none of which would he deprive them. His hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Exeter, then came to the case of the lessees, and after leaving the bishops had taken great compassion upon them. Now he (the Attorney-General) had heard no complaints from the lessees; on the contrary all the accounts he had heard represented the lessees as being well pleased with certain details to be met by this measure, and especially with the certainty which it afforded those who wished to have an opportunity of purchasing the perpetuity, of accomplishing their object, instead of the danger which now existed either of not obtaining a renewal at all, or, obtaining it on most unreasonable terms. The lessees, from all the accounts which had reached him, were exceedingly well pleased with the proposal which his Majesty's Government had made; and, indeed, it would be strange if it were otherwise, for he hesitated not to say, that at present the worst tenure, both for lessees and lessors, was that of Church property. He had devoted much time to the reform of the tenures of property and he was most anxious that the copyhold tenure, which closely resembled that of Church property, should be reformed. Those tenures prevented all possibility of the improvement of the lands, for no man in his senses, holding copyhold or Church property, would build a House or plant a tree upon it, for, according to the improved condition of the property, the terms of renewal were increased. In Sussex, where the copyhold tenure was but too common, it was a common saying "that the oak was too noble a tree to grow in servile land," the plain English of which was, that no man would plant a tree which he would not be entitled to cut down. So also with respect to Church leases, it had been said, that one half of the City of London was built upon Church-lands, but it should not be forgotten that this was owing to certain Acts of Parliament, which gave to the lessees much more advantageous terms than could be conferred where no such Acts had been passed. On the whole, therefore, he thought that under the measure now before the House, the lessees of Church property had cause to rejoice, for to them all uncertainty would be removed, and the instances of young bishops running their lives against leases would entirely fail. Another consideration for the lessees was, that at present the difficulty of obtaining renewals became greater and greater every year. The hon. and learned Member for East Retford had let the House into the secret that the bishops now consulted Mr. Morgan and Mr. Finlaison, and then called for a much larger sum for renewal than before, and that the lessees found their tenures much more embarrassing and detrimental. The change proposed would not be of any prejudice to the bishops—none to the lessees—there was no vested right that would be affected by it—all the present incumbents, prebendaries, and canons and others, to the last hour of their existence were secured as large an income as they now enjoyed. That being so, he thought he was justified in saying, that the second proposition had been made out, and that the fund could be raised without injury to any human being, He, therefore, now came to the third proposition, namely, how was that fund to be applied. His hon. and learned Friend opposite (Sir W. Follett) had said, that it ought to be applied to new endowments. This was following up the only objection to the present plan urged by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, on the first night this matter was discussed. He admitted the necessity of religious instruction, and should rejoice to see it fully supplied; he, however, thought that a most improper criterion to ascertain the extent of accommodation for religious instruction, by stating that in a certain district containing a certain population, the Church would only accommodate a certain number of the inhabitants, there had been wholly thrown out of the calculation the number of the places of worship and instruction supplied by the Dissenting portion of those communities to which reference had been made. He declared, that in Cheshire, where the distress in this respect had been stated to be most deplorable, there were chapels and places of worship where persons went according to their consciences, without there being any call for fresh endowments. But the question now really was, how, for the benefit of the Church itself, could this fund so raised be best applied? Would it be best applied in new endowments, or in securing the utility and energy of those which now exist? He maintained, it would be monstrous to make fresh endowments in new districts, while there were numerous parish Churches already falling into decay. He should therefore say, first supply the expenses necessary in parishes now endowed, and when that was done it would be time to look to the extension of religious instruction in other districts. He should be most happy to support and assist in a scheme for the diffusion of religions instruction in England, Scotland, and Ireland, in the same way as education should be taken care of by the State, but his firm conviction was, that if the funds were applied in the way proposed, it would be much more for the benefit of religion than by making any fresh endowments. He looked forward with the most sanguine hopes to the pacificatory and healing effects of this measure. He trusted, now that the tithe laws had been amended, when Church-rates were abolished the repairs of the fabric of the Church, and the expenses of decent worship were defrayed from another fund, that the discontent of the Dissenters would cease, and that they would join with the Church in aid of the prosperity of the cause of religion. It seemed to him that the most salutary effects might be anticipated from the proposal now made, and he entreated hon. Members not to refrain from doing justice in this particular case, from fears of any ulterior demand. Let them now rather do what was just, and resist afterwards any unreasonable demand when it was made. He would beg of them not to be led away by the speeches here or elsewhere, but to judge the measure by its merits. He begged to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite if they would adopt the sentiments of all those who had taken part with the Church. Were they disposed to adopt or be answerable for the sentiments which had been put forth on the question by some of the dignitaries of the Church? He had read recently a visitation charge of the Bishop of Exeter, in which the right rev. Prelate stated, that the Attorney-General had been most remiss in not prosecuting certain libellous publications. Now, he must say, that of all publications—of all the libels that had ever come before him since he filled the situation he had now the honour to hold—this visitation charge seemed to him to be the most libellous, and if he had been disposed to file an ex-officio information, he should have filed it against the Bishop of Exeter. He, however, had not been called on to file a single ex-officio information since he had held the office of Attorney-General, and he did not believe that his refraining from the exercise of that power had in the slightest degree been prejudicial to the public, nor did be think he should be much blamed for not having prosecuted the Bishop of Exeter. He left the visitation charge to others, for it would be read without creating any degree of sensation. But he would ask hon. Members opposite, if it was decent to say, (speaking of a question like the Dissenters' Marriage Bill) that "no sane man would some years ago have had the hardihood to propose such a measure?" Would hon. Gentlemen opposite say it was decent for a right rev. Prelate to charge a body of Members of the House of Commons with treachery and perjury? Would they admit that it was becoming or decent to charge the King's Government "with seeking the support of an infidel faction?" These were only a few specimens of the sentiments to be found in that publication. For the bishops he entertained the highest respect and veneration, but he must deprecate the conduct such as this in one of that right rev. body. And do not let hon. Gentlemen draw conclusions from the particular statements of any individual, however high his station might be. He had now only one more observation to make to allay the apprehension which had been excited as to the censure of posterity. Now, he believed that posterity, so far from condemning, would applaud their conduct in making the attempt to put an end to an unjust impost. Our forefathers never would have laid on such an impost; and nothing could be more unjust than to consider the evil as one emanating from the wisdom of our ancestors. Let them look to the circumstances which existed when the law of Church-rates took its origin. At that period all the inhabitants of this country were of one religious persuasion—all worshipped their God together in one place. It had since pleased Divine Providence to grant that there should rise up a great diversity of religious opinion; and to call upon those who dissented from the Established Church to contribute to the maintenance of that Church by such a tax as that of Church-rates, was a principle which never would have been sanctioned by our forefathers; and posterity, he repeated, would applaud those men who sought to remove such a crying injustice. For these reasons the resolution had his unqualified sanction and support; and he trusted that when the Bill, to be founded on this resolution, was understood, and when those misrepresentations which had overspread the measure should be removed, and the Bill should be submitted to the good sense of the country, its true character would be made apparent.

Mr. Law

trusted that the House would allow him to trespass on its patience for a short time, on an occasion like the present, when a question of vital importance, involving, as he sincerely believed it did, the best interests, the integrity, and stability, nay, the very existence of our national Church, was under discussion. It was impossible for him to approach the consideration of this question without those feelings, connected as he was with a constituency who felt the deepest interest in the subject, and who attached to the discussion of that evening and to the event of this struggle between the Dissenters and the national Church the very last importance. It was not his intention to go through the various details which had been so well sifted and disposed of by hon. Members who had preceded him. The observations which he had to make would be chiefly limited to the principle of the measure. He could not but feel that those who had advanced the interests of the Church by the exertions which they had made in the course of this debate had left to those who should follow them little else but the dry husk of fact and legal argument. It was not possible to avoid feeling that the question had been discussed as if it really was a plan ripe for adoption, and without regard to the fact that the measure proposed by his Majesty's Government, however fatal it might prove to the Church if carried into effect, was a measure which, before it was formally introduced, they (the Government) had every reason to believe would never be accomplished. Hon. Members on the other side of the House, who had argued this question, were fully aware that they had been affecting the passing of a measure of which they utterly and entirely despaired. [Cheers.] By those cheers he presumed he was to learn that a ray of hope yet remained to his Majesty's Government that, if not at present, at some future time, and in some modified shape, they would carry the proposed measure. [An hon. Member "The precise Bill."] As he heard an hon. Member say, of course without any intention to interrupt, that the Government expected to carry the precise Bill he would call the attention of the House to the real nature of that Bill. The simple question was, whether the Church-rates should be abolished, and whether the sum of 250,000l. now made applicable to the repair of the fabric of the Church should be withdrawn, and the deficiency supplied by appropriating a portion of the estates of the Church to that purpose. The question was not whether by an improved system of management other funds might be raised and made applicable to the more immediate spiritual wants of the people, but whether those funds, when so improved, should be at once anticipated in order to throw off the burthen of Church-rates from the Dissenters upon the estates of the Church, which it was asserted were likely to be improved to the extent of the amount required to make up for the abolition of Church-rates. Admitting an improvement in the estates of the Church to be probable, that, in his opinion, furnished no ground for the abolition of Church-rates, because, first, they were bound to ask, was the principle on which the measure was founded a just one, and were the means for carrying it into effect safe? And, secondly, did the concession of the principle, or the adoption of the means, involve that which might be found fatal to our Church Establishment? Upon the fullest conviction that the adoption of that principle must ultimately be fatal to the establishment, he rested the opposition which he humbly tendered in this debate to the proposed measure. It was said, as an argument for the adoption of this scheme, that Church-rates and their collection were in themselves an evil which the Dissenters complained of, and regarded as a serious grievance; and they were desired to look with a tender anxiety upon the religious scruples of Dissenters. Those scruples were comparatively of recent date, and he attributed their growth to the increased progress of the spirit which led to the introduction of the appropriation clause into the Bill for settling the tithes in Ireland. The disgust which it had created in the minds of the Protestant population of this country had induced his Majesty's Government to change the field of battle, in order to direct, as before, their batteries, against the Church in aid of the voluntary system and its adherents. The voluntary principle was opposed to the national establishment, and not only was that principle involved in this measure, not only did it go to deprive the Church of that which it had been from time immemorial accustomed to receive for the preservation of the fabric thereof, but the scheme involved the appropriation of Church property and Church estates, not only as they at present existed, but any improvement that might be hereafter effected in those estates. It involved the severance of property from those parties who had a legal and undoubted right to retain possession of it. That this measure involved the voluntary principle had been so clearly demonstrated by those who had preceded him, that he would not impair the effect produced by their arguments by a repetition of them. He was satisfied, however, of one thing, that the establishment of the voluntary principle was the very ground on which this measure had been put forward. But it was said, that it was inconvenient and difficult to enforce the payment of Church-rates. Why, if the right were clearly established, upon what principle was it that an improved system of law was not brought in to the aid of that right? Although parties might be summoned, and the churchwardens might exercise the powers vested in them by law for the recovery of the rates, without effect in some cases, still in law those rates were essentially the property of the Church, and it was as much a violation of justice and right, and an act of spoliation in principle, to take away that which the Church had a right to collect, as it was to take away that which it had already collected. He trusted that when he urged that the religious scruples, or alleged religious scruples, of the Dissenters did not form sufficient ground for such a legislative interference as that now meditated, he might advance that position without being supposed for a moment to consider any difference on religious matters a ground for questioning the sincerity of any one who differed from him, or of judging meanly of the understanding of those who entertained other opinions. He trusted he should not be supposed to be guilty of entertaining such illiberal sentiments. But he could not look on this as an entire and final question. When he saw that on one day they were assailed by that argument that a majority of the people of Ireland required this, or would have that, it must be conceded to the majority, you being the minority, he thought it came with rather a bad grace from those who used that argument to come forward on another day and say, "Here you are unquestionably the majority, but here you must make similar concessions in favour of the minority." In whatever form agitation presented itself, whether it existed among the few or the many, to the storm when it had raged for a while the Council of the King's Ministers surrendered. In the course proposed, however, he would never concur, because hefelt that the right of the Church to enforce and collect the rates ought to be maintained by some more simple, more practicable, and less expensive process than the present state of the law afforded. That could not be objected to, unless it was really and truly believed by those who questioned the observation, that the present was a measure for the assertion of the voluntary principle. If not, he apprehended that it was the duty of the Legislature, when a right was clearly defined, to give to that right a corresponding protection and power. While he felt, that the religious scruples of the Dissenters were entitled to respect, he for one, if he stood in their position, should doubt whether his scruples were wholly disinterested, relating as they did to a mere money payment; he should entertain some doubt of giving a religious character to his objections. But the argument which had been urged from his side of the House could meet with no answer—namely, that those who entertained religious scruples to this rate must entertain equally religious scruples to any contributions towards funds intended for the support of the Church, and that the concession of that one point was a concession to the voluntary principle, and led the way for the destruction of the Church. Wherever the principle of the Irish appropriation clause had been put to the test in this country by the elections that had taken place, the chances had been ten to one in favour of the candidate who espoused the cause of the united Church of England and Ireland. The hon. Member for Weymouth had yesterday declared, that if the funds of the Church were to be appropriated under the sanction of the right hon. Baronet with whom he and those on his side of the House had the honour to act, and that if a pledge could be obtained in the event of the reins of Government at any future period being confided to the hands of that right hon. Baronet, that those funds should be appropriated strictly to spiritual purposes, he (the hon. Member for Weymouth) would withdraw his support from this measure, and vote for such an appropriation. That was what he had understood to have been said by the hon. Member whom he was glad to see in his place, because, promoting as he did the measure under consideration, it was important to have learned from him the alarming extent of the destitution of the people with regard to religious instruction. The hon. Member had slated, that three-fourths of a population of 2,000,000 within a limited district, not three miles from St. Paul's cathedral, were utterly destitute of spiritual instruction. It was remarkable, that a similar statement had been made by the venerable archbishop at the head of the Church. The hon. Member also said, that not only was that portion of the population destitute of that religious instruction which the Establishment afforded, but they were destitute of spiritual instruction of every kind; and that there was church accommodation for 500,000 persons only out of 2,000,000, within that limited district. Therefore, the hon. Member had tendered his support to the right hon. Baronet on the condition that the surplus revenues of the Church estates should be appropriated to meet the urgent demands of the destitute population for spiritual instruction. But while the hon. Member for Weymouth had expressed himself willing to march under the banners of the right hon. Baronet, he also urged both Churchmen and Dissenters to go forth and cultivate that wide moral waste he had described. But the hon. Member seemed to have forgotten, that places of worship must be erected for the 1,500,000 who were now devoid of religious instruction, that religious teachers must be provided, and that the fabric of those places of worship must be from time to time repaired, and maintained and upheld; and further, that it was too late to look to the measure under the consideration of the House for such results. No one respected the hon. Member more than he did, but he thought that he would have done well to consider the mischief that was likely to accrue from attaching his name to this measure, while he confessed the difficulties in which both Churchmen and Dissenters were placed, and acknowledged the extent of the crying evils which, in the first place, demanded the application of whatever amount of Church funds might be found available. The hon. Member was followed by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, and assuredly anything that fell from a Gentleman of his extensive experience was entitled to the highest respect; but it was impossible to disconnect from his observations the consideration of the many offices which he held, and their immediate connexion with the Church of England. Whatever that hon. and learned Member had staled was stated by a chancellor of the dioceses of London and Rochester, and a commissioner for building churches, one who in that capacity must have supported the church-rate, and be supposed to have an interest in the erection of churches, and therefore, that such a person should be found amongst those who were for taking from the Church her rights, and depriving her or those resources which from time immemorial she had possessed, was a fact that was somewhat surprising to him. "The Church now stands," said the hon. and learned Member, "in the place of a besieged city, but whilst its garrison is stanch and strong may defy the enemy." He concurred with the hon. and learned Member that those who conformed to the Church, who approved of her tenets and her forms of worship, and maintained her doctrines, would rally round her in this the trying hour of her necessity, if they were indeed the garrison both stanch and strong, the Church would have nothing to fear. But if they who had the garrison under arms, who were in command of the garrison—if the captains of the forces in the garrison had already attempted to destroy the outworks, and were in negotiation for the surrender of the citadel, the time had indeed arrived when the Church was a besieged city, and her safety was, without doubt, endangered. But it was hard to persuade oneself that those who had been bred in that Church would be first to lay the hand of spoliation on her rights and property. But, after all, he entertained no doubt that she would be protected elsewhere. And why did he entertain no doubt that elsewhere such would be the case? Was it from disrespect, or from too exalted a feeling of respect for the honourable men who would check the devasta- ting course of this measure? Was it because he knew, that constituted as another House was, of gentlemen and hereditary noblemen, they would never consent to alienate the rights of the Church, and to put into their own pockets the spoils taken from it? It was no disrespect to prophesy of those of whom it was necessary that every one who knew them must entertain their sentiments, that in a given event they would not consent to do a given evil. He was satisfied that the measure in its present shape could not be passed. At the same time he did not say that no other substitution could be supplied; and he would hail any measure with satisfaction which would preserve the rates to the Church, and relieve her from her present embarrassments. The hon. Member for Ashburton had a few nights ago brought forward a motion by which he kindly undertook to relieve the bishops from their attendance in the House of Lords and from their duties as spiritual peers. He had been succeeded by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, whose old affection for the Church led him to propose to deprive them of their estates. Divested then of his authority as a peer, and deprived of his property, the bishop would be reduced to a mere annuitant, and after that it was to be feared that even his annuity would not be secure for any considerable length of time. But in whom was the trust of appropriating the revenues of the estates of the Church to be reposed? It was intended that the Archbishop of York, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Llandaff, the Dean of St. Paul's, and others should be appointed, at the pleasure of the Crown, as Commissioners. Now, it was a remarkable feature in this transaction, that they who were proposed to be appointed trustees had given a most unequivocal demonstration of feeling against the acceptance of such an office. With the strong repugnance to the measure which those who were attached to the Church of England and those who adorned and dignified the highest places in the Church exhibited, he could but anticipate the complete failure of the unhallowed project. It was not for him to say how the votes of that House would go, but if the noble Lord opposite did not receive the support he was accustomed to, it was easy to tell in what position he would be placed. With regard to the professed advantages of the measure, he would not deny, in the first place, that an improvement in the Church funds might take place, but that increase ought to be left to the disposal of the bishops, deans, and chapters, who had a right to see, that it was appropriated to meet the prior calls of the community for religious instruction; secondly, he contended that that House could not consistently with justice and right alienate from the Church the revenues derived from the rates; and, thirdly, that they had no right to appropriate any surplus revenue that might exist, except to the more sacred purposes of religious and spiritual instruction. He had felt it his duty thus briefly to state his objections to the measure of the right hon. Gentleman, upon which he did not wish to give a silent vote.

Mr. Caley

would apply himself to the financial part of the question, not that he less felt the deeply important nature of the question in another point of view. There was no man in the House more warmly disposed than he was to do justice to the subject, or to give that security to the Church which he wished to see it possess. Considering all that had fallen in the course of the debate, considering that there was no security for a fund for the repairs of the fabric of the churches under the existing law, or under the existing habits of society, he felt that he must give his vote in favour at least of the principle of the resolutions proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He conceived that those resolutions contained three principles: the one was the principle of the abolition of Church-rates, in which he cordially concurred; another was the principle of extracting, if it were possible, a middle sum between the values of the freehold and the Church leasehold, if it could be fairly and justly obtained: and the third principle involved in these resolutions was (and he spoke it with great deference, and without intending offence) a principle of extortion from the lessees. On the part of the lessees he thought it his duty to pay his warmest thanks to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter for having broken ground with respect to the justice and equity which were due to the lessees. They had been challenged by the Attorney-General to show how this measure was to operate injuriously towards the lessees. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said that no complaint had been made by the lessees to the proposed plan. No; the lessees had made no complaint, because they had had no opportunity of understanding the plan. They had been deceived and deluded by the superficial appearance of its giving to them the power to purchase the freehold at twenty-five instead of thirty years' purchase. But h (Mr. Caley) was prepared to show how this arrangement would affect the interests of the lessees. He wished not to speak disrespectfully of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he could not help ex pressing his belief that the right hon. Gentleman had one eye open for the Dissenters and the other eye shut, but which ought to be open for the lessees. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was anxious to leave the money in the pockets of the Dissenters; but he feared there was danger that while doing so the right hon. Gentleman would unconsciously be putting his hands into the pockets of the lessees. The right hon. Gentleman had introduced the measure with a great parade of figures; but he (Mr. Caley) was apt to distrust figures when they were set up in opposition to the rights of the productive classes. He had seen figures at one time arrayed against the agricultural class, and at another against the shipping interest, and oftentimes they were against facts themselves. With regard to what he was about to state, he begged to say that he had not had one single letter from his constituents upon this subject, so that there was no pressure operating upon him from without; nor was there one shilling's worth of Church property held either by him or any one with whom he was connected. He took his objection upon the broad principle of justice. Taking the Church leases, not at a twenty-four years' unexpired term, nor, as the right hon. Baronet had stated, at a thirty years' unexpired term, but at a twenty-one years' term, renewable every seven years at one year and a-half's rent, which he believed was the immemorial custom in the Bishopric of Durham, he put this plain question to himself, "What is the difference in value between freehold and leasehold property in Durham?" He was given to understand upon the best authority that the leasehold property under the Church in the county of Durham was valued at eighteen years' purchase, and that the value of freehold property was twenty-eight years' purchase. Between these two values there existed the difference of ten years' purchase; and he would found his argument upon the case of a farm of 100/. yearly value. The difference between the value of a freehold and leasehold estate of 100l. yearly value was exactly 1,000l. Now, he immediately asked himself what would be the difference in the proposed exchange by the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed that, estimating the freehold at thirty years' purchase, the lessee should have an abatement of five years, making the price of the freehold twenty-five years' purchase, which, for an estate of 100l. yearly, would be 2,500l. He then proposed to give to the lessee his existing interest in the lease, which, calculated at seventeen and a-half years' unexpired lease, at four per cent., would be 1,241l., leaving 1,259l., the value of the reversion, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer charged for enfranchisement, being equivalent to an annual rent-charge, at four per cent., of 50l. Looking at the customary market value of leasehold property in Durham, he found the difference to be thus; according to the market value the price of enfranchisement would be 1,000l., and, according to the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it would be 1,250l. making a difference of 250l., or twenty-five per cent. above the market value. Not being well versed in decimals and calculation, he referred to a valuable friend of his, Mr. Morgan, the actuary of the Equitable Assurance-office. The conclusion to which he and Mr. Morgan had come was that which he had just stated, so far as regarded the comparative price of the enfranchisement of the leasehold, according to the market value, and the value fixed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's plan. The Chancellor of the Exchequer then proposed not to enforce the payment of this principal money for the enfranchisement, but to receive interest upon it at the rate of four per cent.; four per cent. upon 1,250l. was equivalent to an annual rent-charge of 50l. a-year. The hon. Gentleman then entered into a detailed statement of the calculations made by Mr. Morgan, and read the following document showing the result:— Customary values of a farm of 100l. leasehold. The fine (for centuries back) has been 1½ year's rent=150l. payable every seven years. The value of a fine of 150l. every seven years, computed in reference to the value of the freehold, is not quite 550l. or about twenty-two years' purchase. But the value of the leasehold in the market in the county of Durham, is eighteen years' purchase; that of the freehold twenty-eight years'. The marketable difference in this case, therefore, is 1,000l. About four years, or 400l. (the difference between twenty-two years' purchase and eighteen years') is the customary, reduction from the value of a leasehold, with the fine renewable for ever, in consequence of the tenure, which may be a fair allowance for the trouble of obtaining renewals; for the liability also of an increased amount of fine from the improvement of the property; the fine being 1½ years' rack rent. Purchasing at twenty-eight years' purchase for the freehold, a party makes 3½ per cent. on his investment; or 3l. 10s. Purchasing a lease, renewable at 1½ years' rent every seven years, at eighteen years' purchase, the same party makes 4½ per cent. on his investment; the difference of one per cent. allowed doubtless for the contingencies above alluded to. Now, if the lease be taken at an unexpired term of 17½ years (reckoning the money to yield 4½ per cent. as before stated), the reversion is worth 10 l–5th years' purchase; or the annual value being 100l., the reversion in this case is worth 1,020l. The result not differing greatly from the customary difference of price in the market, though the calculation be made on a different basis;

"Sum charged by the Chancellor of Exchequer for enfranchisement £1,259
"Difference in market value between the above freehold and leasehold 1,000
"Overcharged £259
"Sum charged by Chancellor for enfranchisement £1,259
"Charge for ditto acccording to customary values, as estimated by Mr. Morgan 1,020
"Overcharged £239

or about 25 per cent. over the marketable difference. Now, take the rent-charge proposed by the Chancellor, and compare it with the annual reserve which the lessee now makes to provide for the fine of 150l. at the end of seven years:—

"Interest at 4 per cent. on 1,259l. charged for enfranchisement by Chancellor £50
"19l. laid up annually at 3½ per cent. will produce 150l. at the end of seven years 19
"Difference £31
"The leaseholders net income is now £100—£19=£81
"Ditto with proposed rentcharge would be £100—£50=£50

Above 38 per cent. diminution of income to leaseholder 31l. The-net income is reduced from 81l. to 50l. per annum. Or take it in another way;—Supposing the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been Bishop of Durham the last 300 years, instead of charging 150l. fine every seven years (estimating the value of 50l. laid up annually for seven years), he would have mulcted the lessee in a fine of 395l. or nearly four rents instead of one-and-a-half. But supposing the rent-charge to be 3½ per cent. even on the customary value, that on 1,000l. is 35l. instead of 19l.; leaving an income of 65l. instead of 81l. to some poor yeoman whose entirety consists of a leasehold of this value—16l. a year less than he now receives, being equal to 20 per cent. Is the leaseholder to be compelled to these terms—to a reduction of income from 81l. to 50l.—or to go into the market and sell a property for 1,400l. for which he gave 1,800l.? What the leaseholder understands by enfranchisement is the privilege of buying up the 19l. per annum fine, which he could do for 550l. Lastly, take the results in gross as compared between the Chancellor's plan and the customary values at eighteen years' purchase:—

Prospective improved value of Church leasehold, according to Mr. Finlayson 516,000
Improved value at the customary rate 296,760

"The basis of this calculation of customary gross result is that 16l. per annum is required be laid by, by the leaseholder in addition to the 19l. he now pays out of 100l. per annum leasehold. Sixteen per cent., or 261,000l., the amount of present fines, is 35,760l., which being added to 261,000l. will make a total of 296,760l. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes, therefore, to extract from the leaseholder 259,240l. per annum more than the customary value, being equivalent to 6,138,720l. of principal money at twenty-eight years' purchase, which is the basis throughout of the calculation. We have already stated, that taking the fee at twenty-five years', and bringing in the lease at four per cent., the difference is 1,259l., equal to a perpetual rent-charge of 50l., and the lessee being now obliged to lay up 19l. to provide for his fine, his annual expenditure is increased 31l.; in this manner the exchange is clearly' against him. But, says the Chancellor, we on the other hand make you an allowance of five years' on the fee simple, the same being worth in the market thirty years' purchase. But the fact is, that this advantage is very trifling; for if he took his whole calculations, as he ought to do, by the table giving thirty years' purchase for the freehold, the rent-charge would not amount to more than 56l. a year. Thus—

"Fee simple, thirty years' £3,000
"Lease at 3l. 6s. 7d. per cent., for 17½ years 1,309l. £l,309
"Reversion £ 1,691

"1,691l. divided by thirty years' purchase, equivalent rent-charge 56l. at 3l. 6s. 7d. per cent.

"The bonus the Chancellor offers by his five years' abatement, is 6l. a-year, to meet a reduction in the income of 31l. He gives 6l., and takes away 31l., leaving the leaseholder minus 25l. a year."

The hon. Member then said, that he pledged himself to the accuracy of these calculations. It had been assumed by the hon. Gentleman that the lessees would have an advantage in being allowed to have permanent possession of their lands at twenty-five years' purchase, instead of taking them at thirty years purchase, at which he valued them; but from the statement that he read, it appeared that this abatement of five years', was only worth 6l. a-year. The proposal of the lessees was nothing more nor less than offering them 750l. for that which was worth 1,000l. He asked whether the apparent security that formerly existed for the continuance of the system of Church lands might not be regarded as being equivalent to a good tenure of property? He asked whether this tenure would not be regarded as good in a court of justice? Was not the custom uniformly observed in our courts? There were copyholds renewable on a certain fine, and there were copyholds renewable when the fine was uncertain. In the latter case, when a person had reserved to himself the right of imposing an arbitrary fine, the law interfered, and said, that he should not make a fine of more than two years' improved rental on the estate. On this point he could quote the opinion of Mr. Justice Blackstone, who said——"Fines are sometimes arbitrary and at the will of the Lord, sometimes fixed by custom; but even when arbitrary, the courts of law, in favour of the liberty of copyholders, have tied them down to be reasonable in their extent, otherwise they might amount to a disherison of the estate. No fine, therefore, is allowed to be taken upon descents and alienations (unless in particular circumstances) of more than two years' improved value of the estate." Thus it appeared, that there was confessedly a reserved fine; and, although a party might suppose that he could impose an arbitrary fine, the courts of law interfered and said that he should not impose a fine of more than two years' rental on the improved value of the property, or there would be a disherison of the estate. There was also an authority of later date, on which he believed great reliance would be placed, he meant the Commissioners of real property, who, in alluding to customary tenures in their Report of the date of the 24th of May, 1832, said, "We think it desirable that there should be a final settlement between the Church and the laity upon the basis of present enjoyment, but so as not to give sanction on either side to any recent usurpation which has not acquired the semblance of established right. This plan, we consider will most nearly reconcile strict right with the interest of all parties." The case of the lessees could not be supported in stronger language, nor on a sounder basis. The bonus, as it was called, that was offered to the lessees, would cause a diminution of thirty one per cent. in their income, and twenty-eight per cent. in their capital. Reference had been made to the situation of the tenants of the bishopric of Durham; and they held their property, not of the bishop, but of the Court Palatine, and held it in military service. The condition on which they held it was, that they should pay a fine of one year's rent in seven, and on condition that the tenant went out armed whenever the enemy appeared on the border, and whenever called upon by the bishop's summons to attend. When peace was secured on the border there was an additional fine made of one half year's rental on the tenant in every seven years; so that the tenant had to pay a year and a-half's purchase for the renewal every seven years. At the moment, then when the tenants were most secure in the enjoyment of this property in the tenure he had just described, the right hon. Gentleman came down with his proposition, which if carried, would be most unjust to them. Under these circumstances, he asked the House whether it was possible that these resolutions could pass based on such a principle? He did not think that any administration could pass such a measure as the present. He asked whether high-minded men like the Dissenters, in consequence of an injustice having been inflicted on them, would con-sent to impose an injustice on other classes? He knew many most upright and intelligent dissenters would spurn an Act which was intended to get rid of a grievance on them, but which inflicted ten times the injustice and grievance on others. He was satisfied that the Bill framed as this would be could not stand before the Legislature. At the same time, however, under all the circumstances of the case, he felt bound to vote for the resolutions. He had stated at the commencement of his observations that he felt bound to support one principle involved in these resolutions, namely, the abolition of Church-rates, in which be cordially concurred; and notwithstanding all the arguments that had been used on the other side, he should persist in his intention. He had not heard anything which could justify the continuance of the present system. He believed Gentlemen on both sides of the House admitted, that the present system must be got rid of. At the same time there was much in the proposed plan which was most objectionable.

Mr. Benett

believed, that this question was not only of vital importance to the Church, but also to the country. No Gentleman in that House could entertain a stronger feeling of attachment to the Church than he did, and for the best interest of the Church itself he would support this measure. He could not agree with some hon. Gentlemen in thinking that it was desirable that there should be a separation of Church and State; on the contrary, he would always exert himself to the utmost to promote that union. He would ask whether it were possible to let matters rest in their present state? He would ask whether it were likely that Church-rates could now be collected in any parish? Indeed many hon. Members who had addressed the House had admitted that something must be done on the subject. Church-rates first began long subsequent to the period when Henry 8th. took possession of the property of the Church; and from the time they commenced till the present they had always been a voluntary contribution, the statute which had passed on the subject having only for its object to enforce the payment after the contribution had been agreed to by the parishioners? To the proposition of Lord Althorp he (Mr. Benett) had strongly objected, considering it most unjust to the Dissenters, and indeed to the whole community, to convert that which had hitherto been a voluntary contribution into a fixed tax, from which there was no escape. The plan now proposed, however, had at once appeared to him a most excellent one; and nothing which he had heard from the other side of the House had in the least operated in changing his opinion upon it. He most fully agreed that it was essential to provide spiritual assistance for the two millions of persons who were stated as at present destitute of religious consolation; and it appeared to him that sufficient funds might with very little research be found to be in existence to meet this so desirable object. There were, for instance, the first fruits and tenths, the last valuation of which took place in the reign of Queen Anne, since which time they had vastly increased in value. He would repeat his decided opinion, that the proposed measure was a most valuable and beneficial one. When lessees once possessed their property with the certainty that they would be allowed to reap all the advantage of improving their land, they would readily expend their capital in effecting such improvement. The Church would realize a certain fixed income, and an end would be effectually put to the mischievous system of gambling now so prevalent. It had been laid down, that the property of the Church was altogether sacred from the control of Parliament. This was a doctrine he could never sanction. He held that Church property was entirely subject to the control of Parliament. If the contrary principle had been admitted where would tithes be now? He should watch the progress of this measure with great anxiety; it appeared to him to contain a principle most just to all parties. Should any portion of the Bill seem to him calculated to work injustice to any party, he should take care to oppose it.

Mr. Pemberton

, having listened attentively to the speech of the hon. Member for North Yorkshire, must confess that he felt exceedingly surprised at the determination stated at its conclusion. As to the proposed measure, he doubted its justice to the Church, he doubted its justice to the lessees, and he doubted its justice to the State. It had been said, that the question whether Church-rates were a voluntary contribution or no, was an indifferent one; to him it appeared to be at the root of the argument. If it were a voluntary contribution, there could exist no possible right to convert it into a fixed tax, directly or indirectly. The hon. Member for South Wiltshire declared, that it was a voluntary contribution; so said the learned Attorney-General; and so said the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets. He (Mr. Pemberton) denied that such was the case; and in support of his denial, he would in the first place appeal from the latter hon. and learned Gentleman, as a Member of that House, to the hon. and learned Gentleman as a judge. What was the law laid down by the hon. and learned Gentleman in speaking of a case which, from its importance, he had considered with the utmost care, and speaking with all the impartiality and knowledge of a judge? What was the hon. and learned Gentleman's judicial opinion upon this question, as contrasted with his House of Commons' opinion. What was his opinion of the law at a time when he had no motive for stating it otherwise than as he found it, and when he had every possible motive for investigating that law thoroughly? The House should hear. The case he would refer to was a question, whether an inhabitant (the Governor) of Greenwich Hospital was liable to the payment of Church-rates in respect of land which he occupied within the parish. The hon. Member for South Wiltshire, who rested his determination to vote for this measure on his entire conviction of the voluntary nature of the tax—though, in point of fact, it was as much a charge on land as even tithes—the hon. Member for South Wiltshire, when he heard the judicial opinion of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, could not consistently refuse to withdraw his sanction to this measure. The question being, whether Church-rates were not immemorially a legal charge on land, these were the words of the hon. and learned Member, speaking as a judge: "Looking at the general principle on which the question of Church-rates depends, there can be, I think, no doubt or difficulty in assuming that a Church-rate has existed in this country from time immemorial, for there is no evidence that it was introduced at any particular period, nor can I find any distinct notice of its commencement. The question, then, which I have to determine is, whether the property, in this case, is exempt from the ordinary liability, on any of the special grounds set forth in the first allegation. It is clear that all property of this description is prima facie liable to Church-rates, unless there is some special ground of exemption. But then, said the hon. and learned Gentleman, speaking as a Member of the House of Commons, though these rates may be a legal charge on land, the means of recovering it are defective. Granting that they were so, did this alter the legal obligation, the legal liability to pay them? Because the means of recovery were defective, did that circumstance affect the right to receive on the one hand, or the obligation to pay on the other? Did there not exist the same difficulty in reference to the recovery of tithes; but was that difficulty made the ground of resistance to tithes, or on which the Dissenters claimed exemption from the payment of tithes? If it were not, on what principle was it made the ground of their exemption from Church-rates? The hon. and learned Member, enlarging upon the inconveniences of the present system, had said, that the only question was, whether it should continue or not? That had not been the question. Nobody on the Opposition side of the House had maintained for a moment, that it was desirable to continue the present mode of payment; a mode generally admitted to be irritating—to be, under many circumstances, very vexatious. The hon. and learned Member had stated the alternative to be, that either the present system must be continued, or the proposed measure be adopted. Upon this point he joined issue with the hon. and learned Member. To him it appeared difficult to suggest a plan open to more objections than the one now submitted. In a former year a plan had been submitted to the House, which, until the speech of the Attorney-General that evening, he had never heard described as partaking of the nature of thimble-rig. Such, however, being, in the eyes of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the complexion of that measure, he could not but feel surprised that the hon. and learned Gentleman's conscientious scruples had not induced him to withdraw from a Ministry which could consent to introduce such a measure. It was true that the hon. and learned Gentleman had not, on that occasion, supported Ministers in the House, but possibly this was for the precise reason that the hon. and learned Gentleman did not happen at that moment to be a Member of the House, owing to the unfortunate accident of his failure at Dudley; otherwise there was no saying how vigorously the "thimble-rig" would have been supported by the hon. and learned Gentleman, as being consistent with every principle of justice, and open to none of the objections which he now stated to it. He thought, that in the course of the last Session a question had been put to the noble Lord opposite, and that that question had been answered, and answered in a manner which led, at least, all who heard it, to understand, that a substitution for Church-rates was to be found in the national funds. But, supposing that the plan now proposed was such as its supporters assured them it was to be, was it not obnoxious to precisely the same objection which had been offered to the plan of Lord Althorp, by throwing the charge upon the Consolidated Fund? The Consolidated Fund to which the Dissenters and others contributed, was the fund of the State; it belonged to all the members of the State, and a charge, it was said, was not to be cast upon the whole, which ought to be borne by only one part of the community. He did not agree with those who said, that this was a property which had been created by the State, but if it were for a purpose created by the State, it therefore, then, belonged to the state. He must say, in reply to observations made by the hon. Member for Middlesex, that if it did not belong to the Church itself, what difference did it make applying to the Church a portion arising from a land-tax, or a portion arising from the revenues accruing to the State? It was said, that if they had a right to appropriate the fund, then they had only the right to appropriate it as a national fund, as it was one which belonged as much to them as the Consolidated Fund. Then it was as much a portion of the public revenue as the land-tax, and it might be applied directly to the funds of the State. But when they were considering what would be a fair equivalent for the charge, surely it was important for them to consider by whom the charge was to be paid, supposing it was to be imposed in a different shape. The argument of his hon. and learned Friend, and indeed amongst all on the other side, seemed to take for granted that there had been some undiscovered nook in the Chancellor's budget, which was only now known of for the first time, and these undiscovered treasures were now to be appropriated to this purpose. According to the statement of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it appeared that they were to conjure up a sum of 260,000l. That sum was to go into the pockets of the conjurors; but before it did so, it was necessary that it should be conjured out of the pockets of somebody else. But when they looked to this magical scheme that had been so much boasted of, they found that it was a delusion, in which the conjuror himself partook. It surely must be admitted, that the property which they proposed to deal with, was one that belonged either to the lessees or to somebody else. There seemed to him to be only one course pursued, for the maintenance of the argument held on the other side; the argument, such as it was, could be found especially in the speech of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer. An important error prevailed with respect to the rights of lessees, and this error was to be found in the observations of the right hon. Gentleman. A paper had been read by the right hon. Gentleman with respect to the law of landlord and tenant, and as applicable to the nature of tenancy on Church land. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to consider, that the House was so familiar with the rights of tenants, that he did not feel it necessary to go into any particular explanation on the subject. If the House were indeed so very familiar with the subject, it enjoyed an advantage which the right hon. Gentleman did not himself seem to possess. If he (Mr. Pemberton) might be permitted to explain to the right hon. Gentleman, he would find that he had confounded two things which were quite distinct from each other. The passage read by the right hon. Gentleman referred to the tenant's right of renewal, namely, the species of right which every tenant had from the goodwill of his landlord at the expiration of his lease to renew. The rights of the Church lessees would be found to be placed in a totally different situation. They were not dependent upon the caprice or mere good will of their landlords. Renewal with them was not a matter of chance or of favour. Their rights were secured, and were regarded as matters of certainty. He admitted that there was no legal right conferred by the statute; but he trusted he could satisfy the House, that although there was not a positive right conferred by the Legislature, yet that the Legislature created a relation between the landlords and tenants in their cases, which led to a perpetual right of renewal. But this was not merely by custom—it was not art act o mere favour, as it had been supposed by the right hon. Gentleman, but it was in consequence of rights established by the Legislature, authorised by repeated Acts of Parliament, and confirmed by the practice of 300 years. If, then, they had been thus authorised by the practice of three centuries—if, in consequence of it, they found such properties made the objects of bargain and sale, securities for mortgagors, the subject of dealing between parties who were entitled to protection from the Legislature, were they then to tell these parties that what had been done for 300 years was not to authorise their proceedings, but to say to them they had no legal rights, and that, therefore, the State would resume its rights? What were the circumstances that created the custom of renewal with Church property? It depended upon two circumstances. In the first place the Legislature had provided 300 years ago that leases should not be granted by ecclesiastical bodies for more than twenty-one years, or for three lives, or for less than the actual rent. That would have done but little; but the object was to protect the Church from the alienation of property belonging to the Church; and they established a further law, the consequence of which was that neither the dean and chapter, nor the bishop, nor any ecclesiastical person could deal with any person except the immediate tenant. It was not, therefore, possible for such persons to go into the market; and say, "If you do not give us 1,000l. for the renewal of the lease some one else will." The actual lessee had the market to himself, and he alone could surrender the lease. The other circumstance was this: that the dean and chapter were a fluctuating body, and they dare not run their lives against a twenty-one years' term. The consequence of this necessarily was, that they were compelled to take the lease at the full va- lue of the property; and the circumstance of their not having it in their power to deal with anybody else must have influenced their determination in a tenfold degree. The tenants' right, then, did not depend upon chance or favour, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had contended. It arose out of relations which the Legislature had established for 300 years, and which made the parties quite certain of a renewal. Now, then, was it possible to say, that the lessees had not a legal interest when the Legislature had for 300 years' established that interest, and for 300 years' protected it. But this was not the first attempt that had been made upon this species of property. There had been a similar attempt in the time of the Commonwealth, and it had produced in the north something approaching to a rebellion. He thought the right hon. Gentleman stated, that the estimated annual value of the Church property was 1,320,000l. To that extent of property were they to disturb an arrangement which for three centuries had prevailed? Were they to make this change against the interest of the lessors and lessees? But what would be the consequence of such an alteration? Portions of this property had been mortgaged. What was the consequence to be to the mortgagees? A portion of it had been settled for the jointures of widows. What, was to become of the widows? A portion of it was applied to the maintenance of children. From what fund were they henceforth to provide for the maintenance of those children? But then they were told that the commutation was offered on the most beneficial terms, so beneficial that there could be no necessity for compulsion. Why then compel parties if the terms were so satisfactory? Why introduce compulsion if it were not required. They were told, however, that there was a precedent to justify them in the course they adopted on the present occasion. They might derange property—they might disturb property which was in existence—they might interfere with the maintenance of those who depended on the incomes arising from that property. This it was admitted they might do, but still he maintained that there was no precedent to justify their present proceeding. If the House examined the precedents referred to, it would find that they afforded not the slightest countenance for the measure before them. The two measures that had been referred to were, first, the one affecting Crown lands in 1794, and the other the Church Temporalities (Ireland) Act, in 1834. As far as the Crown lands were concerned, the right hon. Gentleman was quite correct in the description he there gave of the tenants' rights. He spoke of the Act of renewal of the tenants' leases on Crown lands as an act of mere chance and favour, or rather, he would say, of favour from the Ministers of the Crown. The Crown was not obliged to renew. In the reign of Queen Anne an Act was passed affecting concurrent leases and reversionary leases, and that circumstance it was alone which made the distinction as to the rights of tenants to renew being a mere act of grace on the part of the Crown. But, even in that case, with how many qualifications was the Act accompanied? Did they in that case provide, as in this, that there should be no renewal granted except there was obtained an equivalent equal to a rack-rent? Were parties there compelled to purchase, and it not, their leases to be void? Certainly, there was no such provision in the Act. There was one most just provision: where lessees had no permanent interest there was still a limitation. The first exception was made where timber had been planted, where buildings had been erected, and wherever an expenditure had been incurred. In all these cases an exception was made, and he did not understand, at least at present he did not know, that similar exceptions were made in the propositions then before the House. If such exceptions were made, they ought to have had them stated; they ought to know what would be allowed where buildings had been erected, and where money had been sunk. No such thing had been referred to; there appeared to be no attention paid to the expenditure upon these properties, and nothing seemed to be considered but the rent that was to be received, and the value of the property as it was at this moment. To act upon the principle which the Ministers proposed to act upon, and to carry out their proposition, would, in his opinion, rob the lessees of all they had expended, without giving them a shilling in return. But his hon. and learned Friend seemed to consider that there was a difference between property on lease and property in fee. He spoke of agricultural districts, with which he was familiar, and, passing from one place to another, he certainly would find it difficult to distinguish one species of property from another. Was it true that there was no building upon Church property? Did not half the Church property in London consist of houses? But, if this measure passed, Gentlemen would find that in some places portions of their parks, and in others of their mansions, were half Church land. The lands had been held by them for three centuries, and there was no means now of distinguishing leasehold from freehold. Perhaps some Gentlemen would be astonished to find some fine morning that portions of their property, which their ancestors enjoyed for three centuries, belonged to the Church, and that they were tenants of the Church. He congratulated the Solicitor-General on the prospect which was before him. There would be great joy in the Court of Chancery—infinite would be the number of Commissions to be issued—infinite the Commissioners to set out the proper bounds throughout the kingdom—infinite the distinctions between that which was leasehold and that which was freehold property; and still more infinite—if he could speak comparatively of that which was infinite—the litigation which was to follow from all this. He hoped the House would now permit him to call its attention to the case of the Irish lessees. Let them observe what had been done in the Irish Temporalities Act. By that measure a certain number of Irish Bishoprics had been curtailed—the property that belonged to the vacant dioceses had been vested in Commissioners. What provision was then made for the lessees? The interest of the lessees was recognised by the legislature—the tenants right to renewal was recognised. Did the Legislature prevent the renewal of a single lease; No; it left it entirely optional with the lessees to renew. It did more. The Act was founded on the recognition of the tenant's right to renew. By an express law it compelled the Commissioners to renew every lease which the tenant desired to renew. It vested the fee absolutely in the Commissioners for this purpose; and yet they were told that the present proposition, by which the tenant's right was abolished, found a precedent in that Act. This was said, though the present proposition was an unmitigated spoliation of the rights of the lessees. If this were done, he maintained that it was the first time in the history of England that such a principle had been acted upon. Individuals might have done wrong to the public, but the public never before had remedied a public grievance at the expense of individuals. It was the proud boast of the country that on no occasion, and for no advantage, had individual sufferings or sacrifices been sanctioned by the Legislature. In that act of national atonement which had been accomplished with so much credit to the country, he meant the emancipation of the negro slaves, nothing like this was attempted. Had the country then made an offering to humanity which cost it nothing? Did they in determining on the Emancipation of the slaves tell the holders of such property that "they had no legal right—that no Act of Parliament vested such property in them." No, but they passed the Act of Emancipation, and in so doing they sacrificed 20,000,000l. They declared the great principle that they would not remedy a public wrong by injustice to any individual. This principle however, was now to be violated—it was to be done so for the first time—it was to bed one without precedent—it was to be done without reason, and it was to be done, as he thought, without the prospect of attaining any great public advantage. It was admitted that this property belonged to the Church, and the hon. Gentleman opposite said that all future improvements would be merely for the protection of the Church, and yet they proposed to transfer the profits of these improvements to the state. They said that the present state of things tended to the prejudice of the Church, and they altered it; but they put the proceeds, not into the pockets of the Church, but into those of the State. But if it were true that there was a surplus of Church property, had they not a population without religious instruction, and were they not in the first place to provide them with religious instruction? He wished to speak of the Dissenters with the utmost respect; but when they heard of the conscientious scruples of the Dissenters to contribute to the payment of a national Church, was it not reasonable that they should pay some attention to the—he would call it if they wished the conscientious scruples—but as he thought the conscientious opinions, of the members of the Established Church? Were they not to have any conscientious scruples about permitting the introduction of a principle which involved the principle of a Church Establishment? He was sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite did not mean to say, that the Church of England was so impure or unholy, that to contribute to its maintenance would be contamination; but when members of the Church of England heard these doctrines asserted—when they were told that certain classes of persons would not pay what they were legally bound to pay, and what morally they were liable to pay—when they heard these strange and unintelligible scruples, they must think that, by those persons, the national Church was considered a nuisance. The House ought to look to the motives of those who introduced this Bill, and the declarations of those who supported it. He had heard, with great pleasure, the frank and manly avowal of opinion made by the right hon. Gentlemen the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the noble Lord (Howick); but he would ask, how many of those who supported the measure, concurred in the sentiments of the right hon. Gentleman who introduced it? There was not a single assenting cheer to express concurrence when it was proposed. No single individual on the opposition benches cheered when the right hon. Gentleman, and the noble Lord, expressed their decided attachment to the Church of England, and their determination to support it. But there were cheers of exultation when a word escaped the right hon. Gentleman, which might even cast the shadow of discredit on that Church. What was the declared principle on which this measure was supported? It was this, and this only, that at present Dissenters are compelled to contribute to the support of the Church, and this measure is supposed to relieve them from that payment. This, which was the argument urged on the other side in support of this measure, formed in his mind, the strongest objection against it. He knew not what the principle of a national Church Establishment was, unless it was the necessity of an establishment supported by the nation, and out of the national funds. He could understand the question as to whether or not it was advisable to have a Church Establishment; but if they were to have a Church Establishment, that every member of the nation was liable to contribute to it, was as clear a proposition as any that could be imagined. He believed, that hon. Gentlemen opposite miscalculated the current and the strength of public opinion on this subject. He believed, that the Church of England was daily and hourly, by the increasing piety, purity, and exertions of its clergy, strengthening and extending. Though he could easily imagine that some hon. Members opposite would turn what he said into mockery and ridicule, yet he must say, that he believed that there was, in the hearts of the people of England, a feeling of attachment to the sacred edifices, which were so intimately bound up with their earliest recollections; that they had a feeling of attachment to the tomb-stones on which the names of their fathers were engraven, and beneath which they hoped one day that their own ashes would lie. If this feeling of attachment really existed, this was the time to show it. They must be prepared either to assert or to surrender the principle of the Church Establishment. Let them surrender it, if they would, for once and for ever, and they might be assured, that they were only giving the strongest encouragement to future aggression.,

Lord John Russell

I assure you, Sir, that I should not interpose now, if I thought that I should be enabled to address the Committee at a later period of the evening; but I am anxious, as I naturally must be, after the many references that have been made to me personally, to state my opinion upon the subject under discussion. With respect to the tone in which this debate has been conducted, from the time when the right hon. Gentleman opposite brought it again under discussion, I have seen nothing of which there is any reason to complain. I must say, however, that the tone and nature of the argument that has been introduced, differs very widely from the nature of the course proposed. It has been said, and said upon high authority, and urged, as I shall presently show, by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Robert Peel) himself, that this is a question which demands the interposition of the Legislature. It is said by those who advocate the cause of the Church, that the law in its present state is unsatisfactory, and that unless the law is made more capable of execution, we shall soon see a number of the churches falling into ruins. The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, among others, has objected to Church-rates, and has said that he does not wish to retain them; and yet, when we propose, on our part, merely to agree to a resolution which shall enable us to place a plan before the House in the shape of a Bill, the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) and those who support him, say, "We allow there are objections to Church-rates; we allow the vexation they cause; we allow the heart-burnings; we allow the inefficiency; we do not deny any one of these things; we only say, that we will not permit you to bring a Bill into this House in order to enable you to explain your plan to the House." The resolution proposed will lead to this step; we only ask the House to bring in a Bill founded upon that resolution. The Bill, of course, will be regularly printed; it will wait for some time; it will be the subject of further discussion; and it may contain many of those provisions which the hon. and learned Gentleman says will be absolutely necessary, and of which he has chosen to suppose the absence; and because he has not seen the Bill, he will not allow us to bring it in, but supposes it will contain all the defects which he chooses to imagine. But, upon the other point, hon. Gentlemen opposite leave us equally in doubt. This Bill proposes to give a substitute for Church-rates, and we were told yesterday by a right hon. Gentleman, that if any fund can be obtained for this purpose, there are millions in want of spiritual instruction, and that to provide this spiritual instruction those funds ought to be devoted. But what say the hon. and learned Members for Exeter and Ripon? They say that we ought not to change the tenure; that it would be spoliation, not indeed of the Church, but of the lessees; and that it would be better to allow things to remain as they are. But we have a right to ask to be enlightened on some of these points. If you say that the present state of Church-rates is unsatisfactory, will you allow us to propose a substitute? If you like not this plan with respect to Church rates, either say that you will devote the surplus fund to the supply of instruction to the people, or that you will leave the lessees on their present footing. Are we to have no answer on these points, but merely general objections upon every possible ground, and a general negative of the resolution, leaving the whole subject as unsettled as it is now, and with every danger of its remaining unsettled? The right hon. Baronet was, some time ago in the year 1835, so anxious on this point, that when we brought in the Bill for the regulation of Municipal Corporations, he stated, "that the subject of Church-rates did not yield to any other in emergency; that it was, as far as any question, important in the maintenance of social harmony; that there was not a single question except that of the Irish Church, that pressed for such immediate practical settlement as the question of Church-rates." But the right hon. Baronet stated further, "that in consideration of the interests of the Church, for the satisfaction of a large body of the public, for the promotion of subordination and obedience to the law, the Government ought not to suffer the law respecting Church-rates to be made the theme of discussion at public meetings, and the subject of angry comment from parochial martyrs, for another twelve months." We have incurred the censure of the right hon. Baronet, not only for twelve months, but for, as I admit, two years that we have allowed this state of things to go on, and parochial martyrs to be sacrificed. But when now, at length, we bring in a plan, what is the result? The right hon. Baronet does not tell the House that our scheme is injudicious, and that he has another to propose, but he throws out certain suggestions as to the separation of Dissenters and Churchmen; and he is willing to make this distinction—that Dissenters in towns should not be obliged to pay, but that Dissenters in the country should be obliged to pay Church-rates; in other words, that the landed interest should be still burthened with the payment of Church-rates, but that the towns should be relieved. This was the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet. But it may be collected easily from these expressions, that the object is to leave the question in such a state that we shall not be able to bring in this Bill or any other; and that the question shall be left for future agitation and discontent. Before I proceed to other parts of the question on which the right hon. Baronet addressed the Committee on a former evening, I must allude to one point on which the right hon. Baronet did me the honour to quote, among others, what I said in this House. The right hon. Baronet introduced it in that part of his argument in which he endeavoured to show, that this plan is contrary to the principles of justice and sound policy. If the right hon. Baronet has shown that this plan is contrary to the principles of justice and sound policy; if it can be shown that it is inconsistent, as the hon. and learned Gentle- man has said, with the nature of a Church Establishment, of course I must admit that the plan is not fit to be adopted by this House, and that all matters of calculation of profit and advantage must sink at once before this paramount objection. But in quoting what I said in this House—and I have no doubt that the right hon. Baronet quoted fairly what was reported—he hardly gave that sense to what I said, which, on some reflection, I am sure he will be induced to give. The right hon. Baronet supposed me to have laid down this proposition:—"That it is absolutely essential to a Church Establishment that the repairs of the church shall be defrayed either out of the general taxes, or by some special tax levied on the public for that purpose." That proposition, in the first place, is contrary to what I have myself supported respecting Ireland. It is contrary to the declarations of my noble Friend on the opposite bench (Lord Stanley). But not only is it contrary to his declarations, but it is contrary to the declarations of the right hon. Gentlemen, the Members for the Universities of Cambridge and Dublin. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Dublin, maintained with us the principle of this Bill with respect to Ireland. We have been reminded to-night of the United Church of England and Ireland, because it suits the purposes of the night. That right hon. Gentleman admitted that on the part of the united Church, it was fit that Churchcess should be altogether abolished; and the right hon. Gentleman also said, that there was this difference between Churchcess and tithes, that the tithes depended on the statutes, and the Churchcess might be refused by the victims. Now, I cannot be supposed, with respect to a Church Establishment, to go the length of the right hon. Gentleman and the others on his side of the House, but I must ask, does it stand to reason, or can any one presume, that if the Church had three, or four, or five millions, in addition to its present endowment, that still it would be necessary, for the purpose of a Church Establishment, that there should be a special tax to meet the expenses of the repairs of the fabric of the church? This was the meaning which hon. Gentlemen opposite attempted to fix on what I have said. I am ready, however, to declare the full extent of what I really did say. What I intended to say was this, that "it was the duty of the State, in maintaining a Church Establishment, to provide for the repairs of that church." And I said, moreover, with respect to the Established Church of England, that "if Church-rates were to be abolished, and the repairs of the church were to be provided for out of the public funds, I did not think that these funds could be provided out of the revenues of the Church." This was my opinion on the subject; it was my opinion respecting a question of fact, and I urged it in opposition to what was continually pressed upon me by many Dissenters in this House. When the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. Hume) stated that the revenues of the deans and chapters were sufficient to provide a substitute for Church-rates, I said, in opposition to that proposition, that I thought those revenues were not sufficient. But I added, that any surplus that might be obtained by diminishing the expenses of bishops, and deans, and chapters, should be, and might properly be, applied to the increase of small livings and the augmentation of spiritual instruction; and that I thought there would not be a sufficient surplus as a substitute for Church-rates. But is there any thing to prevent me changing my opinion if I find that greater sums can be obtained from an improved mode of collecting the property of the Church; when I find that there is sufficient for all the objects of the Church, giving to the Church that revenue which is necessary for its bishops, giving that revenue which is necessary for deans and chapters, and giving three millions to the parochial clergy—when I find, upon farther and more correct inquiry, that this is the case, is there anything inconsistent in my changing my opinion? Now I have begun on this part of the subject, I will argue a little further as to what the Church Commissioners propose with respect to that surplus of 130,000l. What I say is this; the surplus obtained, supposing it to be obtained, from this revenue of Church lands, is to secure peace and harmony in the country by the abolition of Church-rates. The Commissioners say that this sum of 130,000l. a year may be given to the promotion of religious instruction in the country. But it was argued by the hon. Member for Weymouth (Mr. F. Buxton), who spoke last night, that there were matters of more pressing urgency which demanded a greater supply from the funds of the Church. The Commissioners say, we think that the sums we propose could be given to the maintenance of the sees; and they recommend that not less than 15,000l. a year should be given to the Archbishop of Canterbury; that not less than 10,000l. a year should be given to the Bishop of London; and they think that these sums should be given for the sake of supporting the dignity of the Church, and for the maintenance of the hierarchy. They would reserve no greater surplus to supply the spiritual demands of the people. The Commissioners calculate the probable extent of the fund applicable to the purpose of increasing the provision for the parochial clergy, at not less than 30,000l.; and they say:—"The alterations which we have proposed, with respect both to the arrangement of dioceses and the constitution of deans and chapters, appear to us to render it expedient that a change should be made in the exercise of the patronage which is now vested in the last-mentioned bodies. We recommend that such regulations should be adopted as may leave it in the power of deans and chapters, under certain restrictions, to give preferment to the members of their own body, and to the minor canons, who may reasonably look to them for reward after a certain period of service; and that where a presentation to any benefice in their gift is not required for these purposes, it should pass, in some cases, to the Crown, and in others to the bishop of the diocese, in which either the cathedral or the benefice may be respectively situate." I think, Sir, I have shown, that with respect to the matter of the spiritual demands of what I am told are two millions of the people, though the Church Commissioners thought it right to provide for that, yet, in the first place, they did not think it right to trench on what was due to the dignity of the hierarchy of this country; and, in the second place, they did not think it right to trench on what was due to the patronage of the Crown, and of the bishops, and the expectations of the clergy. Why, if this was the opinion of the Church Commissioners—and I humbly bowed to their opinion—if it was their opinion that the demands for spiritual instruction were great, but great as they were they should be postponed for the sake of providing what might be considered a munificent income for the hierarchy—if the Church Commissioners say this, is it not to be permitted to us, simple as we are, while we admit that the spiritual demands for the instruction of these uninstructed millions are great, also to feel that the demands which are made on us for the establishment of religious peace are of a most urgent description, and that we are as fully entitled to provide for that object as the Church Commissioners were entitled to provide for the dignity of the hierarchy and the patronage of the clergy? But I venture to say, with regard to the justice of the principle, we have left, and propose to leave, everything that is thought necessary to be provided for the immediate wants of the Church: we have left about three millions and a half of the revenues of the Church to be disposed of in the manner, as to income, which the heads of the Church thought necessary. But if a new or increased income can be provided, are we not to avail ourselves of that new income to provide against that which proclaims itself aloud as a grievance to the State, whether or not it be a grievance to the Dissenters? Having spoken of this preliminary objection on a point of principle, I will now speak of the plan, as I think it will affect the various interests of the Church; and fearful as I am of detaining and fatiguing the House, I must beg to be allowed to advert to the general principle on which I consider the proposed Bill to have been framed. In a country like this, where there is an Established Church, but where there is likewise established, as was very properly said by Lord Mansfield, "freedom for the Dissenter," it is right, in my opinion, in the first place, to take care that the revenues of the Church should be kept as clear as possible from bringing the clergy into collision and quarrel with those who have to make the payments; and with respect to the Dissenter, it was right to give him every opportunity of carrying on his religious worship without being excited to hostile feelings against the Establishment. I say, that the furtherance of those principles is essential for the interests of the Church and those of the Dissenter alike. These are principles which tend to make the Church secure, and tend to make the Dissenter free; these are principles which tend to make both the Church and the Dissenter unite in the promotion of the Christian religion, and not interrupt their labours in this regard by unseemly quarrels and disturbances. Now, my hon. Friend, the Member for Oxford, will tell me whether (I don't expect him to agree to the plan I propose)—but he will tell me whether there is anything wrong, or destructive, or hostile to religion, in entertaining such a project? With these objects in view, it was our care last year, to endeavour to make such a settlement of tithes as would leave the clergyman no longer to dispute his income with the farmers or occupiers, but it would give him the opportunity of settling fairly with the occupiers of land. With the same view an attempt was made to allow the Dissenter to register the birth of his child, or to perform the marriage ceremony in his own chapel, without being compelled to have recourse to the Church. Those Bills were both in furtherance of this object; and in furtherance of the same object is the measure we now propose, which, by providing for the repair of the churches in a different manner from at present, will prevent those assemblies and vestries, throughout the country, where the Dissenter attacks the Church, where the Dissenter is supported by the Churchman who wishes to save his money, and where, in the first place, angry feelings are excited, and, in the second place, the church is too frequently left without the means of repair. Let it not be said, that this is only the case in those town parishes in which great contests have arisen. I find in a pamphlet which maintains a principle very different from that of this Bill, which maintains that the law ought to be strengthened, a similar statement made by an archdeacon fully qualified to speak to that point. The pamphlet described the difficulties experienced in several rural districts in attempts to get vestries to make Church-rates. To the same effect I have a letter, in which the writer states, that though persons in the country are ready to sign petitions against the abolition of Church-rates, yet the Churches are in so bad a state of repair, that the gentry in the neighbourhood dread having to visit them in the winter season. I now come to that portion of the speech of the right hon. Baronet, to which I shall advert but shortly—I mean that part of his speech in which he asserted that this measure would fail as regarded the financial calculations on which it was founded. I shall leave the task of replying more fully to those objections, to my right hon. Friend who proposed the plan; but I may be allowed to say, the statements of the right hon. Baronet did not give me much reason to doubt the soundness of my right hon. Friend's calculations. One statement of the right hon. Baronet, on which he laid considerable stress was, that the sum of 30,000l. would be required for the management of this property, and the right hon. Baronet proposed to add that to the demands on the fund; but he forgot that Church property is now subject to a considerable expense for management; the number of clerks and other officers now employed, rendered the expense probably much greater at present than it would be under the proposed Bills. In the see of Durham alone, the expense of management is 2,000l. a year; so that instead of a large charge on that account, according to the reckoning of the right hon. Baronet, there is every probability that we shall derive from that source alone a considerable sum. The right hon. Baronet has expressed his doubts of the sum being as great as it has been estimated, because it may not be twenty-four years' deferred annuity, but an annuity deferred for thirty years. If, however, 260l. represents an annuity deferred for twenty-four years, it must be a greater sum that represents an annuity deferred for thirty years. I know, with respect to the Irish Church Act, that it was stated by my noble Friend opposite (Lord Stanley), that 1l. claimed at the time, represents what would be 5l. at the end of twenty-one years; but if this annuity came into operation at the end of two or three years, the 1l. would represent a sum much less, and if it came into operation at the end of a term exceeding twenty-one years, of course it would represent a sum greater. If the annuity were deferred for only five years, the sum a person would advance at present would be greater in proportion to the whole sum. The result of the calculations made, was, that if it were deferred for thirty years, this sum of 260,000l. would represent, instead of 1,300,000l., 1,986,000l., and instead of a surplus of 250,000l., my right hon. Friend would have a surplus of upwards of 300,000l. I think I am entitled to say, after this, that we ought not to how all at once to the right hon. Gentleman's authority. Let us rather allow this Bill to be gone into; let the House allow Mr. Finlayson to be heard on the other side; and do not let us conclude at once that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Treasury, and Mr. Finlayson, all are wrong in their calculations. Grant these parties a hearing before you decide that their calculations must be erroneous. I come now to that part of the plan which affects the whole measure: I mean that part which affects the Church lessees. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn) said last night, as has been said with a sneer in another place, that he could not imagine where the surplus, where the "hereditas jacens," as he called it—a phrase I have now for the first time learnt the use of—could have been discovered by my right hon. Friend. If the right hon. Gentleman had applied to the noble Lord sitting next to him (Lord Stanley), he could, no doubt, have enlightened the right hon. Gentleman on the subject. The noble Lord would have recollected having produced a plan to this House, by which he informed the House he would realise not less than 3,000,000l. of the value of the Church property in Ireland. But whether that sum was exactly the sum or not, that a considerable sum may be realised by a different tenure of property, I think no man can entertain a doubt. I am, however, almost ashamed to speak on this point, after what fell from the hon. Member for East Retford, on the same subject last night. If a man holds property which he is obliged to surrender at the expiration of any life, or at the end of seven or thirty years, and if he can change that holding into a tenure equivalent to a freehold, on which he may plant or build as he pleases, there is a new value created, which is a value to the person who possesses the property and to the person who occupies it. If it were not so, I really know not what would be the value of so many properties that have been held on mortmain, and enfranchised. We have a familiar illustration of the argument in the case of a person, who, not having a freehold, plants trees, and on the renewal of his term is obliged to pay for them, according to their value, when he cuts them down. But the right hon. Gentleman put, as an especial difficulty, some cases in which a great part of the land may be Church land, the rest being the lessee's own property. I am glad to be supplied by the right hon. Gentleman with that instance, because it enables me to point out, to a certain extent, what will be the beneficial working of these Bills. Their operation will be to enable a man who suffers, under that disagreeable tenure, part of his house and grounds being his own, and the other part only held under the Church, to convert the whole into freehold. In cases where an individual thus holds a portion of his lands upon the contingency, for example, of some old life dropping in, I think the power of thus converting his tenure, and escaping from all further inconvenience of the nature I allude to, forms, in itself, the best proof of the value of the arrangement we propose to the lessees. With respect to the right of obtaining some advantage from the lessee, I do not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman, or the right hon. Gen- tleman, can either of them make out that we are not entitled to ask some advantage from the lessee. I could state to the House many instances that have come to my own knowledge, in which those leases have fallen in, and in which the bishop has refused to renew, or in which he has put in a concurrent lease, and the original lease has been altogether destroyed. That right was exercised by the late Bishop of Ely; and while it exists, let no man tell me the lessees have the right of renewal. I have been told, on the authority of a solicitor in Durham, with respect to that county, that in 1790 the value of the Church land was equal almost to freehold property; but in consequence of the difficult terms of renewal which had been enforced, of late years, Church land sold for fifteen or sixteen years' purchase. It is clear that there has been a great change as regards the terms on which these leases are renewed; and are we not entitled to take advantage of the right of renewal to obtain the advantage we contemplate. But passing from the lessees, I come to the objection stated to the plan in a petition—a very fair and calm petition, I admit—from the University of Oxford. That petition objects to the situation in which the measure places the bishops. We are told that the bishops at present are in the enjoyment of property, and according to these Bills they may become mere annuitants; that we are bound to provide for the great interests of religion; and that the independence of the bishops cannot be impaired without danger to those interests themselves. This is certainly a subject well worthy the consideration of the House. Those who labour for the instruction of the University of Oxford, ought to have informed that learned, but somewhat tardy, University, of the nature of the Bill which passed last year. It is true, before the Act I have referred to passed, the bishops had the control, without restriction as to leases, of the property of the Church; and it might be argued, as was formerly argued by Mr. Burke, that there is no question here of more or less, but of absolute right. "The Bishop of Durham," it might be said, "possesses as clear a right to his property as any man of landed property in the kingdom, and we are no more entitled to inquire what his income is, than we have to inquire what is the income of the lay proprietors." This might have been the state of things formerly, but the Act of last year has placed the revenues of the see of Durham upon a different footing. The Bishop of Durham has been commanded by that Act to transfer the sum of 2,000l. a year to the see of Ripon, and another 11,000l. a year he is commanded to pay into the hands of the Church Commissioners; and then the new Bishop created by this Act, is to receive further an annuity of 2,200l. from the Church Commissioners. Now, what is the situation of these two Bishops? The one, out of a varying and precarious income, is bound to pay 11,000l. a year to the Church Commissioners; the other is, to all intents and purposes, an annuitant upon those Commissioners. The one of these Bishops is clearly an annuitant; whilst the other is not exactly in that situation, which, as regards his own interests, could be said to be a very easy or comfortable one. It will he observed, that if the incomes of the see of Durham were to be depreciated, and fall, through any fortuitous circumstances, to 4,000l., 3,000l., or even 1,000l. a year, the Bishop would still be obliged to pay over 11,000l. to the Church Commissioners, and 2,000l. a year to the Bishop of Ripon. This being the case, no one can tell me that this Bishop is in a position to have unlimited command over the property in hand, or to exercise, under all circumstances, his own free will and inclination in its disposal; for he may be obliged, when he would rather not do so, to renew leases which may fall in, under very disadvantageous circumstances, in order to meet this certain, unvarying, and imperative annual call. Say the Bishop's income amounts, on an average, to 19,000l. a year; out of this he has to pay 11,000l., reserving the other 8,000l. for himself. But if, instead of taking the chance of the lives which fall in, by which in one year he might get 22,000l., and in another only 10,000l., we say to him, "we will take care that you shall always receive 19,000l., out of which you may with regularity meet the demand against you of 11,000l. a year, and with as much certainty reserve the 8,000l. a year to yourself;"—I say, that if we were to do this, so far from doing an injury to the Bishop of Durham, we should he conferring a great benefit upon him, by attaching a greater degree of certainty to his income—I say, as things now stand, the principle upon which the bishops receive their income is all desirable. I think the example of a bishop arrived at old age, and being afraid of leaving his family unprovided for; and the example of a bishop with a young life, who is desirous of running that life against lives of lessees, putting in the lives of nephews and nieces on the one hand, or himself on the other, compose a spectacle which does not tend to elevate the character or increase the respectability of the Church. So much with regard to the character of this measure as it regards the bishops. With respect to the management of the property of the Church, the Commission which we propose to appoint, will consist in the majority of members of the Church; whilst, at the same time, I admit that the management of the landed property of the Church will be mainly conducted by the three lay Commissioners, who will be appointed for the purpose. Two of these Commissioners will be appointed by the Crown, the other by the Church. Now, if it had been proposed to me, that, instead of this, two of the Commissioners should be appointed by the Church, and one only by the Crown, I should have been quite ready to listen and accede to that alteration. But in order to do that, it is necessary that we should have the Bill, and that we should go into Committee upon it. I repeat, that I am quite ready to assent to any alterations in the details of the measure which, on consideration, may be deemed advisable; but before I can accede to anything of the kind, we must have the Bill in our hands on which we propose to introduce these alterations. The hon. Member for East Retford assures me, that after having belonged to the Church Commission, I have made an utensil of the Church. I, on the other hand, must rather say, that the Church Commission has made an utensil of me. We went into the Commission upon this subject, in conjunction with the prelates of the Church who formed part of it, with the full desire and intention of listening to all the plans for the reform of the Church which they could suggest, with a sincere wish, whilst we directed our attention to the correction of abuses in that Establishment, to do so in a way as compatible as possible with the views and sentiments of its Prelates. I gave my consent to the propositions which were then agreed upon, but, at the same time, I must remark, that those propositions were more theirs than mine. And I must take this opportunity of remarking, in answer to what fell from the hon. Member for Weymouth, what the members of the Church Commission know full well, that I said I should have been desirous that no prebend should receive more than 4,000l.,, and that no canon should have more than 2,000l. a-year. But whilst this was my own opinion, I was willing, nevertheless, to adopt the scheme for the reform of certain abuses which was framed by the Commission. I proposed that scheme to the House, and when the hon. Member for Middlesex warned me that by acting thus I was ruining the prospects of the Ministry to which I belong, I told him that, regardless of consequences, I had adopted that measure, and that I was determined to stand or fall by it, conceiving the honour of the Administration to be involved in it. In doing this are we to be accused of having ill-treated the Church Commission? On the contrary, we showed ourselves ready to experience and to brave some obloquy if, in concurrence with the heads of the Church, we could pass some measure calculated to be of real and efficient service to the best interest of the Church. It has been suggested by the hon. Member for Weymouth, and by other hon. Gentlemen opposite, that even if we can fairly procure the surplus we look to by means of a better management of Church property, it would be desirable to apply it to the increase of the means of spiritual instruction throughout the country. I am fully aware of the importance of the object here alluded to, and I am ready to concert the adoption of any measure by which the spread of spiritual instruction may be promoted. At the same time, however, I am somewhat in doubt as to the efficiency of any plan which should go no further than to the building of churches and the placing of ministers in their pulpits. In addition to this we must have that means of instruction which conveys it from home to home, from door to door, before we can be said to have made the blessing of that instruction generally available. Of the importance of this instruction I am fully aware, and that large numbers of the population throughout the country are now without it I am ready to admit. But at the same time I must say, that the most pressing want which we have to look to just now is the establishment of a feeling of peace and concord between the Church and the people. My belief is, that if that feeling of good will were once established, we should not long stand in the want of the means of affording spiritual instruction to the whole population of the kingdom. I am glad when I see this spiritual instruction given by the Church, and I likewise rejoice when I see it extended by the Dissenters. Now, as to the opinion of the Dissenters upon this subject, there are some who say, "We object to any claim made on behalf of an Established Church for pecuniary support from the general body of the State. "With that view of the case, as I have always said, I entirely disagree. At the same time, there are those who say, that they are quite ready to admit of any proposals for the improved management of the affairs of the Church, as in tithes and so forth, but that being already burdened by heavy expense, they think that the property of the Church is sufficient for all its necessities, and fully adequate, amongst the rest, to keeping in repair the edifices of the establishment. In my opinion this position of the Dissenters is a fair and reasonable one; and I will not forego the passing of a measure which goes to acquiesce in so reasonable a demand, a measure so likely to establish religious peace throughout the country, because I may be taunted with endeavouring to count the suffrages and support of the Dissenters of this country. I have always had the highest respect for the Dissenters of this country, and I do say, that, putting aside all political differences which may arise on many subjects between us, in their efforts to promote religious instruction in quarters where it has been most wanted, they have been most unremitting, and in the highest degree serviceable; their efforts have been extended to afford the sublime hope of religious inspiration to men heretofore of grovelling intellects, and to create a nobler and more elevated character in men of rude and wilful passions. For services like these in the cause of humanity the Dissenters are entitled to the regard and respect of every member of the community—of every man who has at heart the improvement of his species and the social character of the community to which he belongs. I rejoice, therefore, when consistently with the maintenance of the Established Church upon its present footing, and of all its just rights— consistently with the splendour and pomp of its hierarchies—I am able to accord relief to these excellent and true-hearted Dissenters in a case of which they have long complained, and on which they are bent on obtaining redress. I do so the more readily because I am convinced this measure which I now advocate may be the means of laying the foundation of a better order of things—an order of things in which we shall no longer hear the Churchman say, that the only object of the Dissenter is to distress and ruin the Church Establishment, and the Dissenter, on the other hand, assert, that the great object of the Churchman is to degrade and insult the Dissenters—an order of things in which, with better sympathies for one another, unfettered by prejudices and jealousy of feeling, both Dissenters and Churchmen may meet on the one common ground on which they do not differ in opinion, and, pursuing uninterruptedly their career of usefulness, may contribute not only to the spread of religion, but to the general peace and concord of this country, and to the uniting together of the hearts of all his Majesty's subjects.

The Chairman reported progress, and the Committee was ordered to sit again.

The House resumed.

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