HC Deb 23 March 1838 vol 41 cc1207-9

On the motion of Mr. Gally Knight, this Bill was read a third time: on the question that it pass,

Mr. Baines

said, that before the Bill was passed he had a clause to propose, which he had before brought under the consideration of the House, and which he had now so modified that be hoped it would be found unobjectionable. At this late hour, now after midnight, he should not enter at any length into the reasons for proposing this addition to the Bill, but should content himself with stating generally, that originally the governorship of Queen Anne's bounty was principally lay, but that it had now become entirely clerical—in reality, the Bishops were the only existing governors—and all the other governors were, by the course that was pursued, in effect excluded from the management of the funds. The Bishops alone had notice of the time and place of holding the meetings or Courts of Directors; no other persons, though there were 400 or 500 other governors, were invited to attend, and of course no others did attend: for of upwards of 100 Courts of Governors held during the last ten years, it appeared from a return which he had moved for in this House, and which was now upon the table, that not a single layman had been present at one, and that for the reason he had stated, because they were not informed in any way whatever either of the time or place of holding the meetings, while there was previously to any such court or meeting a circular sent by the treasurer of the bounty fund to all the bishops, but to none other of the governors. He (Mr. Baines) thought it desirable, on many accounts, which were too obvious to require particular explanation, that the mixed character of the governorship should be restored, and as Queen Anne in her original charter had provided that there should at least be two laymen present at every court, a privy councillor and a judge or Queen's counsel,—the effect of the clause which he now offered 4) the House was—first, to insist that the holding of the courts should be advertised in the London Gazette, and, secondly, to provide that the proceedings of no court should be held valid, unless, at least, two laymen out of a quorum of seven governors were present.

Clause brought up. On the motion that it be read a second time,

Mr. Goulburn

opposed it on the ground that it was interfering with the power of the Crown, as it had in its original charter reserved to itself the power of making alterations in the constitution of the board. No doubt at the original constitution of the board, certain laymen had been appointed on it, but it was found impossible to make these persons attend; therefore an alteration was made. At any rate, it was impossible that the House could proceed with the present clause unless the consent of the Crown had been previously notified.

The Solicitor-General

said, that he should not like the clause to be opposed on the ground that had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman, the want of the previous consent of the Crown, but he felt that there was an insuperable objection to the very principle of it. The clause proposed to make it necessary that one of the judges, or one of the Queen's counsel, should be present to constitute a board. Now, it was a general subject of complaint, that the judges had already so much to do, and it would be impossible to enforce the attendance of Queen's counsel. Unless they had some persons belonging to this class habitually to attend, the clause would only do harm, and there would be the semblance of security which only existed in name. The attendance of the class proposed by the hon. Gentleman never could be assured without some inducement.

Mr. Baines

said, that the right hon. Gentlemen who had urged their objection of the want of consent of the Crown as a bar to his motion, had forgotten one very material consideration, and that was, that if it was an impediment to the introduction of the clause which he (Mr. Baines) proposed for restoring the board to its original constitution, it was an objection to the whole Bill now before the House, every part of which as much required the assent of the Crown as the clause he had the honour to propose; and he begged to ask his hon. Friend, the Member for Nottinghamshire, whether he had the consent of the Crown for the introduction of all the other clauses that related to the altered constitution of the Board? If not, and if the doctrine held by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Cambridge, was to be insisted upon, the Bill must be withdrawn till the consent of the Crown was obtained for its numerous provisions. No answer being returned to this appeal, and the objection being thus removed, Mr. Baines proceeded to say, that as to the objection made by his hon. and learned Friend, the Solicitor General, it did not appear of much force. The number of Privy Councillors was very considerable, and so was the number of Queen's Counsel, and surely one of each of these, if the Judges could not attend, might be expected to be present at proceedings in conducting the business of a Board, which involved the interests of 10,000 poor clergymen; and so strongly was his mind impressed with the necessity of the presence of laymen at all such Boards, that he should feel it to be his duty to divide the House upon it. His objection to the Boards of Governors, as they had been held for a long period past, was not an objection of form, but of substance; for it might happen that questions would arise at those Boards—indeed, they were now almost sure to arise—whether the Board, as trustees for the poor clergy, and as guardians of their interest, ought not to apply to Parliament to have the first fruits and tenths paid upon their improved value at the present day, rather than upon their value in the time of King Henry 8th. And as the Bishops, who now solely managed the funds, had a clear and distinct interest in keeping the payment down according to the ancient valuation, by which they were required to pay not one-tenth part of what was fairly due to the poor clergy, it was proper that lay governors, who had no such interests, should be present to protect the rights of the poor clergy, by aiding any effort that might be made, in or out of Parliament, on behalf of the persons who were to derive benefit from this fund, and from its due augmentation.

The House divided:—Ayes 9; Noes 37: Majority 28.

List of the AYES.
Beamish, F. B. Salwey, Colonel
Brocklehurst, J. Thornley, Thomas
Brotherton, J. Wallace, R.
Hawes, B. TELLERS.
Macleod, R. Baines, E.
O'Connell, M. J. Kinnaird, hon. A.
List of the NOES.
Acland, T. D. Lefroy, right hon. T.
Baring, F. T. Lennox, Lord A.
Bateson, Sir R. Litton, Edward
Campbell, W. F. Mackenzie, W. F.
Canning, Sir S. Nicholl, J.
Chalmers, P. Perceval, Colonel
Clements, Viscount Plumptre, J. P.
Cole, Viscount Protheroe, Edward
Craig, W. Gibson Reddington, T. N.
Divett, Edward Roche, D.
Douglas, Sir C. Rolfe, Sir R. M.
Duke, Sir James Seymour, Lord
Forbes, W. Shaw, Frederick
Gladstone, W. Sibthorp, Colonel
Goulburn, H. Sinclair, Sir George
Hillsborough, Earl Stanley, E. J.
Howard, P. H. Tollemache, F. J.
Hughes, W. B. TELLERS.
Ingham, Robert Barneby, John
Knight, Henry Gally Inglis, Sir R. H.

Bill passed.