§ Lord J. Russell moved, that the Clerk at the Table do read certain extracts from Addresses in answer to Speeches from the Throne, relating to Ecclesiastical Reform.
having read the following passage from the Address of the Commons in answer to the Speech from the Throne, at the opening of the Session of 1833:—Our attention will also be directed to the state of the Church, more particularly as regards its temporalities and the maintenance of the clergy; that we are aware of the complaints which have arisen from the collection of tithes, and that in any change of system which may in consequence appear to be necessary we shall be anxious, without diminishing the means of maintaining the established clergy in respectability and usefulness, to prevent the collision of interests and the consequent disagreement and dissatisfaction which have too frequently prevailed between the ministers of the Church and the parishioners: we shall also be ready to consider what remedies may be applied for the correction of acknowledged abuses, and whether the revenues of the Church may not admit of a more equitable and judicious distribution," &c.
§ Lord J. Russell
said, he would move, that the passages in subsequent Addresses be entered as read; and in moving the Second reading of the Ecclesiastical Duties and Revenues Bill, said he had asked the Clerk at the table to read several extracts from the Addresses agreed to by the House in answer to royal Speeches from the Throne made during past years, because he wished to point out to the House, before it entered into the consideration of this important bill, that measures for Church reform had been under the consideration of different Governments; that they were first proposed by the Administration of Earl Grey; that then, after the appointment of the Ecclesiastical Commission, they were subsequently noticed in the Speech made by the advice of Sir R. Peel during his Administration; and, lastly, that it had been before this Session, and likewise in the present year, recommended to the attention of Parliament by the Administration of her Majesty. He wished to point out these recommendations to the House, because he thought that in several discussions which had lately taken place, it seemed to be doubted whether measures for rendering more efficient the Established Church had met with the recommendations of so many persons holding high situations in the Government of the country, who had, as it were, without any 850 difference of opinion, agreed in recommending to the House the consideration of this important subject. In addition to those who had held high office in the State, the recommendation which had been made by the Church Commission had likewise received the sanction of the two Archbishops, the Bishop of London, and two other esteemed prelates of the Church; and he might say, therefore, that with these recommendations, the bill came before the House with as great authority, both political and ecclesiastical, as any measure that had ever been recommended to the House; and, perhaps, with greater authority than any. But, as this subject had been much discussed in the beginning of the present year, he felt that it might be useful to take some retrospect of what had been done upon the various subjects thus recommended to the attention of Parliament. One of the evils which was considered the most prominent in connexion with this subject, and which was pointed out by every writer on the subject, as well as by many who took part in political life, was the great inequality in the revenues of the bishops. When in the year 1833 these measures were first recommended to Parliament, there was the bishopric of Durham, with more than 20,000l. a-year, and another bishopric with 11,000l. a-year, another with 900l., or at most with 1,200l. a-year; Rochester with 1,500l., and Exeter, Hereford, and some others, with between 2,000l. and 3,000l. a-year only. In consequence of this inequality and the inadequacy of the revenues of some sees, numerous benefices and dignities had been attached in commendam to the revenues of those bishops who held the small dioceses. This practice, undoubtedly was considered a very great scandal to the Church; it was undoubtedly considered that those who held these appointments had their time fully occupied in their bishoprics, and were therefore unable to attend to the duties of their benefices or other dignities of a prebendal nature. Therefore one of the first measures of Church reform recommended by a Government which preceded the present, went to provide that some of the revenues should be applied to another to make up the income, so that neither should there be a great excess of income on the part of some bishoprics, nor a deficiency of income on the part of others. In consequence of this, the see of Durham has been reduced to the income of 8,000l., and the surplus revenue of the diocese above that amount bad been 851 applied to other sees. The next measure to which the attention of Parliament was directed, had reference to the much-litigated subject of tithes. The revenues of the clergy in tithes was a matter which exposed them to constant disputes and quarrels with their parishioners; the system made their incomes extremely uncertain: it caused their stipends to be less, according to the kindness and indulgence of the incumbents in remitting their tithes; and it caused those incomes to rise according to the strictness with which the incumbents exacted their rights. A bill had accordingly been passed through Parliament to deal with that most important subject, and the Commission, which had now been in operation more than two years and a-half, had already confirmed 2,190 agreements, giving an income to the holders of tithes of about 750,000l. He would not insist on any calculation with regard to the amount of income thereby secured to the clergy, but what be did insist upon was this, that the clergy, by this method, were receiving an income which was now far more certain than formerly, and which was greater in a number of instances. It could not then be said, that this had worked any money disadvantage to the clergy; for though it disarmed them of their right to press on the agriculture of the country, and to take the tenth of the production of the land, still they received a certain income without dispute or quarrel, and for the present those incomes had been, he repeated, augmented in numerous instances. The next measure recommended, not by the Government alone, but by the Government in connexion with the Church Commission, was the bill of last year with respect to pluralities and non-residence, which went to remedy one of the most crying evils of the former state of things. If anybody would consult the book called the Clerical Guide for the year 1836, he would see the names of a great many persons holding together more than one dignity and living—in short, that a great number held no less than five different preferments in the Church; a still greater number held more than four; and a very great number held three preferments in the Church. According to the Act passed last year, this-abuse was remedied, and it was enacted, that in certain cases no clergyman should hold two livings, or more than one cathedral preferment with a living; and there was, in that measure, this further restriction, that no clergyman could hold two benefices 852 which were distant from each other more than ten miles, or if his amount of income exceeded 1,000l., then he was incapable of holding those two livings together. There were various other provisions, some of them most important, in that bill—provisions for uniting small livings—for disuniting inconvenient unions, and for building glebe-houses; in short, that bill made very great alterations in the rules with regard to exemption from residence, and also with respect to the holding of pluralities. These, then, were the measures which hitherto had been introduced and passed through Parliament, and, considering the very great outcry which had been made upon the subject, he thought it could hardly be denied that these measures, instead of diminishing, had augmented the revenues and influence of the clergy; they had not restrained any of their proper privileges, but had only restrained abuses—they had not been a source of weakness, but of strength to the Church, to which in no way laid they been injurious. He came then to the measure now proposed to the House, a measure affecting cathedral dignities, and proposing the means by which very small livings might be increased, and additional incomes provided for the clergy in populous towns and places where at present there were neither churches nor incumbents. The calculations of the Church Commissioners were, supposing that certain livings should be raised to an amount not very extravagant, but raising those of 300l. a-year (which were under 2,000 livings) by 150l., and also supposing that the stipends of parishes containing a population of 10,000 were raised to 400l.—that a sum of 145,195l. would be required, and that supposing, instead of 400l., those who had these large livings only had 300l. per annum, still 130,495l. would be requisite. The report of the Church Commissioners stated, that a great number of parishes in London and the dioceses of York and Chester were without spiritual instruction, and it was on these grounds that the Commissioners took into consideration the means by which these great evils might in some respects be remedied. It did not, however, appear to them certainly, nor did it appear to any who had objected to their plans, that it would be practicable for Parliament to give any large sum out of the revenues of the State, as the University of Oxford had prayed, in orders to supply the existing deficiency of religious instruction. He thought, if such a grant were asked, 853 the spirit of Parliament and particularly of that House would have said, "Before we augment out of the funds of the public any of the small livings—before we open new incomes and new benefices, we must see whether there is any part of the splendour of the Church which is superfluous—whether or not some of the incomes of the clergy are unnecessary." Proceeding on their own view, the Church Commissioners had examined into the state of the cathedral foundations in this country, they had found that those on the old foundations, the canons not residentiary, had in fact no duties to perform, or held the preferment generally on the performance of the duty of preaching one sermon in a year, or some other similar duty. There were again many others whose attendance at the cathedral though constant, did not seem necessary for the performance of the duties of the Church. The Church Commissioners, therefore, considered whether they could provide those things which were necessary for the cathedral service, and for the due reward of clergymen of exemplary and distinguished piety by preferments under the Crown, and at the same time secure a fund which might be available to supply the spiritual wants of the country. They unanimously agreed, that it would be Sufficient to have a dean and four prebends attached to each cathedral; that by means of those clergymen and four canons the cathedral service might be duly and regularly performed; that these preferments would supply a sufficient number of rewards, and that the rest of the revenues might properly be applied to the more pressing wants of the Church. He had seen nothing in the objections made to the scheme, and which had been published in pamphlets, or reports of speeches, which induced him to alter the opinion which he, as a Member of the Commission, had agreed to. It was true, that there might be some cases of hardship arising from this proposed change, particularly in Wales, but altogether he did not think there was any mode by which the object could be better accomplished than the one proposed. He had already stated, that it would be impracticable to ask Parliament for any great increase of the funds of the Church until the question of cathedral preferments was examined into, and any surplus they could afford to spare was ascertained. There was, indeed, another mode which might have been proposed, and which seemed from the first report of the Commissioners to have been 854 considered. That mode consisted rather in applying tithes and other revenues to the use of the places only whence they arose, and not allowing of their application to other parts of the country and to large towns. That question had been ably treated by a person now, he lamented to say, no more, but whose name deserved universal respect and reverence—he meant the late Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry, than whom a Prelate of more zealous piety and attention to discipline never existed in the Church. That right rev. Prelate dissented from the latter plan, which in his opinion, would be unsatisfactory to the community at large, and concluded by suggesting a middle course, and giving a scale by which he took care that where the tithes and revenues were derived from a parish, at least 100l. per annum should be applied to that parish, and that the remaining income should be applied to the general wants of the church in populous towns and places in the country where the incomes of the clergy were small. Now, without laying down any scale, he might say, he thought the proposition of the Church Commissioners, as contained in the 59th Clause of the bill, would carry into effect that which the late Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry had in contemplation. It was proposed by that clause, that any sums derived from the diminution of prebendal and other sinecures, and of sinecure cathedral preferments and rectories, should be applied, after a due consideration of the wants of the places in which they accrued, to the general wants of the clergy. The Clause was in theme words—That the lands, tithes, hereditaments, monies and revenues, to be vested in, and paid to the said Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England, under and by virtue of the provisions of this Act, shall be, after a due consideration of the wants and circumstances of the places in which they accrue, from time to time applied by the authority hereinafter provided to the purpose of making additional provision for the cure of souls in parishes where such assistance is most required, in such manner as shall be most conducive to the efficiency of the Established Church.In that manner the income which would be derived from the suppression of these unnecessary parts of the Church Establishment would be made of very great use in the pastoral instruction of the people. He had already stated, that the sum of 130,495l. would be required to raise livings to the scale mentioned in one of the reports of the Church Commissioners, 855 namely, 300l. per annum, and the total produce from the fund proposed to be raised by this bill would be 134,251l., and, therefore, there would be means from that fund of gradually supplying the pressing wants of the Church. There were other wants in the cases of benefices in private patronage, and of large towns with immense populations forming but one parish. For these wants, however, the present plan did not provide; but he thought that when these exertions on the part of the Church—these sacrifices made by those who had the patronage, both lay and ecclesiastical, were seen, that there would be great exertions made by the people at large, as, indeed, had already been seen, and that those wants would, to a considerable extent, be thus supplied. It was well known, for instance, his hon. Friend, the Member for Middlesex (Mr. Byng), had, in one year given 2,000l. to the general fund for the erection of churches, besides contributing between 4,0001. and 5,000l. previously given towards the erection of different churches. There were, besides, great numbers of persons who had subscribed in proportion to the wants arising from increase of population, but he certainly thought that if the Church had said, as it was proposed by the University of Oxford to say,—"We will keep up every establishment in the Church; we will keep up twenty prebendaries in one place, and fifteen or sixteen in another—in short, we will maintain all the sinecures," then it would be hopeless to expect that private individuals would make any efforts, or that these benefits from voluntary contributions ever would arise. With respect to various objections which had been made to this bill, he certainly did not think it necessary to enter into them, although when they were specifically stated in the House, he should be ready to meet them. There was one objection which had been made, but which lie felt it would be impossible to raise now in any consistency with the Acts of Parliament affecting the Church of the country. It was said by some persons that Parliament ought not to deal with this matter at all, or in any way to interfere with the revenue of the Church. He believed such a course would be totally inconsistent with all legislation from the time of Henry 8th to the present day. There bad constantly been such a connexion between the Church and the State, that while the State held an influence over the church, Parliament had from time to time 856 interfered in the regulation of the affairs and of the revenues of the Church. There were no doubt other objections stated by the members of chapters to any diminution of their number, but on examining their statement, it would be found, that what they describe as chapters, were not the chapters which now exist. They said, that the chapter was a council to the Bishop, but he did not believe, that for upwards of a hundred years any bishop had used them as his council. There was also another suggestion contained in one of the pamphlets which had been published on this subject—that the persons holding stalls in cathedrals might go round all the parishes in the diocese, and that the people would be glad to hear from one of the dignitaries of the Church, a confirmation of those doctrines which they were accustomed to hear from their own parish minister. He owned that he did not think this was ever done at present, or if done, he could not think such a practice would either be agreeable to the incumbent, or that dignitaries would be justified in asking incumbents of parishes to give up their pulpits to their use. He did not know, that now, in moving the second reading of this bill, he need go any further into the subject; he had stated the outline and principles of the bill: but not those particulars which formed the details of the bill. The principle of the bill was to leave the cathedral establishments in what the Church Commissioners, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and other Prelates, considered an efficient form, and at the same time, to procure a considerable sum for the supply of those spiritual wants now felt in populous districts of the country. As it was a reform, which, as he thought, would tend to increase the affections of the people towards the Church establishment—as he believed the ministers of the Church would not lose by it anything really of use to them, but would gain much by the example that the Church did not wish to retain anything at all useless, he trusted the House would have no difficulty in giving its assent to this bill. Certainly, if he were to consider only the interference with the patronage of the Crown and the patronage of the Bishops in their respective sees, he should not have proposed any scheme of this kind. The sacrifice made by the Crown, was to the extent of 50,000l. per annum, patronage, and there was a still greater sacrifice made on the part of the Bishops, but he did not propose this bill 857 with a view to promote the interests either of the Crown or the heads of the Church, but with the view of increasing the efficiency of the Church Establishment, and of adding to its usefulness. The noble Lord concluded by moving the second reading of the bill.
§ Sir R. Inglis
observed, that the noble Lord having stated all the measures which had been recommended by the Church Commissioners, it was not necessary for him to follow the noble Lord through any details of the measures on which the sanction of Parliament had been obtained. It was enough for him to state, that if the present bill bad the merit of consistency with former bills, it would not be redeemed in his eyes, nor would it be less objectionable to the people. His noble Friend had begun with an admission of the great amount of spiritual destitution which prevailed and of the duty of providing for this destitution by every means which came legitimately within the power of the Legislature. This destitution his noble Friend had properly stated to prevail throughout large tracts of the country, and particularly in the manufacturing districts. To the proposition, that it was quite requisite to provide for this lamentable amount of spiritual destitution, he readily assented. Surely, however, he might admit the existence of temporal destitution in the parish of St. Giles without thereby justifying or approving the specific measures which might be proposed for its alleviation, and precisely in that spirit he would proceed to consider the propriety of administering relief to that spiritual destitution, the existence of which was so much to be lamented, having reference to the propriety, nay, further, he would say to the legality of the measures proposed. Would it, for instance, be considered justifiable that for the sake of relieving the temporal destitution in St. Giles's, the noble Lord should levy contributions from all the large neighbouring parishes? And upon the same principle, he would ask, whether, because spiritual destitution pervaded the manufacturing districts, the cathedral property throughout the country should be alienated, not only without the consent of those who held it, but without even the imputation of any crime, or an allegation that any serious misappropriation had taken place? Were they, without, at all events, the slightest proof of any such misappropriation, to be utterly deprived of the control of that property? He had always most strenuously objected to 858 this, which he called a confiscation of property, but to which the Church Commissioners applied the more courteous epithet of a re-distribution. He thought he could see some elder sons around and before him who, although they did not deny the comparative destitution of their younger brothers, would be very slow, indeed, to give their assent to a similar re-distribution of their property, and would be very apt to term it a confiscation. He never for a moment, disputed the existence of a very large amount indeed of spiritual destitution; on the contrary, he asserted it, and was most desirous to see it legitimately provided for; but he denied the justice of taking from the chapter of Durham to give to that of Exeter, or from Exeter to give to Chichester. He maintained, that such a re-distribution amounted to a virtual confiscation. The proposed bill was inconsistent with the original intention which was stated upon the appointment of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Three objects were stated. The first was, that the fullest consideration should be forthwith given to the state of the several dioceses throughout England and Wales, with reference to the amount of revenues, the more equal distribution of episcopal jurisdiction, and also the more equal division of benefices and of the cure of souls. This object had been met by what he thought was a great sacrifice of principle by the bill which had passed through that House three years ago. The third object was to provide in an especial manner for the cure of souls, with a particular reference to the residence of the clergy within the limits of their respective benefices. This object would be attained in a great degree by the measure which had been introduced by his noble Friend last year. But when his noble Friend now introduced a bill for the better distribution of ecclesiastical revenues, how could his noble Friend reconcile the provisions of that bill with the second of the three objects which had been stated upon the appointment of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners? That object was to take into consideration the state of the existing churches in England and Wales, "with a view to provide such means as might render them most conducive to the efficiency of the Established Church." He maintained that it was not to conduce to the efficiency of the Established Church to deprive the clergy of their incomes and re-partition them in the manner proposed. But how were they to render the chapters 859 more efficient? Why, if they pleased, by making them endowed schools of theology, or by applying them to any other purpose which was not inconsistent with the objects for which they were founded. In reference to the destitution to which his noble Friend had adverted, he would say, that it was the urgent duty of all the friends of the Church to meet that destitution by every legitimate means in their power. His noble Friend had adverted to a passage in the petition from the University of Oxford, applying for a grant of money, as the most effectual means of providing a remedy for this destitution. His noble Friend seemed to think, that this prayer was hopeless. If it were necessary to make such a call, and if the noble Lord were to shrink from the responsibility, he would not hesitate to make it himself, relying on the good sense and religious feelings of the people of England. Surely, it was not forgotten how, in the midst of the most expensive war in which this country had ever been engaged, a very large annual sum had been voted, almost unanimously—adopted, certainly, with the concurrence of the great body, not only of that House, but the country at large—for this very purpose. Was he to despair, that the nation would return to a sense of its duty, because, for some time past, what he might term a temporary insanity, had prevailed with regard to the Church? He had always been convinced, that there was an essential identity of principle in all corporate property, whether it was vested in lay or spiritual persons. For his part, he could see no distinction whatever between the custos, minor canons, and vicars choral of the cathedral of Hereford, on the one hand, and the corporation of London on the other. If they were prepared to take from the city of London a portion of its property, and allocate it to the uses of the corporation of Liverpool, then, and not till then, would he consider them at liberty to meddle with the property of the cathedral of Hereford. If they agreed, that they were at liberty to appropriate the dock duties of Liverpool to the uses of the corporation of Bristol, then, and not till then, would he admit that they were at liberty to allocate the revenues of the chapter of Durham to the relief of any of the poorer districts in Wales. Therefore it was that, admitting the property of the Church to be not exactly received in the same way, or to be so entirely under its control as was the property of the Dukes of Norfolk and Northumberland, he had al- 860 ways held the property of the cathedral of Durham to be as sacred and secure from any invasion in the shape of re-distribution as the property of the Earl of Durham. He held, that the chapters with which this bill proposed to deal, formed a congeries of corporate bodies—that every one of those bodies was as essentially entitled to the enjoyment and exercise of its own independent rights—he did not now, for a moment, confound corporate rights with those of individuals—as the municipal corporations were entitled to the privilege of independently asserting theirs; and that the rights of the chapter of Exeter were as essentially distinct from those of the chapter of Durham as the rights of the corporation of Liverpool were from those of the city of London. Was it clear, that by diminishing the number of the dignitaries of the Church, they would not be depriving the Church of that large annual accession of persons whose emolument as well as dignity might be some attraction to induce them to eater it; and whose parents, not having any very strong sense of religion in their own hearts, might hesitate to send their children to a calling so clipped of its just and reasonable provisions for their temporal maintenance? There could be no doubt, that some of the brightest ornaments of the Church would never have been sent into the Church by their parents, if they had no reason to expect that they should be enabled to rise beyond that modicum of income which was now proposed. Was the noble Lord aware, that a very large proportion indeed of independent income was introduced annually into the Church? The aggregate income of the Church, notwithstanding all the exaggerations which had gone forth upon this subject, was stated now upon incontestible authority to be not more than 3,300,000l.; and the probability was, that the independent private property introduced into the Church, was not less in amount. All the property thus introduced went to the maintenance of those charities by which the clergy had so endeared themselves to the people, of whose interest and affection they had become very generally the objects. In one chapter, with which he was well acquainted, within the last thirty-six years, there had been allocated to the relief of the poor livings in their gift, the sum of 14,000l. He knew another chapter, by which the sum of 15,000l. had been similarly allocated. All this had passed through the Commissioners for Queen Anne's Bounty. 861 A sum, in short, of not less than 50,000l. had been distributed in this manner by the chapters; and this source of bounty to the Church would be entirely cut off by the bill which was now proposed, which reduced the number of the canons, and, limiting their incomes, deprived them of the physical power of continuing that benevolence which they had exercised so well. There were numerous other instances in which by purely voluntary donations from the chapters, as much good had been effected as could possibly be attained by degrading them into what they would hereafter become—stipendiaries of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. When the noble Lord introduced his first bill upon this subject, he had been actuated by a better spirit. In moving, on the 8th of July, 1836, that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, the noble Lord observed, that "it was not the plan of the Church of England, nor did he wish it to be, that its ministers should be considered mere functionaries receiving certain stipends from the State, and having nothing but their bare duty to perform in return."* Now, this he contended, would be exactly the effect of this bill. In the memorial which had been addressed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by the custos and vicars choral of the cathedral of Hereford, there was a passage in page 42, to which he would beg to direct the attention of the House. He would premise, by observing, that he held it to be admitted by this bill, that the chapter of Hereford was to be entirely destroyed. The passage was as follows:—They know not, that before the appearance of the report, the resolution to subvert the inviolability of corporate bodies, save for crimes charged and proved, or by their own consent, has ever been openly avowed and acted upon either in civil or ecclesiastical changes, within this realm. Certain it is, that on the late reconstruction of the municipalities throughout the kingdom, a measure allowed on all hands to be bold and aggressive, though their basis was enlarged and the condition of admission was popularised, the principle of perpetuity was preserved, the sacredness of property untouched, and the peculiarities of corporate bodies in no way compromised. Though the wrong done to them may be sheltered from the public eye by the obscurity of the sufferers, or the want of sympathy with objects alien to the popular feeling of the day, yet they cannot surrender the claim to be treated like their more powerful brethren, the privilege of complaint and firm remonstrance against this*Hansard, (third series) vol. xxxv. p. 19.862partiality of wrong, nor the hope which their respect for the Commissioners still keeps alive, that it has arisen from the perplexity of ill-defined claims and a misconception of the strength of their cause, rather than a carelessness of justice, or a disposition to spare the strong at the expense of the weak.The aggregate income of this cathedral was not more than 4,700l. a-year, which was divided amongst such a number of persons, that the average was not more than 83l. a-year to each. In his opinion, it would be scarcely worth while for so sorry a saving to sacrifice to expediency the principle of inviolability in the case of the property of this cathedral. He contended, that the destructions—he would not say the reduction, but the destruction, for it was absolutely swept away from the ecclesiastical establishment—of such a body as the choir of Hereford, without any crime having been alleged, or any fault proved against it, was a blow to the establishment of the hierarchy such as no advantage which could be derived from the proposed change, in order that spiritual wants elsewhere might be supplied, could possibly counterbalance. He by no means undervalued the importance of supplying those spiritual wants, but he decidedly objected to this mode of providing for them. If they were to maintain that four canons were sufficient to perform the duties of the cathedral, could it be said that that number was sufficient as a due reward for learning and piety in the Church? Let the House look to the number of distinctions in any other profession. He did not hesitate to call upon the House to view the question in that light, for they must consider human nature in this as in every other case. They must consider how far parents would be guided in the selection of professions for their sons by the circumstance of the connexion being more or less advantageous in a secular point of view. He contended, therefore, that the number to which they reduced the dignitaries of this profession bore too small a proportion to the body at large. In the diocese of Norwich, for instance, they left but six or seven dignitaries for the reduced number of 800 or 900 benefices. He was perfectly well aware that this was rather a low view of the subject, but it was one, nevertheless, which the Legislature, in dealing with this question, ought not wholly to overlook. It was a consideration which led him to the same conclusions as did those of principle, and he, therefore, gave some weight to it, although he readily confessed it was one 863 upon which he would not rely solely, and irrespectively of others. Whenever the State, or rather the power of the Government, interfered with the Church, it had proved detrimental to the Church. The Crown, for instance, had taken away the broad lands of the chapters, and compelled them to take tithes; and it was rather too hard, when the Government had created an evil, to turn round upon those to whom they had done the wrong, and oblige them to surrender their claim to that very property which had been given them in place of those broad lands. There was one observation made by the noble Lord in the course of his speech, upon which he wished to make one or two remarks. The noble Lord stated, that the Crown would give up a considerable portion of its patronage. Now, that he looked upon as a great evil. There was a time when a diminution of patronage in the Crown might have been necessary, but the time would come, and it had, perhaps, already arrived, when the influence of the Crown, so far from being too great, ought rather to be increased. He was of opinion, that any measure by which church patronage was withdrawn from the Crown must be attended with evil, not only to the Crown but to the Church itself. In that opinion, he was supported by no less an authority than the noble Lord himself, whose words he was about to quote. The noble Lord had, on another occasion, said, "Placing Church patronage in the hands of the Crown afforded the means of uniting the Church with the State, and thus gave an assurance that the Crown would take care of the welfare of the Church on the one hand, and on the other, that the Church would not attempt to counteract the general policy of the State." The noble Lord, it would be seen from those words, was certainly aware of the benefit which had resulted to the Crown from this patronage, and it was rather inconsistent, to say the least of it, in the noble Lord now to come forward with a measure completely setting aside that principle. He would say nothing further upon the subject. He felt that he had only discharged his duty upon this, as he had done upon all former occasions, by endeavouring to resist the progress of a measure which, without its being intended, was calculated to work a great deal of mischief. They had converted the bishops from being great proprietors into mere stipendiaries, and they were now endeavouring, by this measure, to do the same 864 with the chapters. He did not mean to say, that those bodies were essential to the existence of the Christian religion, but he did believe, that they were essential to the constitution of the Church of England. He was one of those, therefore, who viewed with deep regret the introduction of a measure having a direct tendency to diminish their influence, and possibly, to terminate their existence; and which, at any rate, would establish precedents which involved a violation of the first principles of property. In conclusion, he must again protest against the doctrine that the property of the Church was to be considered as the property of the State.
hoped he should be permitted to say a few words respecting certain hardships in the dioceses of North Wales; which he trusted would induce the noble Lord to modify his bill. The dioceses in North Wales had been formed from benefices in various times, all of them of comparatively recent date, the earliest being in the year 1681. The tithes belonging to parishes containing fully one-third of the whole population of Wales, had already been alienated. In the diocese of Bangor, the Bishop and Rector drew their tithes from a district containing 16,000 inhabitants. There was a parish in Anglesea, which formerly was attached to an archdeaconry, that was afterwards assigned by the late Act to the bishopric of Bangor. Some time ago this parish was not populous—now it contained 7,000 souls. It produced 900l. a year, and had been most ably served for twenty-six years by a most exemplary curate, who from the tithes, and Queen Anne's Bounty, and 60l. a year ftom the Bishop, had an income of 2001., while 700l. or 800l. a year were taken away from the general funds to augment the benefices of England. The length of that parish was seven miles. Those who were not acquainted with the surface of Wales, and judged by the good roads and easy communications of England, would think this a very convenient extent. But, the fact was, a parish of seven miles long in Wales would be half a day's journey. One of these parishes was seventeen miles long, and was held by the Bishop of Bangor, who did the duty by a curate. There were many other cases of equal hardship. As regarded Dissenters, there was no part of Great Britain which required so much attention at the hand of the Government as 865 Wales. Attention was required not only on behalf of those who belonged to the Church, but also on account of those who had left it, but who, if carefully treated, were still inclined to return to it. Although he was on that side (the Liberal) of the House, he was a friend to the Church, and wished to see it in an effective state. He did not agree with an hon. Member who had asserted that the House had no right to interfere with the Church. He thought the House had a right to interfere, but it should use that right with moderation and for the benefit of the Church. He was certain that the noble Lord was actuated by a sincere anxiety for the welfare of the Church, and that he would not attempt anything that would militate against its interests.
§ Mr. Hume
said, there was a slight difference between the relative positions with regard to the Church of the hon. Baronet the member for the university of Oxford and himself, the hon. Baronet being always ready to protect its abuses, he to put them down. Ever since he had sat in that House the abuses of the Church of England appeared to him to be amongst the greatest connected with British Government; and he had never ceased, and never would cease, to point out what appeared to him to be the reason why that Church was the cause of evil instead of good. It was an establishment intended to promote everything that was useful in society; instead of which it had been engaged in fostering prejudice and misapplying the means within its power of benefitting the people. Although he had opposed the noble Lord on former occasions, he begged to say, that it was not so much to the nature of the proposed reform he objected, as that the noble Lord should reform by piecemeal, and begin at the wrong end. He now said, that those who would sanction the payment of 139,000l., to the Bishops of the country, while there were 3,000 livings showing an average of less than 80l., were not friends to the Church. He always had in view the abolition of sinecures and the religious instruction of the people. As far as the present bill went he approved of it, but could not avoid regretting that it did not go further. He hoped that sinecures which were untouched by it would at no distant period be brought under their consideration with a view to their abolition. He was one of those who felt that that 866 which Parliament granted, it could take away. Parliament gave the property to the Church, and Parliament could take it away from the Church. He should be glad to know how the Protestants got possession of the property which belonged to Catholics but through the interference of Parliament. Church property being held by one law, it was perfectly competent for the authors of another law to take it away. He objected to being precluded by any technicalities from carrying out the reforms in the Established Church, for which its abuses loudly called, and which the sense of the country insisted upon seeing realized. Prebends, he thought, should be put an end to, chapters should cease, and the funds hitherto at their disposal should be made applicable to the purposes of national education and the payment of the working clergy. He concurred with the noble Lord in some observations which fell from him, and he was not unwilling to assent to some parts of his bill; he only regretted that the bill did not go further; he regretted that the noble Lord had not the courage to carry his measure to the proper extent. It was deeply to be regretted that the noble Lord had contented himself with carrying out the Bishops' Bill. Nevertheless he should not feel himself justified in opposing the measure before the House, for though it fell far short of the length which it ought to go, it still was of some value. He regarded it as a step towards the object at which every one who wished well to the Church and the country ought to aim—namely, an application of the surplus funds of the Church to the purposes of the general education, and a reduction of the salaries paid to the bishops.
§ Mr. Estcourt
said, he could not allow a bill like that to go to a second reading without protesting against a great many of its provisions. He admitted, that some of its provisions went to carry out certain of the recommendations of the commissioners, but at the same time there were many other provisions which were the production of the noble Lord, or of her Majesty's Government. The noble Lord in the course of his speech had referred to a petition presented to that House which bore signatures from every college at Oxford, and had described the tone and character of that petition, as though it were the wish of the petitioners to prevent any alteration in the Estab- 867 lished Church, and to resist any improvement. If the noble Lord had read that petition, he could not have failed to have seen, that the petitioners fully admitted the destitute state of some parts of the Church, and the necessity for assistance in those quarters. Those petitioners, in common with the members of the Church generally, did hope for and expect a full inquiry into the state of the establishment, and, at the same time, the adoption of measures to render it efficient wherever it had heretofore been found inefficient. He was bound to make these few observations, feeling, that he ought not to let such a bill, or such a reference to the petition, pass unnoticed. With respect to all that had fallen from the hon. Member for Kilkenny, he should not think it necessary for him to say much, for the sentiments of the hon. Member had been repeated so often, and so often answered, that it would be a mere waste of time to occupy the attention of the House with any remarks upon them. The hon. Member had on that, as on former occasions, told the House, that he wished, for the sake of the Church itself, that this measure should pass. According to his own account, he had no wish to abstract anything from the revenues of the Church, yet never was there a proposition made in that House for anything in the nature of abstraction from the property of the Church, that such measure did not receive the full and cordial support of the hon. Member for Kilkenny. It had been the frequently expressed declaration of that hon. Member and his Friends, that they would never rest satisfied till they had effected alterations in the state and condition of the Church, which must of necessity have the effect of bringing it to the level of an insignificant and inferior sect.
§ Viscount Dungannon
observed, that the hon. Member for Kilkenny had gone much further than the hon. Member for the University of Oxford had described him as going, for he declared himself desirous of seeing Church property applied to other than ecclesiastical purposes. He confessed, he should be sorry to see the Church dependent for its support on such provision as it could derive from the liberality o I the hon. Member for Kilkenny. If the bishops were reduced to the incomes which that hon. Member recommended, whence could the charities of the 868 country, and whence could public education obtain the support which they now derived from the incomes of the hierarchy? The hon. Member and his-Friends had often told them pretty plainly, that he desired to appropriate the funds of the Church to other than ecclesiastical purposes. In such hands he should be sorry to leave the interests of the Church. As to the bill itself, he certainly felt bound to declare himself adverse to the second reading.
§ Mr. Law
did not desire, at that stage of the proceeding to trouble the House by raising any objection to the measure, but he begged it might be understood, that he by no means acquiesced in the principles intended to be embodied in some of its provisions. He thought, that he spoke the sentiments of the constituency which he had the honour to represent, when he said, that they wished to see a salutary reform in the Established Church; that they wished to see it rendered more useful for the purposes of religion, without any infringement of individual rights; neither did they object to means being adopted for promoting religious education through the agency of those who held Church preferment; but he could never bring himself to agree to a measure so sweeping as that which was then before the House; he should reserve his opposition, however, till an opportunity presented itself of dealing with the details in Committee, some of which he considered to be most dangerous to the rights of property and to the ancient institutions of the country. When the proper time came he should move either a resolution or an instruction to the Committee.
§ Mr. G. Palmer
observed, that the bill of the noble Lord did nothing for the security of the property left behind. He further observed, that he felt a decided objection to putting into the hands of the commissioners the property of the suppressed prebendaries and canonries.
was surprised to find the friends of the Church coming forward to oppose a bill of this nature, brought in by the Secretary of State, and sanctioned by two Archbishops, and several of the rev. Prelates: he was as great a friend to the Church as any hon. Member opposite, but he could not avoid saying, that it was impossible for him to support the pluralisms and sinecures existing in the Church, 869 He felt bound for the interests of real religion to come forward and protest against their existence as useless. He thought the bill did not go far enough. He wished to do away with every sinecure of the Church. The noble Lord, the Member for Durham, said, that he would vote against the bill, but upon what ground he could not conceive. He (Mr. White) had the honour to represent a large seaport, and he could assure the House, that there was not church accommodation in that town for three-fourths of the population. Had it not been for the exertions of the dissenters of the county of Durham, the miners, of whom the population principally consisted, would be in a state almost approaching barbarism.
trusted, that the noble Lord would postpone the Committee on the bill until alter Easter. As the Sessions in Wales shortly came on, and many Members from the Principality would be absent, it would be very desirable, that the Committee should be postponed.
§ Lord John Russell
would propose, that the bill be committed on that day fortnight. He would propose then to go into Committee on the bill, so that if no motion was moved by the hon. Members opposite, the bill might be got through the Committee before Easter; but if any opposition were intended to be offered, he would propose, that the bill be reported, and that the further consideration of the report be postponed until after Easter, for the purpose of hearing any observations opposed to it. He did not wish to press the bill in the absence of the noble Lord or any other Members but he could not agree to put off the Committee on the bill for so lengthened a period.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that after the sentiments and opinions expressed by hon. Friends of his, for whom he felt sincere respect, he was bound, under the influence of other obligations, to give his support to the bill. In the observations which he proposed to make, he should confine himself to the principle of the measure, which he conceived to be this, that in the present state of the Church establishment it was desirable, that some portion of the cathedral revenues should supply those acknowledged deficiencies in the spiritual instruction of the people to which reference had frequently been made in that House. The principal provisions of the bill then before them were not materially different from 870 the recommendation of the commission appointed under his own advice. When that Commission was appointed, there was a general opinion amongst the friends of the Church, that the want of due provision for the spiritual instruction of the people was so enormous, that it became the duty of the executive Government to consider the state of the Church in that respect, and to devise a remedy. The appointment of that Commission, consisting exclusively of persons well affected to the interests of the Church, gave almost universal satisfaction. The extravagant demands for alterations in the Church were greatly abated, and there was a general impression on the part of the Church, that whatever reforms should be recommended by that Commission might safely be adopted. If there was less of urgent demand for alterations in the Church at present, that would not, he submitted, be a conclusive reason against making whatever reforms they thought consistent with the security of the establishment. The very absence of impatience and intemperance might have arisen from their proclaimed willingness to make those reforms, but if after the lapse of a short time it should appear, that they took advantage of that cessation of clamour in order to postpone reforms which they themselves might deem not only consistent with the security, but decidedly for the interests of the Church, he could not conscientiously say, that her position would thereby be improved. His hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir H. Inglis) read an extract from the Commission, and intimated an opinion, that the report was not in precise conformity with the terms of the Commission, and the objects it proposed. His hon. Friend read this extract—"And we do hereby authorize and appoint you to consider also the state of the several cathedral and collegiate churches in England and Wales, with a view to the suggestion of such measures as may render them conducive to the efficiency of the Established Church." His hon. Friend stopped there, but the next paragraph was in these words:—"and to devise the best mode of providing for the cure of souls, with special reference to the residence of the clergy on their respective benefices." So that clearly one of the objects of the Commission was the suggestion of measures calculated to remedy the evils arising 871 from the non-residence of the clergy. His hon Friend maintained a position which certainly at first sight justified his decided opposition to this bill—contending, that it was not competent for the Legislature to pass any measure diverting from the Church any portion of her corporate property. He considered the policy of making a different distribution of Church property entirely depended on the animus with which it was introduced and the objects for which the distribution was proposed. While, therefore, he should give to any project for the diversion of one single shilling of Church property to other than strictly spiritual and ecclesiastical purposes his most decdied opposition, still if a measure were proposed which in his conscience he believed was intended to add to the efficiency of the Church, and which appropriated every shilling of the property re-distributed to purposes connected with the spiritual interests of the establishment, he could not say he was prepared to reject such a measure simply on the ground that no corporate property of the Church ought to be interfered with. He would not allow the objection of inviolability to countervail the admitted advantage that would arise from its redistribution. In the deanery of Durham, for instance, whatever might be the emoluments, and however crying the demand for increased Church accommodation, Parliament must never strip it according to his hon. Friend's principle of one single shilling, however great the benefit that might be derived from another distribution. He took the deanery of Durham to he worth 9,000l. a-year; suppose it amounted to 14,000l. or 15,000l.; suppose no interference took place; suppose that in the great towns in the diocese of Durham there were 10,000 persons without the means of attending on the ordinances of the Church; suppose he saw dissent increasing and the most active measures adopted to withdraw from the establishment, those who if they had the means of attending upon her ordinances would be much more disposed to look to the Church for the benefits of religious consolation than the Dissenters' chapel—could he say, "Let the deanery of Durham remain perfectly intact, even if the diversion of part of the income were for the advantage of the see and the Church, while the existence of so great a sinecure might be of serious injury to the Church?" The double objection might apply; the 872 existence of emoluments far above any conceivable duty on the one hand, combined with the greatest religious destitution on the other; he might see the Church suffer, dissent increasing, and the contrast invidiously drawn between the splendour of particular appointments and the destitution of great towns; he must, therefore, say, if he was obliged to come to the conclusion, that there were obstacles which prevented his interference, even in such a case of admitted benefit to the Church, he should come to it as a sincere friend of the Church with the greatest reluctance and regret. When he consented to interference with Church property, it was always to be accompanied with this proviso, he must be convinced, that the interference was for the spiritual interests of the Church and of religion; it was only upon that condition that he would consent to any such interference; but convince him of that, and he should not feel restrained by the rigid application of the principle of his hon. Friend from doing that which he believed in his conscience to be for the general interests of the Church, whose welfare he was anxious to promote. Nothing short of a conviction of that kind would induce him to give his consent to any interference with the cathedral dignities of the establishment. If they were honestly administered; if the Crown would make it a rule that vacancies as they occurred should be appropriated as rewards for great learning and piety, looking only to the advantage that would result to the Church if those distinctions were properly awarded, he should be unwilling to consent to any interference; but he could not look on that side of the question alone. He must look at the state of the Church in other respects; he must look at the amount of religious accommodation, and ask himself this question, had he the means, was there the hope, of supplying the deficiency of religious accommodation, if he refused to interfere with the present distribution of ecclesiastical revenues? His hon. Friend said, they were not to legislate for Utopia; certainly not; and if he thought, having regard to the state of dissent and the division of opinion prevalent in the country, that there could be any constitution of Parliament, from which he could hope for an adequate grant fur this purpose, he should be disposed to rely on it, and refuse this measure. But could he believe, 873 if he coupled the refusal to interfere in the redistribution of the property of the Church with a demand for an immense grant to supply the want of spiritual accommodation; could he believe, that Parliament would accede to it? The attempt might be made, the evils might go on accumulating in the mean while, but in the end he believed he should be disappointed; the state of the cathedral establishments would then be referred to, and the preliminary condition to Parliament remedying the evil would be exertions on the part of the Church setting the example in the first instance. That was his honest opinion. Nor could he exclude the other side of the question, and say that without danger to the Church herself they could leave things as they found them, looking both to the state of the metropolis and the small benefices in various parts of the country. He regarded the cathedral establishments with the highest respect; he thought a loss of them, or any interference with their efficiency would be a positive evil. Viewed in connexion with the monarchy, he believed it to be of importance, that the wealth, station, and splendour of the Church should bear some proportion to the wealth, station, and splendour so easily acquired by the other branches of the community in this great country. Such was his opinion. It was only on the balance of evils that he was induced to consent to the measure which the noble Lord now proposed. But was it possible for him to exclude from his recollection this fact, that there were 1,926 benefices in England and Wales under 100l., and 3,528 under 150l.? It might be admitted, that the higher situations in the Church should be filled by persons whose pecuniary resources would enable them to maintain their dignity; but was nothing to be done for enabling the 3,528 working clergy to hold a decent and respectable rank becoming their character in society? Could they deny the evil that in 3,528 benefices, the clergy, many of them without a residence, without a glebe-house, had absolutely less than 150l. a-year? Could they exclude from their consideration of this case, the fact, that in the metropolis, the very place in which Parliament met, there were thirty-four parishes, with a population of 1,170,000, and church accommodation for only 101,000? in those thirty-four parishes 874 there were only sixty-nine churches, and including proprietary chapels, only 100 places of worship in the whole; whereas, if they allotted a church to every 3,000, there ought to be 379, leaving a deficiency of 279. They lamented the progress of dissent; but where did it prevail? In the midst of a new and increasing population, where no provision was made for their spiritual accommodation; and would they leave the Church in a safe condition by maintaining all her higher ranks and dignities in that splendour in which he wished he could maintain them because he believed they might be advantageously upheld; if they disregarded altogether what was going on amidst the thousands which every day was bringing into existence, and made no provision for introducing them to the Church and attaching them to her ministrations? In Lancashire there were eighty-three parishes with a population above 10,000, the aggregate being 816,000; there was church room only for 97,000, or in round numbers about 100,000; and yet the commissioners justly remarked, that the comparison between church accommodation and population gave no accurate idea of the provision made for the spiritual instruction of the people, because many of the chapels included in the calculation had no district assigned to them, and no minister to perform those ordinary parochial duties which in many cases were of as much importance as attendance on his public ministrations. Seeing this great disparity between the wants of the population and the means provided by the Church, and believing as he did, that the greatest encouragement to the laity to interfere would be the disposition of the great corporate body of the Church to set the example of a liberal re-distribution, confining its application to strictly spiritual purposes, he could not withhold his assent to the second reading of the Bill of the noble Lord. The mere desire to support the authority of those who were appointed by his advice, and who had exposed themselves to every species of obloquy in their determination manfully to state what reforms were required in the Church, would alone have induced him to stand forward on the present occasion as a supporter of this Bill; but that was not the ground on which his vote would be given on the present occasion; it was because, professing the utmost attachment to the Church of 875 England, believing that danger threatened it from the increase of dissent among the lower orders of the country, and that no decided effort was being made to apply a remedy—despairing of procuring from the public funds any grant at all commensurate with the object to be attained, unless the Church herself led the way, he took at once the position which alone, he believed, could relieve the friends of the Church from the difficulty in which they were placed, and now gave his unqualified assent to the general principle of the present measure, by recording his support to the second reading.
§ Mr. Plumptre
said, that if any thing could have dissatisfied him with this bill it was because Members on the other side of the House said it did not go far enough. He thought they ought to learn how far those hon. Members wished to go, and where they meant to stop. His feeling against this bill was so strong, that had there been any intention to divide the House, he should have voted against the second reading.
§ Bill read a second time.