HC Deb 25 March 1839 vol 46 cc1179-81
Lord J. Russell,

in moving the Order of the Day for going into Committee on the Ecclesiastical Appointments Suspension Bill, observed, that although he stated the object of the clause he meant to introduce in giving notice of it the other evening, yet, as attacks had been made not only upon him, but upon a near relative of his, who, he thought, had been very unnecessarily brought into question, he felt that he should claim the indulgence of the House while he stated the fast respecting the proposal he had to make. It had been asserted that the object of the clause he was now going to in- troduce was to enable a near relative of his to fill the deanery of Exeter, which he would not otherwise be able to fill. Whoever made that statement must have made it either without having read the clause, or having read it, must have mis-stated it. The object of the clause was, that the Bill now in operation should "not prevent the collation or appointment of a canon or prebendary to any canonry or prebend which shall become vacant by reason of the vacancy of any deanery in any cathedral or collegiate church." What he had explained to the House was, that it had been found by quite an unintentional mistake that he bill did not confer the power of filling up prebends in those cases where it had been usual for the Crown to appoint the dean, and where the dean could not be appointed except he had previously held the prebend. It was, therefore, thought fit to remedy the omission. It certainly had been stated to him by some members of the Church Commission, that as the mistake in the original bill was unintentional, it would be well that the clause should apply, to vacancies now existing as well as to any that might hereafter exist. He had, however, thought it would be much better that no suspicion should interfere with the operation of the law now in force, and therefore had declined to make the clause apply to any vacancy now existing, and to those only hereafter existing. After the manner in which the person in question, his near relative, had been spoken of in connexion with this subject, he thought he should be permitted to state that, in recommending him to the favour of the Crown, through the Prime Minister, he knew he was recommending a person who was an ornament to the Church. He likewise knew, in asking that this particular deanery of Exeter should be conferred on him, that if it should be found, which it had been, by the joint opinions of the law officers of the Crown and Sir W. Follett, that the Crown could not appoint, he knew that it would not be any disappointment to his relative not to receive the intended preferment. He knew that, not only from his long and affectionate intimacy with him, but he knew it also from the fact that his relative, having obtained, as was usual with young men belonging to families having church preferments, two livings—one of between 400l. and 500l. a year, and the other 1,200l.—and finding, after some years' experience, that he could not perform the duties of both, he surrendered the living of 1,200l. in order that he might devote his time and attention exclusively to the other. He therefore trusted, in proposing a clause, to enable the Crown to retain the power it had hitherto held respecting deaneries and prebends that should fall vacant, that neither his relative, Lord Wriothesley Russell, nor himself, would be subject to any imputation for the part they had taken in reference to this matter.

Mr. V. Harcourt

was of opinion, that the noble Lord in proposing this clause, would meet the wishes of all persons interested in the subject, as it had been found, that the dean of Exeter was also prebendary of. Exeter—a circumstance which had escaped the notice of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He was not personally acquainted with Lord Wriothesley Russell, but the feeling which had been just evinced by the House clearly proved, that his general reputation, as glanced at by the, noble Lord, was fully borne out, and that there was no person better qualified to fill the deanery of Exeter. He felt, that the clause, even if it had an ex post facto tendency, was so much in consonance with the intention of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, that if the noble Lord had any delicacy of moving it in that shape, in consequence of his relationship with Lord W. Russell, he (Mr. Harcourt) would willingly undertake to do so.

Lord Ashley

bore testimony to the excellent character, exemplary conduct, and high professional attainments of Lord Wriothesley Russell.

The House went into Committee, the clause proposed by the noble Lord was added to the bill and the House resumed.