HC Deb 17 July 1840 vol 55 cc780-3
Mr. Darby

brought up the report on the Farnham Rectory Chapels Bill, and moved certain amendments which were read a first time.

On the question that they be read a second time,

Mr. Hume

said, that as they were altering the standing orders relating to pri- vate business, he thought it was essentially necessary that they should introduce some alteration to prevent bills relating to public property, which church property undoubtedly was, from passing as private bills. This was the more necessary when they found that the most valuable property, such, for instance, as the Southampton estate, which was of the value of two millions, had been passed away by a private bill for a paltry consideration of 300l. a year. That properly had been passed away by a private bill, and had been conferred by the Minister of the Crown of that day upon his brother. If that property, extending from St. Giles's to Highgate, and out of which the grantee had realised more than a million and a half, had not been passed away in that manner, they would have had ample funds for Church purposes, without any necessity of applying to Parliament for assistance. He knew nothing of the merits of the present bill; but he protested against bills relating to Church property being considered as private bills.

Mr. Aglionby

said, that in ordinary cases it was not necessary that evidence relating to private bills should be printed. The case, however, was then different. He would therefore move, that the evidence taken before the committee should be printed, and that in the meantime the further consideration of the question should be postponed.

Sir R. Inglis

said, that as it would be for the convenience of the House, that there should be but one discussion, he should take it now, although it was not the most regular course. This was a private bill, and the only persons who were at all interested were consenting parties to it. The Archdeacon of Surrey would be by it prohibited from renewing certain leases, and he consented, with the concurrence of the Bishop of Winchester, who was interested as the patron, to apply the fines, to which he would otherwise have been entitled on renewal, to the endowment of certain incumbencies, and the erection of certain churches. These sums amounted to 11,200l. He (Sir R. Inglis) should feel it his duty to oppose the clause granting compensation to the lessees; for whether the lessees of Church property had an interest, for which they were entitled to compensation, or not, he thought the question was too important to be decided in this manner by a side wind.

The House divided on the original question:—Ayes 110; Noes 73: Majority 37.

Amendments read a second time.

On a part of them which referred to giving compensation to the lessees, Sir R. Inglis moved that this part of the clause be omitted. Mr. Hume moved that the debate be adjourned.

The House divided on Mr. Hume's motion:—Ayes 49; Noes 95: Majority 46.

On the question being again proposed,

Mr. Hume moved that the House do adjourn.

After a protracted discussion on the order of proceeding, and the necessity of printing the evidence, the House divided on the question of adjournment:—Ayes 10; Noes 102: Majority 92.

On the question being again put,

Mr. Hume

thought that the hon. Baronet opposite had taken the House by surprise by the course he had adopted. The principle proposed to be introduced into the bill, was in direct opposition to that which had been already adopted in the case of the Irish Church, and it certainly was not fair that it should be adopted without a full discussion. He would move that the debate be adjourned.

Sir R. Inglis

said, that the sense of the House had already been taken in four divisions. His proposal now would be the adoption of the amendments, pro forma, with an understanding that the sense of the House should be taken on them on the third reading.

Mr. Aglionby

said, this was a public bill, and of great importance; and he thought it was incumbent on the Government to be present at the discussion, and to give their opinion on the principle of the bill. The bill was, in fact, one that involved the rights of all the Church lessees in the kingdom. For this reason he should vote for the postponement of the discussion.

Mr. Baines

had always been friendly to the principle of the bill, as he considered it a great improvement on the system of ecclesiastical jurisdiction and instruction, at present practised on the Farnham rectories. However, he saw no reason why the debate should not be adjourned until Monday.

Lord J. Russell

With regard to this particular question, I really must say that I do not think the proposal of an adjournment until Monday at all an unrea- sonable request. I have an opinion on the rights of the lessees of the Church which differs from that which has been expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Cockermouth, and also from that which on a former occasion was expressed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Pembroke. I maintain, that the lessees have no right to expect renewals of their leases, and that Parliament is not bound to assert any right for them. I am, notwithstanding, quite clear that there could not be a more important or difficult question, and therefore I repeat, that the proposal of postponement is moderate and fair.

Sir J. Graham

said, that the present question was not a new one, and he was of opinion, that it should be finally disposed of on that evening. The noble Lord opposite, had been pleased to refer to an opinion delivered by him (Sir J. Graham) in the course of last Session. He had then contended, that although church leases had no legal right of renewal, they had an equitable right founded on long usage. But that right was altered when the rights of lessors, having short and terminable interests, were transferred to bodies having permanent interests. He felt the difficulty of the question to the full extent stated by the noble Lord, but he thought the House was as competent to decide it on a Friday as on a Monday. He felt that it was a balanced claim, and, therefore, taking the whole merits into consideration, he had determined on voting against compensation.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down formed, in his mind, the strongest reason for the postponement of the debate. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that the bill involved a great and important principle, in which it was even contended that, contrary to established practice, the Ministers of the Crown should give an opinion. He would ask, was it fair to decide on such a bill without the slightest notice given? All that was asked was a postponement until Monday, that a full opportunity might be given for the discussion of a bill which, although nominally private, was confessedly of great public importance.

The House divided on the question of adjournment: Ayes 58; Noes 58.

The Speaker gave the casting vote for the adjournment.

Debate adjourned.

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