HC Deb 26 June 1840 vol 55 cc112-20
Sir C. Lemon

brought up the report of the Weaver Churches Bill.

On the motion that the amendments be read a second time,

Mr. E. J. Stanley moved that they be read a second time that day six months.

Mr. J. Jervis

said it was quite certain that if the public had been aware of the object of the bill, or if the investigation before the committee had been publicly reported and circulated, great opposition would have been made to the measure. This was not a mere private bill; the principle involved in it was most important. The question was whether that which had for years contributed 1,500l. a-year to the county-rates of Chester, and relieved the rate-payer of that county to that amount, of whatever religion such rate-payers might be, should now be devoted to the erection of churches exclusively for the use of members of the Establishment. This was the first instance in which it had been attempted to endow churches out of the county-rates. Hon. Members on the other side might be anxious to adopt that principle to a man, and might perhaps engage others to assist them in this instance who would not like to have the same principle applied to their own counties which it was now sought to apply to the county of Chester. In the committee this had been treated entirely as a party question. The majority of that committee was composed of Conservative Members—to a man they had all advocated the building of these churches, and had on all occasions voted together; so that the purpose of that committee was not so much a discussion of the question as the tarrying out of the will of the majority. Owing, however, to the accidental absence of two of these Members he had succeeded in introducing a clause which it was now sought to strike out, and hon. Members opposite relied on the earlier and more regular attendance of those Members who were desirous of building churches out of the county-rates to enable them to carry this into effect. He trusted that all those who objected to such a principle would vote in favour of the postponement.

Mr. Wilbraham

opposed the amendments, and he did so because he did not think that money should be raised on a whole county for the purpose of giving additional church accommodation to a particular district. He looked upon such a principle as a dangerous one, and as interfering with the rights of property.

Mr. Thornely

was not only opposed to the measure, but had a strong feeling against the whole system of taxation followed by the trustees; and he hoped the county would soon be released from it.

Mr. Hume

asked, whether those Gentlemen who were favourable to the measure would support the principle that county-rates formed a proper fund for the building of churches? That was the real principle then at issue.

Mr. Tatton Egerton

said, that the money in question could not be considered as a county-rate. The hon. Member for Kilkenny was therefore mistaken on that point.

Mr. Warburton

said, that if this bill were carried into a law, every dock, railway, and other public company might be called upon to contribute to similar purposes out of its surplus income.

Viscount Sandon

said, that the principle had already been admitted by the Legislature, in the case of a Mining Company, that where a large population was collected in one district, by means of such a company, the latter was bound to provide for the religious instruction of that population out of its surplus income.

Sir C. Grey

hoped the Church of England would not continue to proceed upon the engrossing principle supported by the promoters of this bill. If so, the Church itself would be most seriously damaged.

Mr. Ewart

objected to the measure, because it was injurious to the Church itself, and would set against it a large body of the community.

Mr. Hobhouse

said, that the question in the present case was whether the funds intended for the Weaver Churches were to be devoted to an entirely different purpose. He would venture to say, if the present bill passed that the worst consequences would result; he, therefore, called upon the House to meet the bill with the most determined opposition. He recollected that a bill was introduced into the House for a purpose somewhat analogous to the present. The fund was left for the building of a bridge over the river Dee. That fund produced an enormous surplus; and it was not known in what manner the superfluous money should be applied. Under these circumstances the trustees came to Parliament, and applied for power to appropriate the funds to the establishment of schools, for the object of building the bridge over the river Dee was to promote civilization of the Highlands. That was a most excellent purpose, and strictly analogous to the intention of the original donor. But Parliament did not allow that bill to pass. The trusts were held so sacred, that it was thought they ought not to be violated, and although every one confessed the purpose was excellent, yet that bill was rejected upon the principle on which he hoped the House would reject the present bill. The rate-payers of Chester had a right to the whole of the surplus funds if there were any. They ought to be applied by the magistrates in quarter sessions to certain specified purposes, and to no other purpose whatever. He objected to the application of the fund for the purposes of church building. The fund ought to be devoted, in the first place, to the purposes of navigation; and in the second place, to the relief of the rate-payers of Chester. It was proved that there were eighteen churches along the line of the river, a distance of only twenty-three miles, and that the population was fluctuating, and contained a great many Dissenters. For the sake of the great principle, he trusted they would give their determined opposition to the bill in all its stages.

The House divided, on the original question: Ayes 227; Noes 157; Majority 70.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Ashley, Lord
Acland, T. D. Attwood, W.
A'Court, Captain Attwood, M.
Ainsworth, P. Bagge, W.
Alsager, Captain Bagot, hon. W,
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Bailey, J,
Bailey, J., jun. Egerton, Sir P.
Baillie, Colonel Eliot, Lord
Baillie, H. J. Ellis, J.
Baker, E. Estcourt, T.
Baldwin, C. B. Farnham, E. B.
Baring, hon. F. Fellowes, E.
Baring, H. B. Filmer, Sir E.
Baring, hon. W. B. Fitzalan, Lord
Barrington, Viscount Fitzpatrick, J. W.
Bateson, Sir R. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Bell, M. Follett, Sir W.
Bethell, R. Forrester, hon. G.
Blackburne, I, Fremantle, Sir T.
Blair, J. Freshfield, J. W.
Blennerhasset, A. Gaskell, J. M.
Boldero, H, G. Gladstone, W. E.
Bolling, W. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Botfield, B. Gordon, hon. Captain
Brabazon, Lord Gore, O. J. R.
Bradshaw, J. Gore, O. W.
Bramston, T. W. Goring, H. D.
Broadley, H. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Brownrigg, S. Grant, Sir A. C.
Bruce, Lord E. Grimston, Viscount
Bruce, C. L. C. Grimston, hon. E. H.
Bruges, W. H. L. Hale, R. B.
Buck, L. W. Hamilton, C. J. B.
Burrell, Sir C. Harcourt, G. G.
Burroughes, H. N. Harcourt, G. S.
Calcraft, J. H. Hayes, Sir E.
Canning, rt. hn. Sir S. Heathcote, Sir W.
Cartwright, W. R. Heneage, G. W.
Castlereagh, Viscount Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Chapman, A. Herries, rt. hn. J. C.
Chetwynd, Major Hill, Sir R.
Cholmondeley, hon. H. Hillsborough, Earl of
Chute, W. L. W. Hinde, J. H.
Clerk, Sir G. Hodgson, R.
Clive, hon. R. H. Hogg, J. W.
Cochrane, Sir T. J. Holmes, W.
Codrington, C. W. Hope, hon. C.
Cole, hon. A, H. Hope, G. W.
Colquhoan, J. C. Hotham, Lord
Compton, H. C. Houldsworth, T.
Conolly, E. Houstoun, G.
Copeland, Mr. Ald. Hughes, W. B.
Corry, hon. H. Hurt, F.
Courtenay, P. Ingestrie, Viscount
Cresswell, C. Ingham, R.
Cripps, J. Irton, S.
Dalrymple, Sir A. Irving, J.
Damer, hon. D. Jackson, Mr. Serj.
Darby, G. James, Sir W. C.
Dick, Q. Jenkins, Sir R.
D'Israeli, B. Jermyn, Earl
Dottin, A. R. Jones, J.
Dowdeswell, W. Jones, Captain
Drummond, H. H, Kemble, H.
Duffield, T. Kerrison, Sir E.
Dugdale, W. S. Kelburne, Viscount
Duncombe, hon. A. Knight, H. G.
Dungannon, Viscount Knightley, Sir C.
Du Pre, G. Lefroy, right hon. T.
East, J. B. Lemon Sir C.
Eastnor, Viscount Lennox, Lord A.
Edwards, Sir J, Lincoln, Earl of
Lockhart, A. M. Round, C. G.
Long, W. Round, J.
Lowther, hon. Col. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Lowther, Viscount Sanderson, R.
Lowther, J. H. Sandon, Viscount
Lygon, hon. General Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Mackenzie, T. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Mackenzie, W. F. Sheppard, T.
Maclean, D. Shirley, E. J.
Mahon, Viscount Sibthorpe, Col.
Manners, Lord C. S. Smith, A.
Marsland, T, Smyth, Sir G. H.
Marton, G. Somerset, Lord G.
Maunsell, T. P, Sotheron, T. E.
Miller, W. H. Stanley, E.
Milnes, R. M. Stanley, Lord
Mordaunt, Sir J. Stewart, J.
Neeld, J. Stuart, W. V.
Neeld, J. Sturt, H. C.
Northland, Lord Teignmouth, Lord
Packe, C. W. Tennent, J. E.
Pakington, J. S. Thomas, Colonel H.
Palmer, R. Tollemache, F. J.
Palmer, G. Tomline, G.
Parker, M. Trench, Sir F.
Patten, J. W. Turner, E.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Vere, Sir C. B.
Perceval, Colonel Vernon, G. H.
Pigot, R. Villiers, Viscount
Plumptre, J, P. Vivian, J. E.
Polhill, F, Waddington, H. S.
Pollen, Sir J. W. Walsh, Sir J.
Powell, Colonel Welby, G. E.
Powerscourt, Viscount Williams, R.
Praed, W. T. Williams, T. P.
Pringle, A. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Pusey, P. Wood, Colonel
Rae, rt. hon. Sir W. Young, J.
Reid, Sir J. R. Young, Sir W.
Richards, R. TELLERS.
Rolleston, L. Egerton, W. T.
Rose, rt. hon. Sir G. Inglis, Sir R. H.
List of the NOES.
Abercromby, hn. G. R. Byng, rt. hon. G. S.
Aglionby, H. A. Callaghan, D.
Alston R. Cave, R. O.
Archbold, R. Chalmers, P.
Baines, E. Chapman, Sir M. L.C.
Bannerman, A. Chichester, J. P. B.
Barnard, E. G. Clay, W.
Barron, H. W. Clements, Viscount
Barry, G. S. Clive, E. B.
Beamish, F. B. Collier, J.
Berkeley, hon. C. Collins, W.
Bewes, T. Craig, W. G.
Blackett, C. Dennistoun, J.
Blake, M. J. Divett, E.
Blake, W. J. Duff, J.
Bodkin, J. J. Duncan, Viscount
Bowes, J. Duncombe, T.
Brodie, W. B. Dundas, Sir R.
Brotherton, J. Dundas, C. W. D.
Browne, R. D. Easthope, J.
Bryan, G. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Buller, C. Ellice, Captain A.
Busfeild, W, Ellice, right hon. E.
Ellice, E. O'Connell, M. J.
Ellis, W. O'Connell, M.
Erle, W. Ord, W.
Evans, G. Oswald, J.
Evans, W. Paget, F.
Ewart, W. Parker, R. T.
Fielden, J. Pattison, J.
Fenton, J. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Ferguson, Sir R. Philips, G. R.
Ferguson, R. Ponsonby, hon. J.
Finch, F. Power, J.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Price, Sir R.
Goddard, A. Rawdon, Col. J. D.
Grattan, J. Redington, T. N.
Grattan, H. Rice, E. R.
Greg, R. H. Roche, E. B.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir C, Roche, W.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Roche, Sir D.
Guest, Sir J. Rundle, J.
Hall, Sir B. Rutherford, rt. hn, A.
Handley, H. Salwey, Colonel
Hastie, A. Sanford, E. A.
Hawes, B. Sheil, right hon. R. L.
Heathcoat, J. Smith, J. A.
Hector, C. J. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Hill, Lord A. M. C. Stanley, M.
Hindley, C. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Hobhouse, T. B. Steuart, R.
Hodges, T. L. Stock, Dr.
Hollond, R. Strangways, hon. J.
Horsman, E. Strickland, Sir G.
Hoskins, K. Strutt, E.
Howard, F. J. Tancred, H. W.
Hume, J. Thornely, T.
Hutchins, E. J. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
James, W. Tufnell, H,
Jervis, J. Turner, W.
Jervis, S. Vigors, N. A.
Johnson, General Villiers, hon. C. P.
Langdale, hon. C. Wakley, T.
Langton, W. G. Walker, R.
Leader, J. T. Wallace, R.
Lister, E. C. Warburton, H.
Lushington, C. Ward, H. G.
Lushington, rt. hn. S. White, A.
M'Taggart, J. Williams, W.
Maher, J. Wilshere, W.
Marshall, W. Wood, Sir M.
Marsland, H. Wood, G. W.
Martin, J. Wood, B.
Mildmay, P. St. J. Worsley, Lord
Muskett, G. A. Wrightson, W. B.
Nagle, Sir R. Wyse, T.
O'Brien, C. Yates, J. A.
O'Brien, W. S. TELLERS.
O'Connell, D. Stanley, E. J.
O'Connell, J. Wilbraham, G.

Amendment read a second time, and agreed to as far as clause 7 directing the expenses of forwarding and opposing the measure to be paid out of the trust fund.

Mr. Cholmondeley

opposed the clause providing that the expenses incurred by the opposers of the bill should be paid by the promoters of it. If such a principle were to be established, he would ask whether the present was the case in which it was to be begun. It was for the House to consider whether it would entertain so extraordinary a proposition that in any case the expense of the opposers of the bill should be paid by the promoters of it. If the House agreed to this clause, which he could not conceive they would do, they would deliberately affirm a principle that had hitherto never been recognised, and so establish a precedent that had been hitherto utterly unthought of. He begged to move, that the House disagree with the amendment.

Mr. J. Jervis

said, that as the amendment of which his hon. Friend complained had been introduced by himself, probably the House would accord to him its indulgence while he made a few observations; In the first place he thought he had some reason to complain of the course which the hon. Gentleman had adopted. It was not usual he believed to make such motion on bringing up the report. In private business, the course was to bring up clauses or to move amendments on the third reading of the bill, and it was the ordinary course in the House and out of the House, when one hon. Member intended to wove an amendment, to give notice of it. No notice had been given of the motion that had just been made. That was a very good reason for his pressing on the hon. Member to adjourn the discussion till another evening. He would ask the House if they could be safely guided by the hon. Member, when he stated that the object of the amendment was to make the promoters of the bill pay the costs of the opposition to it, and that he had taken advantage of an accidental majority to introduce this amendment in Committee. If such were the object of the amendment, hon. Members would be perfectly right in voting against it. But such was not the case. The object of the amendment was this. Certain trustees of the River Weaver, amounting to about 105 of the landed gentlemen of Cheshire, who were utterly unconnected with the navigation of the Weaver and the salt-works, wished in fact to impose a tax of 20 per cent, on this navigation. Some of those gentlemen, constituting the majority, came to the House to get a bill enabling them to build and endow churches out of the tolls of the river Weaver, and introduced a clause that the expenses of passing the bill should be paid out of the surplus fund of the river Weaver trust. Hon. Members opposite complained that they were wearied by the opposition to this bill, and he thought that the opponents of the bill had an equal right to complain of vexatious application to Parliament. Another portion of the trustees (the minority certainly, among whom was the chairman of the quarter sessions, and Lord Stanley of Alderley), were of opinion that the trust would be violated by any such misapplication of its funds, and presented two petitions against the bill, stating that they were bound on principle as trustees to protest against it, and that they had no right to consent to, neither had Parliament any right to authorize, such a violation of a public trust. Ten thousand rate-payers of Cheshire, who were likewise interested in this question, inasmuch as the rates derived 15,000l. a-year from their surplus revenues, had petitioned against it, considered it unfair to apply this trust fund to the erection of churches. Under these circumstances he thought it was but fair that the expenses of that opposition should be defrayed out of the surplus fund as well as the expenses of the promoters of the bill, and in this he had followed the uniform practice of the Court of Chancery who, when an application was made to it by trustees to carry out the purposes of any trust, and when certain other trustees of the same trust opposed the application bonâ fide, because they supposed the application to be an improper one, were uniformly remunerated their expenditure out of the funds which they sought to protect. This was, therefore, the proper opportunity of stating that it was not the intention to ask the promoters of the bill to pay the costs of the opponents; nothing of the sort was intended. The case was this:—A large fund was entrusted for certain purposes to certain trustees. Certain of these applied to Parliament for power, and violated the object of that trust. Certain of the other trustees were of opinion that the trust ought not to be violated; and therefore they came as they were bound to do, before the House. If a majority of them had voted to apply the money to some extraneous purpose, ought they not to have come there to protect the interest of the trust committed to them? If the bill were carried, a most vicious principle might be adopted; and on that ground it was consistent with the principle of a court of equity, with justice and morality, that it should be met with a fair bonâ fide opposition,

Lord Stanley

said, that he was not a member of the committee which had sent in the bill, and he had taken no part in reference to it, except by having before voted in favour of the second reading, and being then favourable to the amendment introduced by the committee. If, however, any hon. Gentleman supposed that the slightest attempt had been made to take him by surprise in any way—although he believed that the regular notice had been given at the Private Bill Office, and though the Members of the committee had been duly informed on the subject—if any hon. Member could say that he was taken by surprise by the amendment, he should advise his hon. Friend near him—strong as he must be in the justice of his cause—to accede at once to the suggestion made by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, that the further consideration of the question should be adjourned till another day. He was not disinterested in the matter, as he was anxious that the House should immediately proceed to important public business. He would, therefore, propose to his hon. Friend that the question should be postponed.

Debate adjourned.

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