§ On the motion that the Speaker do leave the chair in order to the House resolving itself into committee to consider the endowment of ministers,
§ Sir R. Peel
said, as there was no mention in the motion of a vote of public money, and as the hon. Gentleman must know that the Queen's consent to a grant of money must be signified, he might infer that it was not intended to propose any such vote; but if the hon. Gentleman wished for a more explicit declaration, he had no objection to state that the motion with which he should conclude, involved no vote of public money.
§ House in committee.
§ Sir R. Peel
Sir, I will now proceed, in conformity with the notice I have given to call the attention of the committee to the measures which her Majesty's Government are disposed to recommend to the consideration of Parliament for the purpose of supplying the deficiency which exists in the means of attending divine worship, and of receiving the benefits of pastoral instruction and superintendence, according to the doctrines of the church of England, in many of the populous districts of this country. I believe it will be wholly unnecessary for me to adduce any proof of the extent to which such deficiency exists, or of the evil which necessarily arises in consequence. The House will probably recollect that the deficiency has been stated to them in reports of unquestionable authority—that there are at the present moment, or, at least, there were at the period of these reports, which were made in the year 1836, not less than 3,600 parishes In which the income of the incumbent is less than 150l. a year—that in many districts of the country where there are parishes of not less than 10,000 persons, there were the most imperfect means of supplying religious instruction to the people, according to the rites of the Church of England—that in this metropolis, and particularly in the dioceses of Lichfield, Coventry, York, and Chester, the population has so far outrun the means of religious instruction that the word of God was never heard by many of the inhabitants of those places. It is stated in 1278 the reports to which I have referred, that the want of church accommodation is but an imperfect test of the evils that arise from the deficiency of pastoral instruction, because in places where church accommodation is tolerably extensive, there is no assigned district for the minister of the Church, and therefore that individual and personal responsibility does not rest on him for the performance of his duty, which he feels when he has a defined and circumscribed district for the exercise of his spiritual functions. In that report it is stated, amongst other facts, that—In the diocese of Chester, there are thirty-eight parishes or districts in Lancashire, each with a population exceeding 10,000, containing an aggregate of 816,000 souls, with church room for 97,700, or about one-eighth; the proportions varying in the different parishes from one-sixth to one twenty-third.It is stated that—In the diocese of York there are twenty parishes or districts, each with a population exceeding 10,000, and with an aggregate of 402,000, while the church accommodation is for 48,000; the proportions varying from one-sixth to one-thirtieth. In the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, there are sixteen parishes or districts, each having a population above 10,000, the aggregate being 235,000, with church room for about 29,000; the proportions varying from one-sixth to one-fourteenth.The report further states, that—The evils which flow from this deficiency in the means of religious instruction and pastoral superintendence greatly outweigh all other inconveniences, resulting from any defects or anomalies in our ecclesiastical institutions; and it unfortunately happens, that while these evils are the most urgent of all, and most require the application of an effectual remedy, they are precisely those for which a remedy can be least easily found.In consequence of the measures sanctioned by this House, some tittle progress has been made towards remedying these evils; yet, making all allowance for these exertions, and for the exertions to supply religious knowledge which have been made by those who do not conform to the Established Church—giving them all credit for the motives by which they are influenced, and also for the good which they have effected, still it cannot be denied that at the present moment, there is a lamentable deficiency of church accommodation, and a still greater want of pastoral care and superintendence; and it is in- 1279 cumbent on the House, if a remedy can be devised within its power, to apply that remedy. I apprehend that on all these points there will be little or no difference of opinion. I think there are few in this House—none, certainly, whose religious principles are in conformity with those of the Established Church—who must not deeply lament that there should be, in this country, populous districts devoid of the advantages of religious instruction. How is this to be remedied? Shall the means be supplied by calling on Parliament for public aid for the purpose of building and endowing churches, or shall we in the first instance at least maturely consider whether or no the revenues of the church can be made applicable through the intervention of Parliament to provide a remedy for this deficiency? It is my duty to state, that her Majesty's Government having maturely considered the subject, have resolved to recommend to Parliament in the first instance to consider the means of supplying this deficiency, from an application of the ecclesiastical revenues. I cannot hold out expectations that that remedy will be effectual and complete, but I am sure no step can be taken hereafter to induce Parliament to supply the deficiency till the executive government, acting in union with the church, shall in the first instance consider whether the ecclesiastical revenues can be made applicable. If these revenues should be found inapplicable, and yet if the amount of good done by the partial application of the means at our disposal should completely and convincingly prove, as I have no doubt it will, the advantages, religious, moral, and social, to be derived from the increase of this pastoral care and superintendence, then I do entertain a confident anticipation that Parliament may be induced to grant further aid in order to extend these advantages; but the proposal I have now to make on the part of the Government is limited exclusively to measures whereby the whole aid to be given in populous districts towards supplying religious instruction will be derived from the revenues of the Church. Sir, the House will probably recollect, that in the year 1835, a commission was issued by the Crown for the purpose of considering the state of the Church in some important points. It fell to my lot, as the Minister at that time, to give the advice to the Crown upon which that commission was 1280 issued. The objects which I had in view were promoted, I must say, to the utmost of their power by the Government which succeeded that with which the commission originated; and looking back at what has been done under that commission, I never can repent—notwithstanding the opposition which that commission met with—the advice which I gave to the Crown in the latter end of 1834; nor can I draw any other conclusion from the reports of that commission, which the succeeding Government adopted, than that great practical benefit has resulted from them. The first practical object was to inquire into the state of the dioceses—to compare the extent of labour performed in some of the dioceses with what was performed in others, to examine into the revenue of the several episcopal sees, and to suggest improvements. When I recollect the disproportions which existed in the case of the diocese of Durham for example, it appeared that the Bishop had a revenue of 19,000l. a-year, whilst the Bishop of Llandaff was only in the receipt of 900l. a-year; when I look at the labour of some bishops, and the disproportionate exemption of others, I myself am convinced that no measure was better calculated to add to the efficiency of the bishops of this country than that which at least prevented those enormous disproportions in the point of income, and which also equalised in some degree the amount of the duties to be performed. The inquiries of that commission also extended to the state of the cathedral establishments of this country. The commissioners were directed to inquire whether or no any deduction could be made in the extent of these establishments, and in what manner any revenue greater than was necessary for the purpose of maintaining the fabrics and supporting with becoming dignity the cathedral institutions, could be applied for the purpose of increasing the means of divine worship in districts of the country where those means were most scanty. The commissioners recommended, and Parliament sanctioned the recommendation, that there should be in most of the cathedral establishments of this country a reduction in the number of canons and prebends. They recommended, that the estates of all the non-resident prebends—that is, of all prebends in connexion with cathedral establishments, and from whom residence is not required—should be added to a common 1281 fund, to be applied under the control of the ecclesiastical commission, to supply those deficiencies to which I have called the attention of the House. They recommended also, that all sinecure rectories should be suppressed, and that the revenues of these rectories should be carried to a common fund, to be placed under the control of the ecclesiastical commissioners; and where the deans and canons had separate estates, that was not only a corporate property, but separate estates of a personal nature attached to a particular canonry or deanery—that in that case also the whole of those separate estates should be carried to the fund to be placed at the disposal of the ecclesiastical commissioners. The consequence has been, that there has been placed at the disposal of those commissioners an annual revenue which now amounts to the sum of, I think, 25,000l., that is to say, first, a sum derived from the separate estates of deans and canons falling in as the parties with life interests vacate the appointments; secondly, a sum derived from sinecure rectories falling in as the life interests cease, and now amounting to 2,000l.; then the sum derived from the estates of non-resident prebends; and lastly, the sum from suppressed canonries. The total amount from these sources at present is about 25,000l. The annual payments now made by the commissioners amount to about 18,000l. a-year. There is a sum of about 1,800l. a-year applied as a provision for archdeacons, and a sum of about 16,600l. a-year applied to the augmentation of small livings. In the case of 208 livings, of which the population of each exceeds 2,000, the income of the incumbent has been raised to 150l., entailing on the fund a permanent annual charge of nearly 13,000l a-year. In 49 parishes the population exceeds 1,000, the income has been raised to 120l. a-year, entailing a permanent charge of 2,043l. In certain cases of local claims, without reference to population, the income has been raised in 23 places, entailing a permanent charge of about 1,100l.; making the gross total of the present annual charge about 16,700l. The commissioners have, at the same time, published resolutions specifying the conditions upon which they are willing to extend assistance to this branch in proportion to the increase of their means. Looking at the number of small livings, and supposing the intention 1282 of the commissioners to be entirely fulfilled in respect to the augmentation of those small livings, the total actual engagements of the commissioners would be about 32,000l. a-year. It is confidently expected, however, by the commissioners, that within a few years, there will be a considerable increase of the property at their disposal; and, assuming that it is proper, in the first instance, to consider the means of supplying the deficiency of religious instruction from the ecclesiastical revenues, the question which Parliament will have to entertaining is, whether they will postpone the benefit until the period shall arrive when, by the increase of the revenue of the commissioners, they will have considerable means at their disposal beyond those necessary for meeting the engagements for the 32,000l., which must be considered as a permanent engagement; or, whether, anticipating the period when there shall be a considerable increase by the falling in of canonries and estates of non-resident prebendaries, we shall take any step or propose any measure for the additional endowment of parishes until that period. It has appeared to her Majesty's Government, that the existing evil is so great, and the pressure for religious instruction and pastors' care to them, and having, within a recent period, obtained evidence showing the importance of urging this subject upon the attention of Parliament, we have come to the conclusion that it is desirable to devise, if possible, some immediate means by which to anticipate the future revenue of the ecclesiastical commission, and to supply increased means of religious instruction in the most populous districts. Now, we purpose to do this by the agency of two public establishments; namely, the ecclesiastical commissioners, who expect to have, at no very remote period, a considerable revenue at their disposal; and the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, who have at present a large amount of capital stock, which we think can be made available as an immediate supply. The House is probably aware of the constitution of the Bounty Board. It was appointed for the superintendence of the sums of money derived from the first fruits and tenths; and the funds at its disposal have very materially augmented by grants from Parliament for several years past, beginning with the year 1808. The object both of the ecclesias- 1283 tical commission and the Bounty Board is to provide increased means of religious instruction, to endow new places of worship, and to increase the income of ministers where they are inadequately paid. In short, as far as their objects are concerned, there is little distinction between them. Now Parliament granted in 1808, and I think to the year 1820, each year, the sum of 100,000l. to be applied under the control and direction of the Board of Queen Anne's Bounty. That was to be applied to the augmentation of small livings. The stock, which is vested in the name of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the governors, amounts to nearly 1,200,000l., which may be called the parliamentary stock. Although it stands in the name of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the governors, the governors have power to apply that stock at their discretion to the purchases of houses and lands, and to endow livings in places where they are needed. I called for a return of the cases in which capital has been applied to the purchase of lands and houses, and the returns show that it has not been the right expedient to appropriate the money to any very great extent to the purchase of land; probably the expense of the conveyance of small purchases is a sufficient reason why the incumbent should rather derive the increase of his income from the annual interest payable upon the capital. The deductions under this head do not exceed 80,000l., so that the stock vested in the name of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty amounts, at least, to 1,100,000l. We propose, then, that the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty shall be empowered to advance 600,000l. to the ecclesiastical commissioners, to be employed chiefly for the purpose of endowing new livings. Of course it will be necessary that the ecclesiastical commissioners should guarantee to the bounty board the annual interest upon that sum. We propose to apply the 600,000l. so borrowed from the bounty board in annual payments of 30,000l. for the purpose of new endowments, that is to say, of endowing livings from 150l. to 200l., requiring as a condition, in cases where it can be possibly expected, that there should be a corresponding contribution from the people. The principle of the measure will be to appoint in populous districts of this country, clergymen whose 1284 income shall not exceed 300l. a year, though the average will be considerably less, and to every such clergyman a new district shall be assigned for the discharge of the duties for that district he shall be held responsible. This, then, will give a sum of 30,000l. to be applied annually for a certain number of years before the capital is exhausted in the endowment of new livings. If we take 600,000l. of stock, 30,000l. being annually advanced will exhaust the capital in about seventeen years; consequently, in the year 1860, the whole of the capital will be applied by the annual advance of 30,000l. in each year, towards the endowment of new livings in populous manufacturing districts. The ecclesiastical commissioners will have, at the end of that period, incurred these new obligations; first, they must secure to the bounty board 18,000l. a year, being the interest at 3 per cent, upon the capital advanced. But, next, the arrangement will be imperfect unless the commissioners will take upon themselves the permanent obligation of continuing the payment of 30,000l. for the same end, unless we can depend not only upon all the interest being paid, but also upon the advance made for the next seventeen years, being afterwards continued out of the means at the disposal of the commissioners, when the capital shall have been exhausted by the annual application of the 30,000l. Upon examining the prospects of the commissioners, I have no doubt, whatever, that there will be means at their disposal, in the year 1860, which will enable them to fulfil this new obligation. Of course it will be necessary to make immediate arrangements, and prepare the way for meeting the case. I do not know whether I make myself understood, but what I mean is, that in 1860 the capital will be exhausted; the ecclesiastical commissioners will have contracted a new obligation, and have to provide 18,000l. a year as annual interest, and 30,000l. in order to create a perpetual income for new livings, being a total of 48,000l. must add to that the 32,000l., for the advance of which the commissioners are already pledged. Therefore, the total charge for which the commissioners must provide in 1860 will be 80,000l. There will be three sums, then, at the end of the year 1860 to be provided for—first, 18,000l. for interest; secondly, 30,000l. for carrying on the 1285 endowments: and thirdly, 32,000l. more, if the published intentions of the commissioners be fulfilled. I will now attempt to show to the committee that the revenue of the commissioners is expected to be sufficient to provide that sum in 1860. I have already stated to the House, that the means of the commissioners are derived solely from estates of deans and canons, sinecure rectories, and non-residential prebends, not less than 360 in number. I propose no alteration in the present law with regard to this subject; but I wish to shew the House bow the funds will be provided which the commissioners must hereafter have to meet the demands which will arise, I have to provide, then, for the sum of 80,000l. I calculate, in the first place, that by the year 1860—and the calculation is founded upon the opinion of those who are versed in matters of this nature, the revenue derived from suspended canonries will amount to 42,000l., taking the value of the lives, and judging from the number already fallen in. The chief fund will be derived from the estates of non-resident prebends, and the value of those estates will considerably exceed the estimate put upon them in the report of the commissioners, in the year 1837. Of course we can form some estimate of the probable increase of the value of this source of revenue from the number of estates which have fallen in since the act passed to appropriate them- Within a period of seven years one-third of the estates of the non-resident prebends have fallen into the possession of the commissioners. According to the valuation of Mr. Morgan, the present value of those estates, not the present income, but the interest of the commissioners in the estates, is 900,000l., which represents a perpetual annuity of 30,000l., It is clear, therefore, that at the expiration of seventeen years—namely, in 1860, they will be in possession of 42,000l. a-year from the suspended canonries, and if we take the value of the prebends estates now in possession at 30,000l., the commissioners will then have 72,000l. a-year in order to meet the charge of 80,000l. But, of course, if one-third of the number of the non-residential prebends' estates have fallen in within the last seven years, it is fair to expect that in the next seventeen years one-half at least, will have fallen in. But those which have fallen in are one-third in number, 1286 not in value, Suppose, then, in the next seventeen years, that we have only an addition of an equal amount of value, there will he another 30,000l., which will make a total of 102,000l., besides 2,000l. arising from suppressed rectories, making the whole sum 104,000l. Therefore, the ecclesiastical commissioners will have ample means in 1860 to meet the demand then made on them. It is impossible to estimate exactly what will be the income in 1860, but I think I have now shown that the ecclesiastical commissioners will have ample means to meet the demands then made upon them, and indeed larger demands, if a larger sum could be advanced. It is possible, however, that the bounty board may be unwilling to advance a larger sum; but I wish instead of applying 30,000l. a-year, they were able to apply 40,000l. a-year to the endowment of additional ministers, but as this depends on the bounty board, and they must have ample security of course, I am compelled to limit myself to the. proposal of 30,000l. per annum. That, Sir, is the outline of the proposal which, on the part of her Majesty's Government, I submit to the consideration of the committee. But the committee must not conclude that the benefit to be derived from a calculation of this nature will be limited to the nominal amount. I propose not to apply the money to the building of churches, but for the endowment of ministers, strictly confining it to those populous districts in which the want of religious instruction is most felt. I propose that the money shall be so applied as to excite local activity; for all experience shows that if you advance a certain sum as the condition of individual exertion, the sum raised by that exertion will far exceed the amount advanced. Some striking instances of this are contained in the reports of various societies which have acted upon this principle. In the last report of the Diocesan Society, constituted for the purpose of building churches, and of endowing ministers of churches built or enlarged with the aid of the society, and for promoting the increase of church accommodation, it appears that in the diocese of Ripon, in the course of last year, the society advanced the sum of 5,870l., which was increased to 30,000l. by local subscriptions. By these means 10,304 additional sittings have been provided in churches and chapels, of which 5,791 are 1287 free. I cannot help here saying that think the appointment of the bishop, and the constitution of that new diocese, has been accompanied with great advantage to that district. I think that his unremitting activity, zeal, and piety have produced the most beneficial effects on the diocese in which he lives, and cannot help attributing the success of the measure, in a great degree, to the personal exertions of the bishop. The same thing also occurred in the diocese of Chester, and here also it would not be just, were I not to express, in strong terms, my admiration of the conduct of the Bishop of Chester, who has effected so much improvement in that diocese which has the good fortune to be under his charge, and to witness his example. It is impossible for any man to read the charge of the Bishop of Chester, and the documents which accompanied it, without entertaining sentiments of the deepest respect for that venerable prelate. In the diocese of Chester, in the year 1841, the sum of 53,300l. was applied to the building of churches, and 11,000l. to endowments—making a total of 64,300l. Of this amount 18,350l. were derived from public sources; and to the credit of that diocese let it be said, that 46,500l. were provided by individual subscriptions. This shows that the tendency of advancing small sums is to produce a supply from individual exertion far exceeding them. But there is a still more remarkable instance in the case of the incorporated society. I believe that society derives no aid whatever except from private contributions, that it has no public fund at its disposal, but it makes a rule not to make any advances, unless these be also private contributions'. The incorporated society has expended from its funds 196,000l., which has occasioned the outlay of at least 900,000l.; and by these means additional church accommodation has been provided for 307,000 persons, including 222,000 free sittings. What beneficial effects then may not be expected if the ecclesiastical commissioners, under the sanction of Parliament, shall be enabled to supply the sum of 30,000l. annually, under such conditions and with such an understanding as that to which I have alluded—to the endowment of ministers receiving a moderate stipend in populous districts where no minister now exists? My belief is, that it will lead to considerable efforts on the part of the residents in those dis- 1288 tricts to meet and exceed the advances made for the purpose of securing religious instruction where it is most needed, and that you can adopt no method so effectual to encourage the building of churches as to provide the endowments. Read this report, and you will constantly find it occuring that the appointment of a curate to a populous district, with a salary of from 80l. to 100l. a-year, has encouraged the wealthy inhabitants of that district to come forward and assist in the praiseworthy object of building a church for that curate's use. You will find that many persons are willing to advance sums of money by way of a donation towards the building of churches, whose circumstances prevent them from guaranteeing an annual sum towards their endowment. It is clear, indeed, that where property is settled its holder may have ample means of advancing a sum by way of donation, but may be unable to guarantee the application of an annual amount for the support of the pastor. Many persons, too, are more inclined to give a sum at once for the furtherance of a pious object, than to fetter themselves by any engagement to secure an annual income to a clergyman who is to carry out that object. Sir, I trust that when a clergyman is appointed under this arrangement it will always occur, or, at least that it will be the general rule, to assign to such clergyman a particular district. Instead of making him subsidiary to the incumbent of a parish, I trust that it will be arranged that a district shall be assigned to him, so that his exertions will be accompanied with full responsibility, and that he may have an opportunity of deriving all the advantages resulting from personal intimacy with his parishioners. [An hon. Member: Who are to appoint the curates?] I was about to observe, that without disturbing the present arrangement, there are ample means provided for their appointment. Supposing the advowson to be in the Crown the patronage would go to ecclesiastical commissioners. In a new district and in a new endowment it would rest in the bishop. Supposing it to be in an individual, I hope the commissioners will bear in mind the advantage which he will derive from the increase of the endowment, and will refuse to endow unless their liberality be met by corresponding liberality on his part. If you sever the district you do not diminish the profit of the existing 1289 incumbent, and therefore the private patron has no right to claim the patronage, Besides which you diminish the duties of the existing incumbent, though in some instances that is but a matter of justice, where his income is not equal to his labours. I hope there will be no opposition to this, for it is not a mere question of patronage, it involves a great moral and religious obligation. Undoubtedly their right as patrons is a right in the nature of a property, yet that this is a properly partaking of the nature of a sacred trust, and accompanied with an obligation to provide for the spiritual welfare of the parish: and in justice to patrons I must say, judging from the past looking to what patrons have already done, I certainly do expect their cordial co-operation with the commissioners for the future. It is, let them remember, for their own advantage, and for the advantage of their parishioners, that co operation in providing spiritual instruction should be given, and I earnestly hope and believe they will cordially afford it. Now, Sir, I go to another point. I would not at all advise that the appointment of ministers should be limited in every case to districts in which churches are opened for their reception. I think the utmost advantage would in some cases result from the appointment of a minister to a district in which there is no church. Great evils arise, not more from the want of church accommodation, s than from the want of pastoral care, and really I do not know if it would not be best in many cases to appoint ministers, in the first instance, to districts where no church is erected. By all means let us, where there are funds, prepare a building for the purposes of religious worship; but where the funds are not ready, let us hire a building, and, am sure, the appointment of a minister of exemplary piety and of great utility will soon cause the erection of a church to follow. Do not let us refuse to plant a minister in a district because it contains no church. Sir, as I said before, we do not propose to devote any part of this sum to the construction of churches—we desire to apply it all to the purposes of endowment. I am sure it is quite unnecessary for me to attempt to impress on the committee the importance of having a minister to attend to the spiritual wants of the population of our densely crowded districts. In some of these districts that 1290 population has far outgrown the parochial superintendence at present provided—thousands and tens of thousands of the people never come in personal contact with a minister, and it cannot be necessary that I should dilate on the advantage, in a religious point of view, of planting among those who know no other relations of society than the relations of the employer and the employed, active and pious ministers who will visit the poor in their houses, and will carry the benefits and consolations of religion to the home of every family. Sir, I believe that I have now sufficiently explained the nature of the measure, and that it will be unnecessary for me to enter into further details. I have shown that by the joint agency of the two boards—the Bounty board and lie Ecclesiastical commissioners—we anticipate the possession of a revenue which will give us the means of applying 30,000l. per annum to the endowment, of pastors. I hope that the House will give the measure their unanimous sanction. It calls on them for no grant of public money. I wish I could get such a grant with the unanimous concurrence of the House and of the country; but knowing my inability to obtain that unanimous concurrence, I must say that I think a sum appropriated from the revenues of the Church, as an encouragement to voluntary contributions, and a large sum also derived from individual contributions, will prove of greater service than a sum reluctantly voted by the House, and reluctantly paid by a portion of the people. I think, too, that those who may object to this arrangement on the ground that they prefer a State grant, should bear in mind that the present patrimony of the Church was not all derived from the State, but proceeded in a great part from grants to (he Church by pious individuals; and I hope that, in like manner, those who have derived their property from the labour of a population to whom the advantages of religious instructions had been denied, will by their voluntary exertions and individual subscriptions, promote the means of the Church, as they have already done in some degree, to extend the sphere of its present utility. Sir, with regard to those voluntary exertions I am enabled to say, and I state it with great satisfaction, that the exertions of late years contrast most favourably with the exertions not only of former times, but of some few 1291 years back. I hold in my hand a return, giving an account of the number of churches actually consecrated in the different dioceses of England and Wales since the year 1840. The return is imperfect, inasmuch as there are no accounts from the dioceses of Bangor, St. David's, Ely, Exeter, and Llandaff. From the diocese of Ripon no return was received when the account was made out, but have since received the return from that diocese. Now, I will not trouble the House with reading all the figures, but will just give them an account of the gross number of churches consecrated in the first eight years of the present century contrasted with the eight years ending with 1842. This is the result,—
I only point to this table to show the gratifying fact that the religious evil, and also the religious obligation is more felt than it was wont to be by those who are in the possession of property, and I can have no doubt that, if Parliament will place at the disposal of the ecclesiastical commissioners a sum of 30,000l. per annum, to be appropriated to the endowment of pastors, the consequence will be the great encouragement, not only of the endowments of ministers, but of the building of churches. I have now completed my task, and have, I hope, sufficiently explained our plan to the House. We ask, as I said before, for no grant from the public purse, but we propose a measure of the success of which we entertain a confident hope, but the non-success of which, as it would necessitate an appeal to Parliament, would certainly afford the greatest encouragement to the House to vote the grant that it would then be expedient to demand. I anticipate no opposition to the measure. I trust to the revenues of the Church, and to individual sense of duty and liberality to supply the religious wants of the people; and when I consider the state of the manufacturing districts—that there are thousands and 1292 tens of thousands in those districts who, whatever may be their disposition, have not the means of worshiping God according to the religion of the State and the religion of their fathers—I feel that it is impossible too highly to estimate the religious and social advantages we may derive from carrying religion to their own doors. It is, indeed, impossible to look at what has lately passed in those districts, and not to come to the conclusion, that, apart from all religious considerations, the State has the deepest interest in inculcating a sense of religious duty as the means of preserving social order. But I feel I am troubling the House unnecessarily. I hope the measure will meet with very general, if it does not meet with quite universal approbation. Some Members there may be—as for instance, my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University—who may wish that I had gone further. No man more highly estimates the motives of the hon. Gentleman than I, but I must impress upon him that it will be no slight point gained, if, this measure being carried with the universal concurrence of the House, it become, as I trust it will become, the means of endowing ministers in populous districts, and still more, the source of further and larger supplies to be derived from the contributions of pious individuals who may feel deeply that they cannot make a better offering to Almighty God, in return for the prosperity with which they are blest, than in rescuing those by whose labour they have attained their wealth from their present indifference to His religion, and their want of ability to attend His ordinances. I move, Sir, in conclusion, that the Chairman be directed to move for leave to being in a bill to make better provision for the spiritual care of populous parishes.
Churches consecrated. churches consecrated. 1801 2 1835 26 1802 1 1836 41 1803 2 1837 60 1804 3 1838 76 1805 3 1839 69 1806 2 1840 81 1807 5 1841 98 1808 2 1842 74 Total 20 Total 525
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
felt confident, that knowing, as they must, the part he had taken upon this question on former occasions, the committee would not consider that he was improperly intruding himself on their attention if he addressed to them a few observations on the speech they had just heard. His right hon. Friend had done him the honour to refer to the opinion which he might personally form upon the subject of this bill. Certainly he would not say that he felt any disappointment about it, because when he came down to the House that evening, he was not uninformed of the nature of the proposition 1293 about to be made; but whilst in this qualified sense he certainly was not disappointed, he could not conceal, that he felt great pain at the character of the proposition now submitted for their approval. Not that he did not see, that practically the working of the measure might be productive of great good; but what he chiefly felt was, that the conclusion at which his right hon. Friend had now arrived, was not the conclusion to which he had come three years ago, when the House then divided upon the subject, was not the conclusion to which, as he understood it, his right hon. Friend had come last year, when he (Sir R. H. Inglis) relinquished to him the prosecution of the subject at that time, they had come to last year, and was not that conclusion to which (at least as far as he knew their opinions) the great body of those who were interested in this subject were prepared to arrive at present. At the same time, feeling that any complaint which he might make would tend to embarrass the right hon. Baronet, would serve the purposes of those from whom he dissented still more strongly, and understanding that the present measure was not to be final, he would not oppose the present motion; though he should still continue to hope, that an application for a direct grant would be made to Parliament. In addition to this amount of his concurrence in the measure, so far as it went, he would only add two observations. The first was, that the right hon. Baronet had all the power in his own hands. He must not deceive himself on the point He held power not only in the House but in the country; and the public would not fail to support him in any proposition he might bring forward founded on ample documents, and supported by such arguments as those he had used that evening. His right hon. Friend's last argument was, that the welfare of the country was dependent on its religious principle; if so, let him ask how far the state was performing its duty when, by such a bill as this, they confined themselves to enabling one part of the ecclesiastical system to assist another, and refrained from calling on the state to contribute one fraction to the Church's extension? His other observation was this:—at present, certainly, there were no symptoms from which the House might be fed to expect much opposition to this bill from great parties, whatever there might be from individuals. The measure 1294 was, in fact, so perfectly harmless, that no one could find fault with it on the ground of its doing too much. But, if the right hon. Baronet expected by this measure, or any other, to pacify the Dissenters, why then he (Sir R. H. Inglis) would tell the right hon. Baronet, that the experience of the last three weeks, and especially of the last six days, ought to carry conviction to him, that no measure which he could possibly bring forward would succeed in effecting such an object, and that, even in a worldly point of view, it would be more statesmanlike policy to bring forward a measure founded on the solid basis of supporting a Church—established not only by the law of the land, but in the hearts and affections of the people. His right hon. Friend could only hope to succeed by identifying himself with the Church of England. It would be in vain to expect, that the Dissenting body would ever forego the maxim, delendaest Carthago. If, instead of endeavouring to satisfy the Dissenters, his right hon. Friend resolutely laboured to carry out, the principles of the Church of England, he would find himself supported by the general voice of the people of England. If he would only determine to carry out the parochial system throughout the land the most extensive and salutary results might be expected to ensue; but he could never hope to produce important or lasting benefit by endeavouring to eke out the establishment in one part of the country, and curtailing its resources in another. He felt strongly persuaded, that his right hon. Friend committed a great mistake in proposing so circumscribed a measure. He would have found a comprehensive proposition quite as easy to carry as a limited one. There was one matter, however, respecting which there could be no difference of opinion, and that was the degree in which obedience to the laws was manifested and public order maintained in districts under the influence of the Church as compared with those for which religious instruction was not provided. The best possible evidence of this was to be found in the history of the recent disturbances in the midland and northern counties. It was well known, that the largest amount of obedience to the laws, and the most effectual maintenance of order, prevailed where the Church of England enjoyed the greatest degree of authority. While he admitted, that the measure of the right hon. Baronet would do some good, he must 1295 be allowed to say, that it would not meet the exigencies of the case, nor fulfil the expectations of the people.
§ Viscount Dungannon
thought the proposition made by the right hon. Gentleman was a highly creditable one, and worthy of a great enlightened Minister. He (Lord Dungannon) agreed however, with his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford that if a direct Parliamentary grant were proposed, it would meet with support—that the feeling of the country was in favour of the Church, and that the influence of the clergymen was conducive to the best interests of the people. The right hon. Baronet was right in thinking that the first thing to be considered was to secure support for the minister, and the proposal before the House was framed with a view to remedying the evil arising from excessively inadequate incomes. He (Lord Dungannon) having been lately to take the deposition of a dying person in a very populous district, was astonished and horror-struck at hearing that the word of God was scarcely known in the immense mass of population around. In this very district a new church had been built within a few years, but there were no funds for the maintenance of a minister, and the Church was vacant. He was sorry that the subject seemed to excite so little interest among hon. Members opposite, and that no leading person amongst them came forward to express his acquiescence in the proposal. The measure would do lasting benefit, and he hoped would lead from one good to another and that the day was not far distant when the right hon. Gentleman would ask for a Parliamentary grant of money in furtherance of the most important of all possible objects.
observed, that at the present moment there was in the Church of England a very serious schism, and though we might not perhaps be aware of the fact, yet it formed a pretty close parallel to the existing state of the Church of Scotland, and when the right hon. Baronet told them that he intended to add to the number of clergymen giving instruction according to the doctrines of the Church of England, he should have informed them what the doctrines of the Church of England were. The public had frequently been told that some doctrines taught by some pastors of the Church of England were not only against the con- 1296 sciencies of some members of that Church, but opposed to the principles of the Reformation, ft might be no easy question, then, to determine what were the doctrines of the Church of England. Were they to be found in tract No 90, or were they to be found in the thirty-nine articles as expounded by the Regius Professor at the University of Oxford? He hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Baronet would give some explanation of the doctrines which were to be taught by these additional clergymen.
§ Mr. Colquhoun
was understood to say, that the hon. and gallant Member must be aware that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government was not the proper person to answer the question which he had asked. He was aware that the indiscretion and violence of the parties to whom the hon. and gallant Member had alluded had alienated some of the best friends of the Church. An instance of this had come under his observation. A Church had been erected in a large manufacturing town, in order to meet a case of great moral destitution, and the proceeding was sanctioned by the strongest sympathies of the people. The clergyman who was appointed to the Church professed the doctrines which had been adverted to, and he seemed to suppose that the simple reading of the services of the Church of England would be sufficient to attract an alienated and ignorant population to his Church. The result was as might have been predicted: those who attended at first from motives of curiosity were disgusted by the fierce tone of denunciation which the clergyman assumed, and the Church was now almost entirely deserted. He was happy to express his belief that the new doctrines, which were so injurious to the Church, would not prevail to any great extent in the country. Clergymen of the Church of England were beginning to see that in the discharge of their sacred duty it was not incumbent on them to press unduly doctrines and discipline on people who were utterly ignorant of even the first elements of moral truth, but rather to point out to them the necessity of reclaimed conduct and improved life. That was a service which it ought to be the highest honour of the Church of England to perform, and which the Legislature had a right to expect from it. The plan announced by the right hon. Baronet would operate most beneficially in many instances with which he himself was 1297 acquainted. He would mention one. Under the countenance of the Bishop of London, and of a distinguished merchant, a fund, amounting to no less than 66,000l. had been raised for erecting churches in Bethnal-green. Several churches had been built, but, owing to the scanty means of the population, the sum derived from pew-rents, the chief fund for the maintenance of the clergyman, did not exceed forty or fifty pounds per annum. How could it be expected that an educated man, who would be required to contribute to the charities of the district, would undertake anxious and arduous duties, amongst an ignorant population, for such a wretched pittance as that? In such cases the right hon. Baronet's plan would operate most beneficially. It was, after all, only a step, but a step in a right direction.
§ Lord John Russell
could assure the noble Lord, the Member for Durham, that he was not at all reluctant to give his opinion of the plan propounded by the right hon. Baronet, at the head of the Government; but he had thought it right that his hon. Friend, the Member for the University of Oxford, who seemed disposed to address the House on the subject, should have an opportunity of expressing his opinion immediately after the right hon. Baronet. As regarded the scheme itself, he was not disposed to bestow any extraordinary approbation upon it. It did not appear to be of vast extent or high principle, or to be likely to produce any extraordinary results. At the same time, he must confess, it appeared to be a step in the right direction, and it certainly would tend to the removal of a very great evil. By the scheme, as he understood it, the right hon. Baronet took the capital already belonging to the Church, and, by his mode of dealing with it, forestalled, to a certain degree, the amount of income which many years hence would accrue to the Church, by vacancies in dignities and sinecures, and which, by an act of the Legislature, was directed to be applied to the increase of the means of spiritual instruction. Before going further, he wished to say a few words as to the manner in which the church commissioners dealt, as far as he knew; but he confessed his information on the point was not very exact—with the funds already in their hands, which, he understood, amounted to 25,000l. a-year. It appeared to him, when he was a church commissioner, that the statements con- 1298 tained in one of the early reports of the commission—the first or second—respecting the metropolis and the dioceses of York and Chester, pointed to those populous districts as the parts of the country to which the attention of the commissioners should be principally directed, with the view of supplying spiritual instruction. He understood, however, that the church commissioners, in dealing with the funds in their hands, had proceeded upon this principle, without reference to the peculiar wants of those districts in which a large population had grown up during the last fifty years—they add to the income of clergymen who have to attend to the instruction of 2,000 inhabitants; next to those who have to superintend 1,000; and then to those who had to watch over 500. That did not appear to be the best mode of proceeding. No doubt it was fitting, that every clergyman's income should be raised to 150l. per annum; but it appeared to him that the spiritual destitution which prevailed in the populous districts was the first point to which the attention of the church commission should be directed. The right hon. Baronet had stated that it was more desirable to supply additional clergymen in the populous districts, than to build new churches. With that proposition he entirely concurred, and he and his colleagues, when in office, introduced a bill by which it was provided, that the whole of the funds which should accrue to the church commissioners, and which it was estimated would eventually amount to 130,000l. a-year, should be appropriated to the object. In adverting to the livings in the gift of the Crown, of bishops, and dean, and chapters, the right hon. Baronet said there could be no difficulty in augmenting their annual value; but, he observed, that with respect to those which were in the gift of private patrons, it would be impossible to increase the stipends of the clergymen, without adding to the value of the advowsons. That was perfectly true, but at the same time the State was bound to consider the people who ought to receive spiritual instruction from the incumbents of such livings. Take the case of a parish containing 20,000 or 30,000 inhabitants, where the living is in the gift of a private patron, it appeared reasonable enough to say to the patron, "We will not increase the income of the clergyman, unless you contribute something towards it;" but as regarded the 1299 20,000 people, the reply would be insufficient. For his own part, he could see no good reason why the Government should not be empowered, by act of Parliament to purchase livings from private patrons, and transfer them to the Crown. It occurred to him, that there was a means by which some money might be obtained for the object which they had in view. There were about 600 livings in the gift of the Lord Chancellor. Now, there were many reasons for patronage being vested in the Crown; but he knew of none for it being in the gift of the Lord Chancellor, and he would, therefore, suggest that some of the livings over which that functionary exercised control should be sold, and the proceeds placed at the disposal of the church commissioners. He certainly thought that means ought to be devised for surmounting the difficulty which the right hon. Baronet had pointed out with respect to livings in the gift of private patrons. With respect to the scheme of the right hon. Baronet generally, inasmuch as it would add to the means of the Church, he was very well content to support it. A bill promoted by the Bishop of London was sent down from the other House two or three years ago, the object of which was to obtain the means of giving about 200l. a-year to clergymen officiating in churches built by subscription in the metropolis. The bill proposed, that the funds necessary for endowing the churches should be obtained by a new arrangement, to be effected with regard to property of the Church, which was at present leased to the corporation of London. Objection was taken to the terms of the bargain with the corporation of London, rather than to the principle of the measure, and on that account it did not succeed. If a similar measure, or one of a more general character, could be adopted, it would be productive of great advantage. His hon. Friend, the Member for Oxford University, had objected to the Scheme of the right hon. Baronet, that it did not call for any grant from the public funds; but that which was an objection to the plan in the eyes of his hon. Friend, constituted a merit in his (Lord J. Russell's). When his hon. Friend, some time ago, proposed that a grant should be made by the House of Commons for Church extension, he (Lord J. Russell) stated his reasons for opposing that proposition. He believed, that any grant of that kind, at the present 1300 time, would only increase the feeling of animosity, which, in some quarters, prevailed against the Church. The right hon. Baronet, in the course of his statement, had shown how strong was the disposition of the public to subscribe largely the means of supplying spiritual instruction. We knew what a large amount of property the Church obtained in very ancient times from the beneficence of private individuals. The temper of the present time was different; not so much was done now by private persons in their individual characters, as conjointly by common subscription. The very large sum which had recently been raised by subscription for the building of new churches, proved the willingness of the public to contribute to such an object. His hon. Friend, the Member for Middlesex, though belonging to a party which had been taunted with not being friends of the Church, had subscribed no less a sum than 3,000l. to that fund. Subscriptions of that nature were better calculated to promote the interests of the Church than any Parliamentary grant, accompanied, as it would be, by angry discussions in that House. In conclusion, he must say, that he concurred most readily in the plan of the right hon. Baronet. It would not do all that was required, and he could not suggest any plan that would do all that was required; but he had ventured to make some suggestions which, if adopted, would, he thought, add to the efficiency of the measure.
§ Mr. Hume
had no doubt but that a pious clergymen being planted in any district would do good, but he very much doubted whether the mere providing of funds would effect the desired object. The right hon. Baronet in making his statement, had said that there were some districts in England in which the word of God had never been heard. What a shame that was to those who for so long a time had been receiving wages for enlightening the people! Compare the sums which were spent on religion in England with all that was given for its use throughout all the rest of Europe, and it would be found to be nearly double, yet there was no other country with so vilely ignorant a population as we had. The neglect shown by the Church heretofore induced him to doubt whether the mere granting of money would produce those pious men who were so much wanted. ["Oh."] He would 1301 ask those who cried "Oh," to look at the wealth enjoyed by the Church, and then say whether anything could be more disgraceful than the state of ignorance in which the people of England had been left? Even if churches were built and pious clergymen were placed in every street in London or every other large town, they would be useless while the people were in their present condition. As the Bishop of Norwich well said at a public meeting:—Men in such a stale of poverty as to be unable to provide food for themselves and their families—who had not the means of obtaining a comfortable habitation—who were covered with rags in place of clothing—that men in such a state of abject poverty and consequent discontent were prepared to receive religious instruction, was a fallacy—the condition of the people must be bettered, and their minds prepared by sound moral education.It was necessary for the right hon. Baronet and the House to look to whom and into whose hands they were about to place these increased funds. It was a question whether it would be used for the purpose of spreading the doctrines of the Reformation. On the contrary, there was too much ground to believe that it would be used for teaching the doctrines and ceremonies of popery. There was a party in the Church, and which was increasing daily, which ought to be put down, or the reformed Church of England would be overthrown. He was glad to hear the right hon. Baronet express his regret at the divisions which were springing up, and he trusted, he would take such steps as would effectually put down the schism. In the country it was extending fast, and he was exceedingly sorry to see that its pernicious doctrines or mummeries had found their way even into bills on the Table of the House. In the Factories Bill, brought in and supported by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, there were clauses to prevent the children from being taught on what were called feasts and fast days; that was a relict of ancient Popery. There were now as it were only two classes in the country, Churchmen on the one hand, and Dissenters generally on the other, and they were, he believed, as nearly equal as possible. ["No, no."] It was all very well for them to laugh, but that proved no fact; he believed that, including the Roman Catholics, the Dis- 1302 senting body was as large as the congregation of the Church. At all events he was quite certain that more persons constantly attended Dissenting meetinghouses than were ever to be seen in Church. The right hon. Baronet ought, before pressing his plan into operation, to see that his estimates were well grounded. How did he provide against any contingencies? For instance, might not the revenues of the Church be diminished before long? He fully believed that unless some change were made in the policy of the country many years would not pass before the revenues of every person depending upon the rents of land would be diminished; therefore, the right hon. Baronet ought to look well to his estimates, and see that he provided against any contingency of the kind he had pointed out before 1860. The right hon. Baronet ought not to provide clergymen until he had prepared the minds of the people to receive their instructions; he ought in the first place to promote the spread of a national education. Just suppose that all the additional clergymen had been appointed, would the cause of education be promote of Why, the right hon. Baronet had shown him a return which proved that, since 1801, 1,029 new churches had been built and endowed; yet what was the state of the people of England? They might during the next five years multiply their churches by 1,000, and their clergymen by double that number, yet, unless they first of all promoted a good sound secular education amongst the people, they would not increase religion; the people would remain in a state of ignorance that was disgraceful to England. He considered that it would be far better for the Government to use their increased funds for the extinction of Church-rates, and so put an end to those constant bickerings to which they gave rise; such a course would greatly tend to promote peace. Again, there were many churches in the City of London which were richly endowed, but from a change of circumstances had become deserted and wholly useless. Why should not they now be removed, and the property belonging to them applied to the extension of religion in populous districts where it might be usefully employed?
§ Mr. Pakington
agreed with the noble Lord, the Member for London, that he plan of the right hon. Baronet was, at all events, a step, and a most important step, 1303 in the right direction. He (Mr. Pakington) also agreed with the right hon. Baronet the Member-for Oxford, that the plan now proposed was altogether insufficient to meet the existing evils. If, however, it was hereafter found necessary to demand the assistance of Parliament, in order to remedy the deficiencies of religious instruction so generally complained of, he felt assured that assistance would not be withheld. But before any application was made for Parliamentary assistance, it was absolutely necessary that the means of the Church herself should be exhausted, and when those means were exhausted he could not believe that the House of Commons would refuse to sanction any reasonable proposal which her Majesty's Government might feel it incumbent on them to submit to Parliament. They had seen how much money had of late years been raised for the building of churches; but the great difficulty had always been to provide for the endowment of the clergymen. Such had been the case in his own county. In this part, therefore, of the right hon. Baronet's plan he fully concurred, and as far as it went, he felt convinced it would afford general satisfaction.
§ Mr. Gisborne
said it was impossible that any one could be more opposed than he should have been to a grant of public money, and for that very reason he felt the more inclined to thank the right hon. Gentlemen for the moderation of the plan which he had that evening developed. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) had indeed spoken of Queen Anne's bounty as public money, inasmuch as the fund was one that had been formed by parliamentary grants, but surely the hon. Member had no expectation of ever getting any portion of those grants back again. He (Mr. Gisborne) certainly felt some doubts whether it would not have been a better plan to dispose of some of the livings in the gift of Government, rather than to borrow money. The ecclesiastical commissioners, he believed, made it a practice to exclude from all participation in the funds under their control all cases of private patronage. ["No, no."] They certainly did so in his parish. The parish was Chapel-en-le-Frith, in Derbyshire, with 4,000 inhabitants, and every rate-payer in the parish had a vote in the election of the clergyman, and on this ground the ecclesiastical commissioners 1304 had always refused, when urged, to raise the income of the clergyman to 150l. a year. It was impossible her Majesty's Government could have avoided the question of Church extension, and that question they had now brought forward in a manner to which he believed neither Churchmen nor Dissenters could object.
§ Mr. Plumptre
said, he had no.reason whatever to disapprove of the proposal now made by the right hon. Baronet towards the affording of endowments for ministers in populous districts, and he begged to add, that he had been very highly gratified by the tone and language employed by the right hon. Gentleman in bringing this proposal before the House. It was most pleasing to him to hear the Prime Minister of this great country speaking of the application of religion as the main remedy for the many social evils that are to be found amongst us. Everything was to be hoped for if this great remedy could, under God's blessing, be brought to bear upon the population of the laud. The hon. and gallant Member for Wycombe had referred, in the discussion of the subject before the House, to certain opinions introduced of late years by certain members of the Church, and had said that these opinions ought to be guarded against. He quite agreed with the hon. and gallant Member; and as the hon. and gallant Member had introduced the subject, he would say that he believed that the holders of these opinions, the Tractarians, were inflicting an injury of no common amount on the Church of which they are members. They were giving the utmost offence in many quarters, and when, in language almost as unintelligible, as, in his opinion, it was altogether unscriptural ad uncharitable, they ventured to consign to "the uncovenanted mercies of God," members of any other Church than their own, they were creating disgust, and driving from their churches very many by whom such exclusive opinions could not be tolerated. The hon. Member for Montrose had alluded to the empty state of many churches in the City. He had beard of this state of things, and he believed he might venture a general opinion that the extent of congregations very much depended on the character of the preaching employed before them. He remembered a saying of Rowland Hill, "that the place where a cannon-ball might be fired with the least 1305 risk in London on a Sunday, would be along the aisle of a church in which the gospel was not preached." And he thought this was pretty neatly true in these days. People were not satisfied now with a mere dry, moral discourse; they desire to hear the gospel faithfully and affectionately preached. And when this was the case, as for instance in that great church St. Bride's, the minister of which the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had appointed when he was for a short time in power in 1835, he believed there was a crowded congregation when ever the church was opened. The body of ministers to whom he had before alluded, the Tractarians, did much, he believed, towards emptying their churches, and he could not wish it to be otherwise. He trusted they would not be countenanced. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had given proofs of his sentiments with regard to them, by the appointment he had made to the bishopric of Chichester; and he hoped, from some little indication of his feeling that he had manifested during the present discussion, that the right hon. Baronet would still discountenance opinions which he believed sincerely were dishonourable to the church of Christ generally, and greatly injurious to the established religion of this country.
§ Mr. Borthwick
agreed with those who preceded him in approving of those parts of the plan which provided in the first instance for clergymen rather than for churches. There was a large amount of Church power now in the country not employed in the Church service. Within a few yards of where they now stood there had been provision made in early times for Divine service in a cathedral the finest in Europe; yet if you entered there on a Sunday, you saw only a small space set apart for fee public service, and the rest of the building appropriated as a show-room in a manner the most unbecoming and inconsistent with the objects and character of that sacred edifice. Whatever might be the attendance in the churches in the city, he could say, from his own personal observation, that as much of that church as the public had admission to was fully occupied, and that he himself frequently stood during the whole service, and found many of both sexes obliged to stand also. He knew it was said that you must not admit the people of England into your 1306 cathedrals as you admit the people of Spain, France, and Italy, because they would deface the statues, and other ornaments and decorations. But he considered that that was an evil created by the exclusion of the people from the churches. He believed that the people of England were as religiously disposed as the people of France, Spain, or Italy—but when they were shown a church for 2d. a head, and were accustomed to look at its stained windows as they would at any other public exhibitions, and had them associated in their minds with no religious feelings, they could not possibly treat them with the respect that was due to them. He did not wish to speak too severely of the monuments erected in those cathedrals, but there were some admitted into them which were calculated to detract much from the purposes for which these buildings were erected. Me thought that the doors of cathedrals ought to be thrown open to all who wished to enter, not only during the hours of Divine service, but during the whole day. It was impossible to visit the churches of the Continent, and to see at all hours of the day all classes of persons offering up their prayers with fervent devotion to the Deity, and then to come to England and not to be struck with the unseemly contrast, when they saw the churches open only at stated hours and for a given time on the occasions of public worship, and the people at all other times shut out altogether, or shown through them, as show rooms, at so much a head. Nor let it be said that this was a return to Catholicism and Popery, as some Gentlemen opposite insisted, who would carry what they called the principles of the reformation to a point at which the reformers themselves would shudder. It was not one of the principles of the reformation to exclude the people from the altars. On the contrary, he believed one of the most distinguished lay members of the Church of England who ever lived, and whose name was a synonyms for everything that was virtuous, religious, and honourable, said to his Friend Boswell when they were together in a church, and not at a time of public service, "There is the altar of your God before you, and I recommend you, before you leave your country, to solicit his protection to restore you to your country in health and peace, and happiness." He trusted that neither by the 1307 Prime Minister of the country, nor by any section of the House, would the discussion of any peculiar tenets or speculative doctrine be sanctioned. If this were the case, those unseemly divisions which had occurred in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland would be transferred to the House of Commons, the difference being that the question in the General Assembly were understood, whilst in the House of Commons the greatest ignorance would be found to prevail as to the arguments on both sides of the question.
§ Viscount Sandon
entirely agreed with the hon. Member who had last spoken, that the House of Commons was not the place to enter into discussion on conflicting theological opinions, whatever they might individually think on the subject of those opinions. He rose for the purpose of expressing his gratification at the plan of the right hon Baronet, and the manner in which it had been received. He looked on it as the germ of a great principle. He was also glad to observe, that neither the right hon. Baronet nor the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell), had said anything that would prevent them from hereafter going further if occasion required. At present be was satisfied with the plan as proposed, and he would not call on the House to force on any abstract principle of church extension. The measure was really one for the advancement of the temporal comforts of the people, for those temporal comforts were never more effectually secured than by the presence of a good resident minister among them. Half their evils arose from the want of a proper knowledge of their moral and religious duties. In this respect the services of the clergy had been great. From the farmer or the 'squire the people could get nothing in the way of education, while the minister was to be found devoting his time and his talents to the spiritual and temporal interests of his parishioners. If the clergy could inspire the laity with their own zeal on behalf of education little assistance in the way of funds would be required from the State. He was glad, too, to perceive that the plan included such a remuneration to the new clergyman as would enable them to discharge in a manner befitting their station the duties attached to their office. It was not the mere stipend of a curate fresh from a college, who looked on himself as merely passing through a parish to a better pro- 1308 vision, and who therefore could not be expected to feel the same interest in the permanent welfare of his parishioners. He agreed, too, with the right hon. Baronet in thinking that this plan would develope the yet undiscovered and unexhausted resources of the people of this country in support of religious instruction.
rose to express his satisfaction with the measure of the Government, but at the same time he thought that the right hon. Baronet would do well to pay attention to what had been said by hon. Members, with respect to certain doctrines that now agitated the Church. It had been said that the House of Commons was not a fit place for the introduction of theological questions. If not there, where? In Scotland, in the General Assembly, the religious question that agitated the Church had been discussed on its principles and details, and the sentiments of the Church of Scotland were therefore known. Where were the means of effecting that result with regard to the Church of England? Where was the convocation of the Church of England? How and where were the new doctrines to be met face to face, so that it might be ascertained whether they were the sentiments of the whole church, or whether they were only those of the reformed Catholic Church, as they called themselves? He was convinced that those doctrines could not stand the test of discussion, and therefore it was that he desired to see them discussed. The time was coming, he was convinced, when theological questions would be actually forced on the House, and when that time came, it would be found that the doctrines to which he referred were a fester that was eating into the heart's core of the Church of England.
§ Mr. Curteis
wished to make an observation respecting the appointment of the right hon. Baronet of the right rev. Dean of Westminster. He had seen a paragraph stating, that when the Prime Minister gave the right rev. Dean his appointment, he stipulated that the Dean should give every facility to the public of entering the abbey, and visiting it at all times. He (Mr. Curteis) understood the right hon. Baronet to confirm that, and the fact gave him very great satisfaction, as he had no doubt it would also give to the public generally. He hoped, that every facility would be afforded to the public for visiting 1309 and examining the abbey. The motion before the House gave him very great satisfaction. He had always been desirous of giving fair play to the Dissenters, and he hoped that they would feel that this was a measure which they could not oppose. He thought no proposition could be brought forward more fair or just, and that it was one which no Dissenter had a right to oppose. The Dissenters were not to be called upon to pay the proposed extension of church accommodation, and as a warmly attached member of the Church, and one of its liberal supporters, he thought they had a right to dispose of its finances in such a way as to improve and increase the means of supplying the consolations, and maintaining the services of religion.
§ Lord J. Manners
entirely agreed with the noble Lord near him, that this was no place for theological discussions, and therefore he should not enter on them. He had abstained from voting on the Church of Scotland question; he remembered that that course met with the approbation of the hon. Member for Argyle-shire, and he most sincerely regretted that the hon. Member had not imitated, on the present occasion, the course then taken by so humble an individual as himself. Any measure that would give a right to the state to interfere, more than it had hitherto done with the Church, would be fraught with the most dangerous consequences to the country. In former years, measures had been introduced into Parliament which created great alarm among the best friends of the Church; these related to ecclesiastical property, but however injurious they would have been to the temporal interests of the Church, they did not trench on her doctrines. But now it seemed that House was to be the arbiter of the doctrines of the Church. The hon. Member for Argyleshire said, it was fitting it should be so, because there was no other body in England which could decide on those doctrines; but the hon. Gentleman answered this argument almost in the same breath, by asking, where was the convocation? He agreed with the hon. Member on this point, and would ask, why should not the Convocation be called? As to the measure of the right hon. Gentleman, he had not a word to say against it. It seemed to give a permanent sanction to the constitution of the ecclesiastical commission, he regretted that that sanction 1310 should be given, bat, in the present state of affairs, he did not see how it could be avoided.
explained, that he held that the House of Commons had a right to interfere with the temporalities of the Church, but not with the spiritualities. He had never said, that there was no power in the Church of England that could decide spiritual points, but he said, there was no power which did decide them.
Mr. S. O'Brien
alluded to the remark made by the hon. Member for East Kent (Mr. Plumptre) that the city churches were empty because the clergymen who filled them were the reverse of such men as Mr. Dale. He had heard it with great regret, and he was sure that the city clergy would hear the remark from no man with mare sorrow than from the hon. Member. The real reason why the churches were so thinly attended was, that the city was actually depopulated on Sundays.
thought, that for that House to enter on questions of doctrine, could lead to nothing but idle discussions. He agreed with the suggestion thrown out, that the right place for such discussions was the Convocation. He held himself entitled, as a lay Member of the Church of England, to claim for her that right of which he believed all other religious communities in the world ware in possession—the right of expressing, in the proper and constitutional manner, her own doctrines—and he would go further, and say, on practical points relating to the management of the internal affairs of the Church. He should not object to the right hon. Gentleman's plan, because it had not been laid before Con vocation; but he must protest against the constitutional right of the Church of England to express her opinion on her internal affairs being questioned. He disapproved of the manner in which these questions were bandied about in that House, and hoped that Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, the depth of whose religious feeling he could not but respect, though he might differ from them on some points—would consider the injury of which the incautious handling of them might be productive to that faith which they held in common. If the time should ever come when the Church or its tribunals proved faithless to their trust, then it might be for the Ministers of the Crown 1311 to interfere; and if they neglected their duty, Parliament would step in at the proper time; but he would earnestly entreat all sober, religious, and devout men to be careful less this produced an injurious effect, by lightly introducing- this subject. He most thankfully hailed the tone of the remarks which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman—although it might be presumptuous in him to pass any eulogy—the disposition which he showed; and it was not the first time such observations had fallen from that high quarter—to remind individuals of their duties, and admonish the wealthy of the obligations which attached to property. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman also for the manner in which he had referred to the exertions made by private persons in the cause of religion, which would be gratefully received by those who had laboured in the cause, and taken as evidence that they had produced some good.
§ Mr. Brotherton
said, the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Manners) seemed to think that House had no right to interfere with the temporalities of the Church. If they had no right to interfere with these temporalities, they had no right to take them from the Roman Catholic clergy; but he conceived that Church property was public property, and ought to be under the control of Parliament in every respect. He could not but wish that measures had been taken to relieve the Dissenters from the payment of Church-rates; but this measure would be useful, and produce great benefit to the community. In order to turn the property of the Church to greater account, he would recommend that the very large livings in the gift of the Crown should be divided. He knew an instance of a living in the gift of the Crown which had become vacant not more than a month ago. It was worth 1,600l. or 1,800l., a-year; and he knew, from his own knowledge, that the rector had never set foot in his parish, which was a very large one, for eighteen years. Government might promote the interest of the Church very materially by endowing additional churches within this parish.
had a question to put to the right hon. Gentleman as to the details of his plan. It was proposed to take an advance of 600,000l. from the bounty fund. He wished to know what provision was to be made for paying the interest of 1312 that loan? He did not quite understand whether the right hon. Gentleman proposed to make any arrangement for the repayment of the capital.
§ Lord J. Manners
said the hon. Member for Salford completely misunderstood him, if he thought that he said the House had no right to legislate on the temporalities of the Church. He said it was not the place for a discussion of the doctrines of the Church.
§ Mr. Brotherton
wished to know if the living to which he alluded, which was in a parish in Derbyshire, had been filled up.
§ Sir R. Peel
said—I will give to the question of the hon. Member for Salford the best answer I am enabled to give at this moment. It is true that there is a living in the gift of the Crown which has recently become vacant, and it is nearly the first living which has fallen to my disposal since I have been Prime Minister. It is the living of Eckington and Killamash, in which two parishes are united. I am sorry to say that the spiritual concerns of that parish have been neglected. The living is nearly 1,400l. or 1,500l. a year, and the course I have taken has been to report to the bishop and archdeacon as to what is the most advisable plan for the spiritual interests of the parish; and my advice to the Crown will be to make such a disposal of the funds as will best promote those spiritual interests. I think the arrangement that will be finally recommended by me to the bishop and archdeacon will be to disunite those two parishes and to divide the 1,500l. a year between three churches, leaving quite a sufficient revenue for Eckington parish, 300l. or 400l. a year for Killamash, and provision for a chapel of ease at Eckington, and thus having three cures of souls in the place of one. That is a plan in which the Crown would cordially concur. But I am not prepared to apply that principle to every case. Each particular case must depend on its own circumstances. I think there should be preferments in the Church for very active exertions, for great learning and distinguished merits; but I take that particular parish, which is formed of two parishes with a larger income than sufficient for the duty, and I shall most readily concur in the arrangement which I know will be submitted to me. With respect to the question of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth, I beg to say that 1313 I propose to assign the landed security of the estates to all those incumbents who are entitled to receive the interest of the augmentation fund in lieu of the funded security which they have at present; but in case the governors of the Queen's bounty required the repayment of the principal, I must give the power of repaying it. I shall have 18,000l. perpetual annuities to provide for yearly; this is 600,000l.; and I shall have 30,000l. to provide for to continue the endowments; but I shall be ready to substitute landed security for funded security; but it may be right in case the governors of the Queen's bounty should require that repayment of the principal, to give the power of repaying it. [Mr. Gisborne: By selling the land.] Just so, and I am not prepared to say it is not desirable in many cases to do that. Instead of retaining the land, it is easy to conceive that a gentleman having land intermixed with one of these estates may give much more than any one else—what is termed, in fact, a fancy price—and the commissioners in such cases should have the power to sell the land, and I hope they would do so if they were satisfied that it was for the interest of the Church that a particular estate should be sold; always investing the produce of the sale in some permanent security for the benefit of the Church. In fact, to repay the capital, there may be no alternative but to sell the land. With respect to the paragraph to which the hon. Member for Rye referred, relating to the appointment of the Dean of Westminster, it was not quite exact. I made no stipulation with the dean; but on the appointment being made, I directed the attention of that gentleman to the recommendation of the committee of the House on public buildings and monuments, and expressed an earnest wish that he would use his influence to carry them into effect. I also did express a wish that Westminster Abbey, and such venerable edifices, should be made as available as possible for the purpose of accommodating larger congregations in attending the ordinances of divine worship. I will not refer at all to the incidental matters which have towards the close of this debate been introduced to the notice of the committee. I certainly entertain a strong opinion on the points which have been referred to. It is possible I may have implied what that opinion is; but 1314 at any rate I cautiously avoided saying a word which could possibly lead to the introduction of those topics into this debate, and, acting on the same principle, I shall not now to be tempted more particularly to refer to them. When, therefore, I express my great gratification at the course of this discussion, I must be understood us speaking only of the portion of it which bore upon the proposal I made. It is quite true that this is no magnificent scheme. It certainly is not; but I very much doubt whether it is not more for the advantage of the Church that I should make such proposals as have received such support as has been accorded to my present proposition, by men entertaining very different opinions both in politics and in religious matters, than if I had brought forward some magnificent scheme to encounter very violent opposition. What have I proposed? To present the example of the Church of England abolishing sinecure appointments, and appropriating the revenue derived from them to the promotion of the spiritual instruction of the most populous districts of the country. An hon. Friend of mine, who always speaks with much ability, and whose sincerity adds weight to all that falls from him (Mr. Acland), laments the constitution of the Ecclesiastical commission; but if he only saw the history of the estates of the non-residentiary prebendaries, and contrasted the manner in which they have been administered with the mode in which hereafter they will be applied if this measure receives the sanction of Parliament, planting and providing for a clergyman of the Church of England in the centre of populous districts, where her doctrines are at present utterly unknown,—I am sure he would be of opinion that the course which was taken of appointing that commission originally, and in leading to this result, providing for a better management and a different appropriation, was conducive alike to the spiritual welfare of the population, and the direct benefit of the Church. I could prove to him that the estates hitherto possessed by the non-residentiary prebendaries will produce hereafter at least five or six times the amount they have hitherto yielded, for, according to the calculation of Mr. Finlaison, out of 100l. value in estates the Church only receives 23l., and instead of being enjoyed by persons having no duty whatever to perform, and constituted because there were 1315 no duties to perform, the revenues of these sinecures will be applied to promote the spiritual instruction of the people. There are 360 of these non-resident prebendaries, to which the same principle will be applied; but I thought it better to propose a single measure at once, when it was one of such importance as the present, rather than complicate it with multifarious matter. My examination into the management of Church property, consequent on the preparation of this measure, leads me to think that there may be very material improvements in its administration. Restricting its improved revenues to spiritual purposes, not in relieving property from any of its legal obligations, my belief is, you would get a much larger sum than 30,000l. a-year, applicable not only to better pastoral superintendence, but to the spiritual education of the populous districts. You would find employment for a much larger sum; and I hope there will be no impediment to such an improvement in the administration of Church property as may enable the Ministers of the Crown to propose further measures, founded on the same basis as this. My hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. Inglis) laments that I have not proposed a large Parliamentary grant; and what would have been the consequence if I had? The hon. Member for Evesham says, that agreeing in church matters much more with my hon. Friend (Sir R. Inglis) than with me, he would, nevertheless, in the present state of the revenue have offered the most strenuous opposition to the proposal of a Parliamentary grant. Then my noble Friend the Member for Liverpool, said the clergyman was always ready to promote education, but if you touched the squire or the Farmer there was the greatest outcry; and perhaps at the present moment neither the squire nor the farmer would be inclined very favourably to listen to a proposition which was to increase the public burthens by a considerable sum applied to Church extension. Then came the noble Lord the Member for Newark (Lord J. Manners), who is so jealous of any Parliamentary interference with the rights of the Church, that if I had asked the House of Commons to interfere with the Church in these matters he would have opposed the vote; and, if any proposition for a grant of public money had encountered on this side the opposition 1316 of three such decided friends of the Church, I doubt whether when hon. Gentlemen opposite came to discuss the question the result would have been quite so harmonious as I am happy now to find it. I propose that the Church shall set this great example; the immediate pecuniary benefit I expect to derive from the measure is 30,000l. per annum: but I also hope that with so much in the shape of permanent endowment, members of the Church will be induced to come forward as they have done in the building of churches; and, above all, the advantage I anticipate is, that by this proceeding I shall place the Church of England in a favourable light before the people of this country; and conciliate towards it that favour and affection to which I believe it to be justly entitled, and lay the foundations of extended usefulness. Those foundations roust be widened. It is in vain that you have splendid cathedrals, and bishops highly endowed, in vain you have dignitaries and splendid edifices, if you fail to impress on the people the conviction that great practical advantages are to be derived from them. Unless in populous districts you bring the ministrations of the Church within the reach of the people, it is in vain that you support its dignitaries, for the polished columns of the temple will not be secure unless you widen the basis on which they rest. Here is the point in which the Church of England is wanting at present; her parochial constitution was made in other times, and suited to other states of the people; you must divide parishes and bring ministers into them, and you will thus add at once to the respectability, to the influence, and to the property of the Church by applying her present property to strengthen her position and increase her influence. I repeat it, this is not a magnificent scheme which I propose, but see what has been done in this metropolis by one man. While the records of the Church of England are preserved, the efforts of the Bishop of London will be remembered with honour and gratitude, he has raised nearly 200,000l. for the construction of churches within the metropolis, and my belief is, and his belief is, that if permanent endowments had been secured for the ministers, a much larger sum would have been raised. Depend upon it you will find the sum I propose to apply greatly augmented by voluntary 1317 contributions, and by the zeal you will inspire in individuals on behalf of the Church from the amiable, benevolent aspect in which you present her to the public eye. By these means you will realize for the Church much greater and more permanent advantages than if by a majority in this House I had carried a vote for a sum of 200,000l. for increased endowments. In truth, I have great doubt whether, if I had proposed and carried such a vote by a large majority, I should have secured any permanent advantage to the Church. The noble Lord the Member for the city of London made some suggestions on the subject of Church patronage, and something of the same kind has occurred to myself; but, as I said before, we do not offer this bill as the single measure to effect all the necessary improvements in the management of Church property: though we thought that it would be more beneficial to propose a single improvement at first, which could be easily understood, and was not likely to encounter opposition, than to propose a magnificent scheme which from the present temper of men might not succeed. Now, anything calculated to separate in any way toe connection between the Church tad the Crown I should consider vary in advisable, but I think that an ex-clung el Church patronage, so as to enable the Crown to appoint the minister in vary populous districts might frequently be attended with good effect, As to small livings, it would, I think, he desirable that the Crown should have the power of disposing of them on condition that an ample endowment of the living should be made; for instance, if a living were worth 50l. or 60l., transfer it to an individual on condition of hit permanently endowing it—say to the amount of 150l. By that arrangement no party would lose anything; the Church would gain the additional sum, the parish would sum a resident minister, and the Crown would derive advantage far exceeding its lots, from having the spiritual affairs of the parish properly administered. In that and other respects, not affecting the independence of the Church, I have a strong impression that, considering the parties who have to deal with this property, and that having to make arrangements in which their personal interests are deeply affected, they cannot afford to treat with their lessors on the same advantageous terms as ordinary 1318 lessees, it might be very advisable to transfer to the Church from individuals a larger share of power in the administration and distribution of this property than it at present possesses. According to Mr. Finlayson's calculation, to which I have already referred, the Church does not get, under the present system, more than 23 per cent, upon the real value of its property. These things, however, require cautious consideration; but if Church property can be improved, and the increase applied to spiritual purposes alone, and not to relieve other property from its legal burthens—then, without calling upon that House for any vote of public money, the spiritual welfare of the people may be very considerably promoted, and the end which we have in view by the production of this bill greatly advanced. I will only repeat how much I have been gratified by the course this discussion has taken with regard to my proposal, and conclude by expressing a confident anticipation that this appeal on the part of the Church of England will be responded to on the part of the people, and that the 30,000l. will be followed by contributions which will enable the Church of England to extend its influence and utility more generally throughout the land.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ Home returned. Resolution reported and bill ordered to be brought in.