HC Deb 03 February 1846 vol 83 cc449-50

having moved an Address to the Crown for a return of the gross and net Incomes (in the years 1844 and 1845) of the Archbishops and Bishops of England and Wales, etc., whether arising from their archbishoprics and bishopries,


The question of Bishops and Archbishops being before the House, I think that I am not out of order in rising to express my regret that the death during the recess of the late Bishop of Bath and Wells, and the appointment of his successor, have prevented my bringing this year before the House that which last Session I was so frequently under the necessity of postponing—my Bill for the consolidation of the dioceses of Bath and Wells, and of Salisbury, at the death of the present (now the late) Bishop of Bath and Wells. Now, Sir, although no doubt the right hon. Baronet would have resisted its introduction, and would, no doubt, have had a majority to support his views, still he would, I think, have had a difficulty in combating my argument, which may be put in the shortest compass possible. This performance of the duties of two sees by one bishop during the last seven years, has either been efficient and satisfactory, or inefficient and unsatisfactory. If inefficient, it was the duty of the Government to have provided a remedy, by superseding the late bishop, and appointing in his stead one more capable of properly attending to the business of the diocese; if, on the contrary, this double duty was discharged in an efficient manner—if for seven years one bishop could properly attend to this accession of business, it stands to reason, Sir, that one bishop could attend to it for seventy years, and for ever. I have, indeed, every reason to believe, not only that the Bishop of Salisbury did discharge this duty in a satisfactory manner, but that he did not feel himself at all embarrassed by the weight of it; on the contrary, he has recently assumed a new duty by taking to himself a wife, who must be looked upon as a third see or spouse of this Minister of the Church. Whatever opinion to the contrary may be entertained by others—however some may wish to have again separated the now about to be consolidated sees of St. Asaph and Bangor—however some right rev. Prelates may in another place come forward and say with the coolest assurance, "My Lords, that of which the country is at present most in need, is of a farther supply of bishops;" I, on the contrary, give it as my decided opinion that we have too many bishops already, and on my part no effort shall be wanting to reduce and consolidate these bishops, and to expose to the country the amount annually squandered on this proud, ambitious, and overpaid hierarchy. The establishment of bishops with seats in the Rouse of Lords is, according to my ideas, the concentrated essence of all that is bad and objectionable in ecclesiastical matters. I consider that from their occupations and appointments these bishops must almost of necessity be useless and faithless to the laity and to the Crown—useless and faithless to the laity, because instead of residing in their dioceses—instead of watching over their clergy—instead of endeavouring to promote real piety, and by real piety contributing to the eternal salvation of the people—the time of these bishops is taken up in attending to politics in the House of Lords, in looking after translations for themselves, and in endeavouring to promote the private worldly and pecuniary interests of their families. I consider this bench of bishops useless and faithless to the Crown, because they are no sooner erected by the Crown, than like the monster in Frankenstein, they take the earliest opportunity of denying and setting at defiance that very power that called them into existence.

Returns ordered.