moved the Second Reading of the Churches Bill. In the present state of the law, no power existed to make a church rate, except for the repair of the old churches; and each parish could only be charged for the maintenance and repair of its own church; so that where two or three parishes had been formed into an ecclesiastical district, having only one church, a rate could only be made in the parish where the church was situated. In cases where funds had been left for the building or repair of churches, the funds of one parish in a consolidated district could not be applied to repair the church of another parish. In order to remedy these anomalies, he had introduced the present Bill; and he proposed that, for ecclesiastical purposes, the consolidated districts should constitute one parish. He did not intend to interfere, in any manner, with the rating for the relief of the poor; but the Bill merely gave power to churchwardens, in the consolidated parishes, to equalize the church rates. He was ready, in Clauses 3 and 4, to strike out the word "overseers" wherever it had been inserted.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, that if this Bill introduced no new mode or power of levying church rates with regard to the new ecclesiastical districts, beyond that which now existed, and if it did not interfere with the poor rates, he would not oppose it.
§ MR. HUME
objected to the measure on the ground that thirteen Church Building Acts were recited in the preamble, which were neither repealed nor re-enacted, and that the Bill would enable three-fourths of the inhabitants of a district to sanction a rate for building or repairing churches, though the remaining one-fourth of the 761 inhabitants might be opposed to it. He moved that the Bill be read a second time that day three months.
§ SIR H. ELPHINSTONE
said, the object of the Bill was simply to consolidate ecclesiastical districts, and to place them in the same position with other parishes in this country. He admitted that funds for repairing churches were at present raised under a very bad system; and if the hon. Member for Montrose would bring forward a measure for the abolition of church rates, he would support it. But he considered that as long as they had an Established Church, they should provide for its repairs; and certainly such an alteration of the law as was proposed by this Bill, with regard to the new ecclesiastical districts, was necessary.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said, that his attention had not previously been called to the Bill. It appeared to him to have three objects, the first of which was already effected by the existing law. He was not aware that the measure proposed to remedy any specific grievance, or to meet any complaint. If there had been ground for complaint, such complaint might have been brought before the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He should only, in addition, observe that the Bill did not carry the power of building churches any further than the existing law went. Upon the whole, he recommended that the Bill should be altered, so as merely to effect that which was really necessary.
§ After a brief conversation, the question on the second reading was put and negagatived, and the Bill put off for three months.