HC Deb 13 July 1847 vol 94 cc236-75

The Order of the Day for the Second Reading of the Bishopric of Manchester Bill having been read,


said: In moving that this Bill be read a second time, I wish to say a few words in explanation of its object. The Ecclesiastical Commission appointed many years ago to inquire into the ecclesiastical state of England and Wales advised in its report that two bishoprics should be united to other dioceses, and that two new bishoprics should be created. The bishoprics to be united were Bristol and Bangor—Bristol was to be united to Gloucester, and Bangor to St. Asaph. The two new bishoprics to be created were Ripon and Manchester. The first arrange- ment was carried into effect, there being no well-founded objection to it, and the see of Bristol was united to that of Gloucester. The bishopric of Ripon was also created, to the great relief of the archdiocese of York, which had so increased in population, that it had become a very laborious diocese to the archbishop. The arrangement with respect to the bishopric of Manchester was not carried into effect; it was not till last year that a vacancy occurred in the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor; a vacancy was then created by the death of the Bishop of St. Asaph. Considerable objections had been made to the union of the two sees, and in the course of last Session a Bill was brought into the other House of Parliament, against the influence of the present Government and the opinion of its predecessors, repealing the Act which united the two dioceses. It was carried in the House of Lords, and sent down to this House; the Government then stated it was not prepared to accede to it, but it undertook to consider the subject generally, and to take into consideration other arrangements which, it seemed to them, if any change was made in the proposition of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, might be beneficial both to the Church and the country. The Bill for uniting the two sees was founded on the principle that the whole number of the bishops ought not to be increased; that if two bishops were created, two other dioceses ought to be united; it was thought, if any increase in the number were made, not merely one but several new bishops should be created. I wrote a letter to that effect to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who called together a meeting of the bishops on the subject; and they agreed that there was primâ facie ground for proposing the creation of four now bishops. That, however, is not the proposition of the present Bill; it only goes to the creation of a single bishopric, that of Manchester; and what the House has to consider with regard to the second reading of this Bill is—first, whether it thinks the objections made to the union of the two sees of St. Asaph and Bangor are sufficiently strong to induce it to repeal the Act passed some years ago for uniting them; and secondly, if it is of that opinion, whether it will assent to the creation of a bishopric of Manchester as a separate sec, without the bishop having a seat in the House of Lords. I confess I am of opinion that the strong feeling manifested in the principality of Wales, and the Church generally, against the union of the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor, is a sufficient ground for reconsidering that measure; and it is most desirable that it should be reconsidered in the present Session of Parliament, for this Bill having been delayed, if an Act is not passed on the subject this Session, and if it unfortunately happen that the Bishop of Bangor died before an Act was passed, then the existing Act must be carried into effect, and there will be a suppression of the see of Bangor. If the House, is of opinion that it is desirable the two dioceses should be maintained separate, then it will be necessary to agree to the proposition in the course of the present Session. With regard to the second point, the diocese of Chester is of such a size that it may well occupy the attention of two bishops. I will read from the report of the Commissioners a statement of the extent of the two dioceses of Chester and Manchester, should the object of the present Bill be carried into effect. The population of the see of Chester will be 912,449, its area 1,408 square miles, the number of parishes 202. The population of the bishopric of Manchester will be 1,123,548; it will extend over an area of 1,220 square miles, and include 313 parishes. If the House approves of the establishment of these two bishoprics, it will agree to the second reading of this Bill. With regard to the question of the seat of the now bishop in the House of Lords, Her Majesty has been advised, instead of issuing a writ to the new Bishop of Manchester to take his seat, that the number of bishops sitting in the House of Lords should remain the same as at present, and that the now bishop should not take his seat there. The regulation is founded on the principle that the number of bishops sitting in the House of Lords is sufficient, and that there is no reason for increasing them. But combined with that proposition is an arrangement which will be, I think, very much for the convenience of the country and the bishops newly nominated. When a vacancy occurs on the episcopal bench, instead of the Bishop of Gloucester or Exeter taking his seat at once in the House of Peers, the Bishop of Manchester will be summoned, and the junior bishop will remain without a seat till the next vacancy. I shall not enter into details which may be discussed in Committee; I have only stated what is the principle of the Bill, and I now ask the House to agree to its second reading.

In answer to a question from MR. COLLETT,


said, the creation of other new bishoprics was not an immediate part of the plan of the Government. The new Bishopric Commissioners would presently make their report to Her Majesty's Government; all the essential parts of that report were agreed to. Among the recommendations it was proposed there should be a Bishop of St. Albans, to relieve the diocese of London, another bishop to relieve the dioceses of York and Lincoln; and a Bishop of Southwark. It was also proposed to create a Bishop of Bodmin, to take the county of Cornwall. But these proposals must form the basis of another Act of Parliament; it was certainly quite competent for the House to agree to this Bill for establishing a bishopric of Manchester, and to refuse its assent to any other proposition.


could hardly trust himself to express the feelings he entertained towards his noble Friend, for what he had now brought forward, the spirit in which he had brought it forward, and for the ulterior measure which he had in view. [Mr. WAKLEY: Hear, hear.] He hoped the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Wakley) cheered that expression of feeling with cordiality. He almost feared to praise his noble Friend, lest his praise should imply too severe a censure upon those who, entrusted with the same power, and professing higher principles with regard to the Church, had failed to do so much. It would better suit the convenience of the House, however, if he abstained from entering into the general question, and limited himself to the particular measure now on the Table. He had no doubt that other opportunities would be afforded for going into the general question during the discussion of the measure in its other stages; at all events, when the ulterior measure came to be considered, the opportunity would then be afforded of considering the Church in relation to the population, and to its claims on the State. He most cordially concurred in the double proposition contained in the Bill, namely, that of preserving the two independent bishoprics of St. Asaph and Bangor, the preservation of which, humanly speaking, was to be attributed to the untiring energies and zeal of his noble Friend, in the other House, the Earl of Powis. But these energies might have been frittered away in a vain and useless effort to accomplish the object, if his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) had not lent his powerful and, he believed, his conscientious support to the retention of the two sees, and to the maintenance of the existing ecclesiastical system, the efficiency of which was threatened by the Act passed a few years ago. Although he owed so much to his noble Friend for preserving these two bishoprics, and his proposition for the creation of a third, he (Sir R. Inglis) could not express the same approval of the mode in which it was intended to effect the change. He did not expect that such a mode of effecting a great good would be adopted, since it was hardly consistent with the moral courage which his noble Friend possessed. He seemed to have shrunk from placing the proposed new bishop in that position in the hierarchy which bishops had enjoyed in Britain from time immemorial, to the great advantage of the community. Whatever reasons there might have been for continuing for a thousand years, long before the date of Parliamentary history, the civil influence of the hierarchy of England, those reasons existed in their full integrity in favour of giving to another bishopric the same social position, the same representative character on behalf of the Church, which the existing bishops at this moment exercised. He thought the number might be safely increased, not by one bishop merely, but by many, in order to bring the relation of the Church to the people more nearly to the proportions at which it stood three centuries ago. Was any one present not fully aware, that before the time of the Reformation, the number of prelates, including mitred abbots, in the House of Lords, was much greater than that of the laity? Nay, even 300 years ago, the spiritual Peers of England bore a large proportion to the temporal Peers; and although four or five new spiritual Peers were created by Henry VIII., still the proportion in 1547, as compared with that in 1847, was much greater. There were many persons, however, who, doubting the wisdom of maintaining this ancient proportion merely on that ground, were desirous of seeing an increased number of bishops, with a view to the ecclesiastical functions of the hierarchy being more efficiently discharged. In the time of the Reformation, when the population was only 5,000,000, Henry VIII. provided for the appointment of twenty-six suffragan bishops; and certainly, if the noble Lord were not prepared to accord the same social and civil position to the bishops now about to be created as had been given to their brethren of other dioceses, it might have been wished that the old law, passed in the reign of Henry VIII., had been revived, and acted upon; and that this mode of supplying the spiritual wants of the population had been preferred. This might have been done without the intervention of that House. Nothing more would have been necessary than for the bishop or archbishop desiring a suffragan, to name two persons to the King or Queen; and one of these could be selected by the Crown; the powers of the suffragan being defined and limited according to the commission, and the power of the different suffragans varying therefore in different dioceses. An ignorance almost astonishing prevailed with respect to the existence of this Act of Parliament, and the power of the Crown to call it into immediate exercise. By the 26th Henry VIII., c. 14, the Crown was authorized to call into existence suffragan bishops of twenty-six places, namely, Colchester, Dover, Guilford, Southampton, Dartford, Bedford, Gloucester, Shrewsbury, Nottingham, Grantham, Hull, Berwick, the Isle of Wight, &c. Nothing more was requisite than an application "to the Queen's Majesty, and the Queen shall select one." He was surprised that this power should be so little known and regarded, and that the Crown had not been advised to call this power into existence. At this moment, with a population of 15,000,000 instead of 5,000,000—with an increased desire for the spiritual instruction of the Church—with an increased desire for supervision by the episcopal body, he could not but regret that his noble Friend did not deem it consistent with his duty to recommend, in the first instance, the bishops to invoke the aid of the Crown for the creation of suffragan sees. He knew that some persons held that great difficulty would be felt in providing for these suffragans; but he believed that that difficulty was greatly overstated. By the Act of Parliament to which he had referred, each suffragan might hold one living, or even two. That was no doubt an objectionable mode of providing for the spiritual superintendence of the great body of the people, and particularly that there should be a mixing up of different duties; but everything in life was for the most part founded on a compromise, and with the view of avoiding a greater evil, a lesser one was to be adopted. But even if it had so happened that no provision had been made for the suffragan bishops by law, he thought that zeal would not be wanting in the way of supplying funds sufficient for the maintenance of clergymen, who, according to the law of the Church during many centuries, could not be subjected to the expense of attendance on Parliament. The noble Lord wished to create a different order of bishops who would occupy an unprecedented and anomalous position; the inconveniences would prove to be manifold, and he would have preferred taking the powers granted by the law as it at present stood, in favour of suffragan bishops, rather than have called forth more, bishops of the present ecclesiastical class, but with inferior civil rank. He wished also to impress his noble Friend with the error which he was committing in depriving the bishop who might last be created, of a seat in the House of Lords. The effect would be to introduce into Parliament a person older than Parliamentary life generally required. His great constitutional objection, however, was, that the Crown would now be deprived of the prerogative which it had possessed even before there was a House of Lords, of investing the hierarchical body with a legislative character in the constitution of England; and, indeed, of calling up to the House of Lords, according to the practice of many centuries, every bishop who was appointed to any see; and, taking that view, he looked upon this part of the measure as a gratuitous evil. The noble Lord would have had no more difficulty in retaining the old form, and making each bishop a Peer, than he had experienced in bringing in this Bill. Opposition would have arisen in both cases; but in the one position he would have had a principle on which to defend himself, and in the alternative which he had chosen, he had cut the ground from under his feet. He could have wished also, that his noble Friend, in introducing this measure, had considered more generally the alarming spiritual destitution of the great body of the people. To this subject, he had desired especially to call the attention of the Government; but as the morning sitting was limited, and as he believed another opportunity would occur of expressing his sentiments, he should not detain the House. He concurred cordially in the general proposition of his noble Friend; and it was only from a sense of duty, that at this stage of the Bill he had mentioned his objections, not so much to what the noble Lord had done, but to what he had left undone.


spoke to the following effect:*—Mr. Speaker, in rising to move the Amendment of which I have given notice, I feel that I must bespeak, to an unusual degree, the indulgence of the House. I am about to enter at some length into a subject to which I am impelled only by the long and serious attention I have given it; and in approaching it I feel almost overwhelmed, as much with the importance of the question itself, as with the consciousness of my own inability to deal with it as it deserves. I shall have not only to deal with arguments and facts, but with some facts which may seem to convey a censure on the public conduct of eminent individuals. I must ask, therefore, more than the usual indulgence of the House—I must bespeak its kind and generous construction of the spirit and the motives by which alone I am impelled to undertake a difficult, and, in some respects, an unpleasant task. Concurring with the hon. Baronet who has just sat down (the Member for the University of Oxford), in doing full justice to the motives by which Her Majesty's Government are actuated in proposing this measure, I come to a very different conclusion from him as to its merits. I object strongly to this Bill. I object to it, because it touches the most important of all questions that can be brought before us, and touches it feebly, and mischievously. It provides an effectual remedy for no evil—it asserts no principle—it points to no end. But it changes without reason—it innovates without justification—it removes old landmarks without setting up new ones in their place. Above all, it evades that most momentous question now forcing itself upon us, of a confessedly insufficient Establishment, with a lamentably neglected people; and if, in its principles, it be the most important Bill introduced this Session, its introduction at this particular moment, when it cannot be considered or discussed, renders it the most objectionable. The Bill touches three main questions; and on every one of them deviates as far as possible from the truth. First, it repeals a most important section of the 6th and 7th William IV., cap. 77, * From a corrected report, published by Ridgway. on which, according to the best authorities, both ecclesiastical and lay, all the subsequent proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are founded; secondly, it excludes from Parliament, without reason alleged, on their next appointment to their sees, the bishops who have hitherto sat there either in right of their baronies, or by a writ of summons the same as other Peers; and, thirdly, it provides for the application of the surplus funds now under our control to purposes not hitherto contemplated by Parliament. It is not necessary for me to show, that in all these points the Bill is wrong: it is enough for me to prove their importance to be such, that pressing them on, without time for deliberation, cannot be right. These are all great changes—the greatest that have been submitted to us this year; and at this late period of the Session, when, day after day, the Government have been abandoning measures of minor importance on the plea that the time was too short, and the attendance of Members too thin, to get proper attention given to them, I want to know, why we are called upon, within ten days of the rising of Parliament, to pass, without deliberation or discussion, one of the most important measures with which this Parliament has had to deal? Now, as to the first point. If there was any one provision of the Act of 1836, on which all parties were agreed, it was the union of the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor—the surplus accruing from which was to be employed in the augmentation of their poor livings. That arrangement remained undisturbed till 1843: but in that year, a noble Earl in the other House of Parliament, proposed for the first time to set it aside. Of the abilities and character, and well-deserved influence of that noble Earl, we have the best proofs in his success on this very question; his untiring energies have been well eulogised by the hon. Baronet, who preceded me; and all who have witnessed his exertions must speak of him with admiration and respect. But who was it that resisted most stoutly his proposition? Who, but the heads of the Church—the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishop of London? And on what ground? Because, said the right rev. Prelates, the two sees united would be almost the smallest in existence, containing in all only 253 benefices; whereas, those of Gloucester and Bristol united under the same Act, and, as experience had proved, with advantageous results, had each of them separately more benefices than the two Welsh sees together, Gloucester containing 281, and Bristol 254, benefices. In all the dioceses of England and Wales, the average number of benefices is 418—St. Asaph and Bangor united, had not much more than half that number. Again, the average population of dioceses being 550,000, St. Asaph and Bangor united had but 339,000; and of these, the great majority are Dissenters. The Archbishop added, that he had taken the advice of those most competent to assist his opinion on the subject; and they agreed with him, not only that the duties might be performed by one bishop, but also that they would be extremely light. Such being the opinion of the highest ecclesiastics, what was that of the then Ministers of the Crown? The Duke of Wellington did not content himself with the reasons of the Prelates. He took higher ground. "The Bill of the noble Earl," he said, "if passed into a law, will have the effect of repealing part of that Act of Parliament, which is the very foundation of the powers given to Her Majesty by Her Orders in Council. Indeed, my Lords," he added, "it will suspend immediately the operation of that Act." Such also was the opinion and the language of the Marquess of Lansdowne, acting as the mouthpiece of the present Government since their accession to office. Well then, I say, that as to the proposed separation of those sees now, the Government may be right, or they may be wrong; but they are disturbing an arrangement very advisedly adopted: it was proposed by the Bishops—ratified by Parliament—defended and upheld, as of vital importance, by succeeding Administrations; and it ought not any rate to be set aside, suddenly and hastily, without Parliament being even permitted to reconsider it. And see how one false step leads on to another. You perpetuate the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor, but dare not give up the bishopric of Manchester, which was made contingent on the union of those sees: you, therefore, create an additional bishopric—and do so in violation of the principles which yourselves laid down. In the very first paragraph of the Church Commissioners' Report, they say that they cannot recommend an increase of the number of bishops; and the noble Lord—the present head of the Government—who introduced the Act of 1836, declared that he should abide faithfully by the recommendation of the Commissioners. Being further interrogated, he replied, that the Bishop of Manchester would certainly have a seat in Parliament, as other bishops then had. Both those assurances are set at nought by this Bill. The number of bishops is increased—and the new bishop has not a seat in Parliament. A new and anomalous element of ecclesiastical representation is introduced; one that is objected to by the Member for the University of Oxford, and on which grave doubts and difficulties have been felt by very high authorities both in and out of the Church. The Bishop of London, whom I will cite as an example, thus expressed himself in the House of Lords, only last year upon it:— I apprehend that to create certain bishops without seats in this House would lead to injurious comparisons between them and others who had seats, and eventually to a generally inclination to dispense with the attendance of bishops in the House of Lords. There are some advantages," (he added) "in the proposal, but there is also this difficulty, that by the constitution of Parliament, the bishops sit by virtue of their baronies; and if the precedent should be introduced of a bishop who might ultimately succeed to a seat, but who did not actually hold one by virtue of his barony, how is the constitutional principle upon which bishops hold their seats to be maintained? Now to this question the right rev. Prelate may since have found an answer: the doubts which distracted him last year, may, as regards him, have been dispelled. But they are still entertained by others; and that they should have been for a long time formidable to him, proves that they have some foundation. Why is Parliament, which was told of the difficulty, not also favoured with the solution? But our opinion is not asked—our functions are superseded; and this Bill, involving serious principles and changes, is hurried through with as little ceremony as if were merely a Bill for granting new powers to a commissionership of sewers. But now I come to the more tangible and practical—what may be called—the more business part of the subject. You ask us to create four new bishoprics. There is a sum of 17,000l. a year, present and prospective, to be expended; and you ask us to say that the best mode of expending it is by creating four additional bishops, providing them also, as we must do, with four residences, costing, if we take the last palace built for the Bishop of Ripon as an estimate, 60,000l. The question for us to decide is this: Is this the best mode of applying the money? I say, it is not; and that, with the amount of spiritual destitution now existing in the country—the parishes without residences for clergy—the clergy without incomes—and the perishing poor without clergy to attend to them, it ought to be our aim to improve upon the pious wish of George III., who hoped for the day when every poor cottage in his dominions would have its Bible. Our aim should he to let every poor cottager have his religious teacher to assist and encourage him to read it. Before, however, we proceed to entrust to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners fresh powers and resources, I think it would be as well to ascertain how they have employed those which we have given them hitherto. The inquiry is appropriate and interesting; and I can assure the House it will prove instructive. I wish to speak of those Commissioners with perfect respect. I think Parliament has been much to blame in the constitution of such a Commission—composed of about fifty individuals, constantly changing, and the ecclesiastics all of one order in the Church. I think the Commissioners have committed great errors. As a public man, it is my duty to comment on those errors; but in doing so, I trust I shall avoid anything personally disrespectful to the eminent individuals, to whom only in their public character I am entitled to refer. I address myself solely to official acts, and will confine myself to such remarks as form a legitimate Parliamentary commentary upon those acts. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners were appointed in 1836—appointed by Parliament for certain purposes specified in the Act. They were to be recipients of certain funds to be laid out for certain purposes. The funds were from two sources: one was the surplus revenues of certain rich episcopal sees; and the other the proceeds of the suppressed canonries and sinecures, &c. The first fund was to go to the augmentation of poor sees; the last to the augmentation of poor livings. From these two sources the Commissioners have received, to the date of their last report, presented a few days ago, about 351,000l.; namely, from the richer sees (which they carry to what is called the Episcopal fund) 157,000l. and from the other source (which they carry to the Common fund) 194,000l. This is taken from the reports of the Commissioners themselves, which, however, are not very clear and intelligible; and the task of unravelling them is one of difficulty. But in any statement I make of their receipts or outlay, I shall carefully restrict myself to such as I can substantially verify by a reference to their own reports presented to this House. The sum received I have stated as 351,000l. This was over and above the sum of 600,000l. which they were permitted to borrow under Sir Robert Peel's excellent Act of 1843, and of which no account whatever has been rendered—a statement having been given of the new districts created, but not of the money spent upon them. The mode of applying the funds entrusted to them was, as I have already said, distinctly laid down by Act of Parliament; the one fund was to go to the augmentation of poor sees, the other to the augmentation of poor benefices. And there was this limitation interposed, by the recommendation of the Commissioners themselves, that the endowment of new sees was a question not recommended and not to be entertained. It was calculated that the proceeds of the richer sees would barely suffice for the augmentation of the poorer ones: no surplus was anticipated; consequently, the application of any surplus was not provided for. But it turns out that the calculation was erroneous, and that the funds of the richer sees were more than were required for the original purpose. A large surplus has accrued, which has been added to from other sources; and the Commissioners, after exhausting their powers of augmenting the poor sees, and providing fit residences for bishops, have had over and above to spare. Lot us see how they have employed it. When the Commission was established there were in England and Wales altogether—

Benefices 10,553
Of these without any residence upon them 2,878
Without fit residence 1,728
Total without fit residence 4,606; or two-fifths of all the parishes in England.
The income of these 10,553 benefices was 3,055,441l.; averaging 285l. per annum. Of these there were—
Under 50l. per annum 297
From 50l. to 100l. per annum 1,629
From 100l. to 150l.per annum 1,602
From 100l. to 200l.per annum 1,355
From 100l. to 300l.per annum 1,978
So that there were—
Under 300l. per annum 6,861 benefices,
And under 150l. per annum 3,528 benefices,
Now, let us turn to what the Commissioners have done towards supplying these wants:—
Of 4,606 parsonages required, they have built 69
Of 3,508 livings, under 50l., augmented 636
The cost to the Commissioners of building these houses, half having been defrayed by local and private contributions, has been 40,637l.
Average cost of a house 1,200l.
The cost of augmenting benefices has been (averaging 54l. to each cure) 126,684l.
Total on poor livings 167,321l.
Now, let us see what has been done for episcopal requirements, according to their own return:—
In augmenting poor sees from 1837 to 1843 40,664l.
Ditto from 1843 to 1847 65,724l.
On episcopal residences 143,014l.
Total 249,482l.
On poor livings 167,321l.
Leaving a balance in favour of episcopacy 82,081l.
But if we analyse this expenditure, the results are yet more extraordinary. By the law, as lately remodelled by the Commissioners, a poor rector, without a house, must build one for himself; and for that purpose he may borrow, on the mortgage of his living, a sum equal to three years' income, to be paid in thirty years by thirty annual instalments. Similar was the law regarding bishops; and the present Archbishop of Canterbury did borrow 60,000l. on mortgage for the improvement of his palaces at Lambeth and Addington, for which he is now paying interest. But the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, overflowing with episcopal wealth, have taken upon themselves to reverse all that; and while the law remains unchanged as regards the obligations of the poor parson, they have repealed it as regards the rich prelate, and thrown him on what they please to term—and of that I shall speak by and by—the Episcopal Fund. The law, as they have themselves framed it, allows them to build fit residences for the bishops—fit residences, that is the term. Let us see what is an Ecclesiastical Commissioner's idea of a fit residence for a bishop. They had built, or purchased, or improved the residence of eight bishops, and at the following sums:—
Ripon 16,111l.
Bath and Wells 3,000l.
Exeter 3,500l.
Oxford 6,500l.
Worcester 7,000l.
Gloucester 23,627l.
Rochester 28,832l.
Lincoln 54,444l.
Total 143,014l.
averaging 18,000l.
six of them averaging 23,000.
So that the account stands thus:—
Comparing the outlay on episcopacy with that on poor livings—balance in fa- of the former, of 82,081l.
But comparing with poor livings the cost merely of episcopal palaces—balance for the palaces of 16,330l.
Now, it must be admitted that in this particular department of their labours—in advancing the interests of the Church by a due regard to the temporal comfort of the hierarchy—the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have evinced a zeal and devotedness worthy of the noblest cause. And when we turn from their pathetic, heartrending lamentations over the spiritual destitution of their flocks, to this contemplation of their own flourishing finances, we are reminded of that very pious and benevolent individual, who was so powerfully affected by a charity sermon, that he plunged both hands into the pockets of his neighbour, and cast all he found there into the plate. I know it may be said, that of this money only a portion was from the Episcopal Fund;* the rest being derived from sales and exchanges of property pertaining to those sees. The very figures I have quoted, showing an outlay of 249,402l. when the Episcopal Fund only received 157,000l., are enough to prove that fact. But it does not affect my argument. The money—from whatever source it came—was so much hard cash paid into the Commissioners' account, under the authority of an Act * It is said that the greater part of the outlay in the see of Lincoln was not in building the palace, but in buying the estate on which it stands. This does not much mend the matter. The Commissioners were empowered to build residences, but not to buy estates; and on referring to the Order in Council under which the purchase of the estate of Risehome was made, the house is set forth as the object of the purchase; the extent and value of the estate are not hinted at, and Her Majesty's sanction is asked and obtained only to "provide a fit residence for the Bishop of Lincoln." The Commissioners' defence now is, that having obtained money for one purpose, they applied it to another. But even then, why do they give us no account of the rents, &c, of the estates purchased? of Parliament, and spent. They were the trustees of those funds; and whether we say they were trustees for the bishops, or the Church, or the nation, they are as responsible for a judicious, and not wasteful, expenditure of them as any other trustees to any client. The question is not, whether the purposes to which the money was applied were legitimate; my charge is, that the outlay was so extravagant as to be a very serious breach of trust and abuse of power. And I wish to persuade the House that when we have now additional funds at our disposal, it would be well to direct them into the poorest and hitherto most neglected channel. Up to this time, in the division of church funds, episcopacy has had the lion's share; and this becomes still more apparent, if we examine in detail the condition of the eight sees in which this wonderful outlay has occurred. In these eight dioceses, there were no less than 502 benefices under 100l. a year. Of these there were—
Under 10l. a year 1
10l. to 20l. a year 8
20l. to 30l.a year 10
30l. to 40l. a year 18
40l. to 50l.a year 49
Total under 50l. 85
That is to say, there were in those eight dioceses, where the enormous sum of 143,000l. has been expended on episcopal residences, no less than eighty-five clergy-men of the Church of England—gentlemen and scholars—receiving as their pay less than 3s. a day, which is below the wages of the masons employed on those buildings. Eight out of the number were receiving as little as 13d. a day, and one actually receiving 6½d. And, strange to say, by a still more unhappy coincidence, the greater the parochial necessities of the diocese, the larger the episcopal outlay. In Gloucester, where 23,000l. have been laid out, there were 97 benefices under 100l. a year. In Lincoln, where 54,000l. have been expended, there were 218 benefices under 100l. a year. Now, a sum of 65,000l. would, by the Commissioners' tables, have raised every poor living (and there were no less than 1,442) to 200l. a year, leaving an average of 9,000l. to be expended on each palace. What has actually been expended in augmentations in those sees? On residences, as we have seen, 143,000l.; on augmenting poor benefices, 5,259l.—or one-twenty-eighth of the whole. And when we consider that these pauper clergymen, as we may term them, are men as well born as the bishops—as well taught—having gone through the most expensive process of education—and that their influence depends on their maintaining the position of gentlemen—(on 6d. a day! less than the earnings of their poorest parishioners!—it would be ludicrous if it were not horrible!)—I am compelled to ask the question once before put by an eminent divine— Why is the Church of England to be nothing but a collection of beggars and bishops?—the right reverend Dives in the palace, and Lazarus in orders at the gate, doctored by dogs, and comforted by crumbs?"* The same writer furnishes an answer in a subsequent page:— The truth is, there are but few men in either House of Parliament (Ministers or any one else), who ever think of the happiness or comfort of the working clergy, or bestow one thought upon guarding them from the increased and increasing power of their encroaching masters. What is called taking care of the Church, is taking care of the bishops; and all Bills for the management of the clergy are left to the concoction of men who very naturally believe that they are taking care of the Church when they are increasing their own power. Such being the facts, and a further large sum, present and prospective, being at our disposal, I revert to the question—are we to affirm the (to me at least) startling dogma of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, that all the surplus proceeds of the bishoprics, whatever they may rise to, are sacred to episcopal, and would be desecrated if applied to parochial, purposes? I want to hear some justification of that doctrine—I want to hear if Her Majesty's Ministers—the Ecclesiastical Commissioners now present—adopt it; I hope they will tell us clearly and distinctly whether they adopt or vindicate, or whether they repudiate or disown it—on this point we must have their answer. I can well understand a resident in Durham insisting that the proceeds of that bishopric shall be laid out in that diocese, and that Durham episcopal revenues should constitute a Durham episcopal fund. But if you take 10,000l. a year from Durham and lay it out in Glo'ster, what cares the dispossessed Durhamite whether in Glo'ster it is applied to episcopal or parochial purposes? You seize it on the plea, that you want it for the Church—that it is needed, not for the service of the bishops, but for the service of religion, and you must apply it to that * The Rev. Sidney Smith. service wherever it is most needed, and will do most good. Else observe what happens; the case was so well put in the House of Peers by Lord Stanley, that I will use his words instead of my own:— Suppose that instead of the sum of 5,000l. a year, which you now have, and which you can apply to the endowment of the newly-created see, it increased in a few years, not to 10,000l., but to 15,000l.—not to 15,000l. but to 20,000l.—would you wish now to lay down the rule, that all future surplus was to be applied to the purpose of increasing the number of bishoprics? Well, but that is a very grave question—and we should understand it before we give our votes. And so say I—let us understand this before we give our votes. I hope the explanation of the Secretary of State, who is going to follow me, will be frank and explicit on this point; and the more so, because there is an impression abroad, that this measure has been introduced, not so much to meet the necessities of the Church, as to relieve the necessities of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; and by perpetuating the distinction between Episcopal and Common fund, defeat all attempt to apply the former to parochial purposes? This scheme was deemed vitally essential to the Commission, otherwise their rapidly accruing wealth might escape out of their control. The augmentation of poor sees does not exhaust it—a surplns accrues. Baronial edifices are raised; and domains, with political influence in view, appended to them. All in vain—still the tide of wealth flows in and threatens to overwhelm them. What is to be done? The mine may be hidden for a while; but the prying eyes of Parliament will ere long suspect it, and the profane hands of Parliament will dig it out. In a lucky moment they bethink themselves of the New Bishops' expedient, and they fly for succor to the noble Lord. He assented, as might be expected, to the very laudable object of new bishops, but excused himself only on the difficulty of endowment. This was exactly what the Commissioners desired; the noble Lord having assented to the bishops, they charged themselves at once with their hoard and lodging; the sum is only 17,000l. a year for one, and 60,000l. for the other—a mere trifle—easily forthcoming. They are disencumbered forthwith of their embarrassing burden; and at the next meeting of the Board the overjoyed Commissioners congratulate each other on the country having at last a Premier who is such a real friend of the Church, Now I am one of those who think that Church does not mean clergy. I think the congregation is one of its component parts—aye, and the most important; and I stand up for the right of the congregation to be consulted in this matter. I now take leave of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners' account, and the measure of Her Majesty's Government, and I come to another branch of this most interesting subject. I have shown you how inadequate is the provision for your working clergy; that 4,537 are without houses, and 2,971 with incomes under 150l. a year. I have shown you, in this respect, how little you fulfil the ends of an establishment, as wisely laid down by Lord Bacon:— It is a constitution of the divine law," says Lord Bacon, "from which human laws cannot derogate, that those which feed the flock should live of the flock—that those that serve at the altar should live of the altar—that those which dispense spiritual things should reap temporal things—of which it is also an appendix, that the proportion of the maintenance be not small or necessitous, but plentiful and liberal. I have shown you that such is not the provision you have made hitherto, or that you are making by this Bill. But I have spoken to you only of poor livings, and houseless incumbents; I will now take up a still more important and disheartening theme; I will give you the number of your population, and, comparing them with your working clergy, show how many millions of your people are not only inadequately ministered to, but not ministered to at all. The picture is an appalling one, and deep and solemn is the responsibility of those who would legislate hastily and imperfectly on the subject. The population of England and Wales, in round numbers, is sixteen millions—
There are churches and chapels 13,154
There are Clergymen altogether 16,010
Of which having no duties to attend to 1,568
There are Dignitaries, Heads of Colleges, &c. 1,147
Chaplains in Men-of-War, and on Foreign Stations 372
Leaving total of working clergy 12,923
From this number considerable deductions might still be made; but I would rather overstate than understate the number. This would give one clergyman to every 1,230 of population: but there are parishes with a population of—
Under 100 1,907 parishes,
Under 300 4,774 parishes,
Total. There are therefore in 6,681 parishes
1,623,900 of population.
That is, in three-fifths of the parishes, there are only one-tenth of the population, leaving nine-tenths of the population in two-fifths of the parishes in England and Wales. Thus, therefore, there are 6,681 of the clergy occupied with only one-tenth of the people, leaving to the rest of the parishes only an average of one clergyman to 4,000 of population. But even this average, if we relied on it, would mislead us: for the parishes again are so unequally divided, that you have often one clergyman, and one church to 10, 20, and even sometimes to 30,000 of population. I have in my hand a table of seventeen metropolitan districts, as they were last autumn; of its acccuracy there can be, I believe, no doubt.
Parish Population No. of Clergy with cure of souls, Proportion.
St. George's Southwark 50,000 5 1 in 10,000
St. George's East 42,000 4 1— 10,500
Poplar 21,000 2 1— 10,500
Limehouse 22,000 2 1— 11,000
Shadwell 10,000 1 1— 10,000
Spitalfields 21,000 2 1— 10,500
Shoreditch, St. Leonard 35,000 3 1— 11,666
Shoreditch, Hoxton 24,000 2 1— 12,000
Shoreditch, Haggerstone 19,000 2 1— 9,500
Clerkenwell, St. James 30,000 2 1— 15,000
Clerkenwell, St. John 8,500 1 1— 8,500
St. Luke, Old Street 15,000 2 1— 7,500
St. Luke, St. Barnabas 14,000 1 1— 14,000
Newington, Surrey 60,000 7 1— 8,570
Christ Church 15,000 2 1— 7,500
St. Anne, Soho 17,000 2 1— 8,500
Stepheny, St. Dunstan's 25,000 3 1— 8,300
But the character of these neglected districts is even worse than the numerical tables would show. A Scripture Reader was sent into the district of Westminster, in which we are now sitting. This is his report. He says— On the first day I visited families containing 150 individuals, and of these 100 had no home in the Christian church—no preference for any mode of Christian worship. On the second day, the proportion of these persons was yet larger, 70 being their complement to 19 who owned a relation to one body of Christiana or another. On the third day, by far the best, it is just half and half. On the fourth, for 16 church-people and 14 dissenters, we have 62 with black letter N annexed. And the numbers on the fifth day are almost exactly the same. So in the metropolis of Christian England, out of 550 persons visited and talked with in succession, 360, or nearly two-thirds, had no such connexion with the Church as to be assignable to any one religious body. Now this seems to me precisely the case for which Dr. Chalmers suggests the remedy; but it is not the remedy in this Bill. He says— 'The great object of legislation,' we are told by Lord Henley, 'should be to secure to each parish the daily, constant, and personal attention of a man who shall have no other public duty, but that of watching over the souls of his flock as one that is to give account. His quiet weekday ministrations may be made a thousand times more profitable to their souls and bodies than the most spiritual of his sabbath duties.' Dr. Chalmers adds— A house-going minister wins for himself a church-going people. And his week-day attentions and their Sabbath attentions go hand in hand. With such a state of things as this, Sir, I say he is a bold Minister who will take any additional funds at our disposal and cast them to the prelates. This Bill bears the plausible title of a Bishopric of Manchester Bill, but it would be more fitly termed a Spiritual Destitution Bill—a Bill for perpetuating the poverty of the clergy, and confirming the destitution of the people; and it shows an ignorance of what is going on in the community, and especially in the religious portion of the community, to propose such a Bill. The Bishop of London has lately said, speaking of the increased strength and efficiency of the Church, that it is all the doing of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Was there ever a more empty boast? The Ecclesiastical Commissioners have expended about 70,000l. a year of trust money. But I hold in my hand a list of societies, mainly supported by the laity, who have been up and doing in this great work, whereby a sum approaching to half a million a year has been annually subscribed and expended by them under the most judicious and economical regulations—every sixpence being carefully laid out. I speak only of Church of England societies, and those mainly indebted to the laity for their funds. In these details I have omitted all reference to the Dissenters—not that I under-estimate their numbers or their services—but because, in discussing the Government scheme, I accept the Government principle of providing for the religious instruction of all the people. That a great portion of the want is supplied by other labourers in the vineyard—by men, who, rejecting Establishment discipline, are not at variance with the Establishment on the great fundamental truths of Christianity—I am but too happy to acknowledge. I have met those men in the cottages of the poor, and I have sat with them at the tables of the rich; and having witnessed their earnest piety, and ofttimes the fruits of their active and benevolent labours, I can only say, that wherever their object be to dispel ignorance and save souls, my heart is with them, and I pray God to prosper their exertions, and bless them in their righteous work. It has been beautifully said— What is a Church?—let truth and reason speak, And they will say, The faithful, pure, and meek From every fold—the one selected race Of all communions, and in every place. If I had time, I should have liked to have gone into some statistics regarding the Dissenters, and the extent to which they supply the deficiency we complain of; but though at another time they might not have proved altogether uninteresting or unacceptable to the House, I will not now abuse its indulgence, on which I have already trespassed at such length. I have now one part of the subject on which to say a few words. The proposal of the Government lies in a narrow compass. They ask us to expend on four bishops what would provide 133 additional clergymen—to lay out on four palaces what would build seventy-five churches, containing each a congregation of 600. Our choice lies, therefore, in the present state of the country, between four bishops, or 133 clergy—four palaces, or seventy-five churches. Her Majesty's Ministers have not explained to us wherein lies the necessity for these bishops, or the number which they consider eventually desirable. It is evident they do not stop at four; but we hear in other quarters, and some of them of high authority, that there is a need for 4,000 more clergymen and of sixty additional bishops to make the work of superintendence efficient and complete. How can they ever expect to get anything approaching that number? And is it desirable they should, whatever be the necessity, if the new bishops were to be of the same order as those we have already? I think the distance in this country between rich and poor is too great everywhere; but nowhere is the gulf so wide and so deplorable as between the prelates and their clergy. If you must have more bishops, they must be of that order which the Member for the University has suggested—an order more in accordance with the feelings and necessities of the time, and through whom the benefits you desire might be safely and effectually attained. In the Church's earlier days suffragan bishops were an useful and efficient body; and their appointment, the necessity once proved, would not be so unpopular as increasing the number of your baronial prelates. The hon. Baronet apprehended there might be some difficulty about the payment. I think I can show how to overcome that. Take at once the whole number of bishops you desire—take sixty suffragans; place them in the great towns and populous districts, with ample, not extravagant salaries, say 1,500l. a year—requiring in all 90,000l. a year. Dividing then our population of 16,000,000 into eighty-six districts, there would thus be about 186,000 in each, and the means of superintendence would be complete. But then comes the pay; and on this point the Member for the University of Oxford anticipated difficulty. I am prepared to show how it may be got over, and in this way. No one can have cast his eye over our cathedral towns without observing how little their great establishments contribute to the sacred purposes for which they were intended. Not only have the Church services degenerated into cold and unimpressive forms, so as to lead virtually to a discontinuance of congregational attendance; but the system of non-residences and pluralities, abolished everywhere else, has an effect decidedly injurious to religion. It is notorious that in our cathedral towns there is the least education and the most dissent. Now I propose to attempt some remedy for this. And I do so upon the plan suggested by one who must be held a very high authority, since it was to him that the Government were indebted for their measure in 1836. Every leading provision of their Act was taken from Lord Henley; on one practical point only did they materially depart from his suggestions, and that was on the constitution of the Commission in which experience has proved that he was right. In Lord Henley's plan of Church Reform, accompanied by a letter to the King in 1832, he makes this proposal, with regard to the cathedrals:— In the administration of the cathedral property, the first consideration which naturally arises, is that due consideration be made for the celebration of cathedral service. For this purpose (as one great object will be the abolition of every thing approaching to a sinecure that can be dispensed with) it will be most convenient to entrust the performance of divine service exclusively to the dean, assisted by such a number of chaplains as shall be deemed necessary. As his residence will be for nine months in the year, he should perform the same quantity of public duty as the incumbents of our great London livings. But as there will be no occasional duty—no registries to be kept—no vestries to attend—no visiting of the poor and sick, his labours will be extremely slight. In each cathedral now there is a dean whose average income is 1,680l.—four canons with average incomes of 800l.—and six minor canons, each with 150l. Reckoning the cathedrals at twenty-six (there are more, but one or two may be poorer than I have said) the return stands thus:—
Average Income. Total.
26 Deans £1,680 £43,680
108 Canons 800 83,200
156 Minor Canons 150 23,400
Now, if in accordance with Lord Henley's proposal, we reduce this establishment to a dean with 1,000l. a year, and the minor canons, we shall leave 1,900l. a year for the cathedral services, and have the following surplus:—
Incomes. Surplus.
Deans 26 £26,000 £17,680
Canons 0 0 83,200
Minor Canons 106 234,000
Here, therefore, is a sum of 100,000l.; more than sufficient for the most extravagant number of suffragans that would be wanted. The advantages of this plan would be threefold:—first, you get the whole amount now paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners' Episcopal and Common fund, for the augmentation of poor livings; secondly, you bring in your cathedrals to aid the general wants of the country, establishing a resident clergy, between whom and their congregation ties and sympathies are formed, and you elevate the tone of your cathedral service; thirdly, you get, if you need them, more bishops, and without any difficulty either as to number or payment. Prove the necessity before Parliament, and it will thus supply your deficiency by an addition to the Episcopacy of an efficient and popular body, who will form a link between the prelates and the clergy—aiding the one, controlling and encouraging the other. While, however, I express this preference for suffragan bishops, supposing more bishops to be needful, I think I have given a picture of parochial destitution sufficient to prove that the evil is of a very different character, and needs a very different remedy. Our first thought must be for our parochial poor: our first duty is to bring home religious instruction to them. Of this too I am quite sure, that an enlargement of the Episcopacy would not alone make it more efficient. Other improvements are required—into those I will not go now, but two changes are especially required. You must raise the qualifications of your candidates for orders, and you must give superannuation allowances to your aged prelates. On this last point, who does not inwardly acknowledge the truth of this painful but not merely imaginative picture?— The worst of all cases is that of a superannuated bishop. Here the preferment is given away by wives and daughters, or by sons, or by butlers, perhaps, and valets, and the poor dying patron's paralytic hand is guided to the signature of papers, the contents of which he is unable to comprehend."* Sir, I have not exhausted the subject; there are other most important considerations on which I will not now enter; but in a large and comprehensive scheme, such as I should wish a Government to introduce, they cannot be overlooked. I have said enough, however, to show that the present Bill is inappropriate and mistaken. It is so wide of the mark as to be almost a mockery; as much so as if, when there was a famine in Ireland, you had done nothing but send over four Lords Lieutenants. But there you set to work more wisely—you sent over an efficient working staff; practical men, acquainted with the habits and necessities of those whom they went to succour. And now in England, where you have a spiritual famine, will four new bishops feed the people? Why don't you act here as you did in Ireland—send a hardworking, and efficient staff, composed of men who will inquire personally into the wants of the sufferers, and minister to them; who will visit them in their sickness, soothe them in their sorrows, support them in their trials, and comfort them in the hour of death. I will now conclude, Sir, by reading to the House a portion of that earnest, and feeling, and manly and generous appeal, which one of our most active laymen,† addressed lately in his character of a Christian and a layman, to the Archbishop of Canterbury:— * The Rev. Sidney Smith. † Letter of Henry Kingscote, Esq. Many of the laity, I rejoice to say, feel that they must act like men who are accountable to God for their wealth and social standing. The gross darkness which broods over many districts near our homes and churches, they will try to penetrate with the light of the everlasting Gospel. Idly they dare not wait while time moves on, and souls are gathered so fast to their account; but they desire above all feelings to follow where you shall lead—they feel that every measure they propose will be doubly efficacious if it shall have, from the heads of the Church, something better than a cold approval. We tender to you in this cause our active services, our worldly substance, the time of our busy citizens, the name and far reaching influence of our higher gentry. Let me entreat you to accept our offer, or give us in return what we will most thankfully accept at your hands—some more comprehensive scheme which shall make the Church's teaching co-extensive with the people's wants. He adds again— The responsibility of the state of things I have described rests somewhere—it rests in a measure on all who can do something—it presses heavily on those who can de most. My Lord, I do but give utterance to the thoughts of ten thousand bosoms when I tell you, looking at the place you fill, the resources within your reach, and the present temper of our public men, that immensely more might be done in this direction by the heads of the Church if they had the heart to do it. That heartfelt appeal to the head of the Church I address to the head of the Government; and I tell you, my Lord, that this choice is now before you. You may, if you are ill-advised enough, proceed on some miserable motive of shortsighted, political expediency, which I cannot pretend to unravel, with this temporising and shallow makeshift, which I will not dignify with the title of a measure; or, by taking a more comprehensive course, worthy of the subject and of yourself, you may aim, as I conjure you to aim, at fulfilling a more exalted destiny, by bequeathing to after generations the example of a Christian statesman whose first care was for the condition of the poor; and who left his name, already illustrious, engraved in deep characters of spiritual life, on the hearts of a reanimate and religious people. The hon. Member, in conclusion, moved, as an Amendment, the following resolution:— That, at this late period of the Session, it is not expedient to proceed with a measure which, involving new and important principles deserving of the utmost consideration, would be more fitly discussed in another Session of Parliament on the introduction of a general and comprehensive scheme for increasing the efficiency of the Church, and lessening the spiritual destitution of the people.


said, that as his hon. Friend, in proposing the resolution which had just been seconded by the hon. Member for Athlone, had expressed his most unqualified opposition to this scheme, he (Sir G. Grey) regretted that his hon. Friend did not at once move that the Bill be a read a third time this day three months, instead of proposing a resolution which expressed no hostility to the Bill, but only declared that at this late period of the Session it was not expedient to proceed with it. He hoped the House would excuse him from going into that extensive range of subject which had been embraced by the speech of his hon. Friend. The principal objection of his hon. Friend to the Bill appeared to be that it was not comprehensive enough; and this his hon. Friend explained by giving the House a sketch of his own scheme, which involved the creation of no less than sixty suffragan bishops, to be supported at the expense of 90,000l. a year to be paid out of the existing revenues of the the deans and chapters of the cathedrals of this country. Without entering into the question whether there ought to be any suffragan bishops appointed or not, he was afraid that if his hon. Friend waited until his own comprehensive scheme of appointing sixty should be adopted, before attempting to afford any assistance to the Church, the conclusion all parties would arrive at would be that they must remain in statu quo, and that nothing could be done to remedy the defect in spiritual superintendence and in the care of souls among the people. His hon. Friend had adverted to the great increase of the population of this country and to the crowded state of the towns and cities of the empire within comparatively the last few years. He pointed out that there was an inadequate corresponding increase in the pastoral advisors of the people, and a great deficiency in the means of religious and moral superintendence, and concluded by declaring his readiness to join in remedying these evils. But the hon. Gentleman altogether overlooked the great increase of the clergy in this country, the great increase of churches; and while he dwelt upon the acknowledged zeal and efficiency with which the clergy discharged their laborious duties, he altogether omitted to notice the importance of the superintendence which the Episcopal Body exercised over the whole. His hon. Friend had treated the bishops as being merely the recipients of the public money. He believed that the duties of the bishops, when faithfully performed, were of the most important character. He believed that in some of the more populous dioceses the efficiency of their labours could be traced, not only in the increased number and vigilance of their clergy, but in the increased zeal of the laity in the works of charity, and in the raising of funds and voluntary contributions for the spiritual benefit of the people. But the real question which the House had to meet was, whether twenty-four should be the limited number of bishops for this country? If not, then the question which his hon. Friend had raised was, should that number be increased to sixty, and to no less? If this were really the view of his hon. Friend, then he ought at once to move the rejection of the Bill. Let him propose that until the House were willing to adopt his own scheme, nothing should be done to increase the number of the bishops. His hon. Friend had adverted to the report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and stated that they did not recommend an increase of the number of the bishops. Whatever opinion the Commissioners might have expressed upon the subject, with their measure of information and experience at the time they made their report, it could not be contended that the Government and the Legislature were under any obligation to adhere to an opinion expressed some ten or twelve years ago by men who at that time were not disposed to recommend an increase of bishops. But since then there had been a great increase of churches and clergymen; and he did not believe that any one of those Commissioners would now adhere to the opinion which they had formerly expressed. His hon. Friend appeared to hold that the course marked out by the Ecclesiastical Commission was one by which the Government and Parliament were to be bound for all after time. He confessed he could not assent to any such opinion. Then, with regard to the distinction between the special and general fund applicable to spiritual purposes, he was aware that Parliament had drawn a distinction between the two funds; and if this Bill should be rejected, that distinction would still exist. At the same time he thought it most desirable that both these funds should be made available for the general purposes of rendering more efficient the spiritual instruction of the people through the instrumentality of the Established Church. He thought his hon. Friend misunderstood the purpose of the Bill, in supposing that it recognised the separation of the two funds. He did not, however, think that these topics had any relation to the Bill before the House. The real question was, whether this new bishopric was required or not? Had his hon. Friend looked at the statistics of Lancashire? Had he considered the state of the population, the increase of the clergy, and the increased labour thrown on the bishops in that part of the country? Take the bishopric of Chester for example. Did his hon. Friend mean to say, that that diocese ought to remain in its present state? His hon. Friend did not; but then he said that this Bill would be no remedy for the evil. He did not understand whether his hon. Friend meant that no remedy for the evil could be applied short of his own scheme. If so, then he (Sir G. Grey) was afraid that all remedy whatever must be indefinitely postponed. But he differed from his hon. Friend, and thought that the measure which the Government now proposed was at least taking one step in the right direction. His hon. Friend adverted at great length to the conduct of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. That subject was not now under the consideration of the House. The whole matter had been referred to a Select Committee of the other House of Parliament; and it would be inexpedient for the House now to enter into a discussion of the proceedings of that Commission. He did not, at the same time, mean to say that the Commissioners were in all things entirely free from blame; but when his hon. Friend spoke of the amount of money which had been laid out by the Commissioners on episcopal residences, and contrasted it with the money expended for the augmentation of small livings, he thought his hon. Friend had committed a mistake. The sum which the Commissioners were now paying towards the augmentation of small livings was 64,000l. a year. They had increased the revenues of 620 livings, in districts containing a population of 1,718,000, for whom spiritual accommodation had been provided, and where the clergyman's income in all cases was at least 150l. a year, irrespective of pew rents and other payments. With regard to the episcopal residences, there had been a great misrepresentation of the facts of the case. In many instances the revenues which his hon. Friend supposed were derived from the surplus funds of deaneries, canonries, &c., merely resulted from the sale and ex-change of property. His hon. Friend had said that 23,000l. had been laid out upon an episcopal house for the united bishopric of Gloucester and Bristol, whereas the sum actually paid was only 1,072l. The two residences having been consolidated, one of them was sold, and the proceeds applied to the repairs of the other; and the only sum actually paid by the Commissioners was 1,072l. There was, at the same time, property belonging to the same bishopric sold, amounting to 6,425l. which was carried to the credit of the Commissioners. His hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford had called the attention of the House to the general arrangement framed by this Bill with respect to the new bishop not taking a seat in Parliament. It was, he believed, the general opinion, even of the bishops themselves, that the arrangement upon the whole was a fair one. He thought it would be a great advantage that the junior bishop who was recently appointed, should not be obliged to spend the whole of his time during two-thirds of the year in London, but should have the opportunity of attending to the wants of his diocese and of the clergy and people over whom he had to preside. His hon. Friend (Sir R. H. Inglis) had said, that the effect of this arrangement might be that the bishop would take his seat in the House of Lords at too late a period of his life for him to be able to discharge his duties as a spiritual Peer. He did not think from the ordinary duration of life that it was likely the Bishop of Manchester would have to wait for so remote a period as to render him incapable of discharging not only his spiritual but his legislatorial functions. With regard to the union of the diocese of St. Asaph and Bangor, the Government had concurred in the view that these bishoprics should be united. But it was necessary to look at this question, not as an abstract but as a practical question; and it was to be considered in reference to the circumstances that had taken place. It was impossible to deny that there existed a very strong and general feeling on the subject. It was impossible to deny that the two Houses of Parliament partook of that feeling. The Government, therefore, did not think it desirable to continue their opposition to a measure with regard to which such a decided opinion had been expressed by the Church at large and by the other House of Parliament; but consented to the repeal of the recent Act of Parliament by which those two bishoprics were united, at the same time reducing the amount of the income of the two bishops. He hoped, therefore, that the House would read the Bill a second time, reserving the discussion on the clauses with respect to which there was any difference of opinion until they got into Committee.


said, that this Bill was exceptionable to many of his constituents, a great portion of them being Dissenters, and they felt that this Bill ought not to pass. He confessed that his suspicions wore a little excited when he heard the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford; but his objection to the Bill was that to any extension of the powers of the hierarchy by the appointment of additional bishops. All classes in Manchester and its neighbourhood appeared to be against the Bill. They fancied that it would increase the ecclesiastical power; and they felt that with that increase their civil privileges were often infringed. They were of opinion that it would be more to the advantage and promotion of civil and religious liberty that the Church should be content with its present position, because, although it appeared by the Bill that the new bishops were not to have seats in the other House, yet he saw nothing in the Bill to prevent their being called up to the House of Lords at a future time. He thought the Motion should have been, that the Bill should be read a second time that day three months; and, if any hon. Member moved that, he would support it.


wished to express what he believed was a very general feeling in that part of the country from which he came. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken would recollect that this was a question that did not immediately affect the Dissenters, it was a proposition, out of the funds of the Church, by a fresh distribution and application of them, to increase, as the hon. Gentleman properly said, the powers of the Church, by rendering that more efficient the inefficiency of which had been long the subject of complaint and reproach to the Church. He believed that this measure, when carried out, would have the effect of very materially relieving the excessive labours which wore now imposed upon the spiritual superintendents of his part of the country. No one acquainted with the great numbers gathered together under the spiritual care of the Bishop of Chester could doubt the necessity of such a measure. It was impossible that such spiritual superintendence could take place as should effectually control and regulate the whole of the ecclesiastical affairs, of that diocese. But there was one thing he must observe, and that was the absence from the Bill of all provision that the new bishops should have seats in the House of Lords. He thought that the reason, or indication of a reason, given by the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman, pointed to an arrangement as more convenient to the new bishops on entering upon their spiritual functions, giving them time to become acquainted with the affairs of their dioceses, and of introducing themselves, as it were, to those who were under their spiritual care; but that was no reason why there should be any infraction of the principle that had been hitherto observed—that bishops should be called to the other House when they were appointed to a diocese. He thought that it was an essential part of the principle of the Bill, that in appointing new bishops they should be positively excluded from the House of Lords. But the Bill would have another effect; it was, to a certain extent, a Bill of deprivation, because each bishop of the old sees would be called upon to take his turn of being excluded from sitting in the House of Lords. He thought that upon that ground it was objectionable; and he would far rather, as a matter of principle, see the Bishop of Manchester excluded from the House of Lords permanently (and if the expediency of his more closely attending to the duties of his diocese was the reason why he should be excluded, there was hardly any diocese in the country where the same reason would apply with the same force), than that the bishops of the ancient sees should ever be excluded. He believed, however, that to the Church generally this measure was satisfactory; and he would rather support the Bill as it was, than run the risk of its not passing by entering upon the discussion of the parts which he thought objectionable.


objected to the principle of the Bill; and it was his intention to take the sense of the House on it. He differed from the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford about the origin of the property which was the subject of this dispute; but it was a dispute about the loaves and fishes, and who should get the lion's share. He objected to the Bill be- cruse it was a violation of the compact entered into in the year 1835–6 with the Church. After mature deliberation, the Commission had recommended that there should be no addition to the number of bishops, and said that the union of the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor would be of advantage, as the revenues of the abolished see might be appropriated to the augmentation of small livings; but this Bill would lead to a misappropriation of the funds that ought to be applied to other purposes. By increasing the number of bishops, he cared not whether they had seats in Parliament or not, the amount of their salaries was taken away from useful purposes. In that opinion he was borne out by an article in the Quarterly Review. He thought that the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman had yielded, not to the clamour of the Church, but to the clamours of a few of the clergy. He wished that the Commission had been instructed to ascertain the number of Churchmen and of Dissenters there were in Wales, and then it would be seen that the two sees to which he had referred would have been properly united. He could not vote for the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman near him, because that would be countenancing to a certain degree the principle of the Bill; but when that Motion was disposed of, he should move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.


observed, that the present measure was marked by two principles: one of those was, that two sees should be united, or, in Parliamentary language, should be consolidated; and the second was, that there should be an increase in the number of bishops. Now, he objected to the Bill before them, as a breach of faith. If that Bill were carried, no one could tell how many more bishops might be added to the episcopal bench. The Bill provided for four additional bishops; but for his part he did not desire to see the number of bishops at all increased, for he conceived the bench of bishops and the game laws to be the two great evils of the country. The addition made to the Episcopal Bench, or to be made by the present Bill, was one which proceeded from the bishops themselves, and they naturally desired to increase their own order—there "was nothing like leather." When anything went wrong, the right rev. Bench immediately exclaimed, "Give us more bishops." Any great horse- breeder would tell them that the country wanted more horses; and, after all, the most favourable specimens of episcopal government were not of a character to excite much admiration. There was, for example, the see of London. The Bishop of London was an able and well-intentioned man, yet in his diocese alone there were at least twenty different modes of performing divine service, and it appeared also that the right rev. Prelate would not license clergymen belonging to the Irish branch of the Established Church. Surely there was no reason why Irish clergymen should not officiate within the diocese of London. In conclusion, he greatly regretted that a proposition of this kind should have proceeded from a Liberal Ministry: it would have come with much more propriety and consistency from the late Government, The noble Lord at the head of the Government professed liberal sentiments—he was essentially a Liberal. There were Russell, Pattison, Larpent, and Rothschild, they were the four Liberal candidates for London; why, did the noble Lord separate himself from that list by making such a Bill as the present a Government measure?


said, his object in rising was not to enter upon any discussion upon the merits of the Bill before the House, to which, however, he should give his cordial support; but he felt it his duty, and he was happy to have it in his power, to remove one cause of complaint which the hon. Member, who had just sat down, had urged against the learned prelate the Bishop of London. It was true, as was stated by the hon. Member, that a petition had been presented to the House of Lords by a clergyman in the diocese of London, complaining that the Bishop of London had refused to license a clergyman educated in the University of Dublin, on the grounds of his being an Irish clergyman. The most rev. Prelate who presides over the Irish branch of the Established Church had not felt it right to move in the matter, so long as it was under discussion in the House of Lords; but he was happy to state that since that case had been brought before the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Armagh had had a communication with the Bishop of London on the subject of the exclusion of Irish clergymen. He had directed the attention of that Prelate to the real state of the case, and the course of education pursued by divinity students in Dublin University. The Bishop of London had met the representations of the Primate of Ireland in the kindest and best spirit; and he was enabled to state that the rule of exclusion complained of by the hon. Member for Athlone no longer existed.


observed with great satisfaction the view of the subject which the Government had taken. As to the late Government, there could be no doubt that if they were now in office they would be obliged to yield in the same way. To Lord Powis they all owed a great debt of gratitude; and he contended that the conduct of the present Government in the matter before them was in all respects perfectly consistent. By the addition of four bishops to the episcopate, the labours of the English hierarchy would be most materially lightened. On the part of Wales, also, he felt bound to offer his thanks to the Government for the measure that they had introduced. It was true that of a population of 300,000 there were not above 40,000 who belonged to the Established Church; but the only mode of bringing back that population within the pale of the Church was to render the great officers of the Church sufficient in number for the service of the people. To have taken away a portion of the bishops from the Church, would have been to inflict on it a serious and dangerous injury.


said, he now felt disposed to withdraw his Amendment, because he thought it would be more satisfactory to the House to come to a vote on the Bill itself.


rose to thank the Government on behalf of the Principality. In proposing to get rid of two sees, the Church Commission had, he feared, been too much influenced by temporary clamour. It amounted to nothing less than robbing Wales of two bishops—North Wales of one, and South Wales of the other. There was also a proposition for uniting the see of Llandaff to that of Bristol; but that scheme was not entertained out of deference to Llandaff, but for the benefit of Bristol. The real question was, how the want which Manchester experienced was to be met; was it to be met honestly, or was it to be met by robbing Wales? It was very generally thought that the reason why the last Government did not proceed fairly to meet the question was, that they did not like to meet the difficulty about a seat in the House of Lords. They were driven by necessity, not impelled by choice. The great difficulty had been met by the noble Lord, because he felt that the growing revenue of the Church would enable him so to do. Nothing could be more evident than that if they wished to make the Church efficient, they must have more bishops; and what the Church wanted was, that the character of their bishops should in some respects be changed—that they should go more about the dioceses and make themselves more visible. Hitherto English bishops had gone into Wales who were wholly ignorant of the Welsh language, and the clergy under them were equally ignorant of the vernacular tongue of the people of Wales. If, like the Bishop of St. David's they did their duty, the state of religion in Wales would very soon change its character.


was sorry that his hon. Colleague proposed to withdraw his Amendment for the purpose of negativing the Bill. He should rather vote for the Amendment, because there were not sufficient facts before the House to enable them to pronounce an opinion on the Bill. Upon that ground he thought it expedient that they should postpone the Bill until next Session. A Committee on the subject was still sitting, and no evidence had yet been laid before the House. This circumstance, he conceived, formed a strong reason for postponement; and he hoped that until the House had evidence before them they would not pronounce any opinion on the merits of the Bill.


wished to delay the division only for two minutes; and he did so merely for the purpose of expressing his gratitude to the hon. Member for Cocker-mouth on account of the full and complete manner in which he had brought the whole subject under their notice. The proposed change would at least have this good effect, that it would break down the mystical number of 24—that seemed a magic limit beyond which episcopacy could not go, let the spiritual necessities of the country be what they might. He was gratified now to see that that Parliamentary barrier had been broken down; but in the interval between this and another Session of Parliament he should not be at all satisfied unless preparation were made for doing much more. It was necessary that the ideas which the people had respecting bishops should be changed. They were supposed to fill certain offices and to discharge certain limited duties; but the supposed limits of those duties must be extended, and the present Bill was the first towards the accomplishment of that object.

Amendment withdrawn.


moved, that the Bill be read a second time that day three months. He said it was a breach of the contract of 1835–6. In his opinion the surplus funds of the Church ought to be given to the working clergy.


contended that the Bill was a most objectionable measure, and ought to be postponed till another Session. The Committee now sitting had not laid any evidence before the House. When they once had the evidence in their hands they would be much better judges of the question. Under the Statute of Henry VIII. more bishops might have been created, therefore the Bill before them ought to have been constructed for the purpose of distributing the surplus revenues of the Church amongst the working clergy. It was a scandal to the Church that that class of men should be so insufficiently paid as they now were; they were obliged to maintain the position of gentlemen without funds sufficient for that purpose. He thought, therefore, that the House would consult its own dignity by not proceeding with the Bill. He could not help observing that very recently two most humane clauses of the poor law were rejected in another place, and that none of the bishops resisted the rejection.


still considered the original proposition of the Ecclesiastical Commission would have been the best adapted to the interests of the Church, and he regretted that the noble Lord had been induced to abandon it. But, if his objections were great to the Bill as it originally stood, the statement which the noble Lord had made had much increased them. The noble Lord had told them that no additional expenses would be entailed by the Bill. He must call on the noble Lord to say, whether he did or did not mean to give residences to these new bishops? It had been a great misfortune where bishops had no residences. For twenty years in Llandaff there was no resident bishop, during Bishop Watson's time, and the greatest possible evil occurred. He was the more anxious to know the noble Lord's answer, because as yet no residence had been provided for the Bishop of Bangor. He should not, however, vote against the Bill; because, a bishop having refused to take the united diocese, and the necessity for a bishop at Manchester being admitted, the Bill was necessary; but he did enter his protest against that recital of the Bill by which three new bishops were to be appointed, and he hoped the time would come when the episcopal funds would not be applied exclusively to ecclesiastical wants, but to the spiritual wants of the people.


thought the measure was a direct violation of the compact j entered into between the Government and the Liberal party, in that House, in 1836. The Government had then introduced a Bill which they called a Church Reform Bill, but which the people called the Bishops' Bill. That Bill was much objected to, and the Government complained of some of their followers that they had not stated their objections on the earlier stages. But the discussions became so warm and hot that the noble Lord became alarmed for this Bill, and even for his Government. Among others, he remembered that his right hon. Friend the Judge Advocate (Mr. C. Buller) made a most violent and convincing speech against the Bill, in which he ridiculed it, with that power of which he was master, proving that it was no Church Reform Bill, but only the commencement of a new series of bishops. Objections were also taken to the Bill by other hon. Members who were now Members of the Government, and especially by one hon. Member who had just resolved to drop a job called the Thames Conservancy Bill. Another objection to the Bill was, that any surplus ecclesiastical revenue should be appropriated to the reduction of Church rates. But now, in the year 1847, what had been done towards the abolition of Church rates? Now, because they were supported by hon. Gentlemen opposite, Her Majesty's Government determined to pass this Bill, although every Bill for the benefit of the people had been dropped. Look at the Health of Towns Bill and the Parliamentary Electors Bill. But, in 1836, when the Bishops' Bill was in danger, the supporters of Government were summoned to Downing-street; and the Government said they would resign if the opposition was not put a stop to. The noble Lord during the debate on that Bill said— As I have said, I will not now enter into a debate on this question, but merely take occasion to repeat what I have often said before, and what, I regret to say, has not made such an impression as so notorious a fact was calculated to do—namely, that this Bill does not increase the number of bishops, but retains the same number as there was exactly before its introduction. Now, who wanted more bishops? Let the noble Lord say who those persons were, and where their petitions were. He had not seen any petitions for more bishops. Perhaps the noble Lord would tell them who it was that demanded more bishops; and also what was the surplus fund in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commission? A Committee had been appointed to inquire into the proceedings of that Commission. Indeed, he was surprised that they had not heard on this occasion the voice of his hon. Friend who had moved for the Committee, and who had made such extraordinary statements to the House. He contended, that a Commission so situated was not a body entitled to the public confidence, and that Parliament ought not to legislate on any recommendation of theirs. He could only tell the noble Lord, that if he persevered with the Bill, he would meet with the same opposition as in 1836; for this Bill was a violation of the compact entered into with the Liberal party in that year. The question of Church rates must inevitably be mooted in connexion with it; and not all the force the noble Lord could bring down would enable him to pass the Bill, unless he was prepared to prolong the Session a month or six weeks.


said, that the hon. Member who had just sat down, and the hon. Member for Montrose, had both offered opposition to the Bill, because he (Lord J. Russell), in describing the Established Church Bill of 1836, had said that it did not increase the number of bishops. Surely this was carrying what some hon. Members were pleased to call "the doctrine of finality" to a wonderful extent. The argument of those hon. Members assumed, that because a particular Act of Parliament once passed, the number of bishops should at no time be altered. He (Lord J. Russell) also remembered to have said, with respect to the incomes of the bishoprics, that if hereafter they should be considered too large, that was a subject to be considered by Parliament. He had never considered that the Bill of 1836 was an absolute settlement of the question—as one that was never to be disturbed. As to charging a breach of faith against the Government, he apprehended the House would think that there was no foundation for such a charge.


observed, that the observation of the noble Lord which he had quoted had reference to a charge made by hon. Members at the time, that the Church Reform Bill, as it was called, was only a prelude to an increased number of bishops.


said, his not having taken part in the debate, would, he apprehended, be sufficiently accounted for by the fact of the Committee of Inquiry referred to by the hon. Member for Finsbury having been granted at his instance, and that the inquiry was now pending. He thought the discussion of to-day sufficiently showed that the House had not taken an improper course in granting that Committee; and he hoped that there could be no doubt on the mind of the hon. Member for Finsbury that the inquiry would be conducted with fairness.

The House then divided on the question, that the word "now" stand part of the Question:—Ayes 124; Noes 15: Majority 109.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Forester, hon. G. C. W.
Acland, T. D. Fuller, A. E.
Allix, J. P. Gore, M.
Austen, Col. Gore, hon. R.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Baring, T. Greene, T.
Barrington, Visct. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Bennet, P. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Bentinck, Lord G. Hamilton, G. A.
Bentinck, Lord H. Hamilton, Lord C.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Hatton, Capt. V.
Blackburne, J. I. Heathcote, Sir W.
Bodkin, W. H. Henley, J. W.
Botfield, B. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Bowles, Adm. Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.
Buck, L. W. Hope, G. W.
Buller, C. Hornby, J.
Byng, rt. Hon. G. S. Ingestre, Visct.
Carew, W. H. P. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Chaplin, W. J. Jermyn, Earl
Christie, W. D. Jervis, Sir J.
Christopher, R. A. Johnstone, Sir J.
Clive, Visct. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Clive, hon. R. H. Jones, Capt.
Codrington, Sir W. Knightley, Sir C.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Courtenay, Lord Lefroy, A.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Le Merchant, Sir D.
Craig, W. G. Liddell, hon. H. T.
Cripps, W. Lindsay, Col.
Denison, J. E. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Denison, E. B. Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.
Disraeli, B. M'Geachy, F. A.
Douglas, J. D. S. Manners, Lord C. S.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Manners, Lord J.
Dundas, Adm. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Dundas, Sir D. Mildmay, H. St. J.
East, Sir J. B. Miles, P. W. S.
Ebrington, Visct. Miles, W.
Egerton, W. T. Monahan, J. H.
Entwisle, W. Morpeth, Visct.
Evans, W. Morris, D.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Mundy, E. M.
Ferrand, W. B. Neeld, J.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Newdegate, C. N.
O'Brien, A. S. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Ogle, S. C. H. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Packe, C. W. Tollemache, hon. E. J.
Palmer, R. Tollemache, J.
Palmer, G. Verner, Sir W.
Palmerston, Visct. Vesey, hon. T.
Parker, J. Villiers, Visct.
Patten, J. W. Vyse, H.
Perfect, R. Waddington, H. S.
Philipps, Sir R. B. P. Walker, R.
Pinney, W. Ward, H. G.
Plumridge, Capt. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Pollington, Visct. Worcester, Marq. of
Prime, R. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Reid, Col. Wynn, rt. hon. C. W. W.
Rendlesham, Lord
Russell, Lord J. TELLERS.
Rutherfurd, A. Tufnell, H.
Sandon, Visct. Rich, H.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Horsman, E.
Aldam, W. Molesworth, Sir W.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Thornely, T.
Brotherton, J. Trelawny, J. S.
Collett, J. Wakley, T.
Duncan, G. Williams, W.
Evans, Sir D. L. TELLERS.
Hastie, A. Hume, J.
Hindley, C. Duncombe, T.

Bill read a second time, and ordered to be committed.

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