§ MR. HORSMAN
said, in order to make his Motion intelligible, he must explain the 1261 nature of the two funds referred to in it. The House was aware that there was issued in 1835 a Commission of Inquiry into ecclesiastical duties and revenues, which presented a series of reports forming the groundwork of subsequent important legislation. In 1836 an Act was passed, regulating episcopal incomes, reducing the emoluments of the richer sees, and applying the proceeds to augmenting the poorer ones. In 1840, another Act was passed for reducing the cathedral establishments and abolishing other sinecures, and the proceeds of those reductions were to go to the supplying of parochial wants. There were consequently two sources from which funds, diverted from their previous use, were to be paid into the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Nothing transpired to indicate the intention of Parliament to keep those funds distinct, to restrict each to a separate application. That subject was never mooted, and no opinion asked for or expressed by Parliament. As long as the surplus from the richer sees was about equal to the requirements of the poorer ones, its application to that purpose was natural and convenient. And no one questioned the propriety of an arrangement which, as a matter of administrative detail, seemed recommended by convenience. It was obvious, however, that in process of time there would be a very much larger surplus accruing from these larger sees than Parliament had anticipated, or had provided for the application of; and certain indications on the part of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners led to the suspicion that they looked on this surplus not as ecclesiastical but as episcopal property, and that the confining it to episcopal purposes was not a question of convenience, but of principle; and then came the discovery that these views of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had actually taken the form of a legislative enactment, and that in the Act of 1841, an Act relating to other subjects, emanating from the Commission, and passed carelessly by the House, certain words had been introduced with a view of establishing beyond a doubt the separation of the two funds; and the separation established by that Act had been recognised by subsequent statutes. But it was obvious that the effect to be produced by that clause in the Act of 1841, was not a matter of much deliberation or discussion; the most prominent of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were unaware either of the doubt which had arisen or the clause inserted to remove 1262 it. And the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Ripon, who had long acted as an Ecclesiastical Commissioner, and it was to be presumed by no means the least astute member of that Board, stated in a debate at the close of the last Parliament, that, till he heard the evidence before the Committee of Inquiry last Session, he had always believed the distinction rested on a mere regulation of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He then learnt for the first time that it was sanctioned by statute; and he added clearly and forcibly that he entirely disapproved of it. A more impolitic and unjust distinction it was difficult to conceive. For what did it say but this? That episcopal estates were the property of the bishops and not of the Church; that episcopal interests were to be cared for separately, and not identified with the interests of the Church; that funds which had been episcopal once, must, whatever be the change of circumstances, remain episcopal always, no matter how impoverished the Church, and how wealthy the episcopacy—no matter how great the requirements of religion, and how small the needs of the bishops—still the exclusive principle was so strong, the right of the order so sacred, the application of bishops' money to parochial purposes and the teaching of the poor so objectionable, that if no possible means of expending the money on bishops at homo could be devised, those means must be discovered abroad. Even the payment of colonial bishops was preferable to the payment of our home missionaries and labourers. Actually in the eyes of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, such was the sanctity in which were involved the very pounds, shillings, and pence, which had once flowed into episcopal channels, that sooner than apply them to any more mean or vulgar purpose, you must expend them beyond seas, on bishops in China or Australia. That this opinion should be maintained by any one, was really so incredible that he certainly should not venture to state it unless he held the proof in his hand. But the Bishop of London, before the Committee of Inquiry on this subject last Session, was thus examined:—983. Do you think it expedient to continue this distinction between the two funds?—Decidedly.984. What is the advantage of keeping these funds distinct, both being to be applied to promote the effciency of the Church?—In the first place, we want provision for more bishops; and I should say, that if the funds were sufficient, we want provision also for those officers who are of 1263 great importance to the bishop as assistants to him in the execution of his duty; I mean particularly archdeacons, whom I would rather see paid, if possible, out of the Episcopal Fund than the Common Fund; I think, also, that if the state of the funds shall at any future time allow it, we ought to appropriate the surplus to the maintenance of colonial bishops. I am not, however, prepared to say that there might not, at some future time, be furnished by the same fund some assistance towards the augmentation of poor benefices.The last part of this reply, however, is inconsistent with the present law: to give effect to it the change must he adopted which he (Mr. Horsman) was now proposing, and which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners resist. They can now apply the surplus of the Episcopal Fund to the payment of colonial bishops; but they cannot apply it, under any circumstances, to the augmentation of poor benefices. He could imagine nothing more monstrous than this doctrine so exalting the Episcopate at the expense of the Church. And at what a time was it broached! Look at the condition of our whole population! He would not go into statistical details, of which he could give them volumes, but he would read another passage from the evidence of the same Prelate given on the same day. He is thus examined by Sir James Graham:—1026. Does your Lordship remember the statement of the great want of parochial cures, as set forth in the 2nd Report of the Commission?—Yes.1028. The population has rapidly increased?—Yes.1029. Notwithstanding all the efforts that have been made, is it your Lordship's opinion, that in this metropolis and in the manufacturing districts the wants of the growing population have been overtaken by the increased efforts that have been made or not?—Not nearly.1030. May it be said generally that now, as compared with the date of the Commission, the destitution in the metropolis and in the manufacturing districts remains nearly as great as it was?—I should say that numerically it is greater.1031. Your Lordship, by appeals to the charity of individuals, has been most successful in obtaining aid for the building of churches in the metropolis?—I made an appeal to the public, and the appeal being met by a great many noble instances of individual piety and zeal, the result has been that provision has been made for the building of fifty-five churches.And here he must acknowledge that the right rev. Prelate's appeals to the public had been successful in a great measure from the example of liberality which he had himself so frequently set; and that while he had been so meritoriously unceasing in his demands on others, his own contributions had never been wanting in the furtherance 1264 of what he recommended to others. He is again asked—1038. Notwithstanding the fifty-five churches which have been built in your diocese, and the efforts made in the manufacturing districts generally, your opinion is, that, considering the increase of population, the state of destitution in the main is not much diminished in proportion to the population?—I should rather say that I think the efforts we have made have not kept pace with the growth of the population—we have not supplied the destitution as it was, and therefore we have done nothing to supply the new population.And this is the language of every prelate—the burden of every charge—the sorrowful complaint of every active clergyman—the melancholy experience of every earnest and Christian layman. They" tell us that a great part of our population is escaping from us—some hurrying away into dissent, as is the case in Wales—some addressed by other proselytising bodies, though as yet with no great success. But the greater part of those whom we neglect are sunk in hopeless ignorance—perishing for lack of spiritual food. And yet, with these facts staring us in the face, this strange doctrine is maintained—that our Church funds are more religiously employed in the payment of Chinese or Australian bishops, than in saving our poor and benighted population at home. False in principle as this doctrine was, it became still more indefensible if examined in practice. What was the source of this Episcopal Fund? did it not mainly arise from parochial tithes? Certain payments went out of a parish to the bishop of the diocese. He spoke not of its origin, but of its practical working as people see Those who pay were supposed to have at least some return for their money: it went to the maintenance of the bishop from whose spiritual jurisdiction they derived advantage. The diocese was thus taxed for the benefit of the diocese. But if the bishop did not require the payment that is made him, was it the same thing to those who pay, that, instead of maintaining their own bishop, it went to the maintaining a bishop in the colonies? If the Bishop of Durham is not to have the tithes which are paid in the diocese of Durham, was it so very unjust that they should be returned to the parishes from which they were taken, instead of being carried over to create a new bishop in Cornwall, whom the poor tithepayers of Durham would never see, and of whom probably they would never hear. He held in his hand a list of parishes from which episcopal incomes were derived. 1265 It was not complete, as the Tithe Commissioners, from whose returns it was taken, had not concluded their labours. But as far as it went it was correct, and would serve for illustration. Let them take the diocese of Canterbury. The income of the Archbishop was now 15,000l., and to reduce it to that he paid 6,000l. a year to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. But from parishes in which tithes had been already commuted and apportioned, the Archbishop drew no less than 14,070l. a year. If, therefore, he did not require all this, and if those parishes are ill provided with religious instruction, have they not at least as much claim to be considered as any other district which wants another bishop, to whose maintenance the surplus revenue arising from these tithes is now restricted? But if any one still entertained a doubt of that, let him look a little further. Here were some of the parishes of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is appropriator:—
These were a few—and a few only, serving for illustration—out of many hundred cases of tithepaying parishes throughout England—themselves in a state of miserable destitution, and crying out for aid. They are contributing largely to episcopal requirements, not out of their abundance, but their poverty. Was their claim to more pastors, even out of any general 1266 fund, less strong than that of colonies to more bishops? but when it is a particular fund contributed by themselves, could any but an Ecclesiastical Commissioner doubt as to which party had the preferable claim to it? But the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had a vindication for their doctrine, which is often set up, and which was, after all, their real and true ground for insisting on the separation of the two funds: it was here stated again by the Bishop of London, and so clearly, that he would once more give the House his words. He is asked as to the propriety of fusing the two funds, and he replies:—
Income of Incumbent. Appropriate Tithes. Tonge £ 199 £ 522 No parsonage-house. Nonington-Cum-Womanswuld 236 600 No parsonage-house Reculver 198 575 No parsonage-house Hernhill 292 700 No parsonage-house St. Nicholas at Wade 161 1,026 No parsonage-house Alkham 152 500 No parsonage-house Wye 101 680 No parsonage-house Hougham 185 532 No parsonage-house Leham 381 1,205 No parsonage-house Herne 360 1,474 No parsonage-house1185.—I have considerable doubt as to the expediency of such a fusion, because then, whatever was done for the bishops, would no longer appear to be done out of that property which belongs to them as bishops, but out of a common fund, in which the parochial clergy would be thought, of course, to have a much larger interest; it would be considered as so much deducted from that which ought to go to the augmentation of small livings.… 1188.—Why do you think that that difficulty would arise?—I think that there would be a louder demand for the means of creating additional benefices than endowing additional bishoprics.Now, this last reason, given by the right rev. Prelate, at once condemned the doctrine and those who established it. The majority of the Church, says he, would incline to an increase of the working clergy, rather than to an increase of the bishops; and, therefore, that the opinions and wishes of the majority might be of no avail, the minority must take counsel together to place the episcopal revenues under such restrictions as, by making them not available for parochial purposes, to secure an increase of the episcopacy, albeit an increase of the clergy would be more acceptable to the Church at large. Now this species of despotism the Church of England would not submit to. It was true, that at this particular juncture the public sympathy was more with the parochial clergy than with their prelatic rulers; but that was not from an undervaluation of the episcopacy itself; but it was because by the Ecclesiastical Commission the administration of Church affairs had lately been vested in the bishops, and so improperly administered that there was an impression—a general, and strong, and well-grounded impression—that the interests of the episcopal body had been more cared for than those of the parochial clergy. And was this denied? Could it be pretended that the condition of the clergy was to be compared to that of the bishops? 1267 There were upwards of 4,000 parishes in which there is no residence for the clergyman: where was there a bishop who was not well housed? Towards supplying residences for the 4,000 clergymen, the Commissioners had laid out 40,000l.; but on the palaces of only eight prelates they had expended 143,000l. There were 3,500 parochial clergymen with incomes under 150l. a year; where was there a prelate whose revenue was not ample? Some of the parochial clergy had 5l. a year; but the minimum income of a bishop approached that of a Secretary of State. And yet, were they content with that? Did the Act of Parliament not limit the Bishop of Durham to 8,000l. a year? and yet, by his own administration of that Act, did he not receive in one year, independent of his payment to the Commission, 26,000l.? Did the Act of Parliament limit the Bishop of Salisbury to 5,000l. a year? and yet, did he not receive in 1845 no less than 17,000? And were these facts lost upon the public? Only the other night the Bishop of Salisbury pressed the Government to create more bishops. But he himself was the obstacle to more bishops; and he told him, that neither the present nor any future Government would be strong enough to create one additional bishop, as long as there were such glaring instances of bishops enriching themselves under their own administration of an Act of Parliament which was intended to restrict their incomes, but under which they were pocketing such enormous receipts in excess of the amount which the law intended them to have. Now, his Motion did not touch the question of whether we stood in need of more bishops or more clergy; it left that point to be decided as each necessity arose; but it did repudiate the notion that one had a preferable claim over the other. It proclaimed both to be the servants of the Church—holding no power and no property but what was given for the uses of the Church, and must be held in subservience to its necessities. He hoped that the Government would accede to his resolution; for it was impossible to deny its truth, and dangerous to delay its application. But he was bound to say that this proposition did not stand alone: it was but the prelude to other and more extensive changes which he should ere long have to submit to the House, and he should do so with more confidence because he saw on all sides of him a feeling that something more was required to be done; and he believed that 1268 the Government had both the inclination and the power to do it. Lately, it had devolved on Government to select two prelates within a very short period of each other, for the highest places in the Church; and the approbation and gratitude of the public had attested the wisdom and propriety of the choice. Again, in an inferior but not unimportant matter, since he first mooted this question, two of the most important of the metropolitan charges had fallen vacant. There again, the Government, consulting the interests of the people, first, in the selection of Mr. Baring, and then of Mr. Gurney, conferred a boon on the parishioners, which they would not soon forget; and, coupling them with the character of those who were now most influential in the counsels of the Church, he hoped the time was arrived when that Church might be made as efficient in all respects as it was capable of being. When they considered the state of our dense population, the complications of our social system, the social revolution through which we were now surely and not slowly passing, how slightly removed were our chief elements of life and prosperity from becoming elements of turbulence and disorder—when they considered all this, it was evident that the moral and religious condition of the masses was the first subject for the consideration of the Minister, and the improving that condition through the instrumentality of our Church a constant subject of anxiety to its spiritual rulers. It was for these reasons that he rejoiced at the elevation of the present Archbishop of Canterbury. It was a matter of congratulation that at such a time our Church should have such a spiritual head. Selected on no political grounds; distinguished only by the holiness of his life and the purity of his doctrine; practically acquainted with the wants of the Church and the feelings of the times; knowing that there was a movement in the Church, which he might guide but could not stem—that there was safety in advancing, and danger only in standing still—he felt assured that he would justify all the hopes which had been formed of him, and, by a course of wise and temperate improvements, would so give strength and efficiency to the Church as to render his elevation a blessing to the people. The hon. Gentleman concluded by submitting the following Motion to the House:—That, in the opinion of this House, the distinction between the Episcopal and Common 1269 Funds, restricting the application of the surplus revenues of the Archbishops and Bishops to Episcopal purposes, and permitting no part of it, in any circumstances, to be applied to the relief of parochial destitution, is inexpedient, and ought not to be continued.
§ LORD ASHLEY
seconded the Motion, on the grounds which his hon. Friend had so fairly and eloquently laid down. He was very decidedly in favour of a fusion of those two funds. He believed it was necessary for all parties in the Church that all classes in the Church should feel that equal and impartial justice was dealt out to them all. He took no part whatever hostile to an increase of the episcopacy, because he held that from that fund they might take whatever was requisite for the immediate exigencies of the Church, whether to increase the number of bishops, or to extend the number of the parochial clergy. He was not prepared to say that an increased number of bishops was not required; but he did say, that an increase of bishops at the present moment was not necessary—not indispensable. On the other hand, however, he did assert, that a great extension of the parochial system—a vast increase of the working clergy—was necessary—was indispensable. Without arrogating anything to himself, he might be excused for saying, that perhaps few had seen more than he had of the wants of our population; and he did not hesitate to say, with a solemn conviction of the responsibility which rested on that House and the country, that if they allowed the present period to pass by—that if they suffered another interval of ten years to elapse before they addressed themselves to the redress of the existing grievances—his firm belief was, that the evil would have attained such gigantic proportions that it would require the faith—ay, and the inspiration—of a David to tear down that monstrous and almost unassailable Goliath. With the most heartfelt satisfaction he seconded the Motion of his hon. Friend.
§ SIR G. GREY
did not rise for the purpose of controverting the arguments of his noble Friend who had just sat down, with every word of whose speech he in a great measure concurred, nor to confute the arguments of his hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman). At the same time he did not feel at liberty to concur in the resolution which his hon. Friend had moved. With reference to what his noble Friend had stated as to the importance of the extension of the parochial 1270 clergy, assuming that parochial clergy not to be too much tied and fettered by those forms which, though good in their place, he felt had stood in the way of their usefulness in large and populous districts, he heartily and entirely concurred with him; nay more, he thought that some of those funds which were applicable to church extension (using that term not in the sense of building churches, but meaning the extension of that spiritual care of the people to which his noble Friend had attached so much importance), might be well applied in employing some other agency than that which already existed: penetrating the masses of the people, visiting them at their own homes, going to those who would never attend the Church; and which agency should act under the parochial clergy, upon the principle which he knew his noble Friend approved, and which was sanctioned by the Bishops of London and Winchester in the metropolis. At the same time, he must guard himself against saying that there should not be at any time, and under any circumstances, such an increase of the episcopal staff as would be necessary for the superintendence of the parochial clergy. He trusted that nothing which had fallen from his hon. or noble Friend could be interpreted as meaning that there should not be a corresponding increase in all classes of the Church, from the highest to the lowest, or as indicating that they did not wish to see this principle carried out to the fullest extent, for the good of the people. He was of opinion that the proper way of meeting this question was not by a resolution. The present position of the question rested upon an Act of Parliament; and the way to meet a question resting upon an Act of Parliament was to move for leave to bring in a Bill, embodying the views of the Mover; but the House ought not to bind itself by an abstract resolution to adopt a course of policy, without knowing how that policy was to be carried out. Without troubling the House with the evidence in extenso, he must say, that he thought his hon. Friend had not quite fairly quoted the evidence given before the Commission. In answer No. 81, and several following answers, Mr. C. K. Murray, the secretary to the Commission, accurately states the mode in which the legal distinction was created between the Episcopal Fund and the Common Fund, the Episcopal being applied only to episcopal purposes, and the 1271 Common to parochial purposes. Certainly since the passing of the last Act there had been no doubt as to the separate application of those two funds. He would not say, however, that he was prepared to maintain the permanent separation of these two funds. As regarded the appropriation of the Episcopal Fund to colonial bishoprics, he certainly never had heard any opinion expressed at the Ecclesiastical Commission which would warrant such a supposition—he had never heard it expressed anywhere except in the answer of the Bishop of London, as his own individual opinion; but the Ecclesiastical Commission was not bound by any opinion so expressed. There was another circumstance connected with this Motion of great importance. The hon. Member had mooted the question which had been frequently raised in the Ecclesiastical Commission, and which, if decided as the hon. Gentleman seemed to wish, would tend to defeat the main object of the Ecclesiastical Commission. The object of the Commission was to render available the funds of the Church to the better endowment of the clergy in those large districts of the country where spiritual superintendence was most defective. What did the hon. Member propose to do? He said he would separate the impropriate tithes from the revenue of the larger bishoprics, or, where there was a surplus, would appropriate that surplus to the augmentation of the income of the parishes from which those tithes arose, and thus appropriate the surplus funds of the diocese to the particular parishes in question, without reference to the wants and circumstances of other and more populous parishes. He regretted that the Commission had departed from the primary object for which it was appointed. It had given too much consideration to income, irrespective of population; and he was not prepared to sanction an extension of this principle. He had before stated, on the former discussion in the course of this Session, as to the Ecclesiastical Commission, that there were various questions, of which this was only one, which had occupied much of the attention of the Government. Some of the Commissioners who had recently been added to the Commission had given great attention to the subject, and had in preparation measures which, he hoped, would effect considerable improvement both in the mode in which episcopal revenues were collected and 1272 raised, and the administration of the funds. Amongst these questions the present was one which must necessarily be considered; and all he asked the House now, was not to decide the matter by a precipitate vote, or by an abstract resolution, without seeing the provisions of a Bill. He should not move a direct negative on the resolution of the hon. Gentleman; but he trusted the House would agree to the previous question, and not entertain the matter until it could be brought before them in a shape in which an opinion could be taken upon it. He must say one word as to the renewed charge which the hon. Gentleman had brought against the Bishop of Durham tonight, and which he thought had been disposed of on a former occasion. He thought he had convinced his hon. Friend that the Act of Parliament did not fix his income at 8,000l. It provided a mode of dealing with the income of the see which necessarily precluded, except by a combination of accidents, its being absolutely limited to 8,000l. If his hon. Friend would look into the Act of Parliament, he would see that what he said was correct. He admitted that that was an objectionable mode of carrying out the intentions of the Commission; and his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) had stated that on the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury—to whose worth and excellence so just a tribute had been paid by his hon. Friend—he had communicated with the Archbishop, and he had most readily agreed to take the see subject to any arrangement which might be made by Parliament as to an alteration of the mode of fixing income; and a measure was now in preparation with the view of carrying out the intention expressed by his noble Friend. His hon. Friend had said, that in a particular year the income of the Bishop of Durham, which had been fixed at 8,000l., had amounted to 37,000l. It would have been but fair, in holding up the Bishop of Durham to animadversion, as receiving a greater sum than had been fixed by Act of Parliament, to have stated that in that one year the income was very much higher than in any other year. It ought to be known that the year 1841 was not an average receipt—in 1842 and 1843 it was only 6,791l. He said this in justice to the Bishop of Durham, not in defence of the system. He hoped hon. Members would not, by agreeing to the resolution, fetter the future discretion of the 1273 House as to any Bill which might be brought before it. He moved the previous question.
§ MR. PLUMPTRE
expressed his regret that the right hon. Gentleman had felt it necessary to move the previous question. He considered the course adopted by the hon. Member for Cockermouth a very rational and regular course, to move a resolution to test the feeling of the House on this subject; and that it should be followed up by a Bill. He was, therefore, sorry the Government had discountenanced the attempt of his hon. Friend to do that which he thought was the only one proper step for him to take. When the hon. Member for Cockermouth before moved in this matter, he was happy to second him; and he took occasion to say that the hon. Member ought to be supported, because he was satisfied that the hon. Member was not influenced by hostile feelings to the Church, but rather by friendly feelings. He was fully satisfied of that fact; if he wanted any assurance of it, he could have it in the circumstance of his hon. Friend being seconded by the noble Lord the Member for Bath. No one could doubt that the noble Lord was influenced by purely friendly feelings to the Church Establishment. His noble Friend had said very truly, that in voting for this resolution he expressed no opinion whatever hostile to the extension of the episcopacy whenever an opportunity occurred for its extension. He, for one, should be very glad to see the number of bishops, under certain circumstances and certain limitations, extended; he believed it would be a useful measure for the Church; but he must say that the working clergy were a body of men who peculiarly required assistance. He need not say how much the country was indebted to the working clergy for the state of things which now existed in Ireland, and trusted that more efficiency would be extended to that valuable body. He trusted that fair, legitimate, and rational means would be taken to render that most valuable body more efficient and useful; and that their important calling would meet with every favourable consideration. He was sure that his hon. Friend was influenced by friendly feelings to the Church, and hoped he would meet with due encouragement.
as a Member of the Committee which had been appointed last Session, said that he had heard the speech of his right hon. Friend below him with 1274 feelings of disappointment; for he had expected that he would have made a statement that he wished to see these two funds fused. Last year, when discussing the question of the bishopric of Manchester, he understood the noble Lord at the head of the Government to say that he had no objection to the funds being fused together. The question was one which must be brought forward by the Government. This was not an abstract resolution. It was an exact question, in specific terms, which required a direct answer; and it appeared to him that it was necessary for the Government to take it into consideration. As to the incomes of the bishops themselves, he believed that the House was perfectly ready and willing to maintain the incomes of the bishops as settled by the Act of 1836; but that Act had entirely failed. The Bishop of St. Asaph, in his evidence before the Committee, stated that the Act had been a failure; that it had pressed upon some bishops rather hardly; and in many cases did not meet the wishes and intentions of the Legislature. He therefore hoped that before long Government would ring in some measure to effect the object in view. That object was to give the bishops 8,000l. or 5,000l., or any other sum that was fixed, and that they should pay over the residue to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The effect of the Act had been this, that a certain sum had been paid over to the Ecclesiastical Commission, and that the bishops had been left an uncertain sum—sometimes too small, sometimes larger than was expedient. He said this with the more confidence because the Bishop of London, in his evidence, said that although the Commission had been ten years in existence, yet he was obliged to say that there was a greater amount of spiritual destitution in this country than there had been ten years ago. If such were the actual result of circumstances at present, he thought it was time that some further steps should be taken to secure that the surplus income which could be derived from the Episcopal Fund should be applied to those parishes and parts of the country whose spiritual destitution most required it.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
approved of the spirit in which this matter had been discussed; but, at the same time, could not admit one of the principles—indeed, the fundamental principle—on which the proposition had been raised; he meant the right of considering the property of the 1275 Church as property with which the House might deal at its own good pleasure. He had never omitted to consider that there was a distinction between personal and individual property and the property of corporations; but he had uniformly contended that the right of an ecclesiastical corporation was exactly the same as to its property as the right of a civil and municipal corporation; and, therefore, when the hon. Member who moved this proposition talked of allowing a certain sum to certain bishops, and said that a certain sum was allotted to them by an Act of Parliament passed in 1835, he could not admit the justice of the principle. But in the present instance it was not that a given sum was fixed for the income of particular bishops, but that a particular amount was by law payable, and no one had contended that that payment had not been made. The hon. Member for Cockermouth, in the commencement of his statement, had brought forward a number of cases in which the tithes of particular parishes were contrasted most disadvantageously with the incomes of actual incumbents. It must be in the knowledge of all who were entitled to speak of these subjects, that the bishops were not responsible for having a large part of their incomes derived from the tithes of particular parishes. The founders of these bishoprics bequeathed or gave large manors—broad lands, as they were called—to the sees; and it was not until after the Reformation—it was not until the time of Queen Elizabeth—that the bishops in succession were compelled to resign their broad lands, and they accepted in exchange from her the tithes of the parishes which they now held. They were themselves the first victims of that act of civil tyranny which the Queen in those days was able to exercise over all her subjects. He regretted, as much as any one who had taken part in this discussion, the depressed state of the pecuniary affairs of the larger portion of incumbents. He most earnestly desired that any amelioration which could be made consistently with the rights of others should be made in respect to such persons; but this difficulty and doubt was, whether you ought not to have done this by other means than the appropriation of the property of other persons. He had heard with great satisfaction last year the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury urging on the House the expediency of creating more bishops. He trusted that he had not abandoned the 1276 execution of that design; but he told him that, consistently with the execution of that act, he ought not readily to mix together the fund from which, by the existing law of Parliament, the creation of new bishops could be made without throwing a burden on any other portion of the community. Not denying the right of providing for the spiritual sustenance of the great body of the people, but repeating his full sense of the importance of that object, he said that, however important it might be, it ought not to be accomplished at the expense of any existing rights. He maintained that the distinction between the Episcopal and the Common Fund, although not such an appropriation as he should desire, did give the means of creating such new bishoprics as might be wanted, and at the same time, although not in a degree he thought desirable, provided out of the Common Fund for the gradual increase of parochial ministration. When he found such men united as he found united on the present occasion, he might almost distrust his own judgment; but, retaining his own opinion, he believed it to be his duty to support the proposition of the Secretary of State rather than the original Motion.
§ SIR R. PEEL
said: I have great difficulty in voting for a proposition through the affirmation of which in this House it is sought to do that by resolution which can only be effectually done by a legislative measure. If the subject respecting which we are thus called upon to pronounce an abstract opinion be in itself perfectly simple, and admitting of no doubt, then I desire to know why the object in view cannot be accomplished by the enactments of one short Bill. Even if it be nothing more than the assertion of a principle—even in such a case the introduction of a short Bill would be the obvious and convenient mode of accomplishing the proposed end. It is perfectly true that no legislative measure can become law without the consent of the other House of Parliament; but I still repeat, that whatever is to be done in this matter had much better be effected by means of a Bill, than by thus agreeing to any abstract proposition such as that which is involved in the resolution now before the House; and, for my own part, I am most reluctant to pronounce a direct opinion by means of an abstract resolution, when I do not know how the principle of that resolution is to be carried into effect. Either the principle involved in this resolution is perfectly simple, or else it is not simple, but 1277 complex. If it be simple, then I say at once, bring in a Bill by means of which it shall be carried into practical operation. If it be complex, do not ask me to commit myself to something respecting the details of which I have not been informed; and I hope the House will not on this occasion involve themselves in any inconsistency by voting for an opinion that is unfavourable to the principles of our past legislation upon this subject. Of course, no one attempts to underrate the importance of the functions discharged by the bishops of the Church of England. With me, I believe it will generally be acknowledged that the continued and efficient exercise of those functions is essential to the welfare of the Church; and I believe that most people will be disposed to admit that not any of Her Majesty's subjects are more conscientious in the discharge of the functions appertaining to their high office than are the prelates of our National Church. I can easily believe that there are cases in which it might be very important to add to the number of bishops in the Church of England. If there were ample means available for that purpose, I should think it highly desirable that their labours should be alleviated by making additions to their numbers; but we cannot look at the bishops alone; we cannot overlook the condition of the whole population; nor can we remain insensible to the imperfect provision that at present exists for their spiritual instruction. The facts which suggest these observations to me are drawn from the second report of the Ecclesiastical Revenues Commissioners. It is stated by the Commissioners that in the diocese of Chester there are thirty-eight parishes the population of which exceeds 10,000 each; that in that diocese there are 816,000 persons in a district where there is church accommodation for only 97,700, being as nearly as possible one-eighth of the whole number. Then let us look at the large parishes of the manufacturing districts: there is not church accommodation there for one twenty-third of the population. In the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry there are sixteen parishes with a population each exceeding 10,000; and if we included other parts of those dioceses it would be found that there existed a population of 235,000, with church accommodation for only 29,000. In London and its suburbs, including the parishes on either bank of the Thames, there are four parishes or districts, each having a population exceeding 20,000, and 1278 containing an aggregate of 166,000 persons, without church accommodation for 8,200, not quite one-twentieth of the whole number, and only eleven clergymen. There are twenty-one other parishes, the aggregate population of which is 739,000, while the church room is for 66,155—not one-tenth of the whole—and only forty-five clergymen. There are nine others, with an aggregate population of 232,000, and church room for 27,327—not one-eighth of the whole—and only nineteen clergymen. The entire population of these 34 parishes amounts to 1,137,000, while there is church room only for 101,682. Supposing that church room is required for one-third, there ought to be sittings for 379,000 persons. There is, therefore, a deficiency of 277,318 sittings; or, if we allow 25,000 for the number of sittings in proprietary chapels, the deficiency will be 252,318. So much for the provision made as regards church room; so much, also, I should say, for the number of working clergy—11 clergymen to 166,000 souls. From this report it also appears that there are no less than 3,528 benefices under 150l. per annum. Of this number 13 contain each a population of more than 10,000; 51 a population of from 5,000 to 10,000; 251 a population of between 2,000 and 5,000; and 1,125 have each a population of between 500 and 2,000. On every one of these benefices it is desirable that there should be a resident clergyman; but unless their value be augmented, it will in many cases be impossible to secure this advantage. I would therefore call upon the House to look at the hardship of the case of the working clergy, upon whose benevolent feelings most numerous claims are at all times made. How painful must be the situation of a clergyman with only 150l. a year, having the care of a parish where the population exceeds 10,000! We will suppose him qualified by education for the ministry, a man of improved faculties; and can we imagine a harder case? I trust that I need scarcely say, I entertain the utmost respect for the episcopal office and duties; but, however onerous those duties may be, I do not think we ought to confine our views to them alone, and never for a moment turn our attention to the overburdened working clergy, or to the insufficiency of the church room, or the general insufficiency of spiritual provision. Upon these grounds, then, I do differ from the hon. Member for Cockermouth. If the principle of the Motion 1279 be correct, I cannot understand why the evil is not to be met by legislation, instead of an abstract proposition. As regards the great tithes enjoyed by the bishops, I have merely to observe, that I quite agree with those who hold that the property of ecclesiastical corporations is sacred—as sacred as any other species of property; and I should as strenuously oppose the appropriation of Church property as I should resist interference with any other vested right. I say, that I am now opposed to any such appropriation, and, as far as I can foresee any opinions of mine, I should say that, at all times, I shall be ready to oppose them; but the application of a portion of them to promote the interests of religion is a very different question. If hon. Members hold that the income of the Archbishop of Canterbury may be allowed to go on increasing till it reached a very great amount, say 200,000l., much as I respect the office and duties of that most rev. Prelate, I should not be inclined to manifest that respect by insisting that no part of such a revenue was to be applied to the general advancement of religious interests; and by the interests of religion—I mean religion as taught by the Established Church. In this matter we have no discretion to exercise, though I agree with the noble Lord opposite that we might advantageously make some arrangement with regard to the bishops' property different from that which now exists, provided such change be made consistently with the principles to which I have already adverted. I may here observe, that I cannot but think it unfortunate for the Church that the maximum of 8,000l. should have been fixed, because, suppose the income of a bishop should be 26,000l. in one year, and nothing in the next, the existing state of the law would not redress that, especially if a bishop should die at the end of the year when he had received 26,000l. For these reasons I am opposed to an abstract resolution expressive of opinion, but on the contrary, I should much rather see a Bill embodying this principle, and calculated to carry it into practical operation; and I think, if we are to have such a Bill, it would be much better to have it introduced by the Government than by any private Member. The Crown is represented by the Executive Government, and it would be evidently much more convenient that the responsible advisers of the Sovereign should take this matter into their hands, and redress the inequalities of the system, than 1280 that we should now vote for any abstract resolution, which, after all, is not so easy in its application as at first sight might appear. The maximum in one case might be fixed at 8,000l., and in another at 15,000l.; but still means must be taken to give some one an interest in preserving, improving, and upholding the estates of the Church. That is not so easily done, and I apprehend that we shall make a nearer approach to it by passing a Bill than by adopting a simple resolution. I, therefore, do think it desirable by means of a Bill to make some attempt to get over the difficulty. I do not mean to imply an opinion that the whole of this fund should be applied to the increase of small livings, or an opinion necessarily adverse to an increase of bishops; but I wish to see the removal of that barrier which prevents its application to the increase of parochial superintendence. However, placing confidence in the intentions of Government for the true interests of the Church, it would be much more satisfactory to me to see these measures connected with the securing to the bishops an equal annual revenue, and connected with the fusion of the Episcopal and Common Fund, or at least with the removal of the barrier which now separates them, for the purpose of immediately effecting, if desirable, an increase of parochial superintendence in the manufacturing districts, receive the attention of the Government, than to vote for the abstract resolution of the hon. Gentleman. I trust that the House will not come to a division on the present occasion. As the House has been given to understand that the Government are ready to make this subject a matter of consideration, it will always be competent for any hon. Gentleman, should the views of the Government be found to fall short of his desires, to move an Amendment in reference to the question. But I hope, considering the spirit in which the present discussion has been carried on—considering that the general feeling which appears to animate the House, is a sincere desire to promote the true interests of the Established Church, that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) will not place the friends of the Church on opposite sides in a division by pushing his Motion to a division.
MR. V. SMITH
entirely agreed with the right hon. Baronet in preferring a Bill to an abstract resolution; but the present resolution, though it might be called an abstract resolution, was, nevertheless, one 1281 of very practical bearing. By the report of the Committee of last year, it would appear from the evidence of the Bishop of London and his secretary, that a clause was introduced in the Act of 1840 which fused these two funds together; but that, so great was the disinclination of those gentlemen to that fusion, that they struck out that clause in 1841; and all that the resolution required was, that the proposition of 1840 should be reverted to. There appeared to be a general opinion in favour of the fusion of these two funds. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Grey) had expressed an opinion not very adverse to that fusion, and in last Session the noble Lord at the head of the Government appeared to be favourable to it. To-night an opinion to the same effect seemed, with the exception of the hon. Baronet (Sir R. Inglis), to be entertained by all sides of the House. Still the Government had held out no distinct hope that they would introduce a measure on the subject. The Bishop of London stated, that since 1836 the spiritual destitution had increased in spite of all that had been done, and therefore it was incumbent on the House to take care that proper provision should be made, before any other appropriation of the funds, for supplying that deficiency. Great as the differences of fortune were in this civilised country, there was hardly to be found anything so unequal as the discrepancy between the condition of the bishops and the curates. This was a fact which demanded the attention of Parliament. The Ecclesiastical Commission was a tribunal from which much could not be expected. It should be constituted in a manner more fitted for the transaction of business than it was at present. In that Commission were almost all the bishops, the Judges of the land, and persons who were put in for the purpose of honour, but hardly for the transaction of business. The Commission certainly required some great alteration and reform, for the purpose of the transaction of business. As the tone of the debate had been so satisfactory, he would not trespass further on the time of the House. He concurred in thinking that it would be much better to have no division on this subject, if possible; but unless he heard from the Government that they were prepared to take the question up, he should desire to see the resolution put to a vote. It would require no very long Bill to settle the question, for the resolutions of his hon. Friend might be carried 1282 out by one short clause in an Act of Parliament.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that if he were a member of the Church of England he should be puzzled to know how to vote, because the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kent had expressed an opinion which was the opposite to that declared by the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University. But he rose in the character of a Dissenter to offer a few observations on this very important subject. The House would recollect that much had been said by the noble Lord the Member for Bath in reference to the increase of our population. Amongst those who formed that increase there was not only no sympathy with the Church of England, but any measures which were taken for the instruction of those persons in the tenets of the Church of England were those of which they would not avail themselves. In reference to some observations of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, it would appear that there was always an extreme sympathy evinced in the manufacturing districts when the question of increasing the Church Establishment was mooted. Now, he came from a manufacturing district, and he was able, he thought, to give an opinion on the matter. In his parish, which was that of Rochdale, the population amounted to from 70,000 to 80,000 persons. About seven years ago, he had taken pains to ascertain the state of the parish in respect to the number of places for public worship; and he found that out of fifty-four places of worship, forty-four were built by the voluntary contributions of those who were Dissenters from the Church of England, and all that was totally ignored in the reports which had been presented to that House. He believed from the statement of the right hon. Member for Tamworth, it would seem that no such thing as a Dissenter existed in these localities. Then with respect to Wales, within the last twelve or eighteen months he (Mr. Bright) had visited different parts of the Principality, and amongst others he had visited Merthyr Tydvil. He could not say exactly what the population was there, but he believed it was between 25,000 and 30,000. He went into the shop of an intelligent bookseller there, from whom he learned that there was one church belonging to the Establishment, which had been opened as long as the town had existed; there was another church in process of completion, which was not then open; and that there were twenty places 1283 of worship which were built by the voluntary contributions of Dissenters from the Church of England in Merthyr and the neighbourhood. The dean and chapter of Westminster would not admit places of worship of Dissenters to be built on the land in this parish; if that were the fact, it proved they were actuated by the feeling of the dog in the manger. With regard to the question of dissent in Wales, it was admitted that of that population, seven out of eight were Dissenters, and they had, nevertheless, a staff of bishops and clergy of the Established Church, and the Government had been prevented from reducing the number of bishops. Nearly the whole of the population were absent from the services of the Established Church, who had indeed not only to pay rates, but who built out of the funds of a poor people those numerous churches and chapels for themselves throughout the Principality, to an extent which did them infinite credit. If he went to Scotland, there he found the same system prevailing; and that there the population did not remain with the Established Church, but were attached to the United Presbyterian and Free Church of Scotland. Then as to the bishopric of Manchester. He had had sufficient proof that in Manchester they did not want a bishop. They had already an income of 5,000l. a year vested in the dean and chapter, who had denied that they had any cure for souls, and who did nothing beyond occasionally preaching; and these facts tended to engender unhappy schisms in the city of Manchester. This desire for creating new bishoprics had extended itself to the appointment of a Bishop of Jerusalem. He (Mr. Bright) was in Jerusalem shortly before that bishop was appointed, and he believed there were not half-a-dozen people there, and they were Americans, who were members of the Church of England; and, indeed, it appeared to be a gross imposture to ask people to subscribe their funds towards such an object as that of maintaining a bishopric. This bishop, when he left to assume his office, went out in the Devastation steamer, and was landed under a salute of guns. He would ask the House to look back at the two last Archbishops of York, who had lived each a long life; but it might be demonstrated that, during their lifetime, they had received more than a million and a half of money: he believed he might say 2,000,000l of money. Now, whether that were State money or Church money, he said it was a 1284 scandal to any establishment that there should be such a gross misappropriation of funds, whilst, as was admitted on all sides, there was such a vast mass of spiritual destitution in the country. But the noble Lord said one night, and he (Mr. Bright) was amused at the coolness with which the noble Lord said it, that the Archbishop's income was to be limited to 15,000l. a year, and he hoped that would be satisfactory. [Lord J. RUSSELL: No, no.] He did not know whether the noble Lord meant that that would be satisfactory to the Archbishop of Canterbury, or to the House, or to the country. But it was clear that the Archbishop was to have three times as much as a Prime Minister of this country; and what a Prime Minister had to do involved with the performance of his duties much wear and tear; and he would guarantee that the noble Lord would not live as long as an Archbishop if he were to remain Prime Minister. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon had appeared, on a former occasion, to insinuate that the bishops were not so hard-worked as the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth seemed to think they were. He believed that if there were a class of persons who were comfortably off as to temporals, it was those comfortable gentlemen who sat on the bench of bishops. He believed they always had a strong disposition to go with the Government be they whom they might; he believed they never changed sides with the Executive Government. He thought the continuance of the bench of bishops, and the state of the clergy in respect to their connexion with the State, had been hostile to public liberty—opposed to the progress of those opinions and those changes which most men believed to be necessary—and that the present state of things had an unfavourable effect, not only upon public liberty, but upon the Christian religion itself.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
When the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down stated that he was about to address the House on this important question, not in the character of a member of the Church of England, but as a Dissenter, he certainly did not anticipate such a speech as they had heard The hon. Gentleman had remarked that no account was taken of the large number of persons in different parts of this country who were connected with dissenting communities; but, although that was a point which might very properly be brought under the notice of the House, he thought it 1285 was very easily disposed of; for he found from the reports of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, that, after making all the deductions that could be rationally required, on account of persons attached to dissenting communions, there still remained a very large portion of the manufacturing and mining population for whose spiritual instruction no provision was made—that they had a National Church which was pledged to use all its resources to make provision for that population—and that Parliament was also pledged, under the existing laws, to assist in such an application of the resources of the Church. He considered, then, that though the observations of the hon. Member for Manchester were perfectly relevant and just, they did not at all set aside any thing that had been said upon the subject of spiritual destitution. He must say that he thought the references which had been made by that hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bright) to the right rev. prelates of this country were not creditable either to the feelings, to the good taste, or to the understanding of the hon. Member. It might be true, and he believed it was true, that there were many of the bishops who were not overworked; but, on the other hand, it was notorious to all those who heard him, that there were among them men of remarkable energies—men whose energies were not surpassed in that or in the other House of Parliament, or in any profession, or among any class of persons in the country—men who had been overworked, and one of whom he feared was at present sinking under the discharge of his laborious duties. The name of the Bishop of London alone, and the present condition of that right rev. Prelate, ought, he conceived, to have been sufficient to have stopped the mouth of the hon. Member for Manchester. He had also heard with deep regret the reference which had been made by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bright) to the late Archbishop of York. So many of those whom he was now addressing were acquainted with the estimable qualities of that most rev. and lamented Prelate, that he felt assured there would be a strong sympathy with him when he said that that reference would have been better spared. It was not necessary for the hon. Gentleman to barb his arrow in a manner so painful to the family and connexions of that most rev. Prelate, whose hearts were now bleeding under the loss they had suffered in his removal from the world. He considered that 1286 even if the hon. Gentleman had thought it necessary to refer to a prelate over whose ashes the earth had only just closed, he ought not to have indulged in the exaggerated statements which, in his opinion, the hon. Gentleman had made to the House. He had not the means, nor did he think the hon. Gentleman had the moans, of showing exactly what had been the receipts of the last two Archbishops of York during their very long tenure of the archiepiscopal see; but he certainly thought that when the hon. Member spoke of their having received a million and a half or two millions of money, be had very greatly exaggerated the fact. With regard to the subject now under discussion, it appeared to him to be partly a question of words and partly a question of substance. His hon. Colleague in the representation of the University of Oxford (Sir R. Inglis) objected to Parliament dealing in any way with the property of the Established Church; but that protestation remained in the nature of an abstract protestation. Parliament had already dealt with the property of the Church, and they were now discussing the question how they were to deal with it again. He (Mr. Gladstone) would also set aside the objection taken to the present constitution of the Episcopal Fund, with regard to the very unequal receipts of the different bishops in different years. He had certainly never thought that there was sufficient force in the reasons which led to the existing arrangement; and he would be very glad if any plan, not open to greater objection, could be devised to remove the very palpable objections which were urged against the present scheme. But then came the question—supposing they were" agreed that they might distribute and redistribute this property for the purposes of the Church, and supposing that they had brought the incomes of the bishops to something like an exact correspondence with the standard contemplated in the Act of 1836, what was to be done with the surplus income that would gradually accrue to the Episcopal Fund? It had been said that the funds were to be fused; but when they were fused what was the principle upon which they were to be administered? Was it meant that, in fusing the funds, they should have an exclusive application of the entire fund to parochial purposes, or that they should lay down general rules by which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should determine when they should apply the fund to parochial 1287 and when to episcopal purposes; or was it intended that the question should be left to be dealt with hap-hazard, according to the circumstances and inclination of the moment? He concurred in a great measure in the observations which had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who proposed the Motion; although he certainly entertained some difficulty as to the terms of the Motion, for he thought it did not clearly convey the principles the hon. Gentleman wished to lay down. He considered that the hon. Member for Cockermouth had entirely established his position, that there ought not to be an insuperable barrier which would prevent the overflow of episcopal incomes from being applied to the relief of parochial destitution; and he had heard with great satisfaction the reference of the hon. Gentleman to local ties and to local obligations, because he held that there were local obligations with regard to the application of episcopal incomes to particular parishes, in which the property of the bishop might be situated, where the bishop might have the appointment of the clergyman, and, above all, where he was the impropriator of tithes. He was far from saying that if 1,000l. was received from a rural parish by the bishop by way of impropriation, that 1,000l. should be given back to that parish irrespective of its actual wants and condition; but it was an old principle of ecclesiastical law—and, as he considered, a principle founded on wisdom, justice, and policy—that wherever impropriation existed, a competent provision should be made for the discharge of spiritual duties within the benefice impropriated, and that this claim of the people inhabiting the parish from whose labour the constantly accruing tithes were derived, should be the first claim upon the produce of the impropriation. The hon. Member for Manchester had referred to the state of North Wales, and to the great number of dissenting places of worship which had been erected by the poor population of that district. He (Mr. Gladstone) believed that the statement of the hon. Gentleman was perfectly true; but this this state of things might probably be traced to the extreme poverty of many of the clergy of North Wales; and the poverty of the clergy was connected with the fact that very nearly the whole of the income of the Welsh bishops was derived from impropriated tithes. The first report of the Commissioners recommended that a portion of the Episcopal Fund should 1288 be applied to meet the wants of those parishes in Wales with which the bishops had any particular and close connexion; but he regretted that that recommendation was not pressed in the second report. It must be remembered, however, that, after they had done what was necessary in particular localities, there would still he an amount of episcopal income—if not at this moment, yet in the course of years—which would be available either for parochial purposes, for the foundation of new bishoprics, or for both these objects. Now was it meant, by the fusion of the funds, that this ulterior surplus, if he might so call it, was to be cut off for ever from the foundation of new bishoprics? He did not claim that surplus exclusively for the foundation of new bishoprics, but he did strongly object to the establishment of the principle, either directly or by implication, that no part of this surplus should be appropriated to that object. He concurred in the opinion of the right hon. Home Secretary (Sir G. Grey), who had expressed his desire that there should be a regular and equitable expansion of the Church Establishment in all those orders and provisions necessary for its efficiency; but it was clear that there was, on the part of certain Gentlemen, an idea that the establishment of new bishoprics involved waste and extravagance. His opinion was that there was good economy in the foundation, from time to time, of new bishoprics, if they were established not without consideration or without regard to circumstances, but when it was found that a want and an opening existed. He might remind the House, as a case in point, of the recent establishment of colonial bishoprics. Before the appointment of colonial bishops the Established Church in the colonies was almost universally in a state of extreme inefficiency, and in a condition that was alike discreditable to the Church itself, and to the Government at home. But at length, by the interference of the Executive Government, partly by the exertions of the right rev. Prelates at the head of the Church, and partly by the aid of benevolent individuals associated with them, bishoprics had been established in the colonies. Now, according to the extreme economical view, there could not be a more wasteful and extravagant proceeding, because 1,000l., or 1,200l., or 1,300l. a year had been applied to make provision for a bishop, while that sum would have sufficed to send out five or six priests or deacons. Here, then, was a primâ facie case of exrtravagance; 1289 but he (Mr. Gladstone) was satisfied that any man who was acquainted with the working of the scheme would say—irrespective of any discussion as to the position of bishops in the Church—that, in the merest utilitarian view, it had in every case tended to the advantage of the Church in the colonies. The sending out of bishops had given vigour and efficiency to the operations of the Church in our colonial possessions; and one remarkable fact he might mention—that while there was a difficulty in obtaining clergymen to servo the comparatively well-provided curacies at home, the bishops who had gone out to the colonies, and who had nothing to offer to the young men who accompanied them except the precarious provision of 100l. or 120l. a year for three or four years, had had no difficulty in obtaining eligible young men to go out with them as missionaries, in greater numbers than they required. He might be allowed to say that he thought it would be extremely impolitic and dangerous if they scattered over large surfaces the resources they possessed for improving the spiritual condition of the people, instead of concentrating them within a smaller compass. There was, perhaps, no person of the present generation who so entirely understood what he might call the whole machinery of Church extension as the late Dr. Chalmers; and at the time when the Bishop of London commenced, about twelve years ago, a scheme for building a large number of additional churches in this metropolis. Dr. Chalmers, in the most friendly manner, sent the right rev. Prelate an emphatic caution to this effect:—Beware, above all things, of scattering your resources over too large a surface; if you have 50,000 destitute people in a district, and you can send only two clergymen among them, beware of confiding this large number of people to those two clergymen. Take a small and manageable number of the people, and give each clergyman a small district in which he can operate; be content with doing a little work at a time, with doing it properly.He thought it most important that in any effort that was made to improve the spiritual condition of the people, they should adopt such a complete organisation as would ensure permanent advantages, instead of being content with merely temporary results. He would join the Government in giving his vote in favour of the previous question; but he acknowledged the justice of most of the argnments and observations of the hon. Member for Cockermouth, while at the same time he regretted 1290 that he had made some references to one particular bishop which might be regarded as offensive.
said, that there appeared to be only one point of difference among the hon. Gentlemen who had addressed the House on this question, namely, whether it was advisable to adopt the Motion of the hon. Member for Cockermouth at the present time, or to postpone the consideration of the question in order that a Bill might be brought in to effect the same object. If any hope were held out by the Government that they would bring forward such a Bill within any reasonable time, he should be disposed to regard the Motion of the hon. Member for Cockermouth as premature; but, if the Government did not hold out such a hope, he thought that the House ought to consider themselves indebted to that hon. Gentleman for bringing the subject under their notice. If any hon. Member doubted the urgent pressure of the subject, let him go through the streets in that immediate neighbourhood, and he would find a population in the most awful state of ignorance and vice. There were no less than 39,000 out of 60,000 there who attended no place of worship whatever. Church or Dissenting; and he added "dissenting," in consequence of the observations of the hon. Member for Manchester, whose remarks, however, did not seem characterised by the temperate tone to he desired in dealing with such a question, and to whom he must be permitted to say that nothing would induce him so to comment upon the private conduct, the character, or the fortune of any of the ministers of the hon. Member's communion. Let the House remember that there was no mode at present pointed out by the Legislature of dealing with the surplus of the Episcopal Fund, though there was an Act which directed how the surplus of the fund arising from the incomes of the Deans and Chapters should be applied. It might be desirable that this latter fund should not be exclusively applied, as now directed, to parochial purposes. To him it appeared the most proper course to throw the whole into one common fund, to be applied in meeting spiritual destitution in whatever shape it might exist. Exigencies might arise—he was not prepared to say they had not arisen—when the fund might well be applied to an increase of the episcopate; and that might lead, as in the case of the colonial bishops, to a great increase of zealous 1291 and active clergy. On the other hand, let the House remark the case of a portion of the Bishop of London's estate. A new-town had been erected upon it, and there would presently be a large surplus income arising from that town; it would be monstrous to say, that the large population congregated in those new houses should have no portion of the surplus, accruing to the Episcopal Fund from their being brought upon the estate, applied to remedy or prevent spiritual destitution among themselves, and to provide them with parochial superintendence and care.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
I certainly cannot maintain the proposition which the resolution now proposed to the House is intended to controvert. That proposition is, plainly, "that the surplus revenue of the archbishops and bishops should be applied to episcopal purposes, permitting no part of it under any circumstances to be applied to the relief of parochial destitution." It seems to me, that, generally speaking, and at the commencement of these inquiries, those funds which were applicable to episcopal purposes are to be considered in the same way as the funds which were applicable to the revenues of the deans and chapters; and that if it is right and expedient, when there is a surplus fund arising from the revenues of the cathedrals, to apply it to the spiritual destitution of parishes, so likewise there can be no objection to applying a surplus of the other fund to parochial purposes. So far, therefore, as the general abstract proposition is concerned, I certainly cannot maintain that which the hon. Member (Mr. Horsman) proposes to contradict in his resolution. But if this resolution is intended to affirm the contrary of that which the Bishop of London affirmed in his evidence, the hon. Gentleman cannot effect any practical purpose by the resolution of itself. I was very sorry that the hon. Member, who has no doubt a purpose in view useful to the Church and intended for the public benefit, should have mixed with his observations any reference to former matters, with respect to certain prelates, and especially the Bishop of Durham, as if they had intended in any way to evade the Act of Parliament passed upon this subject. I can assure the hon. Member, that so far as the Bishop of Durham is concerned, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners considered what ought so be paid by him, and that it was proposed in that Commission that an estate of 2,000l. a year should be separated from the see of 1292 Durham, and that 11,000l. a year should likewise be paid by him; they examined the agent of the late bishop, who was supposed to be acquainted with the revenues of the see, and he said that that would be an arrangement very hard upon the bishop, and that he doubted whether he would ever obtain the 8,000l. a year which the Commission intended him to retain. However, the Commission adopted that arrangement, leaving the bishop the chance of the receipt of any greater income; but he had no part either in proposing that arrangement or objecting to it, and therefore it is most unjust to insinuate that he departed in any way from the provisions of the Act of Parliament. But with regard to the arrangement itself, as I stated upon a former occasion, I do not think experience justifies the Commission in the arrangement they made. It was a choice of difficulties, avoiding on the one hand making bishops stipendiaries, and on the other obtaining an income which might be given to other purposes. When it is said, as one hon. Member has said in the course of this debate, that the whole purpose of the Commission was to increase the sum that was applicable to parochial spiritual destitution, I think that that is an incomplete description of the object of the Commission, because everybody will acknowledge that there were other circumstances in the state of the Church which, at the time that Commission was appointed, were looked upon as evils, and which the appointment of the Commission was intended to remedy. For instance, people used to say, "How unjust and unfair it is that one bishop should be receiving 22,000l. or 23,000l a year, while another has an episcopal income of only 500l. a year; and how very objectionable it is that in order to eke out that income of 500l. to a sum sufficient to sustain the station of a bishop, deaneries and canonries should be given to that bishop, and even benefices with the cure of souls should be held by him in commendam!"And it was considered that by a scheme of paying from the richer sees certain sums for the endowment of the poorer, that would be avoided. But these circumstances are forgotten, when some years afterwards hon. Gentlemen review the conduct of the Commission. With regard to the resolution now before us, I own I should be unwilling to agree to it, because I really do not know to what the House and the Government might be considered to be pledged if it were affirmed. I understood the right 1293 hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton to say that this resolution was to obtain the whole of these funds for the purposes of parochial destitution, and that no part of them should be hereafter applied to founding additional bishoprics. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last said, as I thought, with a far better scheme in his contemplation, that if it was desirable to unite the Episcopal Fund with the cathedral fund, the Episcopal Fund might be applicable at any time to the relief of the spiritual destitution of parishes; and, on the other hand, the cathedral fund might be applicable, if necessary, to the endowment of additional bishoprics wherever they were required. The hon. Gentleman himself (Mr. Wood), to whom I always listen with great pleasure upon these subjects, is of opinion that while it is of the utmost importance to relieve the spiritual destitution of parishes, there are cases in which the endowment of additional bishoprics might be likewise most useful to the Church. That is my own view, too, I confess. While I quite agree in the great want of additional funds for the benefit of large parishes, yet, considering the constitution of the Church of England—considering how much that constitution requires active episcopal superintendence, and how much a useful bishop can do, not only in the way of that which may properly be called episcopal superintendence, but in the way of increasing the parochial ministrations of the country—considering this, I should be most unwilling to agree to a resolution which a part of the House might declare afterwards had been one that was to put a decided veto against any increase of bishops hereafter. That is one of my reasons for not voting for this resolution as it stands. The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Wood) says that immediate advantage would accrue from the passing of this resolution; of course meaning the resolution as followed up by a Bill assented to by both Houses of Parliament. But even in that way the resolution could not be productive of the benefit that he expects, unless it were passed with the understanding that, as he says, the cathedral fund is applicable to the purpose of supplying the wants of bishoprics, and even of the existing bishoprics; because, according to the arrangement that is made, there are several bishoprics to receive additions upon the next avoidance, one of 2,000l., another of 1,450l, another of 3,450l.; and, of course, if you were to apply all this fund to parochial purposes, 1294 and these sees were to become vacant, and you would have no fund to apply for these purposes, the whole object of the present Act of Parliament would be defeated, and you would again have bishops with some 1,200l. or 1,500l. a year, and you would again be obliged to resort to some other source for supplying the deficiency of income. With regard to the proposal in general, I stated at the commencement of the observations I wished to address to the House, that I did not think there was, abstractedly, any reason why these funds, applied now to episcopal purposes, should not be applied to parochial purposes as well. It was a convenient arrangement that was made, supposed to be so at the time; but if there be a surplus of these funds, and it is convenient that they should be merged together, I confess—as I have said—that I think they should be so merged. But then I am asked if the Government are prepared immediately to introduce a Bill upon that subject. Now, I must state here—and I may correct a mistake of an hon. Member in doing so—what passed lately with respect to the Archbishop of Canterbury. I stated that he was willing to accept that see on the condition that he was to be bound by any Act of Parliament which should pass, by which his income should be restricted to the income that is now fixed by Act of Parliament, and that any surplus should be applied in the manner that Parliament should think proper for the other purposes of the Church. In making that statement to the House with respect to what had passed, I thought it necessary, in order to prevent misapprehension, to allude to the sum which by the Act the Archbishop of Canterbury was to have. I did not state, as if the proposal were my own, that the Archbishop was to have 15,000l. a-year; but I said that that was the sum already allotted to the see of Canterbury by Act of Parliament, and that I did not intend to submit any proposal for the alteration of the Act in that respect. The hon. Member for Cockermouth understood me properly at the time, and declared himself satisfied with my declaration. With respect to the alterations now suggested by the hon. Member for Cockermouth, I hope I may be permitted to state that many things have occurred to me with respect to these Acts for the amendment and reform of the Church, which require further consideration, and as to which I am anxious to obtain the sanction and guidance of the 1295 Primate, although, from the circumstance of his Grace having so recently taken possession of his see, I have been unable to consult him on the subject. I am unwilling to state my views to the House as definite opinions until I have had an opportunity of ascertaining the sentiments of a person of such high character and unsullied purity, and who, besides having acquired great experience in one of the most populous sees in the country, has distinguished himself by his zeal in diffusing the benefit of instruction in the principles of the Church of England. I therefore wish, before making up my mind on this subject, and introducing any measure to Parliament with reference to it, to have the benefit of a full conference with the Archbishop of Canterbury. I have no objection to the general proposition that the two funds should be united; but I am not sure that it may not be thought desirable to effect other reforms. If a Bill should be introduced for the purpose of uniting the two funds, I think it is very probable that other questions would be immediately raised, and we should be asked whether we had made up our minds respecting them. The hon. Member for Manchester said that one thing was usually overlooked in the consideration of such subjects as that to which the attention of the House had been called on the present occasion, and that is, the means of religious instruction provided by Dissenting bodies in the populous manufacturing districts. There is much truth in that observation. We have reason to be thankful that, in those districts where the means of the Church were limited, the voluntary and disinterested efforts of Dissenters have succeeded in reclaiming many sinners and bringing them within the fold of Christianity. Still, as the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford observed, there remains a wide field of ignorance and vice to which the attention of both Churchmen and Dissenters may be beneficially directed. There are, I fear, many thousands of persons who never attend either a church or a Dissenting chapel. In conclusion, allow me to express a hope that when the hon. Member for Manchester may next address the House on this or a similar topic, he will do so in a more kindly spirit than has characterised his observations to-night. We find no fault with those who, from conscientious motives, separate from the Church; but they should recollect that Churchmen are still their fellow-Christians, and entitled to 1296 at least the same toleration and consideration which Dissenters formerly claimed for themselves.
§ MR. HUME
said, that as the hon. Member for Manchester was not now in the House to speak for himself, he felt bound to state—having heard every word of his speech—that he did not think it displayed the spirit of hostility which the noble Lord seemed to suppose. With regard to the question before them, he was bound to admit that great improvements had taken place—not before they were wanted—but at the same time much yet remained to be done. It seemed to him that there was a general impression about the intention of the Government to create new bishop rics; but he warned the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown against bringing forward any proposition of such a nature, lest a question might then arise as to whether the present number was not sufficient, and the salaries derived by them more than enough for their duties. The introduction of that measure last year had damaged the Government more with the Dissenters in this country than any other proposition which he had ever brought forward. There was another point to which he would also refer, and that was the nomination of colonial bishops. That was a course which he asserted had produced more discontent, ill feeling, and dissension amongst all persuasions of Christians in the colonies, than any other question. With respect to the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth, he did not think the noble Lord who had just spoken had treated him fairly. The grounds upon which his hon. Friend had rested his Motion was the evidence given by the Bishop of London himself when examined on the subject in 1847—that it was expedient to continue the distinction between the two funds which were the subject of the present Motion. Legislation having taken place on the strength of that evidence, his hon. Friend's Motion went to affirm the inexpediency of not applying the surplus of bishops' revenues to the spiritual exigencies of parochial districts. With the justice of that proposition he entirely agreed. He regretted the House had not assented to the suggestion which he had made in 1836, to the effect that the entire revenues of the Church should be placed in the hands of lay trustees, out of the control of the bishops, and that they and the working clergy ought to be paid in proportion to their duties. If any change in the law 1297 were introduced, he hoped that proposition would be yet carried out. He concluded by expressing his determination of supporting the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth, who he trusted would persevere in pressing the same.
§ LORD H. VANE
supported the principle involved in the Motion before the House. It might be very desirable, for instance, to have the surplus revenues of the see of Durham applied for the spiritual wants of some of the poorer parishes. He agreed with the hon. Member for Cockermouth that it was expedient that these two funds, the General and Episcopal Funds, should not be separated; but from the statement which had been made by the noble Lord below (Lord J. Russell), by which it appeared that that proposition was not considered objectionable, and its arrangement was only a question of time until some understanding could be come to with the heads of the Church, he was inclined to recommend the hon. Member, to whom great credit was due for its introduction, not to press his Motion for the present.
§ SIR J. JOHNSTONE
hoped that, after what had fallen from the noble Lord at the head of the Government, the Motion would be withdrawn. The statements of the hon. Member for Manchester as to the enormous sums paid to the late Archbishop of York were very much exaggerated. The hon. Member ought to have taken the more recent returns, which showed that the revenues of the see for the last three years had not averaged more than 10,500l. per annum.
§ MR. HORSMAN,
in reply, said, there was one circumstance respecting the late Archbishop of York which had accidentally come to his knowledge in the course of his inquiries on this subject, and which he thought it right to mention to the House. It had been stated to him (Mr. Horsman) that some years ago that most rev. Prelate, feeling his infirmities increasing, expressed a wish to retire altogether from his office and to give up its emoluments; and was only prevented from doing so by the state of the law, which allowed him no option. He had before drawn the attention of the Government—and he felt it right to do so again—to the necessity of providing some means by which a venerable Prelate, who had attained great length of life, and who felt the efficient performance of his duties incompatible with his infirmities, might retire. He had been complained of for again alluding to the case of 1298 the Bishop of Durham; but he could only say that it was with no pleasure he made that allusion—these personal references were always the most painful part of a public duty; but it was only by personal examples that a general abuse could be fully proved. The Secretary for the Home Department expressed his surprise that he should adhere so pertinaciously to the opinion he had formerly expressed on this case, as he professed to have set him right upon it; but he was astonished at the right hon. Gentleman's attempt to mislead the House. How stood the fact? He held the Act of Parliament in his hand, and that Act recited the recommendations of the Commission, one of which was that the future income of the Bishop of Durham should be limited to 8,000l. a year; and it enacted that the said recommendation should become law. Another recommendation, which was also made law, adopted a scheme of payment by which the intention of Parliament of restricting the Bishop of Durham's income to that sum was to be carried out; whatever, therefore, might be the words of the Act, the intention of Parliament was clear, and the public believed that the Bishop of Durham would have only 8,000l. But the question was one of morality as well as law. Supposing any Member of this House, with a salary of 5,000l. a year allotted him for the discharge of certain duties, found that by the blundering of third parties he was, contrary to the engagement made with him, receiving three or four times that amount, would it not be a question in an honourable mind whether he should retain it all? But the case of the bishops is much stronger. Here the Act is clear, but the administration of it is entrusted to the bishop himself, as a member of the Ecclesiastical Commission; and the blunder which is made to his own advantage is made by himself, and, though made inadvertently no doubt, it is incumbent on the bishop not to benefit by his own act, and to clear himself of all suspicion by restoring the excess which his own maladministration of the Act had diverted from the Church into his own pocket. Now, as to the Motion before the House, his complaint was, that by the separation of the two funds the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had created two sympathies in the Church; and by so doing had lost the confidence of a great portion of the Church, and diminished their influence with the parochial clergy. The right hon. Member for Tamworth had objected to his abstract resolution; but, 1299 instead of an abstract resolution if he had brought in a Bill, would not the right hon. Baronet have said that such a measure ought to be in the hands of the Government, and not of an individual Member? He agreed with the right hon. Baronet that the subject should be in the hands of the Government. He had over and over again urged the Government to take it up—and having failed in that, he now moved a resolution in order to get an expression of the opinion of the House to bear upon the Government. That was the object of his resolution, and it had completely succeeded. He had elicted an opinion so strong—so unanimous—that it was impossible for the Government to withstand it. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) only asked for time to confer with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and with a view not only to introducing a measure on this subject, but on others to which he had referred. With that assurance he was quite satisfied. He warned the noble Lord that the other measures to be proposed must be full and comprehensive; and upon that understanding—it being distinctly stated by the noble Lord that he agreed in the object of this resolution that he was ready after conferring with the Archbishop of Canterbury, to introduce a Bill, not only embracing this but other measures of "till greater importance—understanding that clearly from the noble Lord—he should not press his Motion to a division, but leave the subject most cheerfully and gladly in the hands of the Government.
§ Motion and Amendment withdrawn.