HC Deb 20 July 1848 vol 100 cc610-3

MR. BOUVERIE moved that this Bill he read a Third Time.


thought this would be a good opportunity for showing to the country that, without needless prolongation of discussion, they could come to a decision upon an important subject; and, as the question had been several times debated, and he had so often stated his opinion on it, it would be inexcusable in him if he were to detain the House at any length upon this occasion. He was sorry the Home Secretary had left his place, because he fully relied on his support; but he saw the Lord Advocate, and was sure be would vote with him (Sir J. Graham) against the third reading of the Bill. A certain sect in Scotland, which had arisen only within the last five years, had built 750 churches, and desired to build about 30 more; and about 10 proprietors refused them the accommodation which they required for that purpose. To meet this case the proposition submitted to Parliament was, that any set of persons calling themselves a religious congregation might come upon the estate of any proprietor, and, subject to certain safeguards which he would not detain the House by enumerating, choose any site which they might think most convenient for their purpose. They were then to go to the Court of Session, which was to send the sheriff to inspect the locality; and, if that officer should be of opinion that the site selected was a convenient one, he had the power of setting it out, and the owner of the estate was compelled to take the price which might he agreed on for his own property, thus taken against his will; and, if the site selected should be close to his residence, he must nevertheless give it up. The other Dissenters in Scotland, except the sect in question, were opposed to the measure. What was the opinion of the Dissenters of England? The hon. Member for Stockport, speaking in their name on a former occasion, said that this measure was contrary to the voluntary principle, and that they were opposed to it. Now, with respect to the Church of England—that Church in the plenitude of its power, and not withstanding what was termed its Eras-tian connexion with the State, never arrogated to itself any authority similar to that which was claimed for the sect for whose benefit this Bill was introduced. What would be the use of the power which it was proposed to confer upon the Free Church sect in Scotland? A case came recently before the Court of Session arising out of these circumstances. A short time ago, the proprietor of Dunsinane gave to the Free Church sect a portion of the village green. The proprietor subsequently died, and the Free Church proceeded to enclose the whole of the green. The villagers, looking on this as an encroachment on their rights, pulled down the palings. The case was brought before the Court of Session, and judgment was given for the villagers, against the Free Church. It was unnecessary to detain the House longer. The Bill was objectionable in principle; it was altogether unnecessary, and he recommended the House to arrest its progress. With that view, he moved, as an Amendment, that the Bill should be read a third time that day six months.


said, that his right hon. Friend had not given a correct description of the provisions of the Bill. When the appeal was made to the Court of Session, that tribunal had authority to award costs against the parties making the application, in the event of its being refused. If the Court should determine on granting the application, it would then send the sheriff to look at the site selected, and, if he disapproved of it, he was authorised to fix upon another which he might think better. The main fact upon which Parliament was called upon to legislate was this—that a number of congregations were in the constant habit of meeting for religious worship in places and under circumstances injurious to the health of the people and their ministers, and in a manner which was not in accordance with religious liberty. A congregation in one of the Hebrides, an island larger than the Isle of Wight, was unable to obtain a square' inch of ground for the erection of a church. It appeared to him that his right hon. Friend had somewhat altered his tone on this subject, for on the 8th of June he said, that "though he would not go the length of saying that legislation might not be necessary in the last resort, he objected to the legislation proposed by the present Bill; he thought that the object ought to be effceted by private, not by public legislation, because then each case would stand on its own substantive grounds." The difficulties in the way of legislating by private Bills were invincible, and, after all, there was little technical difference between public and private Acts of Parliament. The investigation before the Court of Session would be more satisfactory than that which could take place before the tribunal to which private Bills were referred.


intended to vote against the third reading of this Bill, because it was a general and not an exceptional measure. To say that justice might be done by leaving the parties to prosecute their remedy by private Acts of Parliament was a mere mockery and a denial of justice; but when, instead of making it applicable to one denomination, the measure was extended to all, he must object to it. He was sorry the right hon. Gentleman, in speaking of the Free Church, which had unquestionably met with great grievances, and which he thought had been almost admitted by the right hon. Gentleman, had referred to any particular case; but it should never be forgotten, even by those who voted against the third reading of this Bill, that there was one parish in Scotland every inch of which belonged to a noble Lord, and not only had he refused a site, but had also refused to 500 parishioners, against whose character, good feeling, and propriety of conduct not one word could be said, liberty to worship God in the open air, even on a barren moor; and, if he were not mistaken in the fact, the noble Lord had taken out an injunction against their meeting there, and had obliged them to worship God during the whole inclement winter season on the high roads. That was a strong case, and he would mention this fact, that until such time as the noble Lord felt he was bringing too hard upon himself public observation, and they had proposed to receive the sacrament under the inclemency of those northern skies in the middle of winter, the noble Lord did not consent to give them a place for performing that solemn ordinance of their Church. They were advised not to accept that compliment, being told that the noble Lord would be obliged to give them a better place of worship; but that sect, so much abused for its violence (and he dared say there had been violence), did upon that particular occasion receive that accommodation in the hope that from the action of public opinion the noble Lord might be brought to regard the Free Church with more favourable feelings, and might be disposed to grant them sites.

The House divided on the question, that the word "now" stand part of the question:—Ayes 59; Noes 98: Majority 39.

List of the AYES.
Adair, R. A. S. Mangles, R. D.
Baines, M. T. Marshall, J. G.
Bowring, Dr. Matheson, Col.
Brotherton, J. Melgund, Visct.
Buller, C. Milner, W. M. E.
Bunbury, E. H. Morpeth, Visct.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Morris, D.
Childers, J. W. O'Connell, M. J.
Clay, J. Ogle, S. C. H.
Clifford, H. M. Paget, Lord A.
Cobden, R. Paget, Lord G.
Cowan, C. Pechell, Capt.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Perfect, R.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Pigott, F.
Duncan, G. Pinney, W.
Dundas, Adm. Raphael, A.
Ewart, W. Reynolds, J.
Ferguson, Col. Rich, H.
Fox, R. M. Scholefield, W.
Greene, J. Smith, J. B.
Hastie, A. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.
Hastie, A. Stuart, Lord D.
Henry, A. Talbot, C. R. M.
Heywood, J. Thicknesse, R. A.
Hindley, C. Thornely, T.
Hodges, T. L. Ward, H. G.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Watkins, Col.
King, hon. P. J. L. Wawn, J. T.
Locke, J. TELLERS.
M' Gregor, J. Beuverie, hon. E. P.
McTaggart, Sir J. Maule, rt. hon. F.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Du Pre, C. G.
Anstey, T. C. Edwards, H.
Archdall, Capt. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Bagot, hon. W. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Bailey, H. J. Fitzgerald, W. R. S.
Bankes, G. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Barrington, Visct. Floyer, J.
Benbow, J. Fuller, A. E.
Bentinck, Lord G. Galway, Visct.
Beresford, W. Gordon, Adm.
Brackley, Visct. Goring, C.
Bremridge, R. Grogan, E.
Brisco, M. Gwyn, H.
Brooke, Lord Haggitt, F. R.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Halsey, T. P.
Carew, W. H. P. Hamilton, G. A.
Chartres, hon. F. Heald, J.
Christy, S. Heathcote, Sir W.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Henley, J. W.
Cocks, T. S. Hervey, Lord A.
Cole, hon. H. A. Hobhouse, T. B.
Courtenay, Lord Hodgson, W. N.
Deedes, W. Hood, Sir A.
Dodd, G. Hornby, J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Howard, P. H.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Hudson, G.
Duncuft, J. Legh, G. C.
Dunne, F. P. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Lincoln, Earl of Romilly, Sir J.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Rutherfurd, A.
Lockhart, A. E. Sandars, J.
Lockhart, W. Seymer, H. K.
Mandeville, Visct. Simeon, J.
Masterman, J. Smith, M. T.
Meux, Sir H. Somerset, Capt.
Miles, P. W. S. Spearman, H. J.
Miles, W. Spooner, R.
Monsell, W. Stafford, A.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Stuart, H.
Mullings, J. R. Sturt, H. G.
Newdegate, C. N. Thompson, Col.
Newport, Visct. Urquhart, D.
Noel, hon. G. J. Villiers, Visct.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Packe, C. W. Waddington, H. S.
Palmer, R. Willoughby, Sir H.
Pilkington, J. Young, Sir J.
Powlett, Lord W.
Ricardo, O. TELLERS.
Richards, R. Graham, Sir J.
Rolleston, Col. Inglis, Sir R. H.

Bill put off for six months.