HC Deb 29 April 1850 vol 110 cc938-75

Order for Second Reading read.


, in moving the Second Reading of the Ecclesiastical Commission Bill, said, that it would be necessary for him to make a short statement to the House of its objects, and the main provisions which it contained. In 1847 a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the composition and management of the Ecclesiastical Commission for England and Wales. That Committee, which was appointed at a late period of the Session, took some evidence, but did not report their opinion to the House. The Committee was reappointed in the Session of 1848—they took a great deal of additional evidence—and in August of that year they made their report. That report, after briefly adverting to the origin of the Ecclesiastical Commission, namely, in the appointment in 1835 of a commission to inquire into the ecclesiastical revenues in England and Wales, proceeded to state what was the original composition by Act of Parliament of the permanent Ecclesiastical Commission; and, after shortly adverting to the nature of the duties imposed upon it, proceeded to trace the alterations that had taken place in its composition. The report stated that— In 1840 a great change was made in the composition of the Commission; the numbers were increased from thirteen to forty-nine, and the Commission now includes, ex officio, the two archbishops, five Members of the Government, all the bishops of England and Wales, three deans, and six common law, equity, and ecclesiastical judges, together with eight permanent lay commissioners, six of whom are in the appointment of the Crown, and two in that of the Archbishop of Canterbury. After adverting to some other points connected with the composition of the Commission, the report proceeded to say— The Committee having considered the composition of the Commission, and having weighed the evidence as to its actual working, entertain an opinion that the present composition is liable to objection; that it is too large for the convenient transaction of much of the business in detail that is committed to it: that, though the breaking up of the general body into committees has been a great improvement on the early practice, still there is a want of that regular and systematic attention which more direct and undivided responsibility alone can insure. And, after alluding to the frequent change of the chairman in consequence of the provision in the Act requiring the person highest in rank to be in the chair, went on to say— The uncertainty of attendance among so largo a body, and the want of obligation on any one person to attend more than another, and the difficulty thus created of preserving the thread of business, throw a larger power into the hands of the officers of the Commission than is fitting should fall to their share. The uncertainty of attendance is an inconvenience; the constant attendance of the whole body, consisting of persons having all of them other important duties to perform, could not be secured without greater sacrifices. On the other hand, the occasional attendance of most of the members in the Commission conduces, in many cases, to the advantageous transaction of business. In consequence of these objections, the Committee recommended that the composition of the Commission should be changed, or rather that a division of duties should take place—namely, that the ecclesiastical department should be separated from the management of property. The Committee recommended that the general body should devote themselves to important questions affecting the interests of the Church; and that there should be a small Committee, to manage the property of the Commissioners. They recommended that there should be three paid Commissioners—two of them to be nominated by the Crown, and one by the Archbishop of Canterbury. They proposed that four Members should constitute a quorum for the management of the property, and that the presence of one of the paid Commissioners should be necessary for this purpose. These were the main recommendations of the Committee. Her Majesty's Government agreed with the report of the Committee that the present composition of the Commissioners was unfavourable to the due discharge of the important duties entrusted to them; but in saying this he did not mean to undervalue in the least the great and important benefits which, through the agency of the Commission, had been conferred on the country by the augmentations of small incomes, and making better provision for the cure of souls, and the spiritual destitution of the people. Her Majesty's Government agreed with the Committee that it was desirable there should be a more undivided and direct responsibility in the management of a great portion of the business which now devolved on the Commissioners. The present Bill, therefore, was essentially founded on the recommendations of the Committee, though in minor details there might be some difference. The main recommendation of the Committee was that which related to the division of the present Commission, with a larger body for the consideration of grave interests affecting the Church, and a smaller committee appointed for the management of the property. Some doubt had arisen as to the meaning of the word "committee;" but till he had heard the doubt suggested some time ago, it would never have struck him that this committee was intended to be anything else than a committee of the general body. It was not to have a separate existence from the general body, consisting only of the paid members, but was to be a committee of that body. That view of the question was confirmed by the paragraph of the report which proposed that four Members should form a quorum; but that for this purpose the presence of one paid Commissioner should be necessary. The Bill proposed to create a small committee to be called the Estates Committee, whose duties were defined in the 7th clause. They would have— To consider all matters in any way relating or incident to the sale, purchase, exchange, letting, or management, by or on behalf of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England, of any lands, tithes, or hereditaments, and to devise such measures touching the same as shall appear to such Committee to be most expedient, and to report fully thereupon to the said Ecclesiastical Commissioners in writing under the hands of three Members of such Committee, of whom two or more shall be Church Estate Commissioners. By the 10th Clause it was provided— That the said Ecclesiastical Commissioners at any time and from time to time may refer any other matters to the consideration of the said Estates Committee, or by an instrument under the common seal may authorise the said Committee, or the said Church Estates Commissioners, or any two of such Commissioners, to do and complete any act within the power of the said Ecclesiastical Commissioners, except affixing the said common seal to any instrument, without reporting or receiving further instructions from the said Ecclesiastical Commissioners. It was also proposed in the Bill, in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee, to appoint three commissioners, who should be called Church Estates Commissioners; two of them to be appointed by the Crown) and the third by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Of these three it was proposed that the First Commissioner, to be appointed by the Crown, should receive a salary not exceeding 1,200l. a year, and that the Commissioner appointed by the Archbishop should receive a salary of 1,000l. a year. Both were to be paid out of the funds of the commissioners. These Church Estates Commissioners were to form all essential part of the Estates Committee, of which they were to be permanent members. But it was proposed to give power to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners at the commencement of every year to add two of their own number to these three, one of Whom at least should be a layman. It was further proposed that the First Estates Commissioner should preside at all the meetings of the Estates Committee, or in his absence one of the other Church Estates Commissioners. It is proposed that three should form a quorum of the Estates Committee, of whom two at least must be Church Estates Commissioners, and these two must concur in and sign every report of the Estates Committee. It was provided that two of the Church Estates Commissioners must be present at every meeting of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. There Were two particulars in which the Bill differed form the recommendation of the Committee, The Committee recommended that the three commissioners should be paid. But in the present Bill it was proposed that only two of them should receive salaries, because it was thought desirable to encroach as little as possible on the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; and it was believed that, in the first instance, at least, a person might be found to discharge the duties of the Third Commissioner, who would not require any salary in respect of the duties he might render as one in the Church Estates Commissioners. But it there was any objection to this part of the Bill, it could be urged more properly in Committee than in the present stage. The Other point in which the Bill differed from the recommendations of the Committee was this—that the Bill required the presence of the two paid commissioners instead of one. In order to constitute a quorum. The object of this change was to insure a more direct responsibility in those who were entrusted With the management of the property of the commissioners. The decision of the Estates Committee is not to be final; they were not to decide any questions referred to them, but were to refer them to the full board, who, he had no doubt, would pay every attention to the recommendations and suggestions which they received from the committee. He anticipated that the recommendations of that committee, considering the manner in which it was to be composed, would be entitled to so much weight, that they would not be overruled by the general body. There was also a provision of minor importance relating to the mode of appointing a chairman. The Bill provided also for the separation of the office of treasurer and secretary; and experience confirmed the wisdom of that recommendation, for he thought that the defalcations of the late secretary could not have occurred—at least, could not have taken place with so much facility, and such little chance of detection—if he had not combined the office of treasurer and secretary in his own person. It was now proposed to impose the duty of treasurer on the two paid Church Estates Commissioners. These were the main provisions of the Bill with regard to the composition and management of the commission. There were other provisions in the Bill of some importance, which were not contained in the recommendations of the Committee. The first was that which enabled the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to fix the incomes of the archbishops and bishops appointed after the 1st of January, 1848. It was considered very desirable that they should have fixed instead of fluctuating annual incomes, so as to remove the uncertainty which existed under the present system. There was also a clause in the Bill, as originally introduced, the object of which was to consolidate the episcopal and common funds, so as to render the joint fund available for all purposes which might conduce to the efficiency of the Church. An important alteration was made in this clause in the House of Lords, to the particulars of which he would not then advert. But he might state that it was the intention of the Government to give notice of a clause in Committee as a substitute for the one introduced into the Bill by the House of Lords with regard to these two funds, and which would be in substance similar to the one which the Bill originally contained. Doubts had been entertained with respect to the powers of the Commissioners to endow certain deaneries out of the estates which had been by law transferred to them. The incomes of the late Dean of Salisbury and the present Dean of Wells had been fixed by the Commissioners at 1.500l., and they each accepted the deanery upon the understanding that that was to be the amount of income; but their power to augment these deaneries beyond 1,000l. was afterwards questioned. Under these circumstances, the Government consented to introduce a clause into the Bill presented to Parliament last year, authorising the augmentation of the two deaneries of Wells and Salisbury to the amount of 1,500l., with the express restriction that the augmentation should be to those deaneries only, and to their existing deans. This clause underwent a material alteration in the House of Lords; the augmentation of income from 1,000l. to 1,500. was made permanent, and it was extended to several other deaneries. Now, upon reconsidering the question, the Government did not think there was sufficient ground for this alteration; it was therefore his intention, before going into Committee, to give notice of a clause to restore the Bill, in this respect, to the shape in which it was originally presented to the House of Lords. Since the introduction of the Bill, the deanery of Salisbury had become vacant by death. The present dean would have an income of 1,000l. a year, and no claim would be made by him for any augmentation. It was the intention of the Government to propose another clause to carry out the object announced by his noble Friend at the head of the Government a few nights ago, namely, that as a dean was required to reside no less than eight months a year at his deanery, it should not be lawful for him to hold any benefice, together with his deanery, which was not within three miles of his legal residence. He had now stated the general purport and nature of the Bill; and he doubted not if the House assented to these proposed alterations they would be found to operate beneficially, and tend to a more efficient discharge of the increasing duties in the hands of the Commissioners, and would impose greater responsibility upon that body. He trusted that whatever points of difference might arise in Committee, if the House concurred in the principle of the Bill, they would have no difficulty in acceding to the Motion, that the Bill be then read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."


The proposed object of this Bill was to improve the composition of the Ecclesiastical Commission, and the Ecclesiastical Commission was undoubtedly a body that stood in much need of improvement. Considering how it was composed and how administered—how great its powers—how sacred its functions—and the inevitable effect of its good or bad administration in attaching or alienating many from the Church, he thought in the eyes of those who deemed the Church an institution worth preserving, and believed that its being preserved depended on its being efficient; few Bills had come before them this Session involving higher principles or more serious results. And he approached its discussion, bearing in mind the candid admission of the noble Lord made to them some time ago, that in the question of ecclesiastical reform he must propose not what he might wish, but what certain great Powers in another place would permit him to carry. No one could be blind to that truth who had watched the progress of this Bill in that other place. Great concessions were made by the Government in framing it, in hopes of conciliating the forbearance of the Prelates; but in vain. The worst parts of the Bill, as they now saw it, were inserted by the bishops; the best were a compromise on the part of the Government. It was not a Government Bill—the Government were no more responsible for its provisions than a godfather for the features of an ugly child—they charged themselves with its progress to maturity; but the parentage was episcopal, and as such they must regard it. The Ecclesiastical Commission being universally condemned by public opinion, this Bill was the sum of the concessions to that opinion which the bishops would condescend to make. Now what was the purport of this Bill—what defects did it point out? What remedy did it provide? He sought for an answer in the speech of its introducer. The first great and obvious defect, as he showed, of the present Commission, was its immense size. In 1840 the Commission, which had consisted originally of thirteen, was increased to forty-nine, and it then became a cumbersome and unwieldy body. So said the bishops, and nothing could be more true. This Bill was to remove the evils of the existing Commission. The first evil apparent was its oversize—how did the Bill remedy that? It did not touch it at all. The whole forty-nine were still members of the hoard, and three more were added. So the first universally acknowledged defect of the Commission was met by increasing the number from forty-nine to fifty-two. It must, therefore, be confessed, that this first effort at improvement was not a very happy one. The second objection to the present board was, that it consisted of high dignitaries in Church and State, who had other important duties to engage them. They could not, therefore, give attention to the affairs of the Commission, and thus it became a very inefficient, while it was also a very irresponsible, body. How was that inconvenience obviated by the Bill? Again, it was not touched at all: the control of the existing board over the business of the Commission remained absolute—it was still vested in a body inconveniently numerous, confessedly inefficient, and wholly irresponsible. But now he came to the real change in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman drew their attention to the second clause, and dwelt with satisfaction on the appointment of two paid Commissioners—they were to be added to the Commission; and now let him examine the value of that addition, and in doing so he must take the Bill in connexion with the report of the Committee to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred. That Committee was composed of Gentlemen, as he had before stated, of whose friendly feeling to the Commission there could be no doubt. Five of them were members of the Commission, and two of the five were Cabinet Ministers; and it was impossible to deny that any conclusion they adopted unfavourable to the Commission must have resulted from mature deliberation, and any change they recommended must have been preceded by the strongest conviction of its necessity. That Committee recommended the appointment of three paid Commissioners. Now what was the motive, or rather he might ask, what was the principle of that recommendation? for, in fact, it constituted the principle of the Bill. The principle of the innovation was payment—payment carrying with it responsibility. Payment and responsibility were the aim of that Committee—payment and responsibility were the principle of this measure, if it had any principle at all; and the carrying out that principle, so as to make it a reality, was the duty they were now called on to discharge! Three paid Commissioners always, in attendance at the office, and transacting its business from day to day, would practically become the board. The ex officio members of the Commission would in effect be superseded by paid and responsible administrators; and that was a desirable result, and that it was the one contemplated by the Committee was proved by their providing that one of the paid Commissioners should be named by the Archbishop—a very unnecessary provision if he were himself an acting member of the Commission. But what responsibility was secured by this measure? The paid Commissioners were to be two in number, of whom one, as he had said, was to be named by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and removable at his pleasure—the Archbishop himself and all his brethren continuing on the Commission. Now, if the whole Episcopal Bench were retiring from the board, they could understand their saying "Let us at least leave behind us one Commissioner." But they all continued at the board. They insisted on having their own Commissioner there also; and how was the public benefited by the change? What new responsibility was established on their behalf? The public was represented by one Commissioner, who was neutralised by the Episcopal Commissioner, who, in fact, was all powerful with the whole bench of bishops at his back. The public did not even acquire a nominal control. But if some advantage were gained from having two new Commissioners, one named by the Archbishop, even that was done away with by the fifth clause, which constituted what was styled an Estates Committee, and the paid Commissioners were to do nothing except as members of that Committee. How was that Committee composed? Of five members, three of whom were nominated by the bishops, and of the two nominated by the Crown, one was an unpaid layman, whose functions were merely nominal—so that, again, of the regular attendants on that Committee, one member represented the public, and three were the nominees of the existing board. But even this was not all. One would imagine that the ascendancy of the Episcopal branch of the Commission was pretty well secured by this arrangement—but not yet content, the tenth clause provided that nothing should be done even by the Estates Committee without being authorised, or revised and approved by the whole board. Then he begged to ask, if payment securing responsibility were the principle of the Bill, what real responsibility did it establish? The Grown Commissioner was in a minority of one to three on the Estates Committee—in a minority of one to fifty at the whole board—and if a nominal responsibility were cast on him, as it assuredly would be, the whole power remained unchanged in the hands of the ecclesiastical members—and by the intervention of the Estates Committee, was more ingeniously secured than it was before. In short, it was a bad Bill, and conceived entirely in a wrong spirit; and if they wished to convince themselves what that spirit was, they had but to turn to the fifteenth clause. That clause raised the income of the Dean of York to 2,000l. a year, and of six other deans to 1,500l. a year. Now, in the first place, he asked what had this Bill to do with the incomes of Deans? The object of the Bill was short and simple—to improve the composition of the Commission—and how was that accomplished by doubling the Dean of York's income? And only conceive what this provision was. Parliament in 1840 fixed the Deans' incomes at 1,000l. a year, and pretty well that for sinecures; but a discovery was supposed to have been made recently, that a Deanery with only 1,000l. a year would go a begging among the clergy, and so this clause was inserted to remedy that evil: seven of the Deaneries were to be raised—seven only as a beginning—but, of course, all the rest would soon follow. If the Deans of Salisbury and Exeter must have 1,500l., there could be no justice in compelling Rochester and Lincoln to starve on less. What was the result? But he would not discuss the clauses. He only referred to this one to show the false and retrogressive character of the whole measure. He repeated, then, that the measure was not only so imperfect in its details, but so mistaken and injurious in its spirit, that, if he were compelled to accept or reject it in its present shape, he should say at once. Reject it. But the principle of the Bill—that of administration by paid Commissioners—being admitted, it was with very obvious amendments capable of being made useful; and the first amendment on which they ought to insist was the carrying out of the recommendation of the Committee as to the number of paid Commissioners; and he knew nothing more shallow and untenable than the objection of the Commissioners to that recommendation. They were struck with a sudden fit of economy—plead the poverty of their poor Church—and protested they could not in conscience agree to an expense it could so ill afford. Now he might remark, in passing, that this sudden discovery of the low financial condition of the Church, and very tender regard for her limited resources, came rather strangely from those who, in the same breath, proposed to abstract some thousands a year to enrich the Deans—4,000l. a year additional was locked up for them in that clause—10,000l. a year more was soon to follow. Yet this same poverty-stricken Church, which could bleed at the rate of 14,000l. a year for sinecure Deans, would be ruined by the substitution of 1,000l. additional for an efficient Commission. But the inconsistency did not end here; and gladly as he would welcome any signs of penitence even at the eleventh hour, on the part of this extravagant Commission, his suspicions were more than excited as he proceeded, and found that the application of this frugal principle was so partial, that, in every other department of their administration, the same boundless waste and improvidence existed as heretofore; and the only one solitary exception to that prodigality on the part of the Commissioners was where a small salary to a new Commissioner might involve a large curtailment of their own power. For let him now show a little more of the system of these Commissioners as it reigned unchecked, not at the Board of the Ecclesiastical Commission—for that he had described already—but at other boards ruled over by the same Commissioners, for the Board of the Ecclesiastical Commission was but one of a family of Church boards, carried on by the same administration, and under a like system. The Bishops, besides the Ecclesiastical Commission, were also practically the managers of two other public boards—the Church Building Commission, and Queen Anne's Bounty—both established by Act of Parliament. The Church Building Commission was charged, like the Ecclesiastical Commission, with forming new districts, and contributing to the funds required. Its board consisted of forty-one members; but Mr. Jelf, the Secretary, told them that as they were mostly high functionaries engaged with other duties, the attendance was comparatively scanty, and the meetings rare. The business fell into the bands of the Bishops, and through them, as in the Ecclesiastical Commission, it fell of course entirely into the hands of the secretary, who, according to what seemed the standing rule of these ecclesiastical hoards, united in his own person the offices of secretary and treasurer. From July to October there were no meetings at all, and during that time the secretary was both nominally and really the whole Commission. Such being the system, he now came to the price they paid for it. There was an expensive establishment, consisting of a secretary with 700l a year. Surveyor, 700l., chief clerk, 300l., five other clerks with upwards of 1,000l. a year more, and the average law expenses were returned at 579l. a year, making a yearly expense in establishment and law expenses only of 3,239l.; and for what? for he now came to the strangest fact of all—what had this Commission to administer? In April, 1848, the secretary told the Ecclesiastical Commission Committee that the Parliamentary grants were exhausted all but 12,000l., that the whole funds now applicable to grants for new churches were that 12,000l., and a further sum of 19,600l. lent to parishes on the security of church rates; and yet to administer this small and all but exhausted fund, there was a board of forty-one dignitaries in Church and State—an establishment costing upwards of 3,000i. a year—the secretary's salary, and the surveyor's salary, and law expenses, each of them alone equalling the income of the Commission; and, strangest of all, the Commission instituted by Act of Parliament, expiring in 1848, it was renewed for five years more even in that same year in which all this evidence was adduced to show that its funds were exhausted, and it had nothing to do. He came next to the Board of Queen Anne's Bounty, which was more numerous still. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners were 49, the Church Building Commissioners 41; but the Governors of Queen Anne's were upwards of 400. But the Prelates again were practically the board, and the same system prevailed—only eight or nine meetings in the year, and always on Thursday, the same as the Ecclesiastical Commission. The same individual was of course secretary and treasurer, and he thus described the system:— I control every thing: when there is sufficient business to render a board necessary, I tell the Archbishop, and he summons a board; but 'summons' are only sent to the bishops and the town-clerk of London. The financial management was also of a piece with the other boards—every thing was at the mercy of the secretary; and if there were a system and an audit, he told them whom they have to thank for it. He said in his evidence— I receive all the mortgages, and all the first-fruits and tenths; but as regards every farthing collected in my office, I send one of the clerks in a cab to pay it into Coutts'; so that I never have a shilling in my hands—it was a rule I made when I came in never to have any money in my hands. Now, what a cutting rebuke was this to the carelessness of the bishops They made no rule, but the secretary did; they took no care of church funds, but he had a conscience, though his employers, in this respect, had not; and he, for the sake of his character, made a rule which they did not think it worth while to establish. And he must here say, that in speaking of the power left to the secretaries of these two boards, he was far from reflecting on the manner in which they had used it; on the contrary, he thought it a matter of congratulation that the subordinates at those boards appeared to have a clearer perception of their duty than their superiors. The expenses of this office were also great: the secretary and treasurer was also receiver of first fruits, and was paid 1,350l. a year, the clerks had 2,270l., law charges 700l., and total annual expenses for salaries and law charges only 4,755l.; and the secretary says, speaking of one portion of the funds, "The fund for augmention of small livings is 14,000l. a year, but the expenses of management, with the expenses of accumulating capital, take nearly half away." Here, then, they might test the plea of economy which was brought in to defeat the recommendation of the Committee. Here were two other boards administering the same business as the Ecclesiastical Commission, and managed by the same Commissioners—two of them always, and all three sometimes, meeting on the same day—two out of the three had very little to do—they met eight or nine times in the year—never in the recess—with very expensive establishments, one swallowing up half the fund for augmenting small livings, and the cost of the other establishment very far exceeding its income. Might not these three boards be consolidated with a great increase of efficiency—a diminution of labour and a saving of expense? Would not one establishment instead of three, one set of law expenses, and all the business conducted under one roof, be a relief both to bishops and clergy, and a pecuniary saving of some thousands annually to the Church? And why was it not done? The advantage was too obvious to have escaped a board of commissioners intent on economising the Church funds. Yet they persisted in keeping up three large and expensive offices for work which might be done by one, at the very time when they claimed credit for motives of economy in refusing 1,000l. a year for the efficiency of the Ecclesiastical Commission. So far, then, as the plea of economy was concerned, they could not pay much attention to the argument put forward to justify a disregard for the recommendation of the Committee. The Bill professing to correct the defects of the Commission failed to do so. But having shown how it fell short of what it professed to do, he would now show how much more it fell short of what it ought to do. And this brought him to the great and radical defect of the whole measure. He asked Gentlemen this question, he put it to them advisedly, and begged them not to be startled by its novelty: this board had to administer temporal affairs, and why should there be any ecclesiastics on it at all? Why were ex officio members—why were Cabinet Ministers, and Judges, and Prelates—to be present at its sittings any more than at the Board of Admiralty, or Customs, or Excise? He hoped some Gentleman would make a note of that question, and give an answer. The business, he repeated, was of a temporal nature, as much or more so than that of the Home Office; it legislated by orders in council—since its first formation it had published no less than 500. He held a volume in his hand—any Gentleman might consult them in the library—and he would find that there was not a single question entertained at that board which was not as much or more adapted to laymen than ecclesiastics. As to that board entertaining spiritual questions, the religious sentiment of the nation would rebel against it—the Church would not endure it for a moment. But nothing of the kind had been or was ever likely to be attempted. The board had confined itself, as it must confine itself, to temporal affairs only—to fiscal and territorial arrangements; and such being the ease, he repeated the question, in what respect was the presence of ecclesiastics necessary or advantageous at its sittings? "Oh! but," he heard some one exclaim, "the Church ought to guard its own property." So said he; but what was the Church? Not the bishops, but the laity; they constituted its strength, its numbers, and its life; and when he saw the right hon. Gentleman and others members of that secular board, he saw the Church was as safe in the hands of devout laymen as of devout ecclesiastics. And against whom was it to be guarded? Not against the nation, for it existed as an establishment by the national will. The Church had indeed been plundered at different periods of their history; plundered by their monarchs first—by their nobles next—by their bishops in the last century, and in their own day by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. But the people had been ever guiltless of sacrilege; and if a storm should rise even now, the safety of the Church would lie in the popular love and reverence, and not in the accident of a board of bishops, sitting as secular commissioners in Whitehall, and in their own person keeping guard over its title-deeds. Who ever heard of such an extraordinary substitute for all that should give strength and safety to a religious institution professing to reign in men's hearts? But again he heard it objected, "The clergy have interests peculiarly affected by the acts of the Commission, and they ought to be represented on it." But supposing they granted this, how, he asked, were the working clergy represented by twenty-seven Episcopal Commissioners? The bench of bishops was represented, and pretty handsomely it must be acknowledged; but who represented the parochial clergy? Not the bishops certainly; for very few of them ever were parochial clergy, or knew anything experimentally of their cares or duties. And was this a style of representation in which the parochial clergy had a voice? Did they not rather complain that, without attributing wrong motives, their Episcopal rulers, having the common weaknesses of human nature, were apt to think they had taken care of all classes when they had taken care of themselves. Let him take one example on which he happened to know that the parochial clergy felt most deeply. In the earlier days of the Church, the bishop's dwelling was in the cathedral city. There was his cathedra or throne set up; and there, surrounded by his clergy and people, did he live, the centre of the religious life around him. But the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, with a courage and a consistency in error at which they might feel astonished, had changed all that. Trampling on ecclesiastical usage, defying public opinion. they had deliberately acted on the principle that a bishop should not live in his cathedral city; that it was not good for him or for the Church to be daily exposed to the public eye, but they had metamorphosed him into a rural dignitary, exchanging the good old episcopal palace, hallowed by associations, not to be effaced by the lapse of ages, for a more modern and aristocratic retirement to which the clergy might penetrate with difficulty, and the poor not at all.

Now, if the parochial clergy had been truly represented at that board, some remonstrance would surely have been raised against this most unpastoral innovation. The bishops would surely have been reminded that they were repudiating their earliest and closest relation to the Church; that they were taxing unmercifully not only the labours and responsibilities, but also the pockets of the more indigent clergy; for it was no small aggravation of the loss both of time and money to one of them who had to seek counsel from his diocesan, that, arriving by railway at the cathedral city, he had still to hire a carriage to hunt the bishop in the country, making, perhaps, two or three bootless expeditions on some spiritual affair, which the bishop of other days would have courted rather than have escaped from. But he need not pursue this point further. It was obvious that the retention of bishops on the Commission could not be defended on the plea that the business was of a nature to require their presence; and still less could it be pretended that they sat as the representatives of the clergy. The clergy, in fact, had no interest separate from the Church, and the Church was the nation. These, however, were arguments directed against the policy and expediency of bishops constituting a secular commission. He came now to far more serious objections, founded on religious principle and the Church's constitution.

His objection to bishops remaining on the Commission was not based on the severe reflection of Lord Clarendon, that "clergymen understand the least, and take the worst view of human affairs of all men who can read and write," though he thought their experience of the Ecclesiastical Commission might go far to justify that doctrine; but he looked to the present condition of the Church and of the people, and he said the bishops ought not to give their time to the Commission, because they were wanted elsewhere. He appealed to what was now passing around and about them—to the tendency of the age—to the rapidity of the changes in which they lived—to the new wants and new dangers that were daily developing themselves about them. Ours was an age of very active speculation; Christianity was called to meet many enemies; it had to defend itself against the assaults of a very busy and a very cultivated intellect; and it had to revive and kindle faith in an age peculiarly unsusceptible of belief. Who were to be the captains of its hosts in this sacred and arduous mission? Must they not be men confessedly of a higher spiritual order, illuminated with brighter knowledge, the result of deeper study and more uninterrupted communion with holy things, and who, themselves engrossed by one intense and soul-absorbing principle, might impart to others some portion of the fire that consumed themselves. In an age so earnest and so inquiring as ours, would the toleration of bishops, as easy, good-natured, benevolent, and irreproachable gentlemen, meet the requirements or avert the perils of the time? Would the sight of men who, styling themselves "Fathers in God," were busily occupied with worldly cares, keenly vigilant about church moneys, stubbornly tenacious of church dignity and rank, rushing with intrepid haste to the rescue of any episcopal emolument invaded, inculcating in words the divine institution of episcopacy, but not emulating its acts—not visiting the sick—not consoling the dying—not preaching the word—not kindling the faith of the people—not exhibiting the example of men indifferent to this world's pomp and wealth, and living for another—nay, even as regarded those they had themselves ordained to the ministry, not associating themselves with the labours, nor cheering the sorrows or relieving the perplexities of the poorer clergy—he said, would the sight of such leaders of a Christian church be enough to sustain and save it—nay, must they not surely smite and sink it in times like these?

But how much more fearful was the danger if they alone could not discern the signs of their own times. See how the idea of a Christian bishop was now awoke in the community; it lived and stirred there—it felt the duties of a bishop, alas! more deeply than the bishop himself. The whole press—that infallible organ of opinion, and food of every class—the Government, the Parliament, the clergy, all united in bidding these spiritual fathers encumber themselves less with cares and engagements which trenched on their spirituality, and diminished their usefulness to the Church. Yet they chose to reply, "These temporalities are ours, for we are the Church, and we cannot entrust its property to you. Ours be the guardianship; and though the burden of that guardianship engross our time, to the very neglect of our spiritual calling, even then those temporalities shall be touched by no hand but ours." If such was practically the language of Christian prelates, what would their enemies wish more? In what light could they be exposed more odious to the people? And they and their friends might cry peace and safety to themselves if they were so willed, but it could not end thus. The nation would only think more earnestly what a bishop ought to be, and deplore more deeply what he was; the deafness which they opposed to these reasonable demands for so small a cession of purely worldly business would but teach men how vain it was to expect bishops thus placed to be what bishops ought to be; and slowly, but surely, with an earnestness, and for a purpose that could brook no evasion, would they ask this plain, practical question, "What, in truth, are our bishops, and for what do they exist among us? "

A right hon. Gentleman opposite, when he made a Motion lately about episcopal incomes, told the House that he had a Tory low idea of the episcopal office. He did not know on what authority he made that charge. He had said nothing in that House, or out of it, in the smallest degree disparaging to the office of a bishop. He had exposed the doings of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; but he had yet to learn that the functions of an Ecclesiastical Commissioner were a part of the bishop's office. He had called attention to the large incomes of prelates; but he had yet to learn that the estates of the episcopate were a part of the office. He had complained, and he did complain most strongly, of episcopal obstructions to the best intentions of the Government in the House of Lords; but surely the functions of a Lord of Parliament were distinct from the bishop's spiritual office. These were all attacks, not on the episcopacy, but on tumors and excrescences which disfigured it. But, as the hon. Gentleman had challenged him, he could not hesitate to give his view of the episcopal office, that on which, as a Legislator, he was bound to act; and he did think that, before it passed a Bill like this, Parliament was bound to consider what the episcopal office was, and whether the duties they were now heaping on the bishops were in harmony with the original institution, and essential and distinctive character of the office.

The Church of which, with the great majority of this House, he was a member, taught them to venerate the office of bishop as one that had come down to them from Apostolic times; in her sight, its present holders were the heads of the Christian Church, the leaders of the Christian religion, the depositories of the fire, the faith, the fervour which animated men warring through this world to an eternity which it was their mission to preach. The history of those from whom the office had come down was familiar to them all—their images were painted in colours that could never fade—their ardent enthusiasm—their unshrinking self-sacrifice—their heroic endurance of every toil and every suffering—their utter forgetfulness of worldly interests, and worldly advancement, and worldly good of every kind, when compared with the infinite magnitude of those higher interests to which their whole souls owned devotion.

And such was the Church's idea of a Christian bishop. No other picture was drawn for him in Scripture, and no other was possible; and though, in looking back on the inspired founders of our faith, he did not expect our generation to reach the same stature, he did expect them to be made after the same similitude. A bishop, to be honoured among us, must be cast in the Scripture mould, or in none at all. Our people would not be satisfied with a lifeless mechanism—they must have something more vital and more real; and, while the highest, the greatest, the paramount function of all our ministers of religion consisted in keeping alive the sacred fire of Christianity, it was the bishops especially to whom, as fathers and examples of clergy and people, they had a right to look as the sources from whence supplies of active, living, intense faith should stream.

Such was his idea of the Episcopal office. Did the right hon. Gentleman still contemn it as too low? He (Mr. Horsman) said it was divine in its origin, and spiritual in its essence—that it was too high to be exalted by worldly pomp, and too holy to be profaned by mercenary occupations; and that the real strength and honour of an Episcopate lay not in the temporal dignities and emoluments which dazzled men's eyes, but in the holiness that inspired their reverence, and the charities that gained their hearts.

But, now, having given the House his notion of what a true bishop ought to be, he turned to this Bill, this Bishop's Bill, for an exemplification of all he ought not to be. He should not be a "server of tables"—he should not grasp at the administration of temporalities—he should not absent himself from his diocese for one half of the year to show his expertness on secular committees and commissions, nor bury himself for the other half in a country palace, unapproachable to all but aristocratic visitors. It was no part of his office to hold broad estates, from which, under a ruinous system of fines and leases, he had to extract present wealth for his family, to the future impoverishment of the Church. He was not necessarily a Peer of Parliament, nominated absolutely by the Minister of the day, under a strong temptation to postpone the interests of the Church to those of his Cabinet, and advance a political partisan in preference to a right bishop. And, lastly, it was no part of a bishop's office, when elected to political power, to use that power to the detriment of the Church he was sworn to serve and when the spiritual destitution of the land, and the darkness of untaught millions was universally deplored—when Parliament and people, and parochial clergy, had all contributed to swell a national cry, and when the Minister attempted to give effect to that cry, he should not outrage the common sentiment of all, by shaking a majority of Episcopal votes in the Minister's face, and warning him that he and his Brethren held the passage of the House of Lords, and would suffer no Bill to pass in which the spiritual necessities of the Church were more cared for than the temporalities of the prelates. But some men, apologising for the state of things to which they were indebted for this bad Bill, reminded them that they were living under a church establishment; and in such a case they should be more indulgent to bishops, for an establishment involved a great amount of worldly business, and only worldly men could undertake it; or, what came to the same thing, that those who did undertake it were thereby made worldly. But, if this were true, would it not be the most fatal objection to a church establishment at all, that it could only exist by converting those who should be the vitalisers of the heart and conscience into State organs of ordinary worldly administration? But this was now the deep-dyed stain, as regarded the episcopate—the ruinous sin of the Church of England. She merged the higher functions in the lower; she stifled the light and spirit by the body; she killed the spiritual element by the inordinate development of the secular; she sacrificed faith and religion to a worldly institution—to a political and aristocratic conventionality. And look at the result. Turn to the 13th clause of this Bill; he there brought the bishops into court against themselves, and proved the present degradation of the episcopal office from their own evidence, and their own acts. They knew that the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were derived from two sources—partly from the surplus of Episcopal incomes, and partly from capitular and other sources. But the Commissioners, instead of making them one church fund, formed two distinct and separate funds—one for the supply exclusively of episcopal wants, and the other for the general wants of the Church. This distinction of interests between the bishops and the Church—this new and false line of separation, creating two sympathies in the Church, was no sooner known than it was generally disapproved of, and having met with a very unanimous condemnation in that House, the Government very properly proposed the fusion of the funds. But the Prelates mustered strong in the Upper House and threw out the clause, substituting this one for it. And on what grounds? for now they had, on their own showing, the result of their past secular activity. They told their own story, and it was this—that the country no longer cared for bishops; that they were neither loved nor honoured as they used to be; that their usefulnes was so little felt, and their office so little reverenced, that the popular cry was all for more clergy, and against more bishops; and, therefore, when an enlargement of the episcopate might be needed, as the bishops had neither spiritual influence nor popular affection to rely on, they must bring in their power as legislators, to correct their unpopularity as prelates, and by raising a distinction between themselves and their clergy, unknown to the constitution of the Church, and abhorrent to its spirit, must secure to themselves a larger portion of the Church's funds than the feeling of the country would be disposed to sanction. He asked, was there ever such a confession of weakness—such an utter despair of their own future on the part of men avowing that they had utterly failed in realising the ends of their institution, by securing the love and confidence of the people? And then they complained that episcopacy, as an institution, was not valued among them. But he would not, at that late hour, pursue the subject further. He regretted much that the subject had been brought on so late as to preclude a full discussion; and he would conclude by entering his protest against the proposed constitution of the Commission, and especially against the retention of Bishops upon it, and on that point he should take the sense of the House by moving an Amendment in Committee.


said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had addressed himself but in a slight degree to the present measure, whilst he had enlarged on other topics in a laboured speech, which had all the marks of great preparation. He trusted, then, that the House would excuse him from following the hon. Gentleman at that hour of the night into all the observations he had made, especially so as the hon. Gentleman had no objection to the second reading of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman upon this, as upon other occasions, had indulged in vituperation upon the characters of those who were absent. In doing so there was as much want of fairness as of justice, and he might have recollected when he was attacking the character of all bishops, that he was speaking in the diocese of one who had laboured long, laboriously, and diligently in enlarging the field of Christian instruction, and in opening churches for the poor. Now, the first misrepresentation of which he complained in the speech of the hon. Gentleman, was upon a matter of fact, well known to most who heard him. The hon. Gentleman said that the bishops cared for nothing but their own emoluments, or those of their order; and he said this while discussing the Ecclesiastical Commission, by which they had voluntarily divested themselves of one-third or one-fourth of the incomes they enjoyed, for the enlargement of the episcopacy where deficient, and for the better instruction of the people. But then the hon. Gentleman said that he had great respect for the characters of the bishops, and he showed it by proposing to divest them of their seats in Parliament, to rob them of their incomes, and to deprive them of their authority. The hon. Gentleman constrasted bishops of former ages with those of the present day. But he should have remembered that bishops were now differently situated from the time in which a bishop placed in every town had his diocese com-under his control, and was not, as bishops were now, with one or two millions of persons under their charge. The hon. hon. Gentleman said he admired bishops; and yet when the proposition was made for having a bishop in Manchester, no one opposed it more strongly than the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman seemed to consider that it was better to increase the number of the inferior clergy than to appoint a new bishop. Now, facts were at variance with this theory. He would state them with regard to the Bishop of Ripon. He was appointed in 1836 with an income of 4,500l. a year; a residence was built for him, which cost about 13,000l. He would add on account of that to the bishop's income 1,000l. a year, which would make 5,500l. a year. The hon. Gentleman would apply that sum in increasing the number of the lower clergy. Well, suppose they allotted to each incumbent 100l. a year, fifty-five incumbents were all that would be gained. Now mark the other side of the picture, and see what was the effect of the appointment of a bishop in that diocese. Since the appointment of the bishop, by his exertions, by his attending various meetings in the diocese, by his constantly preaching in different churches, by his pointing out the requirements of Christian duty, and the defects of Christian practice, he had given rise to an extent of exertion in behalf of spiritual instruction in that part of the country that was astonishing to contemplate. Since he had been appointed, 100 churches had been either built or rebuilt within the diocese out of the funds which had been collected mainly by his example and encouragement. In the same period, and out of funds similarly acquired, assisted by grants from the Commissioners, there were now 130 clergymen, instead of fifty-five administering to all orders of the people the great truths of the Christian religion. In the same period, also, 182 schools had been created; and in that diocese, under the bishop's superintendence, education, which before lagged behind the growth of the population, had now overtaken it. In addition to this, fifty-five new parsonages Lad been built. Looking at these results, he thought that those who really desired the advancement of Christianity, and were of opinion that the people ought to be spiritualised as well as instructed, would not hesitate to say that, if they had only a limited fund before them, the appointment of a bishop might be the best and surest mode of effecting their object. He came next to the question, were these bishops disproportionately paid? Were they paid out of proportion to the duties they were called upon to perform? The hon. Gentleman had entered into this question on a preceding evening at great length, when it was not competent for any man, from the difficulty of obtaining information, to meet him with denial or explanation. He (Mr. Goulburn) would not enter into a comparison such as the hon. Gentleman instituted between the emoluments of the professors of law, the emoluments of the officers of State, and the emoluments of the officers of the Church. There was no similarity between them. The emoluments of the one were derived from property which was exclusively devoted by the piety of our ancestors to Church purposes, and could not be diverted therefrom; those of the others were derived from the taxes raised upon the community, which might be otherwise applied, and, therefore, stood upon a different footing. He did not, however, fear comparison, and would take the profession of the law. He believed there were about 3,000 barristers and twenty-one Judges—the salaries of the Judges amounting to about 138,000l a year. On the other hand the clergy numbered 16,000, and there were twenty-one bishops, whoso incomes were 140,000l. a year. How did the matter stand? Why, that in the one profession the prizes were as one to 150, and in the other as one to 600. The hon. Gentleman had thought fit, with a view to show the enormous wealth of the bishops, to go to the Prerogative Office, and there to ascertain, by inspection into the affairs of individual families, what were the sums which, at their deaths, the bishops had left to their descendants. Now, it was a painful thing to be obliged to examine into the private affairs of families, even though it were for the purpose of meeting a general and an unworthy imputation. Yet the hon. Gentleman had imposed that task upon him (Mr. Goulburn), and he had been obliged to make inquiries which, for the gratification of private curiosity, it would have been disgraceful to institute, and which he had made only with the view of testing the accuracy of the grounds upon which the hon. Gentleman had impugned the character of the bishops. The hon. Gentleman said, that, since 1828, twenty-six bishops had died, and had left property for which probates had been issued to the amount of 1,500,000l.; and he thought it fair, from the magnitude of that sum, to create an impression that their lives had been lives of avarice and accumulation. Now (proceeded Mr. Goulburn), what is the fact? And, in asking this, I accuse the hon. Gentleman of having made a statement which he must have known was calculated to create an unjust prejudice against parties in the opinion of this House. He has been a Lord of the Treasury. He knows full well how the stamp duty is collected, and upon what principle the probate duty is levied. I presume that he made himself master of the business of the Treasury; because, if report speaks truly, the hon. Gentleman felt himself entitled to a higher situation; and I know enough of him to be aware that he would never have aspired higher if he bad not thought himself competent to discharge the duties of the Treasury. At all events, the hon. Gentleman, as a Lord of the Treasury, ought to have known what was the law in relation to stamps. The probate duty, like other stamp duties, was not levied upon precise sums, but upon sums which ranged between two points; that was to say, if the sum left were but Is. above 20,000l., the duty paid would be the same as if it were 30,000l. It was undoubtedly true, that, taking in every instance the highest sum, the hon. Gentleman's account of the probate duty would be tolerably correct; because by so taking it the property would amount to somewhat more than 1,400,000l. But why did he select the highest sum in preference to the lowest? If he had taken the lowest, he would have found that it would be 200,000l. less than what he had stated; but even taking the medium for the sake of fairness, the sum would be 100,000l. short of the hon. Gentleman's statement. The hon. Gentleman having been a Lord of the Treasury, ought to have known also that the probate duty afforded no proof whatever of the actual amount of property left. It was levied, in the first instance, upon all the property that the person was possessed of at the moment of his decease; no allowance was made for debts and incumbrances; and it was only by ascertaining the return of duty which was afterwards made, that an account could be obtained of the value of the property of which the party died possessed. Now, it so happened that at the Stamp Office they would not give any information with regard to this subject, or allow to curious men the opportunity of prying into other people's affairs. He had been obliged, therefore, to resort to other sources of information. From them he had ascertained the difference between the probate duty first charged and that ultimately paid. The hon. Gentleman said, that in twenty-six instances the amount left by bishops averaged 50,000l. a piece; but he (Mr. Goulburn) found that in eighteen of these, which alone he had had the means of investigating, the average was only from 30,000l. to 40,000l., thus making a difference at once of 500,000l. out of the 1,500,000l. which was stated to have been left by these twenty-six prelates. But of what did the sums left by them in a great degree consist? Why, of sums for which their lives had been insured. In pursuing his inquiries with regard to these insurances, he had encountered some difficulties at the insurance offices, and in consequence had been able to procure information only in fourteen instances as to the sums for which these several bishops had insured their lives. He found, that they had insured them, not only when they were in possession of large emoluments, but at periods when they were struggling in life with moderate incomes, and justly endeavoured to secure for their posterity those means of subsistence which it was the duty of every man, whether lay or ecclesiastical, to provide. Why, those fourteen prelates were insured in the offices which he had recourse to for no less a sum than 122,000l., or upon an average 8,700l. on the life of each. If they had not done this, but had left their families destitute, and without having made provision for those who came after them, would not the hon. Gentleman have been the very first to exclaim against their want of natural affection? And he (Mr. Goulburn) confessed that he should have had much more difficulty in defending them against such a charge, than he experienced now in defending them against the charge of having made out, of a precarious life income, provision for their families. When the hon. Gentleman calculated the amount which these bishops had left upon their decease, he ought also to have noticed the fact that one of them had a private fortune left him of 10,000l. a year, and that the sum which, upon that private fortune was paid in probate duty, ought, in justice, to have been deducted. He asked the House, then, was the accusation of the hon. Gentleman fair and just? Was he entitled to make it unless he had first inquired into all the circumstances of the case, if he did not know them; and if he did know them, what was his justification in making the charge? He must have known that he had exaggerated in the one case—he might have known that he was exaggerating in the other. The real state of the case then was, that twenty-six bishops who had toiled through all the different stages of their profession as curates and incumbents, had succeeded in leaving at their deaths a sum averaging to produce 1,200l. a year to their descendants. Surely this was no extravagant reward for a life of labour and responsibility. But the hon. Gentleman would ask how these incomes were disposed of. He would refer him for an answer to the list of contributions to the various religious and charitable institutions of the country. The hon. Member for Cockermouth would find that the largest subscriptions to the societies for the propagation of gospel truth either at home or abroad, for the general education of the people, for the improvement of their condition, or for the relief of suffering in hospitals, were contributed by the bishops. It was true that while they were discharging these duties in their dioceses, they could not be attending to the Ecclesiastical Commission. It was impossible that, when discharging their spiritual duties, they could be at the same time minding those other duties which were imposed upon them in common with others. With respect to the Bill itself, he should reserve his comments until they went into Committee upon it. If he had succeeded in developing some of the errors the hon. Gentleman had fallen into on this subject, he should not have addressed the House in vain, nor have failed in the object which he had in view.


thanked the noble Lord for introducing this Bill, considering that it was founded on the unanimous report of a Committee, of which the hon. Gentleman was a Member, who described this as a very bad Bill. So to characterise it, was an undeserved censure on the Committee, the House, and the Government. The words of the Committee were, that the business of the Commission, which was purely of an ecclesiastical character, should be separated from the management of the property. If the Committee had intended that those who managed the property should refer all matters dealt with by them to the Ecclesiastical Commission, they would have worded their recommendation in a different manner. The whole value of the Bill would depend on the manner in which the Committee was constituted, and in his opinion the ultimate decision in all those questions should remain in the large body, who should be responsible. The difference between him and his hon. Friend was, as to whether the paid Commission which was to have the management of the property was to be an executive committee, or a body merely having the power of making recommendations for the Commission to act upon as they pleased. He considered that if this last should be the decision of the House, the object of appointing such a Committee would be lost, and there would be no responsibility.


believed there had been no objection made to the second reading of the Bill, and that the objections which had been stated were merely matters for consideration in Committee. His hon. Friend the Member for Malton had said that the Government had mistaken the object which the Select (Committee had in view; but he (Lord J. Russell) owned he could not read the words otherwise than his right hon. Friend who moved the second reading. He could not conceive that the Select Committee meant that this Committee should have an entire and separate authority, when they referred to them as a Committee of the Board, and required that certain of these paid Commissioners should be present at the meeting of the board, thereby implying that the Committee was a part of the board. With respect to the main object, he conceived that the Bill would effectually accomplish it, because, in fact, this being a small Committee, having the questions as to the management of estates continually before them, in 99 cases out of 100 their opinion would sway the board, who would take the report of the Committee as conclusive upon the subject. If there came some great question of principle, then the report said the whole board was to be consulted. The hon. Member for Cockermouth, who objected so very much to the framing of this Bill, founded all his objections upon a point not at all of the gravity and importance he imagined. He supposed they were desirous of retaining all the power to themselves, and availed themselves of that mode of effecting their object. But the objections he (Lord J. Russell) had heard were simply these—they said there was no business for more than one paid Commissioner; but that if the Government thought fit to have two paid Commissioners, they would not object to it, though there really was no occasion for them. That was the very small practical point to which they brought their objections; and he thought, therefore, that the hon. Member for Cockermouth was not entitled to found on it so large and immense a superstructure of argument and legislation. When they went into Committee, the House might consider whether they would have two paid Commissioners or three, or whether the business would take up the time of two paid Commissioners, or if two paid Commissioners and a third unpaid Commissioner, to be appointed by the Government, would be best. That was not, as he conceived, a point at all vital to the Bill; and the Archbishop of Canterbury, he was sure, never thought such a consequence was to be deduced from his observations. There had been no substantial objections to the second reading of the Bill; but all the different hints brought forward might be very fairly discussed in Committee. He certainly was not surprised at the character the hon. Member for Cockermouth gave the bishops. He would not enter at large into the hon. Member's speech, but would merely say that, so long as he had known the right rev. Bench, and from what he knew of their general character, he believed the bishops were pious, learned, courteous, and hospitable. He believed that was their character generally in the country. He lamented that when the Bill of 1840 was sent to the House of Lords the bishops thought it necessary, contrary to the opinion of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, to make the Commission so numerous, thereby diminishing the efficiency of that body.


said, he did not rise to make any remarks on the efficiency of the plan of the noble Lord, or on the merits of the Bill. He knew well that in the present state of the Church, it must be a sort of "pull bishop—pull curate" affair; and between both bodies the noble Lord must be much troubled to produce a Bill at once satisfactory to himself and to the bishops. He looked on the Bill as a sort of compromise. What he rose for was to call attention to the most extraordinary language used towards the hon. Member for Cockermouth. They had heard the sneer which had been thrown out from the opposite side of the House about "the laboured eloquence" of his hon. Friend. Now, he (Mr. Osborne) had listened to the labour, but had heard very little eloquence in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, who had taken four weeks to concoct it, in answer to a speech delivered by his hon. Friend. He had to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his labour rather than on his eloquence, for a speech more tainted with vituperation, and less pregnant with argument, he had never beard. The right hon. Gentleman laid it down that the House of Commons had nothing to do with the Church. It was with delight he had heard the noble Lord lay down the contrary doctrine. It might be very well for an ecclesiastical Member to make such a speech to the Commissioners who were sitting under the gallery, winking his eye at them all the time, as much as to say, "See what a speech I am making for you; "but as to laying down such doctrines now, he would say to the right hon. Gentleman, "Tell that to the Marines—the sailors won't believe you." With a tissue of misrepresentation which could only proceed from an ecclesiastical Member, the right hon. Gentleman said, "Look what these good men, the bishops, have done—see how they have given up their incomes during their own lives." Now, what was the real state of things? The right hon. Gentleman knew well the bishops had taxed their successors, not themselves. There was the Bishop of London with his 50,000l. a year, and his princely palace at Fulham—the right hon. Gentleman knew well he had not given up sixpence of his income, but had given up a portion of it in future to tax his successors. He certainly was surprised to hear one who had been a Minister throw out such a lowbred taunt against the hon. Member for Cockermouth. The right hon. Gentleman said, "You are a disappointed man—you expected to be a Cabinet Minister." He did not think that came with a very good grace from one who had been tied like a tin-kettle to the tail of the right hon. Member for Tamworth; so that in the several changes of the right hon. Baronet, as he ran from one side of the House to the other, they always heard the tin-kettle rattling behind him. The man who had voted against Catholic Emancipation one day, and voted for it the next, who had voted against free trade to-day, and voted for it to-morrow, turned round to his (Mr. Osborne's) hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth, and because he had succeeded in taking a stand in the country where the right hon. Gentleman had not succeeded in getting a footing, said, "You are a disappointed man, because you are not a Cabinet Minister." He (Mr. Osborne) could not sit in his place and hear a taunt so low—so unworthy the representative of the University of Cambridge, without entering his protest against it. In the name of a numerous constituency he took the liberty of tendering his thanks to the hon. Member for Cockermouth, for sure he was, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge told them the bishops were for education, but only for religious education, that but for the efforts of laymen such as Wilberforce they never would have been for any education at all, and never would have carried anything either good or great. He hoped the hon. Member for Cockermouth would not be deterred by the taunts of any ecclesiastical Member from pursuing the course on which he had entered.


Sir, the hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex has fulfilled the promise of his opening speech. He declared he could not speak on the merits of the Bill, and that promise at least he has fulfilled, for not one word has fallen from him either as to its principle or as to its details. But the hon. and gallant Member has said that a right hon. Member of this House has used "low language." I appeal to you. Sir, if you have ever heard such language used to any other hon. Member as has been recently addressed to the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge by the hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex, addressed by him to one his equal in everything—his superior in station—in talent—in temper—in eloquence, He would no longer notice anything that had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member, but should proceed to state what appeared to him to be a fundamental error in the views of the hon. Member for Cockermouth on that and on every other occasion when he introduced the subject of the ecclesiastical system of England to their notice. The hon. Gentleman implied that he, forsooth, was doling out certain salaries and wages to the hierarchy of England; that they were merely stipendiary servants, and that he was to allow them so much as he thought fit to dole out to them. He talked of augmenting the salaries of deans, as provided for by one of the clauses of the Bill, whereas, in point of fact, all that would be done, if the wishes of the friends of increased incomes were carried out, would be only to plunder somewhat less the functionaries who were the objects of the clause. Did one shilling go to the Dean of Salisbury or of Wells from any tax of the people? All the Act would do was to leave them a little more of their own. He told the hon. Member that older far than any of our nobility was the property of the Bishop of London within five miles of the House. That property had since 691, clearly above 1,100 years, been in the possession of the Church for perhaps 1,200 years; and, with the exception of the great rebellion, has been uninterruptedly in the possession of the see of London. [An Hon. MEMBER: Since the days of the Reformation.] I am told by an hon. Member who has, I take it for granted, sworn to maintain the property of the Church, that these possessions have only belonged to the see of London since the days of the Reformation. I tell him they have belonged to the see of London since the year 691. I don't know if he has the unhappiness to disagree with the Bishop of London in the views he takes of religion. ["Oh, oh!"] I am not to be put down by cries of "Oh" from those who would never have been admitted into this House but for the too easy credulity of some of my right hon. Friends. The hon. Member for Cockermouth appears, when a bishop is in question, to be uniformly in the situation of those unhappy men to whom the sight of water is an evil, producing struggles and convulsions. Nothing will relieve him from his paroxysm but the removal of the object of his dislike. [Mr. HORSMAN made a remark which was inaudible.] I have received so habitually the indulgence of the House when I address them that I should be the last to complain of interruption; but I own it is more than usually difficult to go on, when sounds, exclamations, and addresses to myself, proceed from the hon. Gentleman behind me. [Mr. HORSMAN bowed apologetically.] There was one expression used by the hon. Member, to the effect that the commission was universally condemned. [Cheers.] I am unable to identify the persons from whom those cheers proceeded, but I am happy to distinguish that they proceed from three persons only. Now, whether they are the voices of the three tailors of Tooley-street, who represented the universal people of England, I know not, but certainly those expressions have not been sanctioned by more than three Members of the House. I am not called on to defend the commission. I do not belong to it; and I have deprecated its creation and constitution; but I must say that if the bishops are not stipendiaries, but proprietors, I see no reason why they should not be permitted to sit at a board professing to administer their affairs. If, indeed, they are to be considered as stipendiaries, I can better understand why a Government commission of three paid commissioners should be trusted with the administration of the estates, as well as with the distribution of their proceeds. But the bishops have been proprietors from the beginning; and if the hon. Member said that the management of property was inconsistent with the Christian character of a bishop, was it not equally inconsistent with the Christian character of a clergyman or layman? It would be sufficient if men, both lay and clerical, carried on the management of their property with a deep sense of the responsibility attaching to wealth. It was not necessary that either laymen or spiritual persons should divest themselves of their property for the purpose of placing it in the hands and under the care of the hon. Member for Cockermouth, or those whom his friends would associate with him in its management. If I do now consent to the second reading of the Bill, I hope it will not be understood as in any degree pledging myself to all the details of the measure, or to any of the alterations which have been shadowed forth.


then moved that the debate be adjourned.


hoped, that the debate would not be adjourned. If there were no other reason why the discussion should not be extended to another night, he could find a reason in the tone in which it had been carried on up to the present time. In that House he never could help looking forward to the discussion of Church questions with a feeling of dread. He had always been an advocate for removing religious disabilities from all classes of his fellow Christians in this country, and in return he trusted it was not too much to ask for the Church, that hon. Members, those who differed from her creed, would—inasmuch as the House of Commons was a trustee for the Church—not carry their hostility into legislation, but would give a fair consideration to every measure calculated to render that Church capable of giving the utmost effect to the purposes for which it was established. Although on the one hand he dissented from those who thought that the Church held its property by titles similar to those by which the property of individuals is held, yet he equally differed from those who maintained that the incomes of the dignitaries and parochial clergy of England were held as if they were so many annual payments voted by Parliament. The House of Commons had jurisdiction as the trustees of the Church, bound to see that the revenues of that Church were duly administered. With respect to this question before them tonight, he had no desire to go into the questions raised by the hon. Members opposite, for most of them constituted more matters of detail than of principle. He Was sorry, however, that the Bill had not been somewhat more developed; for he thought it extremely inexpedient to touch Church subjects at all without setting them completely at rest. The questions relating to the creations of bishoprics, the salaries and emoluments of deans, the salaries and emoluments of canons, the whole question of Church revenues, the question of the common fund and of the episcopal fund, were matters in the discussion of which he should not then engage; but in Committee he intended to propose several Amendments into which he should have then wished to enter so far, at least, as to have given a general description of their purport, and the reasons that induced him to submit them to the House; but at that hour he would attempt to do so very briefly. As to the question of chapters, he thought that with such a measure before them the House must adjudicate upon something besides their salaries; and he felt considerable surprise that the Government should have left the subject of the duties of deans and canons untouched. Now, one of the propositions which he intended to make when they got into Committee, would go somewhat beyond that announced to them by the noble Lord. Instead of merely limiting deans, as the Government proposed, to a distance of three miles from the cathedral church to which they were attached, on undertaking a cure of souls, he should restrict them to the town in which their cathedral was situate. Then, he should propose that there should be a rearrangement respecting deans and canons undertaking certain duties—duties which might at present be executed by any one of them, and which, therefore, were executed by none—he should propose that all duties necessary to be performed by canons be assigned specifically to individual members of each chapter, but especially he would restrict them from holding in plurality the cure of souls. He trusted very speedily to be able to lay those Amendments on the table of the House. But, though he did not intend to occupy more of their time in stating those Amendments, he was unwilling to sit down without reminding the House that, as at the present moment a great struggle was going on for the promotion of education, it appeared little short of an act of insanity to take any step having a tendency to sacrifice establishments of which they would soon feel the want. Those establishments contained many men of great learning and attainments; and he trusted that the Government would in the future progress of this measure consider the subject in a spirit conducive to the good of the Church.


had listened with great interest to the observations made by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down; with much interest also to the statement made of the Amendments that he proposed to make; and if he (Sir B. Hall) had been previously anxious for an adjournment of the debate, he was now still more desirous of it; he should therefore persist in his Motion.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the debate be now adjourned."


said, if the House agreed to the Motion of adjournment, he feared that the further discussion of the measure must be postponed for a considerable time, inasmuch as there were several Bills before them which it was extremely desirable should be sent to the House of Lords with the least possible delay.


regretted the tone in which the debate had been carried on, a course into which they had been misled by the character of those observations that they had heard from the right hon. Member for Cambridge University. The speech of the hon. Member for Cockermouth was conceived in a spirit favourable to the true interests of the Church, and he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had repeated so much idle and careless gossip, to which he should not have condescended to give any weight. He was now hopeless of seeing the debate take a favourable turn, at least for that evening; but he, for one, was anxious that the further consideration of the Bill should not be postponed. He thought it highly desirable that the management of ecclesiastical estates should be separated from the other functions of the commission—that secular and spiritual affairs should be kept apart.


said, he understood the noble Lord to mean, that by postponing the second reading they were endangering the Bill for this Session, and in that case he trusted the hon. Baronet would not persist in his Amendment unless his object were to oppose the second reading of the Bill.


rose to induce the hon. Member for Marylebone to withdraw his Motion of adjournment. He trusted that if the House should assent to the second reading on the present occasion, the; noble Lord at the bead of the Government would fix the Committee on the Bill so that it might come on at an early hour in the evening. There was one allusion made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, which be could not suffer to pass unnoticed. Considering the right hon. Gentleman's long practice and experience in the House, what fell from him carried more weight with it than its importance probably deserved. He would accordingly put it to the right hon. Gentleman, as a gentleman and a man of honour, to state what office it was for which he (Mr. Horsman) was a candidate, and also to state his authority for the insinuation he had thrown out. A Gentleman who had been in that House so long, who bad held office, and who occupied so high a position, ought not to adopt idle and careless gossip, as it had been called by his hon. and learned Friend, or throw out imputations, without being pretty well assured that they possessed some foundation. He now called upon the right hon. Gentleman to state his authority for making such a statement. He thought it due to himself (Mr. Horsman), and due to the House, that the right hon. Gentleman should give such an explanation, because the same thing might happen to any one in the House, who, having ever held office, had afterwards adopted an independent line of action. He would not venture to bandy accusations with the right hon. Gentleman—he would not contrast his conduct on the Opposition side of the House with what it had been on that (the Ministerial) side. The right hon. Gentleman was the champion of the Church, and he would not therefore remind him that at his last election he was only saved from defeat by the magnanimity of his opponents. No man's career was, indeed, more open to remark than that of the right hon. Gentleman. He respected the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, because be knew bow honest and how pure were that hon. Baronet's motives. He was as firm as the Church he defended; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge was like the weathercock on the steeple. The right hon. Gentleman had followed the promptings of a party—be bad followed the dictation of a leader—but he had never been chargeable with having followed his convictions since he had had a scat in that House. He would not say that the right hon. Gentleman had served his country, but at least he had earned his pension. He would, in conclusion, remind him of the advice which Junius gave to Sir W. Draper:— Either regulate your future conduct so as to be able to set the most malicious inquiries at defiance, or, if that be a lost hope, at least have prudence enough not to attract the public attention to a character which will only pass without censure when it passes without observation.


was ready to say that he would place the Committee on the Bill first upon the Orders of the Day when it again came before the House. Perhaps the House would allow him to state that he bad heard with much pain a great portion of the discussion which bad taken place that night. With respect to the hon. Member for Cockermouth, as far as his knowledge of the hon. Gentleman went, first as a Member of the Government, and afterwards as an independent Member, he never had the remotest suspicion with regard to his conduct that the hon. Gentleman was taking any other line than that which his duty prompted. But with regard also to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, he believed that nothing had justified any imputation upon the integrity of the right hon. Gentleman. He (Lord J. Russell) had sat with the right hon. Gentleman a long time in that House, and, having seen the course he had pursued, he had always considered him as one of those Members whose integrity and public character no one could impeach. He regretted those imputations on one side and the other, and he believed that they were unfounded on both sides.


was ready to admit that he did allude to a rumour—a very foolish one, as it appeared—in connexion with the hon. Member for Cockermouth. He believed he said that, as Lord of the Treasury, the hon. Member must have had cognisance of many things, and, as rumour said he had looked to a higher appointment in the present Ministry, he had given the hon. Gentleman credit for having deserved such a post by his former conduct in office. If that allusion had given the hon. Gentleman pain, he (Mr. Goulburn) was ready to retract it. He admitted that he spoke under feelings of considerable vexation, owing to the series of attacks which the hon. Member had made on the Church of which he (Mr. Goulburn) was a member. Having been a Member of that House for so many years, and after what had been said by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, he did not consider it necessary that he should defend his character, either in that House or elsewhere.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Friday 10th May.

The House adjourned at half after One o'clock.