HC Deb 30 April 1850 vol 110 cc978-81

said, he would now put to the noble Lord the question of which he had given notice on the previous day. That question had reference to an office in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, called the Office of Registrar, a sinecure office; its value, as he had been informed up to yesterday, was 9,000l. per annum; but he found he had greatly understated the matter, for he was now informed, on good authority, that the income of this sinecure registrarship from the fees and emoluments of various kinds was no less than 12,000l. per annum. The Archbishops of Canterbury for the time being had had the power, and had exercised, it, as vacancies occurred, of appointing one person to this office, and of nominating two others to fill the office in succession. At the time Archbishop Moore held the see of Canterbury two vacancies occurred in the office; he appointed his two sons, John Moore and Robert Moore, to fill them, and these two gentlemen, in consequence of surviving the original nominee, successively enjoyed the office of registrar. John Moore died a few years ago; and Robert Moore now held the office, enjoying, concurrently with it, those of a prebend of Canterbury, of the rectory of Latchington, and of the rectory of Hun-ton, from which preferments, and his re gistrarship, he derived an income of 14,963l. per annum. During the time Dr. Manners Sutton held the see of Canterbury the original nominee died; a vacancy of course occurred, and the Archbishop, exercising the power he possessed, filled up the vacancy with the name of his grandson, the present Viscount Canterbury; the person so appointed to the re gistrarship in reversion being a boy of about ten years old! Dr. Manners Sutton died in 1828, and Dr. Howley was, in the same year, appointed his successor. In 1845, or thereabout, John Moore, then registrar of the court, died; and Dr. Howley had the power of filling up the vacancy. But, as he (Sir B. Hall) was informed, and the noble Lord would correct him if he had been misinformed, that most excellent and venerated Prelate made a communication to the Government, to the effect that he could not, in. the conscientious discharge of his duty, fill up that vacant sinecure. It was but due to the memory of that most rev. Prelate to add, that this was not the only instance in which, on similar grounds, he forewent his patronage. In 1848, when Dr. Howley died, leaving the vacancy. Dr. Sumner was translated to the see of Canterbury; he found the vacancy not filled up, and, as it would appear, filled up that vacancy. He (Sir B. Hall) begged to know from the noble Lord whether such was the case; and, if so, whether the vacancy had been filled up by the Archbishop of Canterbury with his son's name, or with the name of Mr. Sumner, son of the Bishop of Winchester? He begged, also, to put another question, arising out of the question he had already put. In consequence of this office having been filled up in reversion by the names of boys, children of almost tender age, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, in one of their reports, recommended that no such appointment should take place for the future, and, in consequence of that recommendation, he believed, a Bill was brought in, which afterwards became law, as 10 and 11 Victoria, c. 98, the 9th section of which provided— That every person who shall have been appointed after the passing of the first recited Act, except as therein excepted, or who shall be appointed after the passing of this Act, to the office of judge, registrar, or other officer of any Ecclesiastical Court in England, shall hold the same subject to all regulations and alterations affecting the same which may hereafter be made by authority of Parliament; nor shall any person by his appointment to any such office acquire any claim or title to compensation in case the same be hereafter altered or abolished by Act of Parliament. It seemed tolerably clear that Dr. Sumner, with archiepiscopal forethought, had made his nomination in the hope that Parliament would not interfere. What he (Sir B. Hall) had then to ask further was, whether it was the intention of the Government to introduce any measure revising this appointment? If so, he trusted that the measure would include all persons not in actual possession of the office, and who, as a consequence, had not tasted the fruits of episcopal patronage.


Since the hon. Baronet announced this question yesterday, I have obtained information on the subject to which it refers—the office of Registrar in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. I 'find, as the hon. Baronet stated, that Mr. Robert Moore was appointed by Archbishop Moore, and that the present Lord Canterbury was appointed to hold that office in reversion after the death of Mr. Robert Moore. Mr. Robert Moore now holds the office, and Lord Canterbury has the reversion of it. The hon. Baronet has truly stated that Archbishop Howley, there being one of the appointments in reversion vacant, did not fill it up. But I cannot say whether or not he made any communication to Her Majesty's Government on the subject. I remember perfectly his stating to me in conversation that there was an office to which he could present, but to which he did not mean to make any appointment, but he did not at the time state the nature of the office; it may have been this or another, because I believe there was more than one office to which he had the power of appointing, but did not appoint. It appears, likewise, that the second reversion of this office has been given, since the present Archbishop was appointed to the see of Canterbury, to Mr. Sumner, who is the son of the Archbishop, and who is a young man now studying in the Temple. Such are the facts which I have ascertained respecting this matter. As regards the law, a Bill was introduced and passed in 1847, which enacts that any person who shall be appointed after the passing of the Act to the office of judge, registrar, or any other in the ecclesiastical courts, shall hold the same subject to all regulations or alterations affecting the same which may hereafter be made by Act of Parliament, nor shall any person appointed to such office acquire any title to compensation in case the same be hereafter altered or abolished by Act of Parliament. The nature of this office is at present undergoing inquiry by a Select Committee of this House. It appears to me that it is one of those offices which, when Parliament shall deal with the subject, must either be abolished, or so altered, that the only salary to be given shall be for efficient duties actually performed. Therefore, the enormous amount of salary which the hon. Baronet has mentioned must be taken away; and by the two clauses to which I have alluded, the gentleman who has been appointed, I do not know exactly at what time, will have no claim for compensation whatever.