§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, that the Bill had only been placed in the hands of Members on the previous day. It was a measure of great importance; and he thought it was unbecoming on the part of the Government to press it forward at that late period of the Session, when there was no possibility of having a fair discussion of its provisions under such circumstances, and with so small an attendance, with grouse shooting approaching, and Good- 1787 wood races on, and other amusements. He, therefore, begged to move that the Bill be read a Second Time that day Three Months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day Three Months."
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
thought they ought to have some explanation with reference to this Bill. A Bill with something of a similar object was introduced in the other House of Parliament at an early period of the Session, and the following, he understood, was the history of the proceedings with regard to that Bill. A Commission was appointed in 1849 for the purpose of inquiring into and determining on a better mode of managing the Episcopal Revenues; they made two Reports. The Commission consisted of Gentlemen eminently qualified to consider the subject. They were Gentlemen who might be supposed to have rather an episcopal leaning than otherwise—the Commission consisted of the Earl of Harrowby, Dr. Lyall, the Solicitor General, Mr. Armstrong, Mr. J. G. S. Lefevre, and Mr. Richard Jones. And he might say it was a Commission that had given satisfaction. He was led to believe also, from circumstances that had been brought to his knowledge, that the Commission was sanctioned by the episcopal body, and that the Reports they made had received the sanction of the episcopal body. He believed that a Bill founded upon those Reports, and receiving similar sanction, was introduced in the other House of Parliament by the Earl of Carlisle. But upon the second reading certain members of the episcopal body, thinking they could make better terms, objected to the further progress of the Bill except it was referred to a Select Committee; and he was informed that after evidence had been heard on the part of the promoters of the Bill without counsel to represent them, an application was made that the episcopal body might have counsel to cross-examine the witnesses and defend their own body against the promoters of the Bill, and that the proposition was rejected. They were told that a certain Report had been agreed to upon the evidence; but they had not seen the Report, and he understood it was quite at variance with the recommendation of the Commissioners as originally propounded. When all these circumstances were known, they should, he thought, have time to con- 1788 sider the manner in which the lessees were to be dealt with. He admitted they ought to be glad that any proposition was made for the purpose of taking the management of the ecclesiastical revenues out of the hands of the Commissioners; but this Commission had come to certain resolutions that were very worthy of consideration and attention from all parties. In page 6 of the Report of the Commissioners, they treated of the estates of the archbishops and bishops, and they said that the present plan of paying the bishops had not worked well in practice, owing to the uncertainty of the events which determined the incomes, and the varying amounts of the fines which fell in in different years; that some bishops had thus received much more, some much less, than the income intended for them; and that to suggest means of making those incomes regular was one of the duties intrusted to them (the Commissioners). Seeing the hon. and learned Solicitor General in his place, who was one of the Commissioners, and a party to that admirable Report, he wished to knew if any steps were taken to equalise the episcopal revenues. It appeared that the Bishop of Durham had received 79,000l. more than he ought to receive, and that the Archbishop of York had received much less than he ought to receive, and he was called upon to pay to the common fund a sum that was a supposed surplus, though he had not received it. These evils should not be allowed to continue, and the whole thing should be put on a different footing. His opinion was that the bishops ought not to have anything to do with the management of the property. The deans and chapters should have the property taken out of their hands; and let them be paid what would be a proper income for the duties they had to perform. To discuss a measure of this kind when the Bill had only been in their possession a few hours, was impossible. All they knew was that there were two Reports, which had been made the basis of a Bill that was not carried out in another place; and he begged to ask if any steps were to be taken to carry out those Reports?
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, it was perfectly true, as stated by the hon. Baronet, that two Reports had been made by the Commission to which he referred; that a Bill founded upon them was introduced in the other House by his noble Friend the Earl of 1789 Carlisle; and that that Bill wag referred to a Select Committee of the House of Lords, and they took evidence of various descriptions, and came to the conclusion that it was not desirable to proceed with the Bill in the shape in which it had been proposed in compliance with the recommendation of the Commission. The Committee thought it very difficult, if not impossible, to pass any compulsory measure upon the subject, and they therefore limited their recomendation, which had been carried into effect by the Bill now on the table, to a permissive Bill, permitting ecclesiastical corporations, sole or aggregate, with the approval of the Church Estates Commissioners, to sell their interest to any lessee, or to purchase of any lessee his interest, providing certain restrictions upon that power, and prescribing the application to be made of the money, and especially that any increase of income obtained thereby should not go to the individual whose estate was sold, but to the general purposes of Church funds. Therefore no individual would derive any increase of revenue from the transaction. He did not think it would be desirable to enter on this much-mooted question, which they had so often heard discussed in that House; it was not a question where the incomes of individuals were concerned; and whatever would be gained would be gained by the Church, and he did not think that any objection should be taken to the Bill in its present shape. His opinion was that this was a far better scheme than had been recommended by the Commissioners. It provided for the possibility of getting rid of a system of lease by fine and renewal, which every person who had touched upon the question in recent discussions objected to, and which had led to circumstances that were complained of in that House. It was a system prejudicial to the parties who received the income, and to those who paid it. It might be true that in thirty years a bishop might receive an income equivalent to 4,000l. or 5,000l. a year; but in many years he might receive nothing at all, and that was a position in which it was not fair to place an individual having such duties to perform. If the system of renewals was not got rid of, the incomes could not possibly be equalised. This was a first and most decided step in getting rid of the system of letting Church lands; it was merely a permissive Bill to allow parties to make such arrangements as are desirable, subject to the check of the Ecclesiastical 1790 Commissioners. As to the intention of the measure, he saw no objection to it, and he hoped it would be largely acted upon, and would be alike for the benefit of the Church, the bishops, the lessees, and the State.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
thought it was most desirable to have this question settled, and that the income of the bishops should be equalised and placed on a solid footing, of which no person should have reason to complain. He did not think, however, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given to other parties concerned the slightest consolation, or the slightest information as to what was to be done with their interests. It was said this Bill was merely a permissive measure; but his (Mr. Aglionby's) objection to the measure was founded upon that circumstance as well as upon anything else. Assuming for a moment that this measure was fair towards all parties, and recognised the beneficial interest of the lessees, that it was desirable to give an increased income to the Church and settle that vexata questio, still they should not press forward with indecent haste a measure of so much importance. Several witnesses were anxious to be summoned on the part of the lessees in various parts of the country, and it was only fair that they should be heard. However, it was arranged that within a fortnight the Bill must be passed; it was hurried through the House of Lords, and was passed in as many days as the forms of the House allowed. The Bill was only recently brought down to that House; and the Report of the Commission and the evidence taken before it, that was said to be the foundation of the Bill, was not yet delivered. The House was in ignorance of what was to be done with this immense mass of property; and was it not fair that, where lessees were concerned, they should be consulted? There was no person present of whom they could ask a question on the subject; and an awful responsibility would rest upon those who, even on the high recommendation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would allow this Bill to pass. They should not permit themselves to be accused hereafter of sacrificing the interests of those they ought to protect, and they should not forget that the present Government had a strong bias to do what the bishops and Ecclesiastical Commissioners required. If they did not pass this Bill now, would they be worse off next 1791 Session? He could not think so ill of the Ecclesiastical authorities or the Commissioners as to say that, if the Bill were fair and just now, they would not let it pass next Session. What he asked was a delay of six months, to give persons an opportunity of considering the subject. Surely they should have an opportunity of suggesting amendments in detail, and should not, without consultation or consideration, be called upon to pass the measure with railway haste. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was merely permissive; but that was the very worst part of it. They would sacrifice the interest of the poorer classes, who were admitted to have a beneficial interest, and sacrifice them for the advantage of a few individuals. There was no pledge whatever that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would even be bound by that Report. The lessees were handed over to the bishops and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and deprived by the Bill of that beneficial occupation which they had a right to expect. Under those circumstances he implored the Government to postpone the second reading of the Bill until the next Session of Parliament.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he agreed with much that had fallen from the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Aglionby) as to the right which the lessees had to have their interests fully considered. The Report of the Commissioners, and the original Bill founded on that report, certainly did not deal fairly with the interests of the lessees, The hon. Member for Cockermouth had alleged that the interests of the lessees were handed over to one of the parties; but such was not the case. He (Mr. Spooner) denied the whole of the argument which the hon. Gentleman had founded on the assumption that this was a compulsory Bill. There was not a single iota of compulsion in the whole Bill. There was very great uncertainty with respect to the property with which the Bill proposed to deal. At present, anybody wanting to deal with that property had his hands completely tied. The result was, that purchasers could not be found. It was therefore desirable that that state of things should be brought to a close as soon as possible. It appeared to him the best course to pursue was, that the parties interested ought to try to reconcile their differences, and then apply to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to approve of any arrangement to which they might come. For himself, he thought the Bill was a step in the right direction. As 1792 the property was at present managed, neither party had the full possession or enjoyment of it, and it was the object of the Bill to get rid of that system of management. He opposed the suggestion that the second reading of the Bill should be postponed for six months, on the ground that, if that course were pursued, so much excitement would in the interval be produced among the parties interested that a fair settlement of the question would be much impeded when it came again before Parliament in the next Session. The Bill was in his opinion a step in the right direction, and he hoped the Government would persist in pressing it.
§ MR. MULLINGS
entirely concurred in the principle of this Bill, but in the details of it he did not concur. He thought if the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spooner) had considered the whole of the details of this Bill, he would have seen that it was not quite of so permissive a character as he thought. There was no notice whatever taken of the rights or interests which had been called dormant; he meant those appertaining to the tenant-right of renewal, which had existed from time immemorial. Those leasehold interests had been made the subjects of sale and mortgage, of marriage settlements and devises; and now they were to be disposed of for the benefit of one party only, namely, the Church Estates Commissioners. He would recommend the hon. and learned Solicitor General to see that words were inserted in the Bill with a view that regard should be had to the course of dealing with that property for the last century. If some provision was inserted in the Bill by which the tenant-right of renewal were recognised—and he (Mr. Mullings) asked for no more—and pointed to it as a matter to be dealt with, he should fully approve of the measure. It had been said that the Bill was simply permissive; but as he understood it, the 8th clause contained something more than a permissive power. There were provisions in the Bill to which he could not consent, and he therefore trusted that the Bill would be read a second time with the understanding that it would be deferred till next Session.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, if this were a Bill, the object of which was to increase the revenues of the episcopal body, or to increase the dividend of the capitular body, and to screen their proceedings from popular reform, then he could understand the objection being made to it on the part 1793 of those who were desirous for the improvement of the efficiency of the Church. But the Bill did not in the least touch any one of those subjects; on the contrary, it expressly provided that when they had increased the aggregate of the Church property they should carry that increase to the common fund for the promotion of those Church purposes to which that fund was applied, and for the increase of which that House, in this Session of Parliament, had unanimously addressed the Crown, solemnly calling upon Her Majesty to take every means in Her power for increasing the efficiency of the Church from its own resources. There were two parties interested in Church property—the lessors, who were an ecclesiastical corporation, and the lessees. In former times Parliament took care that the Church should not alienate its property. That had introduced a state of law most inconvenient as regarded the tenure of ecclesiastical property. It had given rise to an exceedingly disadvantageous mode of vesting the lease in one party, and the reversion in another, to which it was desirable to put an end. The lessee could not dispose of his interest in the lease; and, as regarded the lessor, Parliament had interposed an obstacle to his obtaining the reversion. It was manifestly most desirable for the public interests, having regard to the free tenure of land, to the greatest amount of revenue to be derived from it, and also to the economical application of that revenue, that the system of vesting the lease in one party, and the interest in another, should come to an end. Well, they appointed Church Estates Commissioners; and it was now submitted to Parliament that the Church, with the sanction of those Estates Commissioners, might be safely allowed to deal with its property in the capacity of a vendor. He denied that there was any compulsion. There was the Church on the one side, a free party; and on the other the lessee, a free party; and this Bill only enabled the Church to deal with the lessee, and the lessee to deal with the Church if he pleased, and to obtain that which his (Mr. Cardwell's) hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Aglionby) said was a privilege for which he would gladly pay. To pass a compulsory Bill so late in the Session, would be an anomalous proceeding; but with all respect for the opinion of the hon. Member for Cirencester (Mr. Mullings), as a lawyer, he could not put the same construction on the Bill as the 1794 hon. Gentleman did. It was true the Bill contained a wholesome compulsion on the capitular authorities, who could not add to their own revenues; but would hon. Members tie up the hands of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner), who wished this recess to make arrangements respecting leasehold property beneficial to the parties, and also to the public, because it brought land into the market? The hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Aglionby) objected to the Bill on grounds which would be applicable if it were a compulsory Bill. He (Mr. Cardwell) contended that the only object of the Bill was to increase the revenues of the Church, carrying that increase to a common fund for the benefit of the working clergy of the. Church; and it did that with the perfectly free concurrence of those with whom the Church had to deal. Under these circumstances, he did hope the Government would proceed with the Bill.
§ MR. CHISHOLM ANSTEY
said, the parties interested in this question were the lessees on the one side, and the lessors on the other. If the lessee attempted to use the machinery which this Bill pretended to give him for securing his rights, then the Bill became compulsory. That machinery would only operate for the benefit of the lessor, and not at all for that of the lessee. There was a general feeling amongst the lessees of Church property against this Bill. They regarded it as a measure of spoliation, and one which would not have been introduced unless with the view to advance the interests of the Church, and, above all, of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The hon. Member for Cirencester (Mr. Mullings) was perfectly right in the view he took of the Bill. If the lessee was inclined to take advantage of the Bill, his right of renewal was gone. He (Mr. C. Anstey) thought it right to warn the House against the course of legislation which had of late years been adopted at the instance of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. They had lost altogether that wholesome jealousy which Parliament used to entertaih of the power of those Commissioners, who represented in their own persons the whole wealth of the Church of England. The Mortmain Acts had been already repealed in their favour. He should like to ask the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Cardwell) whether it was likely, unless the terms were very favourable indeed to the pecuniary views of the Church, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would con- 1795 sent to an enfranchisement which would would bring land into the market? He feared if they passed this Bill it would stand in the way of a permanent and satisfactory settlement of the question hereafter. In any Bill of this nature it was essential that regard should be had to the right the tenant now possessed in the certainty of renewal; and the terms should be fixed on more equitable grounds than they were at present. As it was not the policy of the Church to alienate its lands, it was clear that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, if left to themselves, would consent to no terms of enfranchisement which would not in effect amount to spoliation as against the lessees, and the enhancement of the ecclesiastical revenues. The principle of enfranchisement was good, but it was not provided for by this Bill; on the contrary, its operation was obstructed by it. For those reasons he would vote in favour of the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln (Colonel Sibthorp), if it was pressed to a division.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that in leaving it in the power of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to make rules for the enfranchisement of Church leasing, the Bill did, in fact, hand over to the Commissioners the legislative powers of that House. True, it provided that these rules should be laid before both Houses of Parliament; but what did that mean? Either that the Government did not know what the law ought to be, though they were determined to legislate on the subject, or that, with full information of what these rules ought to be, the framers of the Bill had not submitted them to the House as part of the Bill itself, but had given power to the Commissioners to make and enforce them, as laws. What, he should be glad to know, was the reason for this pressing hurry now? Here they proposed to give a compulsory power to the Commissioners, and yet the operative part of the measure was to be reserved till next Session! He wished to see the revenues of the Church placed in a more advantageous position; but he could not understand why the Commissioners should have power to deal with existing interests, and the operative part of the measure be thus reserved to another Session of Parliament. He trusted the Government would consent to postpone the Bill until next Session, and then again submit it to the House with the rules, orders, and laws embodied in its provisions.
§ MR. FREWEN
was, like the hon. Mem- 1796 ber for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner), a lessee of Church property, and wished therefore to maintain the principle of "tenant-right." But he understood the right hon. Home Secretary to state to the House some time ago, when a question was put to him in reference to this Bill, that he did not expect that it would pass into a law during the present Session. In consequence of that statement by the right hon. Gentleman, he (Mr. Frewen) had not taken upon himself the trouble of considering what would be the operation and effect of the measure. He had regarded the Bill as a means of procuring a preliminary discussion on the subject, and had been under the impression that legislation would be deferred to a future Session. The House might judge of his surprise, therefore, when he found that morning that the Bill had been brought down from the House of Lords and read a first time, and its second reading appointed for this evening.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
was certain the pledge of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary did not apply to the present Bill, but to the compulsory Bill. His right hon. Friend had not been in the House since this measure had been before Parliament.
§ MR. BONHAM CARTER
objected that to give power to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by this Bill to frame rules and orders now, would interfere with future legislation. He feared also as it was provided that no bargain made with any ecclesiastical corporation should be binding if detrimental to that corporation, and that the lessors in all cases should be indemnified against loss, that they would make bargains which would ultimately tell against the lessees. He thought, however, it would be unwise to refuse assent to the principle of a Bill which went so far towards effecting an object so desirable as the enfranchisement of Church leases.
§ SIR THOMAS COLEBROOKE
complained that they were called upon to decide upon the details of a Bill, without having any explanation of its principles. It had been said it was a permissive Bill, but the permission would very much depend upon the terms in which it was granted. Parliament ought not to sanction a Bill of this kind unless the principle was clearly defined upon which the commutations would take place. If the question was pressed to a division, he would vote against the measure.
The SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, 1797 that the objections to the Bill seemed to him to be against its details, and not against its principle. On the second reading of the Bill, it was hardly fair to discuss the former point. The real object of the Bill was to effect an enfranchisement of holdings, if the lessors and lessees so desired it. The Bill could not in any way prejudice the interests of lessees, for it gave them power to do that, namely, obtain an enfranchisement, which, under the present state of the law, they could not obtain. As to the 8th Clause, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cirencester (Mr. Mullings) had mistaken its object. By the present law a party was allowed to take a large fine and sell the interest of the Church for fourteen years, when he might not live three. But by the proposed measure the whole produce of such a sale must be refunded, and the incumbent would only get the income of the produce of the sale. But it was asked, why not at once lay down rules and regulations relative to the terms at which sales should be made to lessees? The answer was, that there were a great number of matters to be considered, not merely with reference to the subject generally, but with regard to particular cases. There were leases of tithes; the leases in the north and south of England differed in their nature; there were leases of mines and of houses, and it was impossible at once to lay down rules on all these matters. Experience itself would suggest many regulations that could not be well foreseen. But, at all events, the rules laid down could not injure the lessee, for all he had to say was that he would not make the bargain. If the regulations did not suit him, he need not buy. He did not see on what principle the hon. Baronet (Sir B. Hall) could object to this Bill, as it was intended to put an end to a mischievous system which he had always protested against.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, the Bill had only been in their possession twenty-four hours, and they were now asked to agree to the second reading. He had great objection to legislating in this way. The hon. and learned Solicitor General told them that the Bill merely gave permission to lessees to change their condition if they saw fit; but he thought the case went further than that. They might change their condition, but it was to be on terms made by a certain body named in the Bill, namely, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. It was very possible that, before the rules were laid 1798 before the House, some very questionable purchases might be made, as it appeared the parties had power to act in the meantime. He hoped the Bill would be postponed until the public had an opportunity of considering its provisions.
§ MR. BARROW
could not consent to the second reading of a Bill which had been brought forward under circumstances of such precipitation. The Bill had been only a few hours in his hands, and he had had no opportunity as yet of ascertaining the opinions of his constituency with respect to it. For his own part, he confessed he was anxious that enfranchisement should be proceeded with, but he did not very clearly understand how that object could be attained by the present Bill.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
thought that everything that had been said by the various Members who had taken part in the discussion, tended to the conclusion that it would be well for the House to assent to the second reading, with a view to having the details of the measure deliberately considered in Committee. All agreed in approving of the principle of the Bill, which was nothing more than this, that both the Church and the lessees should have power to sell and buy, as they thought fit. The only objection turned on the details of the measure, and even those hon. Members who were not satisfied with the details would best accomplish the object they had in view by facilitating the second reading, and stating their objections in Committee, so that the Bill might go to the country with such amendments as it might appear to require. For his own part, he thought it was quite possible for the House to shape the Bill in the present Session in such a manner as to make it free from objection; but even those who were of a different opinion, and desired a postponement till next Session, would do well to vote for the second reading, and thus accelerate that particular stage in which they might most fully and most legitimately explain their views.
MR. BECKETT DENISON
did not think, considering the state of public business, that there was any possibility of the Bill passing this Session. He thought that the House had been treated in an unprecedented manner in being called upon to give its consent to the second reading of a Bill which had been only a few hours on the table. He should vote for the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the word stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 45 34: Majority 11.
|List of the AYES.|
|Bellew, R. M.||M'Gregor, J.|
|Berkeley, Adm.||Moffatt, G.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Morris, D.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Brotherton, J.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Cardwell, E.||Pakington, Sir J.|
|Carter, J. B.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Cockburn, Sir A.J. E.||Parker, J.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Price, Sir R.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Currie, H.||Spooner, R.|
|Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Tennent, R. J.|
|Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.||Thompson, Col.|
|Elliott, hon. J. E.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Tufnell, rt. hon. H.|
|Goold, W.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Wilson, J.|
|Greene, T.||Wilson, M.|
|Hawes, B.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Hindley, C.||Wood, Sir W. P.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Langston, J. H.||Craig, Sir W. G.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Lacy, H. C.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Martin, J.|
|Bass, M. T.||Naas, Lord|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Neeld, J.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Collins, T.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Denison, E.||Plowden, W. H. C.|
|Dunne, Col.||Reid, Col.|
|Edwards, H.||Salwey, Col.|
|Ellis, J.||Scobell, Capt.|
|Forster, M.||Stuart, H.|
|Fox, S. W. L.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Williams, J.|
|Geach, C.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Greene, J.||Young, G. F.|
|Hall, Sir B.|
|Hallewell, E. G.||TELLERS.|
|Henley, J. W.||Aglionby, H. A.|
|Kershaw, J.||Sibthorp, Col.|
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
said, he believed that the country would regard with feelings of disgust and indignation the course that had been pursued with reference to this Bill. He had uniformly observed that, when Bills were introduced on the subject of the temporalities of the Church, it had been the uniform practice to postpone them till almost the last day of the Session, so that opportunity for considering their provisions was utterly impossible. The 3rd & 4th William IV., which was a Church Temporalities Act, did not receive the Royal Assent till the 14th of August; and the 3rd & 4th Victoria, cap. 113, which was an Act of a 1800 similar character, did not receive the Royal Assent till the 11th of August. The result of this system was, that discussion was cushioned, and that facilities were afforded for scandalous jobs and abuses. Another instance of indecent haste which marked all these proceedings was contained in a case which came under his own knowledge. There was a certain right rev. Prelate, who had a deanery attached to the office of bishop. It was intended, however, by the Report of the Commissioners to abolish the office of dean, and an Act abolishing it passed through both Houses of Parliament. On Saturday, the 9th of August, the Bill had passed through all its stages in both Houses, and on Monday, the 11th, it received the Royal Assent. But on Sunday, the 10th, twenty-four hours before the Bill was passed, this bishop got himself installed both as a bishop and dean, and by this manœuvre set the authority of the Crown and Parliament completely at defiance. He hoped that they would have no more passing of Bills at the end of a Session, and that the present measure would be postponed to give them time fully to consider its contents and examine the evidence taken before the Lords' Committee. The episcopal body should have the common decency to let the laity see what they were to be called on to pay for their lands under this Bill; for a part of the Bill said the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were to determine the whole that was to be paid. Now, these Commissioners were the bishops, and he did not think they were the parties who ought to have this power. There was no confidence in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; they were, in fact, a condemned body; and he now told the Government that if they insisted upon passing this Bill in the present Session, he would use every influence in his power to oppose it. It was a disgraceful attempt to impose upon the laity a certain price for the lands which they held of the Church, and that price was to be arbitrarily imposed by the bishops themselves. They ought in common decency to let the nature of these measures be known in time. The Bill had been brought down from the House of Lords no later than last night, and was circulated that morning; but the Government had not been able to carry the second reading by a larger majority than eleven. He would offer no objection to their going into Committee on the Bill, if there was a distinct understanding that it 1801 would not be pressed to a third reading this Session; but if no such assurance were given, be would certainly do all in his power to resist further progress.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
agreed with the hon. Baronet (Sir B. Hall), that it was a most unjustifiable course for the Government to endeavour to take every advantage, and to "dare" to force down a measure of this importance at this late period of the Session.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
said, that after the decision of the House in favour of the second reading, he should offer no further opposition to the Bill at present, but he should endeavour when in Committee to alter its provisions. He should communicate with those who were interested in the question, which involved property to the amount of hundreds of thousands of pounds; and if there were as many objections, after the Bill had passed through Committee, as there were now, he should urge the Government to withdraw it until next Session. He should not, however, offer any factious opposition to the measure.
The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER'S
own belief was, that it would be very easy to remove many of the objections to this said Bill in Committee. He believed the principle of the measure was beneficial to the lessees.
MR. J. A. SMITH
considered the Bill as merely an experiment, to see whether the Church and the lessees could come to terms under the provisions it contained. But those provisions, if unaltered, would entail positive and actual ruin on a great number of lessees; and he was certain gross injustice would be inflicted, unless there was some proper legislation founded on the recommendations of the report.
§ MR. SPOONER
thought the hon. and learned Solicitor General had taken a very correct view of the evils which existed, and if the hon. and learned Gentleman would undertake the conduct of the Bill, it would probably come before the House in a way which would meet with general approval.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to; Bill read 2°, and committed for To-morrow.