HC Deb 29 April 1852 vol 120 cc1317-48

rose and said: Sir, I rise in accordance with the notice on the paper of this House, which has for some time been standing in my name, for the purpose of moving for leave to introduce a Bill to enable Her Majesty further to regulate the duties of ecclesiastical personages, and to make better provision for the management and distribution of episcopal and capitular revenues. And, Sir, if ever there was an occasion when it was necessary for the House to extend its accustomed patience and indulgence, it is not only while I detail the provisions of the measure which I am about to ask for permission to introduce, but also while I state the motives and the reasons which induce me now to undertake a task which might well be committed to older, abler, and more experienced hands. My path is laid in the region of possible mistake on my part; but, Sir, in spite of the many difficulties which may well be supposed to wait upon the steps of a private Member of this House in bringing forward a measure which ought to have emanated from a Government, rather than from an individual, there are some circumstances which contribute to make me feel that, although it cannot be the lot of any one, however disinterested his motives, or however earnest his desire for his country's good, to submit a measure in every respect unobjectionable, yet I am sure, Sir, the high subject to which I am about to address myself will gain for me an attention which the House has already kindly accorded to me on a previous occasion; and I may even cherish a hope that such a response will be elicited to my appeal, both in this House and out of doors, as will induce Her Majesty's Government to give some promise that they will seriously consider how they can best promote the better administration of that Established Church which I rejoice to think is still one of the best bulwarks of our free institutions, and is yet associated in the hearts and homes of Englishmen with all that is time-honoured, sacred, and revered. Sir, it is impossible that I can forget the more than looked-for response which I obtained from the House last Session in the endeavour that I then made to urge as earnest an appeal as I could on its sense of the propriety of recognising the vast amount of spiritual destitution existing throughout England and Wales. I need not remind the House that, without a division, they adopted an Address to the Crown, praying Her Majesty to take into Her gracious consideration the spiritual destitution of the country. I then endeavoured, Sir, to show how wide and how general was the destitution of which I complained, and how impossible it was for the Church in her then position to meet it; and I made some propositions, which were drawn from reports that were then before Parliament. And although what I then stated—as I must freely admit—did not meet with a universal concurrence; nor, indeed, did I then wish to pledge the House to such a concurrence; yet what I said had this effect, that it proved our system was not inert—that the resources of the Church were not entirely exhausted, but that they only needed a wise and judicious treatment to enable her to expand with a power commensurate, in some degree, with those necessities which we are bound, as far as it is possible, to consider and to alleviate. Well, Sir, the answer which Her Majesty returned to that Address was in every respect most satisfactory. Her Majesty commanded the Minister through whom Her gracious Answer was made, to inform this House that the attention of Her Government had been previously directed to the best means of rendering the resources of the Established Church more available and more efficient to afford a provision for the spiritual wants of the people in England and Wales; and that the House might be assured of Her cordial concurrence in the adoption of all well-considered measures for promoting this important object. Well, Sir, I admit that, under such favourable auspices, I am more than ever encouraged to invite the attention of the House again to this subject. For myself, I have nothing more to offer as my excuse but much anxious thought, and an earnest love for the Church of England; but I carry with me the recollection of what has already taken place; and, therefore, I feel that, in the avowal I am about to make of very important principles, I need not shrink from the trial to which they will be subjected; because, Sir, I am convinced that the House, alive with me to the cry of thousands of my perishing fellow-countrymen, will acquit me of any rash or reckless desire unnecessarily to disturb our existing laws or established institutions. The motives which have induced me to bring forward this measure are twofold. The first is, the necessity acknowledged by all of enabling the Established Church to extend its ramifications through the whole mass of our rapidly increasing population; and the second is, the desire to remedy the abuses which are known to exist in the Establishment, and which, though less than might be anticipated, considering the varied state and the complicated nature of our social relations, are yet sufficient to elicit sorrowful and humiliating confessions from many a true friend of the Church, and to afford a fair mark for the sneers and sarcasms of her enemies. If we ask whence these abuses originate, we may say that they proceed from a want of sufficient legislation on matters of this nature; I feel that we should not be rendering justice to those to whom the administration of Church affairs is intrusted, if we were to ignore the exertions they have made to remedy this evil, and to extend the Establishment in some proportion with the rapidly increasing population. But the legislation has been always tardy, or rather it has been extorted by the pressure of existing circumstances, rather than framed with a view to meet the exigencies of the future. Where are the Acts of Parliament—with the single exception of that of 1843—which can be said to have had consistent regard to our increasing population? That Act of 1843 the late Sir Robert Peel said was intended to lay the foundation of extended usefulness to the Church. If so, where is the structure that ought to have been raised upon it? I think that by this time we ought to be enabled to see its proportions, and be enabled to augur of the future fitness of the structure. It is not alone, therefore, that the wants of the people, but even regard to the memory of those who are gone, that should induce us to engage in this inquiry. If we turn to another point of view we see that by our present arrangement the duties imposed upon the prelates of our Church, place them in a position where those duties are either impossible to be discharged, or on the other hand we see the facilities that are afforded for those who ought to be exercised on the highest and noblest duties of the Church, to be weaned from those duties by the secular cares which are imposed upon them. I shall now state, to the House the course which I propose to pursue. First, I shall recall to the recollection of Members the interest which has been shown by Monarchs and Parliaments through a long period with regard to all matters connected with the Established Church of the country. I shall then trace the course which the Legislature has adopted to remedy recognised evils. I shall turn to a few leading points that we may see how far those evils still remain unalleviated; and then I shall state the measure I propose, which I trust will be found to be in accordance with the acknowledged principles that were adopted in the face of similar circumstances. True, I might have adopted a different course. It would have required but a small amount of labour and perseverance to have laid before the House an array of figures that would have aroused the spirit of the public at no distant day to secure the success of some such measure. But I prefer a different method—I would rather recall the attention of the House to the bygone interest that was taken in the Church, than by any distressing statement arouse less tolerant or constitutional feelings. With regard to the first point, it would be an easy matter to accumulate ample proofs from the records of our Statute-book, showing the deep interest that was felt by successive Sovereigns and Parliaments in the well-being of the Established Church. There was an Act in the 21st of Henry VII. which was enacted, as the preamble states, for the quiet and virtuous increase and maintenance of divine service, and for the teaching and preaching of the word of God. Another Act was passed in the reign of the same monarch for the creation of eighteen suffragan sees—an Act which has never since been repealed. In succeeding enactments there are traces of the same spirit: thus, for instance, one of the Acts of Charles I. declares that the office of the ministry is of so great importance, as to occupy the whole man. In the reign of Queen Anne we had the foundation of the Bounty Board, and a vote of the House of Commons of 100,000l. a year; and in the year 1711 the Commons of England declared their opinion that the want of churches greatly contributed to the increase of schism and irreligion, and that they would not fail to do their part to supply that defect, notwithstanding the expensive war in which they were engaged; and they placed their opinion upon the Statute-book, that the Commons of Great Britain were zealous to provide a supply of churches for the instruction of all the inhabitants in the true Christian religion as professed in the Church of England, and established in this realm. In 1724 his Majesty sent a message to the House of Commons, that he was sensible that nothing could more engage Almighty God to send down a blessing upon his Crown and people than a due zeal for the honour and service of religion. In 1818, at the close of a long and protracted struggle, we find a new enlargement of the same principle; for the evil arising from the spiritual destitution of the country is one of the calamities for which Parliament engages to provide a remedy. In the same year was afforded a memorable example, both in the Speech from the Throne, and in the response of Parliament, by voting one million of money, that there was a determination on the part both of the nation and of the Sovereign to recognise the claims of the Establishment. In the provisions of that Act we trace the commencement of an important principle which has come down to our own day, a spur to private benevolence, and of the most vital consequence to our national prosperity. In 1835 a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the condition of the Established Church. The effects of that Commission on the vital interests of the Church cannot be overestimated, for by it an important principle has been laid down, to the beneficial tendency of which I shall afterwards draw the attention of the House, though, perhaps, it was not at the time carried out to a sufficiently comprehensive extent. The principle which at that time received the sanction of Parliament was this—that we might amend the distribution of the revenues of the Church, always having regard to the sanctity of the property belonging to the Established Church. In 1838 a Commission was appointed to inquire into leases of Church property, which issued in. most important consequences. In 1840, the Act passed which removed all obstacles to Parliament interfering in the distribution and arrangement of the revenues of the Church. In 1841 an attempt was made by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford to revive the ancient spirit which animated Parliament in 1818. But a new principle had been laid down; the probable value of Church property had been by this time discovered, and in 1843 was introduced the principle that it was to her own resources that the Church must look for the means of her further enlargement. In 1847 the claims of the increasing population, and the increase in the numbers of the clergy, were recognised as causes for the increase of the Episcopate; and the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, who was then at the head of the Government, declared what were the new sees which the Commissioners had agreed to recommend—one to relieve York and Lincoln, one for St. Albans, Southwark, and Bodmin. Thus the increase of the Episcopate was declared to be one principle of the extension of the Church. Other attempts were made to induce Parliament to consider the evils of our cathedral establishments, to ascertain the amount of Church property, to rearrange the number of parishes, and to build new churches. I think I have said enough to show that a feeling of interest in the Established Church has at all times entered deeply into the public mind, and I am sure that there never was a time when the reasons were more urgent than at present to recommend the Established Church to the reason and conscience of the nation. Now, in marking the principles that have been adopted on the subject of Church reform, let me first of all direct the attention of the House to the steps that have been taken with regard to the commutation of tithes. Nothing could exceed the evils which that Act was introduced to abrogate. The greatest benefits that might otherwise have been derived from a resident ministry, were neutralised by them, till by the introduction of this Act an effectual bar was placed to all complaints, and the property of the parochial clergy was placed on a basis where they might enjoy it unalloyed by odium and misrepresentation. That Act provided that the clergy should receive their income in money payments, and there was introduced a third party, by whom the revenues were collected and paid over to the clergy. This, I think, was an important principle, and one which I believe the circumstances of the times render necessary to carry further in its application. I shall pass on to other principles which were dictated by emergencies as they arose: those emergencies consisted of wants, and of abuses. The abuses consisted of the enormous incomes enjoyed by corporations, sole and aggregate; of sinecures or salaries attached to the performance of ridiculous and unreal duties, while many thousands of human beings were totally unprovided with the means of religious instruction on the part of the Church, and a population has grown up around us un-eared for and uninstructed. Squalid might be their lives, and dark might be their end, still we must not conceal the truth that the Established Church was there. But she had not learnt to sacrifice her ease, and, therefore, she did not know her power to reclaim. The Commission proceeded in the first place to show the disproportion of the dioceses, and how immense some of them were—six dioceses containing on an average 840 benefices—and theft they proceeded to repartition almost the entire kingdom, the amount of the population as well as the number of the clergy being taken into account at the distribution. The state of the episcopal and capitular revenues at that time is too well known for me to detain the House with them. There were 26 deans and 211 canons enjoying revenues which were returned at 230,000l. a year, and there were 70 sinecure rectories, returned at 30,000l. a year; revenues amounting in all to 260,000l. a year, to which there attached either no duties, or such as were Utterly frivolous or imaginary. Now, for the wants of the Church. It appeared from this Commission that there were 3,200 livings under 150l. a year, and the sum that was required to raise these incomes to a scale fixed by the Commissioners was estimated by them at 279,000l. a year. There were four districts in London, with an aggregate population of 166,000, in which there was only church accommodation for 1–20th of the population and eleven clergymen; and it was calculated that there was a destitute population of 1,000,000 souls, for whom would be required 279 churches. Other dioceses were proportionately in want of church accommodation, to the extent of from 1–6th to 1–13th of the population. Another and a most important question was, how to provide a portion at least of the 279,000l. which was required for the wants of the working clergy. Then it was that the decanal and prebendal revenues could not be overlooked, and accordingly we find an act of the Commission suspending 60 canons, 4 deans, and 360 prebends, whose united revenues amounted to 130,000l. a year. Some of the canonries were made useful by being attached to professorships; others to the beneficial cure of souls; but this was the essential fact, that the hand of the law was not withheld from the Constitution of the chapters, but it gathered their property, and Parliament declared that the intentions of the founders of these institutions were no longer being carried out, unless they could at the same time be rendered conducive to the extension of the parochial establishment. Before I proceed to the reasons which fender it necessary that a still further appeal should be made to Parliament in the same direction, it is right that I should glance at what has been already done. I find by the last report of the Commissioners that they have constructed 233 ecclesiastical districts out Of the funds Which have been placed at their disposal, at an annual charge of 18,000l., and that they have augmented the livings of 820 benefices, at an annual Charge of 45,000l. But by the report for 1835 it appeared that the total amount of augmentations for benefices that was then required was 279,000l. per annum; and the Commissioners there make this remarkable statement—they say it must at once appear obvious to every one how desirable it is that there should be a resident incumbent on every benefice; and that if these livings were not Augmented, the accomplishment of that object would be impossible. The increase of the population that has occurred since that estimate was taken, would probably vary the estimates if the inquiry were again gone into; and I have little doubt that the estimate would not now fall much short of 300,000l. Taking into account, then, all that the Commissioners have done, and the sum that has been expended in increasing this endowments of small livings, there will still remain 200,000l. a year to be provided for. With regard to another point, let me repeat what I said last year with regard to the extent of the dioceses:—

Dioceses. Benefices. Clergy. Acres.
Norwich 909 1,237 2,211,060
Lincoln 794 1,103 2,182,650
Exeter 658 916 2,491,220
Winton 516 807 1,493,030
In districts so vast as these it is impossible that there should be any effectual superintendence, and accordingly in most of them scarcely any superintendence is even affected. In fifteen of the principal dioceses of England and Wales, I shall not be far Within the mark when I say that if the bishops of sixteen principal dioceses in England and Wales were personally to inspect all the benefices under their charge, it could only be done in a period of time varying from four to eight years. With reference to the church accommodation required, I have here, Sir, a return on which great reliance may be placed:—
Existing parishes. Existing churches. Churches required. Church Accommodation.
Lichfield 55 163 75 1–3 to 1–16
Llandaff 28 44 33 1–3–1–50
Oxford 23 40 24 1–3–1–6
Ripon 34 223 62 1–5–1–14
Worcester 32 75 22 1–4–1–15
Winchester. 49 149 34 1–3–1–12
Gloucester and Bristol 28 69 23 1–3–1–7
Chester 43 254 23 1–4–1–10
Exeter 46 86 19 1–4–1–14
York 31 101 20 1–3–1–17
St. David's 11 34 19 1–4–1–18
Durham 41 104 26 1–4–1–20
London 67 280 53 1–4–1–15
Manchester. 21 249 80 1–4–1–11
Sir, it is scarcely necessary to enter further into these subjects; yet I will say as to the want of church accommodation and of clergy, let any Member take up the Clergy List, and allow 2,000 for the number of persons who might be efficiently superintended by a clergyman, and if he will compare the number of the clergy with the population of any of our great towns, he will find how extreme is the disproportion and the deficiency. Let me also point out to the House, one act of the Legislature necessarily leads to another. I have already alluded to the districts that were created in 1843. In each of these a resident clergyman has been placed, a new life has been diffused, and consequently new wants have been felt. I have in my hand a letter from an incumbent of one of these districts, of which I should like to read an extract to the House:— The population are chiefly colliers, quarrymen, and small factory operatives, in number 2,711, only one gentleman resident, who is a member of the Church of Scotland. It was not without the most persevering effort during the last seven years that a church and school had been provided for this people, and benevolent persona in different parts of England, Wales, and America have contributed towards the objects, without which the case was hopeless; yet the sum of 350l. remains a debt upon these buildings, for which the minister alone is responsible. I have no house, except a very small cottage, unit indeed, for any clergyman, nor does the neighbourhood afford any better. Mow this proves how inadequate is the provision that has been made for these districts. The clergyman is a man of superior education, but his income is scarcely superior to the wages of a mechanic. He is not able to accomplish the objects which he sees to be necessary; and, dispirited in mind and wearied in body, he looks to the only source that can give him an increased endowment, or give him a curate which his own means are not able to provide. I might here mention to the House one or two points with regard to those parishes whose tithes are held by chapters, and the inadequate provision that has been made for the incumbents of those parishes. Let the House give their attention to this state of matters:—
Great Tithes. For the Incmbnt.
Bristol Chautdown 1,022 88
Norwich Aldeby 735 64
Sporuston 735 64
St. Paul's Lingsbury 500 46
Westminster Malton 528 93
Worcester Bedwanline 422 90
York Hornby 640 98
Southwell Kneesall-with-Boughton 974 100
Kirklington 500 49
Windsor South Courtney 1,475 148
St. Germans 1,615 150
Froxfield 742 122
These then are the wants, and these the abuses, of the Established Church; and in tones of the most thrilling eloquence, they appeal to this House for a remedy. Believing, as I do, that this is a state of things which lays the Church by law established open to just reproach, I propose as a remedy, a still further extension of those great and important principles to which I have already alluded. My proposition will relate to the constitution of chapters, to the formation of new sees, and to the modification and management of church property, for which, though I do not say that I can assert a precedent, yet I believe that the acts of this House have already paved the way, and pointed in that direction. But first let me point to the ancient constitution of the chapters. They were originally the bishops' councils, as is proved by the following extract from Burn:— The surrender of the lands and possessions of the dean and chapter doth not dissolve the corporation. This was declared in the case of the dean and chapter of Norwich, who, having conveyed their lands to King Edward VI., and being incorporated anew, had their lands re-granted, and made a lease by their own name, and it was adjudged to be a good lease, because, notwithstanding the said conveyance of lands, the old corporation of King Henry VIII. remained, the reason of which was that the two principal ends for which the deans and chapters were instituted (the first to advise the bishop in spiritualities, and the second to restrain him in temporalities), might be well answered by them, though they had no temporal possessions." "By degrees the dependence of the dean and chapter on the bishop, and their relation to him, grew less and less, till at last the bishop hath little more left to him than the power of visiting them, and that very much limited. And he is now scarcely allowed to nominate half of them to their prebends who were all originally of his family. With respect to the duties of deans, I find that the dean, by the 43rd canon, was expected to preach not only in that church where he had long been bound by law and custom to officiate, but also in other churches, and especially in those from which the chapter received their rents and profits. I leave the House to consider how far that provision is now carried out with respect to deans. I propose by this Bill that we should return as near as possible to the ancient form, and that the bishop should occupy the chief position in the chapter by becoming both bishop and dean; and that at the next voidance of a deanery the bishop should become both bishop and clean; and that the successor of the bishop should occupy the decanal residence and reside in the cathedral city. I believe that this re-regulation would be attended with great benefit. It would place the bishop in a recognised position in the chapter, with which he now occupies a most invidious position; in the second place, it would bring him within easy distance of his parochial clergy; and, in the third place, the sum of 36,000l. a year would be provided for the other wants of the Church. I propose that either at the voidance of a deanery or before it, if necessary, steps should be taken for a revision of the ca- thedral statutes, and that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should direct inquiries to be made as to the value of all sums that have been left for educational purposes to the cathedral, with the view of having them distributed in an efficient manner. One of the leading features of the proposition is, that the chapters should be made useful as educational establishments; but the House will see that it is impossible without an extended knowledge of these matters to enter minutely into the question, and therefore I propose that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should enter into a careful inquiry of the whole subject, and where it shall appear to them necessary, to extend the form of the statutes. With especial reference to these objects, then, I propose to provide a remedy for the sinecure nature of cathedral appointments. That the offices of dean and canon are sinecures, is proved by their being exempted from the operation of the law against pluralities, which was enacted in the reign of Henry VIII. But at this day, when every endowment in the Church is of special value, and nothing can be thrown away, these sinecures cannot be permitted to exist. By the Act of 1840 it was enacted that the average income of a canon should be from 500l. to 600l. a year. This may be supposed to be a reasonable income for a clergyman; but the total value of all the benefices held by the canons exceeds the amount of the canonries themselves; and, therefore, the question presents itself, are both these sources of endowment required for the same person? If the canonry is to be united to a benefice, then let the income of the benefice form the endowment of the canonry, and let the endowment of the canonry go to the common fund. I propose, therefore, to suppress the canonries which are not now united to professorships or benefices; leaving two canons residentiary in each cathedral and the minor canons to do the working duties. I do not propose that the canonries should be entirely extinguished, but that the statute of 1840 should be re-enacted, which provided for the suspension of canonries being removed from them, by endowing them with a benefice. I propose that a certain number of benefices should be selected by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, which should on the next vacancy be united with canonries, and that the canonries and benefices so united should be placed in the patronage of the bishop of the diocese, these being benefices now in the gift of any ecclesiastical corporation, sole or aggregate; and in the event of any benefice being so chosen which is now in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor, I propose that the patronage of canonry to which it shall be united shall be vested in Her Majesty. I propose that by means of canonries endowed with benefices in this manner, the number of the canons in the chapter should be increased to twelve. With regard to the duties of the chapter, I must ask the House again to recur to an ancient precedent. Burn, speaking of the ancient constitution and duties of chapters, says— They were likewise called Decani Christiantatis, because their chapters were courts of Christianity or ecclesiastical judicature, wherein they censured their offending brethren, and maintained the discipline of the Church within their own precincts. I propose to return in a manner to these precedents, and for these purposes, that the chapter shall take the place of the Commission now appointed by the Church Discipline Act, to be issued by the bishop for the purpose of instituting a preliminary inquiry in cases of ecclesiastical offences; and that if in any case the chapter consist of less than five members, the bishop shall have the power of appointing substitutes for the occasion. These are the modifications which I propose for the chapter: the further effect of which will be that about 26,000l. will be provided for the other wants of the Church, making, with what I have before alluded to, the annual sum of very nearly 60,000l. per annum. With respect to the important point of sees, I am not now about to defend the order of episcopacy, for I am not now going to propose its institution for the first time. It is that on which the Church is founded; and it is my opinion, and one from which I will never shrink, that in every attempt to extend that Church, we must be equally careful to extend the episcopate. To act otherwise, would not be to act constitutionally. We must endeavour to impress the public mind with a sense of its utility and efficiency, for to leave it in its present state would only be to connive at that which at no distant day may be aroused against it—an intolerant, perhaps a revolutionary, feeling. I therefore propose as a first step towards the increase of the episcopate, the erection of two new sees, one at Westminster, and the other at Bristol. I propose that the see of Westminster should be erected on the voidance of the deanery, and that the bishop should become dean and bishop. I propose that the see of Bristol should be again severed from that of Gloucester on the voidance of the see of Gloucester, and that on the voidance of the deanery of Bristol the bishop should become both dean and bishop. This principle I should hope to see extensively carried out; but with respect to other deaneries, the Bill which I have the honour to present to the House will be merely permissive. It enacts that henceforth the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should lay before the Queen in Council all the recommendations and memorials they may have received touching the division of any diocese, and that upon the voidance of that see, they may either themselves proceed to divide the diocese, or the Queen in Council may direct the diocese to be divided. I have thus endeavoured to invite the expression, on the part of the Church generally, of an opinion upon the matter, and to provide that by this means relief may be placed within her reach. Well, Sir, I propose that upon the division of any diocese a place should be selected in it by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the place so selected should become the cathedral of the diocese, and that the incumbent of that place, provided that an arrangement can be made with the patron so that the patronage should be placed in the hands of the bishop, should become one of the canons of the chapter; that the bishop should have the power of nominating the incumbent of one of the benefices in the diocese to a canonry in the chapter, provided that a similar arrangement can be made; and that, under similar circumstances, a certain number of livings should be selected by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, which upon the next voidance should be permanently united to canonries, and placed in the patronage of the bishop, and thus a chapter should be gradually formed around the bishop. This is the proposition that I have to make with regard to the erection of new sees. I must now make a very brief statement with regard to endowments. By the Act of 1840 it was provided that the average income of every dean should be 1,000l. a year, with some exceptions; and that the average income of no bishop should he under 4,200l. The principle on which I have proceeded is, that the income of any dean, together with a portion deducted from the income now assigned to the bishop of any see, will go to form the income of the new see. Proceeding on this prin- ciple, an income of about 2,500l. a year will be provided for every new bishop; and an income of not less than 4,000l. a year will fee left for every bishop of an old see. The calculation proceeds upon the assumption that sixteen or eighteen new sees will be the utmost that it will be required to erect, and the sum required will then be about 40,000l. a year; and the sum provided in the manner before described, taking the income of the deanery and a portion of the income now assigned to the bishop of any see, in the sees affected by this provision, will be 41,000l. a year, so that an adequate endowment would be provided. But I propose farther to limit the income of certain existing sees. I propose that the income of the future Archbishops of Canterbury should he 10,000l. a year, that the income of the future Archbishops of York should be 8,000l. a year, that the income of the future Bishops of London should be 6,000l. and that the income of the future Bishops of Winchester and Durham should he 5,000l. The results will then stand thus: From the suspension of thirty deaneries we should have 35,500l., and from the suspension of forty-six canonries 26,500l., making a total of 62,000l. Now the sum required for the income of sixteen new bishops is 40,000l. per annum, and the incomes of the existing prelates, without any deduction being made in them, are 152,000l.; but the income proposed after the deduction to which I have adverted, will be 122,000l., leaving a surplus of 50,000l., so that, as the sum required to erect new sees will be 40,000l., 10,000l. will be required from some source or other. That is provided from the suspension of canonries and from other portions which are taken from sums accruing from the suspension of deaneries. Without wearying the House with these calculations, the result is that it leaves a surplus of 27,000l. a year to be applied to the general purposes and wants of the Church;—very indequate, I confess, to what is wanted, but still I feel it is something. I now come to the last part of the measure that I have to propose to the House, and that is, as I have no doubt hon. Members will anticipate, the transfer of the management of Church property to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. If I needed arguments for this step, they might be found, I believe, in the utter unsuitableness of such an employment as the management of property to the feelings of clergymen; in the melancholy state of many cathedral towns, where the light of Christian truth is too often veiled, and the character of the Christian ministry is exposed to contumely and reproach; in the debates which have taken place in this House on matters connected with abuses of this nature, which have spread wide their influence out of doors, and have agitated the public mind with suspicion and distrust. As far as the purposes for which the Act for the Commutation of Tithes was introduced, and as far as the manner in which those objects were attained, we have, I think, abundant precedent for what I have to propose. But a careful consideration of the case will show that the very interests of the property themselves require that a step of this nature should be taken. I need scarcely remind the House that it has ever been the desire of the Legislature of this country to preserve the property that has been held by the dignitaries of the Church as life tenants from being used to the prejudice of their successors; but a few instances (for which I shall ask the indulgence of the House while I recite them) will suffice to show how far these attempts have met with success. There are a certain number of Acts which have at various times passed the Legislature unperceived, and by which large portions of property have been for ever alienated from the Church, Now I will read to the House one instance:— The prebend of Tettenhall, in the cathedral of St. Paul's, had leased the estate under his trust for three lives, at the nominal rent of 46l. per annum. The fine received for this lease does not appear, but it is stated to be 'large.' The lease was the property of the Hon. Charles Fitzroy, a brother of the Duke of Grafton, the then Minister, that Duke whom the Letters of Junius will prevent being forgotten. The prebend had by the lease done his worst for dilapidating the estate and impoverishing his successor, and, knowing that there was little chance of more than the 46l. per annum during his life, soon after, in conjunction with the lessee, presented a petition to Parliament, stating that 'it was for the advantage of the Church, and the successors in the prebend, and that a full equivalent was to be given;' and it was upon these grounds the above Act was obtained, which entirely divests the Church of the whole of this estate for ever, and bestows the fee-simple upon the Hon. Charles Fitzroy, The estate commences at the end of Oxford-street, London, and continues with intermission up to Highgate, a distance of between three and four miles, and includes woods and lands about Highgate, and would, at a fair computution, at the expiration of the existing lease, have been worth to the Church full 30,000l. per annum. The full equivalent given to the Church is 300l. a year secured upon the estate; it is now known as the Southampton estate—the name of Tettenhall is dropped. I have quoted this case from the work of Mr. William Beeston on the temporalities of the Church. I will state another instance. In the year 1800, when it was determined by the Government to redeem the land tax, an Act was passed to enfranchise Church property. But what was the course which was pursued by the prelates of that day? In all cases they filled up the existing leases for their own especial benefit, and the reversionary value of the property, thus diminished, was brought into the market, and a far greater amount of property was thus required to be sold to realise the amount required. Now the following is an extract from the evidence taken before the Committee which sat in the year 1838, and relates to a transaction which took place at the period to which I hare referred with respect to the property of the Bishop of Chester. The witness was Mr. Elsley, and the question was put to him by an hon. Member of this House, whom I now see in his place. Mr. Goulburn asked— 'Why do you go through the process of granting a new lease upon three fresh lives in the first instance? Mr. Elsley replied, 'I am supposing that to be done which I know was done in the case of Patrick Brompton by the Bishop of Chester. The Bishop of Chester, before he would allow that to be sold to redeem the land-tax, made my uncle surrender the old lease, and pay a very large price for the new lease; and I cannot conceive that there was any motive for that, except that the Bishop might put a certain sum into his own pocket, because if that had not been done, the difference would have been much greater, and a much larger sum would have come to the Commissioners for redeeming the land tax; but he took care to provide against that by having granted, before the Commissioners were dealt with, one of the best leases possible, and thereby taking care that the difference between the existing lease and the freehold should be as little as possible, he having received the benefit of the exchange of the old lease with the new lease.' Now I could quote other and similar cases. I believe it was the general practice at that time—I have got evidence which was given before the same Committee as to transactions of the same nature in the sees of Durham and Gloucester. One of the witnesses before that Committee was Mr. Philpotts, a Member of this House, who gave it as his opinion that the effect of these transactions was decidedly to the injury of the successors of these dignitaries. I really scarcely like to go further into the subject; but I can assure you I could give most painful evidence as to the unhappy disposition of the prelates of that day to force a far greater proportion of the Church property to be sold than was required. They chose, for the purpose of filling up leases which had nearly expired, and of which, therefore, the reversionary value was the greatest, and would have realised the greatest sum, in order that they might obtain the greatest fines, which would become part of their own property. It may be said that these are occurrences which took place at a period now gone by. It is true that if they had not been occurrences at a period which is now gone by, I should have had very great hesitation in bringing them before the consideration of this House; but I think that it is the duty of this House not only to look for occurrences of a similar nature at this day, but to guard against these occurrences by taking warning from what has taken place with regard to things of this nature; and I may state one circumstance with regard to what is taking place now, because it involves precisely the same result, that immense portions of Church property are annually being lost to the Church for ever. Within thirty years the sum of 191,000l. has been paid to the Dean and Chapter of Durham for renewals of fines on colliery leases. Now I have no reason to believe that any portion of this property is funded for the benefit of the Church; and therefore, when we remember that this is the return from one proprietary only, we shall be able to form some estimate of what enormous sums are being annually lost to the Church. I have stated, however, that Parliament seems to have paved the way to the arrangements which I shall recommend, as well as to have pointed out the direction. I believe, by limiting the income of these dignitaries, it has destroyed their interest in the surplus. I do not wish to say anything invidious, but I put it to the House whether, taking human nature as we find it, if these incomes are secured to these dignitaries, it is not more than probable that that surplus may be impaired. I might go on to state other circumstances, but with regard to the bishops this is most highly objectionable. If they pay over the surplus to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, they are virtually farming for that body property in which they had no interest whatever, and the natural order of things is thus absolutely reversed, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are the stipendiaries of the spiritual governors of the Church. Whatever may have been the evils attending the old system of leasing, it had this advantage, that the lessor was not the person who was brought into im- mediate contact with the tenant at rack-rent. But by the Act of 1850 Parliament has condemned that system of leases. That Act was one for the enfranchisement of Church property, and there is reason to expect that, sooner or later, Church property will in general be enfranchised and let at rackrent; and, therefore, when we see what are the large incomes of some of the dignitaries of the Church, we may conceive what an enormous trouble will be added to their duties if they are called upon to manage property at rackrent. The inequality of incomes is a point, and a very serious one, affecting the interests of Church dignitaries themselves. By a return which I moved for last year, it appears that the income of some canonries was 50l. one year, and 500l. another. Now, nothing can be more inconvenient to a gentleman than this, and therefore I propose that with regard to capitular property it should be at once vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and that the members of ecclesiastical corporations, except bishops or archbishops, should receive fixed incomes; those who have succeeded to office since 1840, incomes amounting to the average sum now apportioned by Parliament; those who succeeded before 1840, incomes amounting to the average receipts of the last seven years. With regard to episcopal property, I propose that its management should be vested in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; but I do not propose that the fee of the property should be abstracted from the bishops who might be then incumbents of the sees. But with regard to the bishops who have succeeded to sees since 1848, and who have been mentioned in the Order of Council on the subject, I propose that as to their property—as they are now receiving fixed incomes—this arrangement should take immediate effect; and with regard to other prelates, that the arrangement should take place as their respective sees become vacant. These are the remarks which I have to make with respect to the measure that I have submitted to the House. It remains for me now in a few words to endeavour to set myself right with all classes of my countrymen, in order that I may, if possible, leave the impression that I have not needlessly proposed a departure from ancient rule, or been striving after merely imaginary benefits. Sir, I have approached a question which, surrounded though it may be with difficulties, yet when calmly viewed at a distance from selfish interests and preconceived opinions, offers much to solve those difficulties, and to render legislation practicable and safe. But it must be in great measure by the application of remedies which are not only suited to the emergencies which have arisen, but which bear upon themselves characteristics by which they can always be recognised as belonging to the Constitution, which is the glory and safeguard of this country. Admitting that we have arrived at a period when it is no longer safe to refuse to extend the Church, and to increase its capabilities for good, what I propose is, that we should endeavour as far as possible to retain the proportions in which we received it from our ancestors, and that we should at the same time free it from those incumbrances which generally follow a long reign of prosperity and peace. There is the cry of a multitude of uninstructed beings, whose immortal interests are at stake, whose destinies, so to speak, are hanging on the decision of this House; and, again, there is the voice of a public opinion which—a stranger to the softer emotions aroused by memory and association—is daily inquiring the nature and utility of our institutions, and every year we abstain from moving, the former will become more piercing, and the latter more unanswerable. On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that the changes which have marked our national progress are thus well described by one who is well calculated to form an opinion respecting them. Mr. Allison says— The privileges of the people were sought, not in the violation of present, but in the restitution of ancient rights; not in the work of destruction, but in that of preservation. The progress of the Constitution was marked not by successive change, but by repeated confirmations of existing rights. Because I desire to be true to principles such as these, it is that I have proposed a considerable increase of the episcopate, together with the measures required for providing funds for that increase; and I would remark to those hon. Gentlemen who view this part of my proposition as less satisfactory, that we have no other security for the very existence of the Established Church, than by retaining unimpaired the efficiency of that order on which its peculiar and distinctive character is based. I do not wish to draw an invidious contrast between two classes of individuals; but this I feel myself compelled to say, that the class of men whom I desire to see introduced into the Church by these mea- sures must be men foreign altogether to those habits and pursuits which have brought the present episcopate into any measure of disrepute. The purely spiritual nature of their duties, the simplicity of their manners, and the smallness of their incomes, must be a guarantee of their efficiency; and if Parliament will come forward, and grant such a body of men to the Church, I am quite certain it will impose on generations yet unborn a heavy debt of gratitude. Nor do I admit that, in proposing what I have done in regard to the management of Church property, I am departing in any way from those constitutional principles by which I have sought to be guided. I do not propose that the fee of the property should be abstracted from the bishops, but that the management of the property should be made a joint concern, instead of being, as it is now, separated amongst several dignitaries of the Church; that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should have the business of attending to the management of the property, and should assume a character in law so far analogous to that of those corporations aggregate which have for centuries enjoyed the ownership and management of property in this country. And as the bishops will be component members of such a corporation, I cannot see that there need be any jealousy on their part excited by arrangements of this kind. In now detailing to the House the spiritual wants of the country, and in putting myself forward as the exponent of measures such as these, I cannot but feel and remember that there are two classes of persons to whom I must not omit to render justice. I allude in the first place to the Dissenters, who have been found with the Church labouring in the same sphere of beneficent labour. I believe that for many reasons the country is indebted to these religious bodies. They have existed for centuries—a standing proof of the mild leniency of our laws, while I believe they have given us back a reward, in proving a refuge for many an important precept when the Church, perhaps, had well nigh forgotten them in practice, if it had not abjured them in profession. I would ever pay a tribute of respect to conscientious scruples, and I am willing, ready, and thankful to acknowledge an amount of good wherever I find it, though it be attained by processes in which I am not able to concur; but by asking the House to adopt such measures, I am asking it to remove from the Church abuses against which their forefathers revolted, and to reanimate in it the life for which they sighed. And with regard to the second class of persons to whom I have referred, I must not forget that in proposing what I have done, I am really only putting into a form and shape (perhaps peculiar to myself) feelings which are widely spread, and wishes which are deeply seated, amongst a great body of the working clergy. I know it is the opinion of some that the Church should be enabled to exercise a deliberative function with regard to interests with which her ordained ministers are intimately concerned, and I believe these demands might be made with justice and those functions might be exercised with safety. But I believe, also, that if they have hitherto been received with suspicion and distrust, it is because the Church has not been yet in the position to make them; and if ever they are to be conceded, it will be when, truly irreproachable, and truly fulfilling the spiritual nature of her mission, she is able to speak in a voice that will command the attention and engage the reverence of the people. In bringing forward these measures, I am actuated by no party considerations. One object is and will be my only aim on a subject of this nature (what care I by whom it may be effected?)—that the Church shall be made equal to the accumulated labour to which she must now address herself, and shall occupy in the affections, the estimation, and the consideration of the nation, the place for which she was clearly destined by the laws and the Constitution. And if there be a subject worthy of the consideration of this House, one which has not yet been made the prey of political dissensions, to that let us turn, standing as we do upon the very threshold of a period so darkly pregnant with events that no reflecting mind can contemplate it without feeling some of the weight of its uncertainty; to that let us turn, and there—not as opponents, but as Englishmen, the inheritors of the blessings of a thousand years—there let us strive in one common effort for our country's good, and join in an acknowledgment to our country's God. The noble Marquess concluded by moving for leave to bring in a Bill to enable Her Majesty further to regulate the duties of ecclesiastical personages, and to make better provision for the management and distribution of episcopal and capitular revenues.


, in seconding the Motion, said that his noble Friend merited the thanks of every true friend of the Established Church and of religion, not only on account of the trouble which he had taken to inform himself on every point with regard to this question, but also on account of the additional labour which he had undertaken in the framing of a comprehensive measure for the consideration of that House. And when he informed the House that sooner than abandon this measure his noble Friend had refused to join the present Government, he was sure that all would appreciate the motives by which he was actuated. Most of the comprehensive provisions contained in the Bill which his noble Friend proposed to introduce, had been recommended by Committees of that House which had sat on this subject; and he believed that their effect would be to render the funds of the Established Church more available for the purposes of further education and spiritual instruction at a time when the attainment of these objects was so loudly demanded on all sides. He trusted that neither the Government nor the House would offer the smallest obstruction to the introduction of the Bill, and that by that means an expression of public opinion with respect to it might be obtained. When it was publicly stated that there were 1,500,000 persons in the metropolis who did not attend any place of public worship, he thought it high time that they should entertain some measure of this nature.


Sir, the noble Lord who has asked for leave to bring in this Bill has taken such pains with the subject—he entertains, I know, so friendly a disposition towards the Church—and he has shown himself so desirous of promoting the improvement and spiritual instruction of the people of this country, that I should feel I was indeed ungrateful towards him if I were, on the part of the Government, to decline to allow this Bill to be introduced. But, independently of these considerations, which have induced me to give my assent to the introduction of the Bill, I think there is so much in the arguments and observations which the noble Lord has advanced, so much of truth in what he has said, and so much of justice in some of the propositions which he has submitted to us, that I think the House and the country ought to have an opportunity of considering this large and comprehensive subject. At the same time, with regard to a measure so large and comprehensive, I cannot say that I am prepared to adopt it; and I think it would be better for the House to see it in detail before expressing any decided opinion on it. Indeed there are some parts which I cannot concur in. But as far as I can understand the principles on which my noble Friend desires to proceed, they are, firstly, to increase the: episcopacy of the country by the erection of new sees; and, secondly, to provide for the better management of the ecclesiastical revenues. In both of these objects I am willing to concur, provided they can be carried out in a manner Satisfactory to the members of the Church, and, generally speaking, for the benefit of the country. I own, however, that I entertain considerable doubt as to portions of the measure the noble Lord has shadowed out. I entertain considerable doubts, for instance, with respect to the abolition of deaneries, and I do not believe that canonries can be done away with to the extent to which the noble Lord has adverted. That, I am sure, is a question which can only be determined after more information and discussion than has yet been given to the subject. To increase the episcopacy you must have some funds, and those funds ought chiefly to come out of the revenues of the Church, though they may be materially aided by voluntary contributions. At the same time I think it would be advisable, supposing the funds to be sufficient—and here I think the plan defective—to provide more effectually for the working parochial clergy, concurrently with the increase that is made in the sees. With regard to the proposed management of the ecclesiastical funds, there is great force undoubtedly in many of the observations of the noble Lord. It is, however, an exceedingly difficult subject to deal with, and requires very great consideration before the House and Parliament can come to any definite conclusion as to what is the best mode of providing for the management of ecclesiastical property. I say the management: for the property itself should be vested in those to whom it belongs. It appears that the noble Lord proposes to put this property in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and to withdraw the management of it from those who have other duties requiring their attention. Now I believe I may say that there are some bishops who are most desirous that an arrangement of that sort should be made. But I am of opinion that this is one of those complicated questions which turns more upon the mode in which it ought to be done, than as to the fact whether it is to be done at all. The subject, moreover, is of so extensive a character, and necessarily contains so many details, that I certainly think it would not be advisable to promote a discussion upon all those topics until we see the particular manner in which the noble Lord proposes to deal with them. I shall not, therefore, offer any more observations upon the subject at present, except to say that I shall support the Motion now before us, in order that the Bill may be printed and circulated, which will enable us to judge how far it may be adopted.


said, he had not been prepared for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole), and as little had he been prepared for the speech of the noble Lord (the Marquess of Bland-ford). He confessed that if the speech of the noble Lord had been delivered upon the highest mountain of the House, he could better have understood it. It was true that the noble Lord had received one or two faint cheers from the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner), and at the close of his speech several generous cheers from those beside whom he (Sir R. Inglis) was sitting; but the largest proportion of the cheers had come from hon. Gentlemen who could not claim to be called the friends of the Church. No person, for instance, could deny the consistency of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) on this question. Five and twenty years ago the hon. Gentleman brought forward the measure of which the noble Lord (the Marquess of Blandford) was now the eulogist. He (Sir R. Inglis) did not deny the consistency of the hon. Member for Montrose; but he deprecated with all his heart the principles which the noble Lord had enunciated; and when the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department talked of the great knowledge which the noble Lord had accumulated, he (Sir R. Inglis) could pay him no such compliment, since he must equally deny the conclusions at which the noble Lord had arrived, and the premises from which they were taken. The noble Lord said that deaneries and canonries were sinecures. It was true, that they had not, distinctly as such, the cure of souls; but they had their useful and important part in the ecclesiastical system of England; and that they were sinecures was a statement which any one who knew the working of that system ought to be prepared to deny. As he understood that the Government supported, not indeed the speech of the noble Lord, but the Motion which the noble Lord had placed upon the paper, or did not intend to take a division upon it, he (Sir R. Inglis) would content himself—and he would not do justice to his feelings if he did not say this much at least—with expressing, as strongly as he could, his non-conviction with respect to the alleged facts of the noble Lord, and his perfect aversion to the mode in which he proposed to carry out his principles; and his regret that the Government, after the speech of the noble Lord, should have given its consent—which it had done by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary—even to one stage of a measure so objectionable as that of his noble Friend.


said, he merely rose to express the anxiety he felt that the abuses of the Church should be reformed, and that ecclesiastical property should be placed under better management. He was of opinion that sinecures of all descriptions connected with the establishment of the Church should be abolished; while, at the same time, he was desirous that those who performed duty in the Church should be adequately remunerated for it. He should postpone the expression of his opinions in detail, until the period when the Bill came before the House for a second reading.


begged to say, with respect to the observations of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. Inglis), that if be gave him (Mr. Hume) credit for his consistency in his desire to reform the abuses of the Church, he (Mr. Hume) could give the hon. Baronet credit for being as consistent tit his wish to support them. He was sure that the noble Lord (the Marquess el Blandford) was acting as the best friend the Church of England had in attempting thus boldly to reform her; and it was to him (Mr. flume) a most consolatory reflection that the work he had begun twenty-five years ago was now being taken up in earnest by the members of the Church of England, who could not be accused, as he had been, of ill-will towards her. His (Mr. Hume's) object was to place the Church of England on a footing which would enable it to afford religious instruction in the best form, for the advantage of the people and of the country. He should think himself unworthy of the good opinion of any person if he did not say that since the period when he had first called attention to the subject, the Church of England had greatly improved. He entirely concurred in the opinion that the abolition of sinecures was one of the first steps that every sincere friend of the Establishment should take. His (Mr. Hume's) object twenty-five years ago was to put an end to sinecures and to prevent pluralities. It was satisfactory to see that things were coming round, and that they were now going to adopt his suggestions. If they had adopted them at the period they were offered, it would have been much the better for the Church. When it was known to the people of England that sinecures had ceased in the Civil departments, in the Army and Navy, and every department of the State, except in the Church, they must look upon it with dissatisfaction. He must express his thanks to the noble Lord for bringing forward the very proposition on which he (Mr. Hume), in the year 1837, had taken the sense of the House. If the revenues of deans and chapters were placed in lay hands, as he (Mr. Hume) had then proposed, much of the scandal that had been occasioned by the conduct of the bishops would be avoided, and the Church would now stand in a much better position.


said: I must dissent from the observations that have been made by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. Inglis), for I believe the speech of the noble Lord (the Marquess of Blandford) has met with the general concurrence of the House, and will have a wider and larger concurrence in the country. There is a large party in the country who feel the necessity for some further reform in the arrangements of the Church. There has been a marvellous awakening of energy and zeal in the Church of England of late years; and many, both of laity and clergy, are striving, in their respective spheres, to relieve the sad spiritual condition of masses of its poorer members; but to the Legislature only can they look for improvement in the external machinery of the Church, and a better adaptation of its resources. This House has entertained the subject, but has hitherto done little. Commissions have reported, and Committees have inquired. Returns have been framed, and we have an accumulation of facts and opinions; but little action has resulted from those preparations. The time has now come for the attention of the House to be given to the subject in real earnest, and for something effectual to be done. The noble Lord deserves thanks for the carefully prepared Bill he now offers to our consideration, and for thus forcing the subject on the attention of the House, and compelling the Government to take it into consideration. The principles of the measure, I contend, are right. If the responsibility of the management of Episcopal property, had been transferred from the Bishops to a body of Commissioners, they would have been relieved from much odium, and we should have escaped those statements of the hon. Members for Marylebone and Cockermouth, which have at different times so distressed the friends of the Church. We have expected from the prelates who are set in high places to preach against worldliness, covetousness, and self-seeking,—a bright example of devotedness to the good of the Church, and of self-denial; but we have seen in many instances that in the management of their property bishops have acted just as ordinary men do,—have considered it their own, and have treated the claim of their family to be supported out of the estates given them by law, as better than any claim of poor livings which may have been entertained by the Government. All property is a trust; but the property of bishops and chapters is more peculiarly a trust allotted to them as ecclesiastical corporations, forming part of that great corporation, the Established Church of the Realm; and this fact would be more palpably recognised, and better attended to, if the management of the property were committed to a General Commission. The transformation of deaneries into new bishoprics would be a great advantage. It would be changing a function comparatively useless into one that is essential. The office of a dean enables him to do little for the Church beyond the exhibition of good taste in the superintendence of the building committed to his care, and providing for the due performance of public worship within its walls; but a bishop ought to be the pivot of all ecclesiastical operations, and the life and soul of all good endeavours in his diocese. I hope the Government will look into the subject; I am sure if they do, they may find means of greatly promoting the good of the Church, and the welfare of the people.


said, he wished to thank the noble Lord (the Marquess of Blandford) for the manner in which he had brought forward this subject. He regarded it as one of those indications which were extremely satisfactory to those who had laboured to do away with the abuses in the Established Church, that a Member of the noble Lord's opinions, and belonging to the party with which he was associated, should have brought forward such a proposition, not only with the general approbation of the House, but with something like a prospect that it would meet with very general assent. It was evident that the questions relating to our ecclesiastical system must not only be forced more and more every day upon the attention of Parliament and the country, but that no Ministry could, without great danger to the ecclesiastical establishments, refuse to take them into consideration. He thought it was an encouraging circumstance that there never was a time in the history of this country when the religious feeling of the people was of so healthy a character—a character removed from anything like carelessness on the one side, or fanaticism or intolerance on the other, and when there was so general a disposition to acknowledge and appreciate the blessings of religious teaching. It was also an encouraging fact that during the last few years very considerable reforms in our ecclesiastical system had been effected, and the experience of those reforms was such as to induce them to proceed in the same course. He thought that scarcely any one would object to the proposal of the noble Lord with regard to the deans. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. Inglis) had, indeed, contended that no person who understood our ecclesiastical system could pretend to say that the present office of a dean was a sinecure. He (Mr. Horsman) could only say that year after year, he had inquired in that House what were the duties of a dean, and, although the hon. Baronet had heard those questions, he (Mr. Horsman) was still in perfect ignorance of what really were the ecclesiastical or spiritual duties of such a dignitary. The noble Lord further proposed that all episcopal and capitular estates should be placed in the hands of a Board, by whom the prelates and dignitaries of cathedral churches should be paid. That recommendation had already been made by a Commission appointed to inquire into this subject; and he thought, from the statement of the Home Secretary to-night, that the Government entertained no objection to the principle involved in such a change. He could not express the same approbation of other parts of the Bill, and especially of those relating to the increase of the episcopate, which he thought the noble Lord would find difficult to carry out; but he would not now go into those points. He would only add, that, approving generally of the principles of the noble Lord's measure, he would gladly give any assistance in his power to one who came forward in a spirit at once so bold and so conservative as the noble Lord.


said, he concurred with the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Cowper) in thinking that his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. Inglis) treated the noble Lord (the Marquess of Blandford) unfairly in asserting that it required a general and thorough agreement on all points with the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) before one could give a hearty assent to the proposal and to the spirit in which it was made by the noble Lord. For his (Mr. S. Herbert's) part, he had long felt that the abolition of ecclesiastical abuses and the reform of ecclesiastical duties were becoming every day more necessary, not only for the safety of the Church, but for the support of real Christianity in this country. He had on one or two occasions taken an opportunity of discussing those points, and was not then going to enter into them. He understood, the restoration to the episcopal office of the duties long attached to it, and which by the lapse of time had been separated from it, was one of the main objects of the Bill. It also proposed an addition to the episcopate proportionate to the increase of parochial subdivisions, which every day was more necessary. He was glad to hear, from the statement of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), that in 1837 he proposed a similar measure to that which was now proposed by the noble Lord, for it would consequently appear that the hon. Member had proposed the addition of seventeen bishops to the episcopate. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had stated that it it was more necessary to increase the parochial clergy—[Mr. WALPOLE: Not more necessary—equally necessary.] The right hon. Gentleman had said it was equally necessary to increase the parochial clergy, and he would find that it was assumed that the existing system of applying the accruing surplus to the increase of the parochial cures should be continued. A redistribu- tion of funds was proposed, which would create fresh sources of revenue, and that proved that the noble Lord did not contemplate either the diminution of the parochial cures, or an entire cessation of their increase. He gave his cordial thanks to the noble Lord for the care he had bestowed on the measure but until it was before the House it was impossible to judge of its details; In consequence of the spirit by which the noble Lord was evidently animated, and the opinions he had expressed, he (Mr. S. Herbert) was willing to promise him any support and assistance he could give him. He was glad the matter had fallen into friendly and at the same time efficient hands, and he trusted that it Would be brought to a favourable conclusion.


said, he held that the Church of England should be the great bulwark of Christianity and Protestantism throughout the world. If it ceased to be so, it would cease to perform that high mission for which he conceived it was established, and would be swept away from the face of the earth by the united feelings of all classes of Protestants in this country. He united in the testimony of gratitude that had been offered to the noble Lord for the spirit and feeling with which he had brought forward this measure. He wished to ask whether the right hon. Home Secretary, when he said that he desired to obtain the opinion of "the Church" on this subject, meant that term to apply to the clergy exclusively, or to the clergy combined with the laity?


explained that he had never used the word "Church" without meaning the clergy and laity united together; and he thought the House would not satisfactorily legislate upon this subject without the joint co-operation of the clergy and laity of the Established Church.


said, he did not object to the increase of the episcopal body, but wished to call the attention of the House to an Act of Parliament by which the rights of lessees of the Church were distinctly recognised, and he trusted there was no provision in the Bill that would destroy those rights. If there was anything in the Bill that would set aside the intention of Parliament with respect to the rights of those lessees, he (Mr. Aglionby) would, of course, object to that particular part of it.


re- plied: With regard to the remarks that had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, he could only say that the right hon. Gentleman did him no more than justice when he stated that he was actuated by a sincere desire to render the Established Church efficient, and to enable it to meet the wants or their increasing population. Such alone was his object, and he should be deeply pained if he thought there was anything in the Bill at all calculated to cast discredit upon the Church, or upon the officers or it. The hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. Inglis) had assumed that the principal part of the support he had obtained was received from a quarter of the House that was composed of Gentlemen who were supposed to entertain rather peculiar opinions with respect to the Church; and he must observe in reply, that he looked upon this matter in the light of truth, and not as a party question. In speaking of the deans and canons, tie had intended to, express his opinion that very small duties were associated with them, and that according to the usual acceptation of the word the term "sinecure" might to a great extent be applied to them. He was not singular in that opinion. Persons entertaining the strongest affection for the Established Church, had entertained similar opinions. He begged to quote to the House an extract from Burn's Justice, wherein it was stated that "Deaneries are sinecures, that is, they have not the cure of souls," and as such are exempted from the statute of Henry VIII. against pluralities. He felt deep gratification that the Government had consented to consider the subject. Their conduct, he was sure, would raise them in the opinion of the country, and strengthen them in any difficult position in which they might be placed. He hoped what had taken place that night would form a point from which would date the commencement of a measure which would prove of the greatest benefit to the Church, and tend to raise her to the true and proper position which she ought to occupy in the country.

Leave given. Bill ordered to be brought in by the Marquess of Blandford and Lord Robert Grosvenor.