§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."332
§ MR. WALPOLE
said: With reference to this Bill, I think the state of the Session will not allow us to go on with a discussion so large, even if there were not parts of the measure to which I have serious objections. But, independent of this circumstance, I have had, since the Bill was introduced, an opportunity of consulting the heads of the Government, and conferring with the highest authorities in the Church, and those who take an interest in these subjects; and I am now prepared to state that Her Majesty's Government are willing to undertake the consideration of the subject with reference to capitular revenues and capitular bodies, and to deal with them so as to make them more extensively and more practically useful than they are at present; and also with the view of extending spiritual instruction and education which might be advantageously carried on by these bodies, and of putting them generally on a more satisfactory footing than they now are. That being the cause, I do not know whether the noble Lord (the Marquess of Blandford) will wish to go on with the Bill; but what I would suggest is, that he should move to discharge the order of the day, leaving to the Government the consideration of this question, which they are willing to undertake. If the noble Lord will assent to this suggestion, without my being required to state my objections to parts of the Bill, I should certainly prefer it.
The MARQUESS of BLANDFORD
had expected Her Majesty's Government would have some declaration to make on the subject; and his object being to obtain a declaration of opinion from them as to the necessity of some such measure, he was quite prepared to adopt his right hon. Friend's suggestion.
§ MR. WALPOLE
I do not think the House should call on the Government to pledge themselves to any details, till they have had an opportunity of fully considering the subject; and I hope the House will not, seeing that I have given a distinct undertaking that we are willing and anxious to take up the subject, and give it our fullest consideration, press further discussion.
§ MR. SLANEY
said, the House would have heard with great satisfaction the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that Government were willing, in a spirit of fairness, to undertake the consideration of 333 the measure, and to carry out, as far as practicable, those views which were entertained by the noble Lord to whom the House and the country were so ranch indebted for his attention to a subject which he had dealt with with so much temper and so much moderation. He hoped the House would accept the offer of the right hon. Gentleman, and trusted that, from the consideration they had promised to give to this subject, a measure which would be satisfactory to all parties would result, and that the funds of the Established Church would be made more useful for the purposes for which they were intended in carrying out the sacred objects of that Church, and providing for the spiritual welfare of the great body of the poorer classes of this country.
§ SIR BROOK BRIDGES
thought the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary did not go so far as the hon. Gentleman seemed to infer; at all events, it was desirable that the House should know how far Government intended to carry out the views of the noble Lord.
§ MR. WALPOLE
I know not whether I am strictly in order; but perhaps, after the remark of the hon. Gentleman, I may be permitted to say a few words. Now, the view I take of this Bill is this: I consider it involves four essential points of detail. First, the abolition of deaneries and the consolidation of the office of dean with the office of bishop; second, by a further reduction of the number of canonries; third, by the means to be acquired by those alterations, to add to the episcopate of the country; and, fourth, to make provision for the better management of the capitular and episcopal revenues. Now, with regard to the first—the abolition of deaueries—I see no reason, and on looking at the Bill of the noble Lord as it is, the hon. Gentleman will, I think, see that it would be impossible, to consolidate those two offices with advantage. We ought to keep the dean at the head of the chapter; and as to the suppression or reduction in the number of canonries, I think you would find it extremely doubtful whether, with a view of keeping up your cathedral institutions in efficient force, you can further reduce the present number. But we ought not to forget that through the instrumentality of recent Acts you have suppressed all sinecures—you have suspended 300 prebendaries and canonries, and applied some 78,000l. a year, acquired from these 334 sources, to the augmentation of poor livings.—and if by these means, or by other means, you can obtain a further fund for the purposes the noble Lord has in view —if you can thus acquire the means of increasing the strength of the episcopate of the country, I admit it would be very desirable, seeing that that episcopate now is, in point of numbers, exactly where it was at the Reformation—notwithstanding that the number of the clergy has increased —notwithstanding that the population has quadrupled, and the duties to be discharged by the bishops in Parliament and in their dioceses have doubled and trebled in amount since that period. With regard to the management of the capitular and episcopal property, I think there are two principles which we should keep in view in considering that part of the question. The one to relieve those high officers of the Church as much as possible from the cares and troubles of all worldly and temporal affairs—but at the same time to preserve that property in such connexion with them as not to leave them in the position of mere dependents and stipendiaries of the State. He had briefly touched on these which he considered the four essential points of the Bill. The spirit in which the Government propose to look at the question is, to see whether these great cathedral institutions might not be restored more fully to the high and lofty purposes for which they were endowed as temples for the worship of that Almighty Being for whose honour and whose service they were raised—as seats of learning for learned persons in the Church to resort to, and as councils to assist the bishops on various spiritual matters relating to their dioceses, and as connecting links between the higher and the lower orders of the Church, to keep the whole body of the Church in harmony together. This is the spirit in which the Government are desirous of undertaking the consideration of this question. I purposely avoid going into details —first, because I do not consider we have before us that information which would enable us fairly to discuss the question; and, secondly, because I am anxious to avoid prejudging the case by giving utterance to rash or premature opinions, which may be considered as binding upon us, but which hereafter we may find it extremely difficult to carry out.
§ VISCOUNT EBRINGTON
was desirous of expressing his thanks to his noble Friend opposite (the Marquess of Bland- 335 ford), for the pains he bad bestowed upon this subject, and his satisfaction that Her Majesty's Government were prepared to deal with it. Without concurring in all that the right hon. Gentleman had said, he might corroborate what he had stated with regard to the labours imposed upon the bishops, and the desirableness of relieving them as much as possible from temporal cares. They had the testimony of Bishop Stanley that an enormous portion of the time of every bishop was absorbed in attending to technical and legal business, which was most unsatisfactory. He suggested that there should be some mode of superannuating or granting retiring allowances to bishops whom old age or sickness had incapacitated from work. He believed that there were insane bishops, as well as bishops who were no longer able from ill health or old age to discharge their duties. The consequence was, that the whole of these duties were performed by some other bishops, encroaching greatly upon their time and the wants of their own dioceses. This was an inconvenience to which the Roman Catholic Church was not subject. Wise in their generation, that Church had various arrangements with regard to her hierarchy and subordinate clergy in this respect, from which they might well take a lesson. There was nothing more important than to provide successors for those dignitaries who, from any circumstances, were unable to attend to their duties.
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
concurred in what appeared to be the general feeling, that it was not expedient, after the declaration of his noble Friend that he intended to comply with the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, to continue the discussion upon the Bill before the House. While expressing his thanks to the right hon. Gentleman for the general view he had stated on the subject, there were two or three expressions which fell from his right hon. Friend, by which, by the cheers with which they were received by some hon. Gentlemen, he thought more was understood than was intended to be conveyed. He referred to those passages of his right hon. Friend's speech in which he talked of relieving the bishops from worldly or temporal cares. He was sure his right hon. Friend did not moan to apply those observations-—though he believed they had in some quarters been so understood—so as to convey an intention of separating in any way the Church 336 from the State, by removing the bishops from the House of Lords; and he rose to express his conviction that such was not his right hon. Friend's intention, though it might have been so interpreted—whether for good or evil he would not say— by those who were the advocates of such separation. When his noble Friend (the Marquess of Blandford) first brought forward his Bill, he (Sir R. H. Inglis) felt it his duty to oppose in the strongest manner the principles of such a measure as he then advocated, while at the same time he did honour to the purity of his noble Friend's motives; but he could not forget that just in proportion as a man stood high in social position and character, so in proportion measures injurious in their tendency emanating from such men derived force. Had it been the desire of the House to enter upon the discussion of the Bill, he should have felt it his duty to enter further into the subject; but as it was not, he would not say how far he disagreed with many portions of the Bill, nor even how far he was compelled to differ on some points with his right hon. Friend.
§ LORD ROBERT GROSVENOR
trusted, as his name was on the back of this Bill, that he might be allowed to express the gratification which he experienced when he heard the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman that it was the intention of the Government to deal with this question. He was quite aware how utterly impossible it was for an independent Member to have carried it to a successful termination. The country was deeply indebted to the noble Lord (the Marquess of Blandford) for having brought forward this Bill. The fact that the Government had taken up the measure, proved that it was very difficult to make any serious objection to it.
§ MR. J. WILLIAMS
said, that the Welsh clergy were also deeply indebted to the noble Lord for his exertions upon this subject. They trusted that no clergyman would be elevated to the episcopal bench who was unacquainted with the language of the people; and they attributed the separation of a large body of the population from the Church of England to the fact that a contrary policy had hitherto been adopted.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
joined in thanking his noble Friend for bringing forward this question, and he hoped that next Session such a Bill would be brought in under the auspices of the Government as should place the whole temporalities of 337 the Church on such a satisfactory footing, that, at all events, as far as he was concerned, it would be unnecessary to make further complaint. He was anxious to sec the management of ecclesiastical estates taken out of the hands of the capitular and collegiate bodies, and unless Parliament provided for the management of all ecclesiastical property by means of a Commission, paying those who performed episcopal and ecclesiastical functions by fixed salaries, instead of allowing the present system to continue, the same abuses would go on with regard to the management of ecclesiastical property as existed at the present day. He wished to call attention to some facts in connexion with this point, and he did so with the view that a remedy might be devised and applied. In 1836, an Act was passed settling the incomes of the bishops, and assigning to each see a certain amount. The spirit of the Act, and the intentions of the Legislature, had been evaded by the bishops. He brought a case before the House last year, in order to show how this Act had been evaded. He mentioned a case where one bishop alone received no less than 79,000l. over the income assigned to his see up to the end of 1850; and he had no doubt that he had up to the present time received 100,000l. And this was a bishop of the new foundation; one who had been appointed in 1836, and was subject to the provisions of the Act. There was at this moment an order on the books of this House for a return of these incomes, which he was anxious to have before they were called to enter upon this discussion, in order that they might judge whether the statement he had made was justified; and this was one of the points to which he was anxious to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, to prevent the possibility of abuses of this nature. There was also another point to which he wished to direct attention, and that was with regard to the management and control of cathedral establishments. They were all governed by certain statutes, which were passed for their management at the time of their foundation; and in almost every one of them it was provided that the bishop should take an oath that he would preserve those foundation statutes inviolable. One of these statutes was that the bishop should hold at least a triennial visitation of his cathedral. It would be very difficult to show an instance where that statute had been carried out, although the bishop was bound 338 by a solemn oath to perform it. Take the case of a cathedral which had lately been brought before the notice of the public— he alluded to the Cathedral of Rochester. Now the bishop was bound by the statute to make a visitation of that cathedra] once every three years. He had been informed that the bishop had never performed that visitation. If the bishops were compelled to make these visitations, he was sure that many of the abuses now existing would be rectified. The reason assigned for not making these visitations was, that no abuse existed. But how could that be ascertained if no examination took place? Another point to which he would direct attention was the duties of the officers of cathedral establishments. He would again take the case of the Cathedral of Rochester. The staff of this cathedral consisted of a bishop, a dean, five live canons and one dead canon, four archdeacons, and four or five minor canons, who received very little, but who did almost all the work of the cathedral. This was an evil which must be remedied sooner or later, and therefore a clause ought to be introduced in any Bill brought in by the Government, providing that the duties of officers of cathedrals should not be mere sinecures. The case he was stating to the House was not singular, and it must be taken as an illustration of many others. There were 108 sermons preached in Rochester in the year 1851. The bishop preached three times, twice upon one Sunday, and once upon another; he enjoyed an income of 5,000l. per annum. The dean and canons—five live canons, and one dead—preached 50 times, and received 4,826l., or very nearly 100l. each time, besides a house of residence. The minor canons preached 55 times, and received 460l., or about 8l. each time; they also performed almost all the service. This was an inequality which he hoped to see remedied. If the higher officers were to receive such large compensations, they should be compelled to reside upon the spot, and afford spiritual consolation and instruction to the inhabitants of those large cathedral towns. A very extraordinary circumstance had appeared in a Parliamentary paper laid upon the table. It would be there seen that those five live canons at Rochester considered that they had such hard duty to perform in consequence of the suppression of a stall at the death of one of their party, that they declared they ought not to perform the duties of the dead canon unless they received 339 extra pay. A correspondence took place, which was upon the table of the House, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were actually obliged to make an allowance, under the sanction and seal of the bishop, of 501. per month, to the five remaining canons, in order that the laity might have divine worship regularly performed. Surely this was an abomination which ought to be rectified. He would suggest to his right hon. Friend that these cathedral bodies should be called to render annually an account of their income and expenditure. Last year a very important Bill was passed in this House, notwithstanding the opposition of persons who possessed great influence in the Church, with reference to the rectory of Manchester. Under that Bill the accounts were handed in and published annually. In consequence of the operation of that Act, compelling the publication of accounts, a surplus had been obtained of 403l. 6s. 9d, which was applicable to the wants of the working clergy, which they never would have enjoyed unless the Act had been passed. He wished that this were the last time he should have to address the House upon the subject of ecclesiastical abuses. He hoped that the Government would now see that there was a disposition upon the part of the House, and a determination upon the part of the laity of the Established Church, to insist upon reform, not only in the manner in which the ecclesiastical body performed their duties, but also that there should be a full and searching inquiry into the temporalities of the Church, not with a view to take the property from the Establishment, not with a view of depriving them of their revenues, but with a view of affording the really useful clergy full and sufficient incomes, and to make the Church effective for its purpose. If the Government did not bring forward measures calculated to carry out these great objects, and make the Established Church a blessing to the country, matters would assume a more serious aspect than they did at present, and a result would follow which the true friends of the Established Church would bitterly lament.
§ MR. HORSMAN
fully concurred that, after what had been stated, it would be inexpedient to enter upon any lengthened discussion on this question, or to force the Government into explanations or details when they were not prepared to legislate immediately. He was quite sure that if the right hon. Gentleman had not express- 340 ed himself so fully on the subject as some might desire, it was because he was anxious not to raise expectations which he might find it difficult, if not impossible, to realise. At the same time while they had the question of the second reading of so important a Bill before them—and he fully admitted that the noble Lord might have acted judiciously in not pressing it—he could not see why the House should not enter into so much discussion as would enable the Government to know what the views of hon. Members were, and the nature of the reforms expected. It was impossible to evade the consideration of the question. The ecclesiastical system of this country was approaching a crisis to which it would be dangerous to shut their eyes; and if they endeavoured to pass over the subject without discussion and without the legislation which ought to follow, they were only increasing their difficulty; they were only shirking a danger, and postponing a duty. Unless they took upon themselves fully and fairly to reform all those abuses which were now permitted to embarrass and impair the Establishment, they would find the time for that reform might soon pass away altogether. There were three points upon which the public were pretty well informed, and upon which public opinion had been pronounced. The first was cathedral establishments; the second, the management of capitular estates; and the third was the present condition of the episcopate. How were they to deal with the first? They ought, whatever the condition of these establishments, or the difficulty of making them more efficient—they ought of course to set out upon the principle of renovating and repairing as much as possible, and of destroying as little as possible. But for his own part, he had seen no scheme of capitular reform likely to give satisfaction and to work well. As that was a point on which the Government had not intimated their views, he would make no further observation upon it, but would wait and see what their proposal was. The second point was of more importance, namely, the management of ecclesiastical property. This was a question upon which they could not shut their eyes, and for which there was no excuse for evading a decision. Last year there was a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into that subject—a Commission certainly not so constituted as to excite distrust on the part of episcopal bodies. One recommendation of that Commission was, that the estates of 341 all ecclesiastical bodies should be administered by the Ecclesiastical Commission. There was one observation which had dropped from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole) from which he dissented. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he thought it essentially necessary that the bishops of the Established Church should not have paid incomes like other public functionaries, but that they should have territorial powers and emoluments. That was a principle which he altogether disputed. He did not know upon what ground it could be said that when there was not another public functionary in the country who might not be paid by salary, and when Parliament had given a fixed income to the bishops, he did not know why the latter as to their mode of payment should be made an exception from other public functionaries. It was not derogatory to the Judges of the land to be paid their regular salaries. It was not derogatory to the Crown, which had given up the Crown estates, to become a pensioner on the public revenue; and he could not see upon what principle they could be justified in refusing to extend that practice to the bishops. No stronger reason for giving the bishops fixed incomes could be stated than that mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman— that the less they were encumbered with worldly affairs the better. If the bishops were to have a particular income, fixed by Act of Parliament, it was a more sensible and practical plan that they should be paid as the Judges and other public functionaries, with a public salary. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in considering the question of the management of the Church property, he had had his attention drawn to the fact that there were now three Boards sitting in London which were principally, and two of them almost entirely, composed of Bishops. The first of these was the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the second, the Church Building Commissioners, and the third, the Commissioners for Queen Anne's Bounty. He (Mr. Horsman) had brought this subject before the attention of the House two years ago, and had shown the duties discharged by these bodies, the properties managed by them, and the expenses they entailed. He had shown that these three Boards were maintained at an expense of 13.000l. or 14,000l. a year. It was obvious that the whole of the duties could be discharged by one Board. A plan for consolidating them had been more than once 342 mentioned, and objections were made only in one quarter — very strong objections were raised and adhered to on the part of the episcopal members of those Boards, but by no other parties whatever. Not a single disinterested person who had investigated the subject, doubted that these Boards could be consolidated with the advantage of saving many thousands a year, and of having the property better administered; yet these bishops had invariably resisted every attempt to consolidate them. It was true that the members of the three Boards were the same, that they met sometimes on the same day, and their whole duties could be discharged in one room. He did not know whether it was the intention of the Government to include this in their proposed scheme of Church reform; but he thought one of the first measures in the next Session should be to consolidate these three Boards. The only other point on which he thought it necessary to say a word with regard to the Bill, was the proposed increase in the episcopacy. The noble Lord said that an increase was necessary to the episcopacy, and asked the House to create new bishops of an entirely new grade without seats in the House of Lords, and with much smaller salaries than those possessed by the present members of the episcopal bench. An increase to the present class of bishops, with seats in the Legislature, was not thought advisable by the Government. If reform was necessary in the Church, it was wanted in the episcopate more than anywhere else, and certainly ought to be carried out before its members were added to. It was by many not thought wise or judicious to increase the number of bishops by adding another class, who should be called working bishops, not having seats in the House of Lords, and whose duties and efficiency might create invidious comparisons. The Government had undertaken the matter, and they would find that this was a rock ahead. The difficulty to be dealt with, was the position of the episcopal bench. That was the real difficulty, and they must not shut their eyes to it. They must either leave the bench in its present position, or they must undertake an ecclesiastical reform, in spite of those in whose hands all ecclesiastical reform had hitherto been left. All other public establishments had been reformed and reorganised in deference to public opinion and the spirit of the age. A full ecclesiastical reform had alone been impossible. Ecclesiastical law was at this moment in a state of the greatest 343 confusion and inefficiency, because the legislation of the Church was left in the hands of the bishops, who were unwilling themselves to undertake any efficient or practical reform, and resisted, obstructed, and opposed those proposed by others. The consequence was, there was now an arrear of ecclesiastical reform which it would be difficult to overtake, and the overtaking of which would be matter of danger as well as of difficulty. He gave his right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) credit for applying himself seriously to this subject. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman felt the state of the Church to be most unsatisfactory, but at the same time, without unduly distrusting Government, he could not shut his eyes to the fact, that every Government found itself opposed by the episcopate, which, by its influence and political power, had compelled Government after Government to give way to it, by postponing or dropping every measure for inquiry or reform. They had done this so long that the whole ecclesiastical system was in such a state that many of the best friends of the Church now believed that no Ministry would be able to effect an ecclesiastical reform. It was no use attempting to avoid discussion on this subject, and he was certain they were only discharging a duty, when abuses were admitted, in suggesting remedies, and seeking to apply them with effect. He believed there was a very general concurrence in that House and in the country, amongst both laymen and ecclesiastics, that very large reforms were necessary. Among the Peers in the Upper House, there was hardly a difference of opinion; but there was one body in the country, and only one—the Bishops of the Established Church—who opposed legislation, and who were opposed to all reforms, to the great embarrassment of every successive Administration. Once for all, the House must make up its mind, the public must make up its mind, and the Cabinet must make up its mind, that if they were to have reform in our ecclesiastical system, they must have it in spite of the opposition of the episcopal body, because it was not likely they would have it with its concurrence.
§ MR. OSWALD
said, as a member of the Church of England, he agreed in much which had fallen from the hon. Member for Cockermouth; but there was one subject which he, in common with other Members who had addressed the House, seemed to overlook. They seemed to propose that this House should resolve itself into a lay 344 synod for the purpose of reforming the Church of England, whilst they overlooked the fact, that by the constitution of the country there were Houses of Convocation whose functions were now in abeyance, and no reform in the Church would ever prove beneficial or satisfactory to the country, which was not promoted principally by the Church itself. The Legislature had attempted over and over again to make reforms in the Church, especially of the deans and chapters, to which allusion had been made; but although the Dean and Chapter Revenues Bill had resulted in 78,000l. being applied, very properly, no doubt, to the enlargement of small livings, so far as the capitular bodies themselves were concerned, he was not aware that the Act had had any effect in improving in any degree the nature of these bodies. If that House was totally to overlook the fact that by the constitution of the country the Church of England was a corporate body, which had provided for itself a legislature, which ought to order and regulate its internal affairs, and that that House ought to act more as the guardian of the property of that Church, and to see that the temporalities were applied in such a way as the State thought proper—if that House was to intrude itself upon the spiritual functions of the Church, and if Committees were to be sitting upon the institution of every clerk to a benefice, and enter upon every detail of conduct of the clergy, putting the House in the position of universal bishop of England—he (Mr. Oswald) did not think any good object would be obtained. He did not say that Convocation could meet; but he did say, if these reforms were to be attained they must look abroad a little—they must not entirely forget that the Church of England was only one part of that great Anglican Church which now numbered in the world 106 bishops. They would find that in every other portion of that Church, except in that of England and Ireland, assemblies were fully and duly constituted for seeing that ecclesiastical order was properly observed; and in one large section, numbering a larger episcopate than our own—that of America, where there were thirty-six bishops—the lay element was introduced into that Church, giving the whole of the laity strong control over its proceedings; and in that portion of the Church to which he belonged something of the same kind was earnestly recommended by the episcopate in Scotland to the con- 345 sideration of the Protestant Episcopal Church in that country. But he (Mr. Oswald) rose simply for the purpose of entering his protest against the supposition that this House of Commons, or any House of Commons, would be able alone, or would have any right alone, to regulate the internal affairs of the Church of England. It would be to convert her into that which they heard the hon. Member for Cockermouth style the creature of Parliament, standing upon nothing more stable than the breath of popular opinion, instead of being, as he (Mr. Oswald) believed, a divine institution that had a divine mission, and rested upon principles which were the foundation of society in England, and which that House could never, as he was sure that House would never wish, to subvert.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
did not rise to prolong the discussion, but he wished to say a few words on the nature of the proposals with which the Government had to deal. In the first place, he thought the noble Lord (the Marquess of Blandford) would do well to accept the proposal of the Government; and he would add, that from the conciliatory and moderate tone always expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, there was no man in whose hands he would more readily trust the question with a view to adjudication. But it was obvious that great difficulties beset this question of Church reform. His own opinions went a great length, greater perhaps than many Gentlemen who sat around him; but he was convinced that the Government and the House must exercise great forbearance, because having such immense difficulties to cope with, they could only settle those points on which they could obtain almost universal assent, and which no opposition could affect. No extreme views could be successful. This question of Church reform included the extension of the episcopate, the diminution of the numbers of the chapters, the abolition of the deans, and likewise the restoration to the chapters of the duties which they were originally intended to perform, which he rather thought the right hon. Gentleman had omitted to mention. With regard to the first of these points, the number to be added to the episcopate, he thought too high an estimate had been taken. He not only saw, however, that a very large addition was necessary, but he saw the difficulties in the way—be- 346 cause as the hon. Member for Cocker-mouth had said, there was a great difficulty in the way of creating two classes of bishops, and there was a determination in that House that there should be no augmentation of the number of Bishops in the House of Lords. The rotatory principle was objectionable, because, with a largo number of bishops, it would often happen the least efficient bishops would be representing the Church in the House of Lords. The other mode of augmenting the episcopate was by returning to the statute of Henry VIII., with regard to suffragan bishops. That would get rid, to a great extent, of the difficulty of having two classes of bishops, though he was aware there were many difficulties in the way of that proceeding. Then came the proposal of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), that when they created new bishops the voluntary principle should be called in aid of that creation. In the debate in the Session of 1848, when the right hon. Gentleman moved a resolution on the subject, the then Secretary of State for the Home Department, the right hon. Member for Northumberland (Sir George Grey), received the suggestion with great favour, though he expressed himself with that caution becoming a Secretary of State. He (Mr. Herbert) thought one reason for the augmentation of the episcopacy was the present system of management of Church property, from which the stipends of the present Bishops were derived, and which placed them in a position in which as Prelates of the Church they ought not to be—they were in fact land-agents for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, over large estates from which they did not derive the proceeds. On the other hand, if all the lands were severed from the sees, except so much as would produce the amount of stipend which it was thought right for the bishop to possess, and those lands were held at rackrent, then this difficult}' would have to be met—-the management of lands at rack-rent gave rise to much more secular business than the mere possession of estates leased out on fines, which required little or no management at all. At any rate, he thought the system as it now stood most objectionable. From the quantity of secular business imposed upon the Bishops, they were even now isolated from the ranks of the clergy. If irreproachable character, courteousness of demeanour, punctuality of correspondence, clearness in 347 transacting business, were the first and only qualifications for a bishop, he was quite sure there were many Gentlemen on the Opposition benches who would make far better bishops than were on the bench, if the spiritual functions were not superadded. The secular functions took so much time, that the more important, the more sacred, duties seemed to be lost sight of by the public in a great measure; and it was that to which attention ought to be directed. He was bound to say the hon. Member for Cockermouth was not always quite fair in his remarks on the episcopate. Whatever might be their collective reputation, many of them were as great Church reformers as any Gentleman in this House. Many most efficient measures of Church reform had been suggested and undertaken at there quest of Bishops; and certainly there were on the bench many active men, who fulfilled their sacred duties, and were quite unworthy the censure imposed on them by the hon. Gentleman. With regard to the chapters, and the abolition of deans, he wished to hear both sides before he committed himself to any opinion; but of this he was perfectly certain, that it was not wise to diminish the numbers of the chapter. That had been done on a previous occasion, both in respect to their number and salaries. The chapters, by a long course of neglect and desuetude, had been, and were when reform was proposed, remiss in performing the duties for which they were originally constituted; and the error was, that when reform was instituted, instead of saying to these gentlemen, "You must in future perform such and such duties you are bound by oath to perform," no notice was taken of the neglect of duty, but merely a reduction made in the numbers and the amount of salary. Now, if twelve men did not perform the duties, four men not performing them was only an improvement in degree. A sinecure was as bad at 500l. as at 800l. or 1,000l. a year. The change had not come into full operation yet, and its result was not fully known. Many hon. Gentlemen said, that the chapters were altogether unsuitable to the present day, and that they ought to be swept away; but in parts of England voluntary efforts were making by combination to perform those duties which the chapters should perform. At Birkenhead, an Irish clergyman named Baily, who was well known to the noble Lord (the Marquess of Blandford), had established an institution, with rules and ob- 348 jects very like those which were drawn up by Cranmer in the time of Henry VIII. when he drew up the statute for the new foundation of cathedrals. It was instituted for the education of the clergy who wanted pastoral training places before they went out into the world to act as deacons; before they took orders and entered on the responsible duties of their sacred offices. The same thing was wanted in connexion with the chapters. They wanted schools, training places for the young clergy. Those who went out as deacons at the present time had to be taught; and instead of being paid ought to pay for learning the pastoral duties. He would therefore recommend the noble Lord, instead of reducing the number of canons, to declare by his Bill that no canonry, on a voidance, should be filled until a proper scheme was prepared and effected, touching the proper duties of teaching and training which those canons had to perform. He also hoped that a provision in the noble Lord's Bill would not escape the attention of the Government, by which it was made necessary for the bishops to reside in their cathedral cities. He believed there were fifteen or sixteen Bishops who lived like country gentlemen at great distances from their cathedral cities; and the clergyman who required to see one of them was put to great expense and inconvenience. It was, besides, setting an example to the clergy of non-residence. It was a sort of absenteeism, enabling the Bishop to remove from the influence of the chapter, which was intended for his counsel, to check any hasty decisions, and at any rate to strengthen the Bishop's decisions by its advice. He heartily concurred in the observations of the hon. Gentleman, that in the case of Welsh bishoprics it should be a sine quèl; non that the clergyman should be master of the language, which was the only language spoken by his flock. He remembered such a claim was made in the House of Lords, and the Lord Chancellor complained that it was an unjustifiable interference with his patronage. The time for such opposition was now past, and he hoped the provision suggested would be one which would meet with universal concurrence. In these matters he felt they discussed them in too legal a spirit, and laid more weight on the vested interests of individuals, than on the spiritual interests of the mass of the people. With a large population and insufficient cures, one clergyman had the cure perhaps of 30,000 or 40,000 souls. 349 They wanted to divide the living, but they could not, because the patron would not give his consent—the patron's right would be damnified by having three or four small livings instead of one large fat benefice to give to a relation or friend. Careful as they ought to be of vested interests, such impediment put a stop to all hope of improvement in the Church, and led to the institution being regarded as not working for the spiritual benefit of the people, but for the convenience and rights of property of individuals. He was extremely glad the Government had given the answer they had; he thanked the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the spirit in which it was given, and he hoped the noble Lord would at once accede to the suggestion to withdraw the Bill.
The MARQUESS of BLANDFORD
said, it was the opinion of those hon. Gentleman who had assisted him in bringing this Bill forward, that he should give way to the proposition of Her Majesty's Government, and he was quite willing to do so, because it was also his own wish, formed after communicating with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole), and because it was the general wish of the House, that that course should be adopted. He would not now go into the question further than to refer to one or two circumstances which had been touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert) with regard to the abolition of deans. The right hon. Gentleman said the abolition of deans, or rather the absorption of their offices into the duties of bishops, could not be carried out, because the two offices of dean and bishop could not be combined. He, however, would remind the House that his measure was consistent with itself, for the principal duty of dean was the management of the estates of the Church, and this duty he proposed to transfer to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners—thus making the dean's office virtually a sinecure. In ancient times the duty of the chapter was that of council to the bishop; and the bishop, dean, and chapter had property in common. The bishop was the principal person in the chapter, and, as Burns expressed it, the chapter had to advise him in spiritualities, and restrain him in temporalities. In the progress of time the property and duties of the bishop became separated from that of the chapter, and a double interest was created; the consequence was, that the deans assumed a position in the chapter which was perfectly irreconcilable with 350 their subordinate capacity to the bishop. What he proposed was to place them in a proper position, and to provide those endowments which would be requisite for the increase in the episcopacy, which every one had admitted was desirable and necessary. With regard to the suspension of canonries, it might be thought from that proposal that he was desirous of abolishing chapters. This was not correct. He did not propose their abolition; he only proposed the separation of their functional from their endowed character. He proposed that chapters should be constituted of some members who should be paid, not by other endowments but by settled incomes, and that the surplus property be distributed among the hardworking clergy, and especial reference should be had to those who had been created by Sir Robert Peel's District Clergy Act of 1843. With regard to the increase of the episcopate, and the difficulties in the way of the question, adverted to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wiltshire, he thought the rotationary principle suggested by that right hon. Gentleman as to the Bishops sitting in Parliament would overcome one of the objections to the increase of the episcopal bench. He considered that the system adopted in the election of Irish Peers if followed with regard to the Bishops would not trench on their spiritual dignity and necessary influence, while it would get rid of a great deal of that jealousy which was felt on the subject. He would read some words, which he had no doubt would be received with much respect by that House. He referred to a speech made by the Earl of Derby when the measure for creating an additional Bishop of Manchester was under debate. Lord Derby said—If they laid down a good plan for the improvement of the Church, they might confidently reckon on the friends of the Church, and that funds would not be wanting. One of the principles of Church extension was to increase the property of the Church by putting forward the property it possessed as an inducement for others to come forward with voluntary subscriptions.He would earnestly beg Government to consider what were the actual requisitions of the Church, and not to consider that the four new bishops would meet all the existing wants."—[See 3 Hansard, xciii. 288.]Those were Lord Derby's sentiments then, and they wore perfectly applicable now to the question before the House. With regard to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South 351 Wiltshire, he admitted his suggestions differed to a certain extent from the provisions of his Bill; but then the matter was so large, and required such continual consideration, that if the Bill had gone into Committee he should have felt it to be his duty to make alterations in order to meet the views of hon. Members. With regard to the educational functions of the chapters, he considered they were of the utmost importance. With regard to the institution founded at Birkenhead by Dr. Bailey, to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded, he might state that the greatest benefits had resulted from it. A number of theological students were thereby brought into contact with the masses of Liverpool, under the superintendence of the clergy, as scripture readers, and thus obtained invaluable theological training. From those schools ten bishops made appointments, and thus clergymen were obtained perfectly well suited to enter at once upon the duties of their calling when appointed to a parish. Those training institutions ought to be multiplied. The course he should pursue on the present occasion was to ask leave to withdraw his Motion—not, however, pledging himself to accept the measure Government were to introduce, but reserving his right to bring forward the question in any manner he might hereafter think advisable. It was impossible not to see that a great work was before Government, and that through its agency the Christian faith might be extended to tens of thousands, and be made to strike its roots deeper into the affections of the people. He could not conclude without solemnly warning Government of the consequences which would befall the Church, should there be any incapacity within, or any just cause of reproach from without. It was impossible Government could divest itself of the great responsibility of the results which would follow from failure. He begged to move that the order for the second reading of the Bill be discharged.
§ Motion by leave withdrawn; Order for Second Reading discharged; Bill withdrawn.