HC Deb 19 July 1853 vol 129 cc440-69

in moving the Second Reading, said, that this Bill was introduced by the Government with a view to the settlement of a very troublesome local question. Undoubtedly it was a local question, but at the same time it was a question of that class and character which might very fairly form a subject for the consideration of the Government and of Parliament. It had been a subject of inquiry on the part of the previous Administration, and by a Select Committee of that House. Two different Administrations had brought in Bills with respect to it, and this Bill which he now asked a second reading for, in the most material points, was exactly the same as the Bill handed to him by his predecessor in office. It was not difficult to see why the Government thought this question deserving serious consideration. The annuity tax was a tax imposed on the house property of Edinburgh for the support of the clergy of Edinburgh. It was imposed in its present shape as early as the year 1661, or even previous to that date, upon the owners of house property in Edinburgh, for the support of the clergy of Edinburgh, and amounted to a tax of 6 per cent on the rentals. At the time the tax was imposed, the city of Edinburgh was deprived of a considerable amount of ecclesiastical property. The deaneries of the Bishopric of Orkney had been granted to the city of Edinburgh for the maintenance of the clergy; but when Episcopacy was abolished, the deaneries were resumed by the Crown, and in 1661 the annuity tax was imposed. The number of ministers had increased, and the amount of stipend had also increased; and in the year 1833, owing, perhaps, to the general agitation about church rates, the levying of the tax came to be attended with very considerable discontent, and that discontent increased year by year until 1848, when it was actually found necessary to call out a troop of military in order that a sale might take place of property seized by the ministers of Edinburgh, because the owner refused to pay the tax. That was only one of many instances of the same kind, and respectable persons who refused to pay went to gaol, amid the enthusiasm and clamour of those who agreed in resistance to the tax. He did not mean to defend that resistance, or to base this Bill upon any such argument; but if he were to venture an opinion, he should say that any resistance to the law was unjustifiable. He looked upon the proposed measure as a matter of general social and political expediency. In 1848, his noble Friend the Member for the City of London, who was then in office, sent Mr. John Shaw Lefevre to Edinburgh—a gentleman of great ability and experience—to inquire into the subject; and having made his Report, a Select Committee was appointed, which, after a most elaborate and minute inquiry, recommended a settlement of the questions, which in all material parts was substantially the settlement intended to be made by this Bill. After the Report of the Committee, his friend Sir William Gibson Craig, who was then Member for the City of Edinburgh, introduced, with the sanction of the Government of the day, a Bill for the same purpose, which unfortunately was not carried, because the Government was changed; but his learned friend, the present Dean of Faculty, who then became Lord Advocate, addressed himself assiduously to the subject. This Bill, with one exception, was the result, and he hoped a successful result, of the labours of his hon. and learned friend. The nature of the settlement proposed, he would explain in a few sentences. The tax was a tax of 6 per cent levied upon house property within the ancient and extended Royalty of the City only; and the College of Justice, comprising the Judges, barristers, writers to the signet, and solicitors, were exempted from the tax. There were at present eighteen ministers who were paid their stipend by means of this tax. He proposed to settle the question in this way—to abolish the exemption of the College of Justice, to reduce the number of ministers from eighteen to fifteen, to abolish the annuity tax altogether, and to charge, instead of a municipal tax of 3 per cent, with which the clergy should not in any degree interfere. That, to a certain extent, would make up the stipends of the clergy; and it was proposed to apply ultimately the emoluments of some of the deans of the Chapel Royal of Stirling. Since the abolition of Episcopacy, the emoluments enjoyed by the deans of the Chapel Royal had been applied by the Crown to pious uses, and, until very recently, had been conferred on eminent divines of the Church of Scotland as remuneration for their services or standing, without any duties being attached to the office. Recently, very recently, these deaneries had been conferred on two Professors of the University of Edinburgh; one the Principal, and the other Dr. Lee, Professor of Biblical Criticism. Until very recently the amount of these deaneries was inconsiderable, yielding only some 70l. or 90l. a year to each of the deans. The reason was, that long leases had been granted upon very favourable terms: these in course of time fell in, so that in 1846 the amount was 300l. a year to each of the deans, and since 1846 had risen to 700l. or 800l. a year, which was certainly a much larger sum than had been originally intended. It would be observed that the deaneries had never been applied to any other than an ecclesiastical purpose. It was estimated that in future the sure derived from the revenues of the deans of the Chapel Royal would amount to 1,500l. a year. He believed it would be a great deal more. The present amount was 2,300l., which was, however, liable to be reduced by an increase of the stipends of the parishes from which the fees were drawn. It was calculated, however, that it would never fall below 1,500l. per annum. Accordingly, from these sources—the municipal tax of 3 per cent, and the general revenues of the Crown deaneries, when they fell in—it was expected the town of Edinburgh would have sufficient to pay in to the Consolidated Fund the amount necessary for the payment of the ministers. Before the dean- eries fell in, because all existing rights were to be saved, an additional tax of 1 per cent would be levied on the town of Edinburgh. The present stipends of the ministers were about 600l. a year, which were collected, if not with a great deal of odium and obloquy, with a great deal of social turmoil and discord. It was, therefore, thought a not unreasonable proposition to fix the stipends at 550l. a year; and he believed that even by the clergy themselves that was not considered an unreasonable proposition. With regard to the number of ministers, as he had already said, it was proposed to reduce the number from eighteen to fifteen. Without approving of tire principle, he might say that, if it were proposed to measure the number of clergy by the number of persons who attended on their ministrations, nothing could be said against this reduction. But, besides that, it appeared the double charges of three collegiate churches did not impost greater duty than the other twelve churches which were served by single ministers; he believed the statistics of Edinburgh rather showed the heaviest work was in those parishes which were not collegiate churches, and therefore, when it was a question of settlement for the benefit of the Church of Scotland and the community generally it was not doing anything to impair the efficiency of that Church in reducing these three collegiate churches to the same status as the other parishes, the duties connected with which were not beyond the strength of any one man. Although he was not inclined to put this reduction upon the amount of attendance, he thought the established clergy should not forget the position in which they stood. They should in forget that in 1843 there was a division in the Church, which every one must deplore, but the effect of which had been to create many numerous congregations beyond the pale of the Established Church, and diminish the number of persons attending those churches. The secession of so many men, popular preachers, the towers of the Establishment, carrying with them the congregations, must have put the Established Church in great difficulty to supply their places; and it was not to be wondered at that ten years afterwards the effect of that blow should still be felt. There certainly was a strong feeling that fifteen clergymen under the above circumstances were too many; but it must be recollected that this Bill endeavoured to settle a much vexed question by a fair compromise, and had received the general concurrence of all parties—that the Town Council, the members of the Established Church, those, who professed the voluntary principle, Free Churchmen, Episcopalians, and men of all shades of opinion, unanimously concurred in the reduction of these three collegiate charges as a moderate proposition, and one which would not, in the slightest degree, impair the efficiency of the Established Church. He had dealt with the first objection—the diminution of the number of ministers; but there were two other objections, the first of which was the intervention of the Consolidated Fund. He wished it to be distinctly understood that there was no intention to take anything out of the Consolidated Fund. The object was to prevent the possibility of these unfortunate disputes being revived, and they hoped to effect that object by giving the new tax a purely municipal character, and removing the payment of the ministers from the town council of Edinburgh, but not making the Consolidated Fund a guarantee for that payment. He had heard the objection very strongly put against the intervention of the Consolidated Fund; and he was disposed to consider very seriously whether it was necessary to preserve that provision, or whether they should introduce a provision that they should not pay more than was paid into the Consolidated Fund by the town council of Edinburgh. It was not proposed to give any security on the Consolidated Fund for more than was paid in, and beyond that he should wish the authorities had the means of compelling payment from the town council of Edinburgh. At the same time that was no vital part of the Bill; he did not consider it essential, and he felt it was perfectly open to the Government to give up that part of the machinery. The only other objection related to the revenues of the deans of the Chapel Royal. It seemed to be supposed they would be dealing improperly with Crown property. He confessed he did not see the weight of that objection. These revenues were absolute sinecures, and down to 1846 were held without any corresponding duties, but always applied for ecclesiastical purposes in connexion with the Church of Scotland. From the time of the abolition of episcopacy they were paid, in the first instance, to those who held civic appointments, and in 1846 they were granted to the Principal and Professor of Biblical Criticism in the University of Edinburgh; but the House would recollect that the amount now drawn was 700l. a year, and without going into the question whether additional endowments should hereafter be given to the University of Edinburgh, there was nothing in the connexion between the funds and the professorship to prevent the House dealing with these funds. He could not understand, therefore, what objection there could be on principle to applying those revenues to the most useful purposes, and so as to produce the greatest good to the general community. He hoped that in submitting this measure to the House, he should have the support and assistance of the Members of the previous Administration, because the principle of the Bill was precisely the same as that introduced by the late Government. The only difference was, that the late Government proposed to value the deaneries higher, and to maintain the number of ministers in Edinburgh; but the effect would have been to throw the cost on the Consolidated Fund. It might be said that Edinburgh had no claim to these deaneries—that these ecclesiastical funds ought to be applied to general public purposes. If he were inclined to go into that question, he could make out a very strong case indeed for Edinburgh. He would simply say this: that Edinburgh maintained a larger staff of ministers in proportion to its population, with higher salaries, than any other part of the country, although it was the only place in Scotland where ecclesiastical revenues contributed nothing to the support of the Church. The eighteen ministers in Edinburgh were paid 600l. a year each, whilst the ministers in Glasgow were paid only 425l. each. Edinburgh was the only town where the ministers were paid by a tax on the inhabitants; and when it was recollected that in 1661 the ecclesiastical revenues were taken from them, he thought, if they went into it as a matter of history, there was a great deal to be said in favour of the claim of the city of Edinburgh for relief out of these funds. He contended that this application of the funds was a just application for the benefit of the Church of Scotland itself. It appeared to him nothing could be more injurious to the Church than to allow this matter to go on. In England they had seen the agitation about church rates carried to such an extent that it became almost impossible to collect them. He wished hon. Gentlemen would look this matter fairly in the face, because if this Bill were thrown out, he could not doubt that the agitation which was now kept down by the hope that Parliament would redress the existing, grievance, would greatly increase. With regard to ministers' money in Ireland, which was a corresponding grievance, they had seen a Bill introduced, and very successfully introduced, on the part of the Government for its remedy. ["No, no!"] He could conceive some who objected to the principle of Church establishments being sorry to lose this standing example of its evil effects. He could only say, even if he wished, and he did not wish, to see the Church of Scotland abolished, he did not consider that a legitimate weapon to use in such a warfare. He looked upon this question as one affecting social order, the efficiency of the clergy, and the cause of religion; and, holding that they were perfectly at liberty to modify the details of the measure in any way they thought proper, in Committee, and being perfectly ready to give every facility to the statement of the views of all classes, he trusted the House would consent to read the Bill a second time.

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


said, the House was not yet aware of the facts of the case respecting this discreditable Bill. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, like a dexterous advocate, had left out the strong points against the Bill, which he was able to supply from having been a Member of the Committee which sat in 1851, to inquire into the operation of the annuity tax. The Parliamentary borough of Edinburgh contained a population of 160,000. The ancient and extended Royalties contained 66,000 out of the 160,000, and that was the only part of the city liable to the annuity tax. This tax, as the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had stated, was 6 per cent on the whole of the occupants. There were eight churches in the old Royalty, and two that had been taken down; but the congregations still assembled in other buildings, and for the ten churches there were twelve ministers. There were five churches in the extended Royalty, and six ministers, being eighteen ministers for fifteen congregations. Up to 1810, the annuity tax was collected by the corporation, who paid the stipends of the ministers. They gave the ministers fixed stipends, and the surplus balances were applied to municipal purposes. The profits of the annuity tax for twenty years, ending in 1809, over and above paying all the ministers, was 37,120l. A change, which was the origin of all the subsequent disputes and disagreements between the ministers and the people, then took place. In that year (1809), an Act was obtained to extend the Royalty; but it was discovered after the Bill had passed that a pious fraud had been perpetrated upon the inhabitants of Edinburgh—a clause had been smuggled in, of which no previous public notice had been given, making an important change in the application of the annuity tax, namely, empowering the clergy, instead of levying for six—which was all they previously could claim for—to levy for eighteen stipends, and to pay as much money as was required for new churches. No sooner had the Act passed, than the ministers claimed from the corporation increased stipends. They had previously received 350l. a year each, but after the Act passed they asked for 750l. a year each. The corporation refused to give them that sum. The clergy went to law, and then set up claims for the whole of the annuity tax, the right of manses, the seat rents, certain church lands, revenues, and other advantages. At the end of four years' law proceedings, the ministers gained their suit, but the Court only allowed four of their claims. The corporation then agreed to allow the ministers a fixed stipend of 520l. a year, instead of 350l.; but in the year 1820 the ministers put an end to this contract, and assumed the collection of the tax themselves. From that time great dissatisfaction arose amongst the people, and after the disruption of the Church in 1843, it was nearly impossible to collect the tax. Several of the people, and he believed one of the magistrates, went to prison rather than pay it; which was not to be wondered at, considering the change which had taken place in the relative numbers of the Established Church. The corporation behaved with the utmost liberality, constantly increasing the number of ministers from time to time, so long as there was a call for their services. In 1560 John Knox was the sole minister; in 1634 the number had increased to six; in 1688 there were twelve; in 1722 there were sixteen; and now there were eighteen. But the attachment of the people to the Established Church has ceased, and they complain that they are compelled to pay for its support, whilst they voluntarily contri- bute to the building of churches, and the support of ministers of their own. In 1844, as appeared by a return laid before Mr. John Shaw Lefevre, the amount of the annuity tax was 10,667l., of which 8,381l. was paid by persons who did not attend the churches. In 1688 the ancient Royalty had as large a population as at the present time, and they all belonged to the Established Church. In 1852, according to the census, the population of the ancient Royalty was 30,867; but of these, it was estimated, 10,464 were Roman Catholics, 10,236 Protestant Dissenters, and 5,039 belonged to the Free Church, leaving 5,128 as those who belonged to the Established Church, or to no religious denomination, the openly wicked, and those who did not profess to have anything to do with these matters. It appeared that although the churches were now empty, there was no spiritual destitution in Edinburgh. The twenty-six Established churches were almost empty, but there were seventy-four places of worship of other denominations, all well attended. The seat rents of the churches were received by the corporation, and for five years they had been insufficient to meet the cost of providing the sacramental elements, cleansing the edifices, and similar trifling expenses. In the old town, the seat rents produced 8,286l. in nine years, and the expenses were 9,025l., being a loss of 819l. in that period. During those nine years the city paid the clergy upwards of 60,000l., besides having incurred a debt of about 75,000l. for new churches. In the extended Royalty, containing about 36,000 inhabitants, there were five churches and six ministers. He did not complain so much of the extended Royalty, although it appeared that out of 5,675 sittings in those five churches, there were only 3,038 let. He would say nothing on that, but direct the attention of the House to the old town, and to the changes which had taken place. There were now eight existing churches, having 8,481 sittings, of which about 570 were appropriated to public functionaries. The town clerk, in his evidence before the Committee, stated that the number of sittings in those eight churches, let to persons who carried on business within the ancient Royalty, and for whose accommodation only the corporation were bound to provide, was only 655. The corporation received the seat rents, and were very glad to let the sittings to any one who would come, and, therefore, the sittings let and occupied by some hospital children and other persons reduced the number of unlet sittings to 5,592. Under the Bill now proposed by Her Majesty's Government, another church was to be built, at an expense of 10,146l., to replace Trinity Church, which was purchased and taken down by the railway companies. In that church the number of sittings let was only nineteen. Another church, the Old Grey Friars Church, which had unfortunately been burnt down, was also to be rebuilt, although it had only thirty five persons belonging to it, so that it was proposed to build two more churches, to accommodate fifty-four persons, although there were 7,248 vacant sittings in the present eight existing churches belonging to the ancient Royalty. Besides these churches there were chapels of ease belonging to the Establishment; but as the clergy could not tax Dissenters to pay ministers to preach in them, and as the members of the Establishment would not support them, those chapels died a natural death; no congregations were left, and they were shut up. A church built by Lady Glenorchy, in 1774, for the poor people who could not obtain seats elsewhere, was taken down, and, instead of rebuilding it, the Presbytery of Edinburgh violated their trust by purchasing the Roxburgh chapel of ease, which was situated out of the ancient town, and shut up for want of a congregation. In Lady Glenorchy's church there were 1,200 or 1,300 sittings; but in Roxburgh chapel of ease there were only 730 sittings; so the poor were cheated out of 500 sittings. But that was not all. There was a home mission fund, established for the purpose of supplying destitute districts, of which the Presbytery were the trustees and managers, and they had lent 800l. on the Roxburgh chapel of ease out of this fund, which sum would have been lost but for the purchase of the chapel to replace Lady Glenorchy's church. There was another chapel of ease, Newington, half a mile from the Old Town, which was formerly well filled, but, like other churches, the congregation had fled. The Presbytery, however, again violated their trust by voting it to be a destitute district, and thereupon provided a minister out of the home mission fund for the empty chapel. It was a remarkable fact, that whilst there were twelve ministers serving in the Old Town, each receiving about 600l. a year, there was not one resident minister. The reverend shepherds had no objection to fleece their flocks, but they had the strongest objection to live among them. It would, perhaps, be thought singular that no dissenting minister lived there; but dissenting ministers conscientiously objected to the annuity tax, and were despoiled of their goods if they would not pay it, or were taken to prison, for it was found more easy to get the money when they took men's bodies for the tax, than when they took their goods. That was a pretty good reason, he thought, why dissenting ministers kept out of the ancient Royalty Such was the system which Her Majesty's Government proposed to sanction and support by this Bill. But they proposed also to grant the revenues of the deaneries of the Chapel Royal for the support of the ministers, under the pretence that they were ecclesiastical property. He begged to remind hon. Gentlemen that a deanery of the Chapel Royal was no more ecclesiastical property than Woburn Abbey. It was ecclesiastical property once, but it was not so now. This property never belonged to the Established Church of Scotland—it belonged to the Bishops, and when episcopacy was abolished, from that moment it became national property. Then it was proposed that the ministers should have the guarantee of the Consolidated Fund—that the city of Edinburgh should pay the ministers their stipends. He did not know how far the House would agree to that proposal, but it appeared to him that if the clergy dared not trust the city of Edinburgh, he did not see why that House should. With respect to the sinecure deaneries of the Chapel Royal, two were at present given to Professors of the University of Edinburgh; and when that source of income was removed, no doubt Parliament would be asked to provide other endowments for those Professors. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said he was very desirous to do away with all future causes of disputes by the abolition of the annuity tax. He (Mr. J. B. Smith) was equally desirous with the right hon. and learned Gentleman to effect that object. He was quite satisfied the usefulness of the clergy would be destroyed so long as that tax existed; and he felt that the equitable plan was to abolish the annuity tax, by repealing the Act of 1809, which was obtained by fraud, and to go back to the right of levying for six ministers, who were more than sufficient to do the whole duty, and for whose support there were ample funds belonging to the mini- sters, without taxing the people at all. They had a precedent for that course in the reduction of the number of useless Irish bishoprics in 1832. [Mr. MACAULAY: In 1833.] The right hon. Gentleman recollected that just measure, and he hoped his voice would be heard advocating the reduction of the number of ministers in Edinburgh. The right hon. Gentleman was then in Parliament, and advocated the reduction of the ten Irish bishops, because they had nothing to do: the same argument would apply to this case; and he, therefore, should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would second his Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day three months.


seconded the Amendment. He would remind the House that this provision was not an endowment provided by the piety and charity of former ages, but it was a provision under an Act of Parliament for the purpose of taxing people who were at one time of one sentiment. But now they were not; yet, with refined cruelty, the House was asked to tax all manner of Her Majesty's subjects for the support of opinions which the majority of them did not entertain. He could not but express his surprise that a measure of such a nature should receive the countenance of Her Majesty's Government. It was said that the right hon. and eloquent Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) intended to give his support to the Bill; and curious should he be to hear from such eloquent lips a defence of it No man had more to lose in character either in that House or in the country, that the right hon. Gentleman; and he (Mr. Hadfield) would be glad to hear from him upon what grounds men were to be taxed for the support of religious doctrines which they did not believe.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


Sir, the hon. Gentleman must expect to hear nothing that deserves the name of eloquence from me; but I think I may venture to hope that, in a very few words, I shall be able to put this question in the light in which I wish it to stand before the House and before my constituents. I should have thought the speech of the hon. Gentleman who move the Amendment had been intended as a speech in favour of the second reading of the Bill; at least this I may say, that one of the difficulties I feel in addressing the Rouse upon this subject is, that he has anticipated several of those topics which I intended to urge in favour of the second reading of the Bill, and which appeared to me irresistibly to lead to a conclusion in its favour. For, Sir, I consider that the Gentleman has shown, even more conclusively, if possible, than my right hon. and learned Friend who introduced the Bill, that time city of Edinburgh does suffer under a very great grievance. If the city of Edinburgh does suffer under a very great grievance, it is then the duty of the Government to propose, and the duty of this House to adopt, such measures as may be the best practicable for the relief of the city of Edinburgh from that grievance. It is not desirable, and we do not desire, to propose any system which we might possibly think preferable to this measure, if we know there is no chance of that preferable measure being carried. It is our duty to propose the best measure which we think we shall be able to carry into effect. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment has intimated that in supporting this Bill I am acting at variance with time course which I pursued in 1833, when I, and others who acted with me, voted for the reduction of the number of bishops in the Irish Church Establishment. Sir, upon that occasion I acted precisely upon the principle upon which I shall act to-day. I thought we had far too large a Church Establishment in Ireland. Nevertheless, I thought—many who agreed with me thought—with the late Mr. O'Connell—for I heard Mr. O'Connell himself use the words—when he praised the Government for not at that time, and under the circumstances, having proposed more than they did propose. Was this because Mr. O'Connell thought the Protestant Church of Ireland ought to have two archbishops, and so many bishops as we left to it? Not at all; but because he knew well that by asking for more he would get nothing, and that what was proposed would really mitigate an evil which it was impoosible altogether to remove. Upon the principle I then acted on, upon the principle that Mr. O'Connell acted on, I cordially give my vote for this Bill; and certainly I should, without the smallest apprehension, after giving my vote, present myself before that constituency to whom I owe as much as any Member in the House of Commons ever owed to any constituent body. Sir, there is a grievance. Upon that point the hon. Gentlemen who have opposed this Bill perfectly agree with me. There is a grievance; it is a very great grievance; and I will very shortly state in what, as it seems to me, the peculiar grievance of the city of Edinburgh consists. In the first place there is no doubt that the charge and cost of the Establishment is enormous. It is disproportionate to the spiritual wants of the people, and it is disproportionate to the general scale of the Church Establishment of Scotland; and if you compare the cost of the Church establishment of Edinburgh with the cost of that of the other great cities of Scotland, you will find it most frightfully disproportionate. Remember the district about which we are talking—the annuity-tax district I will call it, for convenience—contains, as nearly as possible, 66,000 inhabitants. There are three great Scotch towns, which, by the census of 1841—for I have not looked into the last—contain also between 60,000 and 70,000 inhabitants each, or about as many as the annuity district of Edinburgh—Dundee, Aberdeen, and Paisley. At Dundee the whole charge of maintaining the clergy is little more than 3,000l.; at Aberdeen it is between 2,000l. and 3,000l.; at Paisley it is 3,000l.; but at Edinburgh it is between 9,000l. and 10,000l. There is another place where the annuity tax is levied—I mean in Montrose. I do not see my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) in his place; but if he were here, he would tell us that the annuity tax there is of a comparatively inconsiderable amount, but yet the collection of it excites considerable discontent. What is the amount of the annuity tax there? About 450l., paid by 17,000 inhabitants. But the annuity tax of Edinburgh of 10,000l. is paid by a population of only four times the number of that of Montrose. The difference is there as one to four. I may be told that there is an annuity tax at Glasgow, which has a population of 150,000 inhabitants, but the whole charge of the clergy there is 4,250l. But the whole of my case is, that the clergy of Edinburgh cost, in proportion to the population, more than three times as much as the clergy of the other great towns of Scotland. That is, I think, sufficient to explain the extreme discontent with which the tax is regarded in that city. Yet this is not all. There is another grievance still worse There is a monstrous injustice. It is, that the College of Justice is altogether exempt from the payment of this tax—all the Judges, all the officers of the Courts of Justice, the whole Faculty of Advocates, the whole of that respectable body the writers to the signet, and all the solicitors who practise in the Supreme Court, are exempted from the payment of the annuity tax. The city of Edinburgh is not a place of very great trade or merchandise; it does not manufacture much; and since Edinburgh ceased to be the seat of the Court, the Parliament, and the Privy Council of Scotland—since it ceased to be the place where the Scotch aristocracy had their town houses, the aristocracy of Edinburgh has only consisted of the law. The College of Justice is the aristocracy of Edinburgh: So, here you have a system under which the most opulent part of the people is exempted from the burden of this tax, while it is laid exclusively upon the poor. It is pre-eminently the poor who pay this tax. I believe I may say that the proportion of members of the Established Church is much greater in the College of Justice than it is through the city generally, and among the poorer ratepayers. I believe, indeed; that in the New Town of Edinburgh, which is the quarter in which the members of the College of Justice would generally live; almost all the elders of the Church are to be found. See what a monstrous, what a complicated, grievance this is! Here you have a poor dissenter who has to pay to the support of two Churches, on the one side, and a rich churchman, who does not pay for the support of any, on the other. Here you have, perhaps, some poor shoemaker or other workman, whose rent may be 6l.or 7l. a year, not sufficient to entitle him to vote in the election of Members to Parliament, yet he has to pay this annuity tax for the Established Church of Edinburgh, and also to contribute for the support of his own clergy and their churches also; while there is the Lord President paying nothing whatever. The great men of Edinburgh, who are at the head of Edinburgh society, pay nothing at all; but the shoemaker whose case I have put, pays to his own Church and to theirs too. This is a great and a most grievous evil. It may be contended that all this is to be cured by better collection, and that the annuity tax, which is only 6d. in the pound, would yield the same sum if only five per cent of the College of Justice were compelled to pay. But those who have done me the honour to attend to what I have said, will see that the pecuniary is not the worst effect of this grievance. There is another thing, which latterly, I think, has made the people of Edinburgh feel themselves aggrieved. Edinburgh is one of the very few places in Scotland in which the burden of the ecclesiastical establishment is not borne by the ancient revenues which belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. A portion of those revenues, of considerable value, was granted, as I think the Lord Advocate has stated, in 1641, to the city of Edinburgh, with the most solemn forms, for the maintenance of its clergy. This was just at the time when, as Gentlemen well know, Charles I had been compelled to set up the Presbyterian form of church government in Scotland. It was given to the city of Edinburgh upon the ground, if I recollect rightly, stated in the preamble of the grant, of the peculiar expense and charges which Edinburgh lay under, as the capital of the kingdom and the seat of justice. That, as the House knows, was taken away, and taken away without compensation, in the time of Charles II.; the church lands were alienated, and the burden of providing for the service of the Church was thrown upon the city of Edinburgh. The clergy had to be generally supported; and the imposition of this house tax was made necessary by the resumption of that portion of the church lands which had formerly been applied to the city of Edinburgh for the purpose. This seems to me the peculiar grievance of which the people of Edinburgh complain. Edinburgh complains, first, that the State has laid upon it the charge of an enormously great Church establishment; secondly, that the State has exempted from that charge the people best able to bear it; and, thirdly, that the State has taken away those Crown lands, or ancient church lands, which ought to have borne the burden of maintaining the Church. What, then, is the remedy which this Bill proposes? First, it proposes to diminish the charge, and to diminish the number of the clergy; but it does not propose—and I trust I shall never live to see the day when an English Parliament will ever countenance such a proposal, under any circumstances whatever—to interfere with any vested rights of property. This Bill, respecting all existing rights, proposes, prospectively, to fix the stipends of the clergy of Edinburgh at 550l. a year, and to reduce the number of clergy from eighteen to fifteen. As to that reduction, it seems to me that the arguments for it are irresistible. There are only fifteen parishes in the district; of those fifteen parishes twelve have only one minister, while three have two. Why should twelve have only one minister, and three have two? If you could say that those three were the largest and the most populous in the whole city, no doubt that would be an argument for it; but that is not the case, for of the three parishes which have two ministers, one in population is only the fourth, and another is only the ninth, and the third is only the twelfth. Strike an average, and you will find that the average population of the three parishes which have two ministers each, is below the average population of the twelve which have only one each. Therefore, I say it is inconceivable to me how any person could think we should be depriving the people of Edinburgh of any real spiritual advantage, by placing those three parishes upon the same footing with the other twelve parishes. This, then, is the first remedy—a reduction of the charge. The second is to strike away altogether that odious and iniquitous privilege of the College of Justice. This is the second remedy. Then the third is this, that in return, or in compensation, for the church lands which formerly belonged to the city, and which were abitrarily taken away from the city without compensation, either the whole or some part of the revenues of the deaneries of the Chapel Royal should be allotted to the same purpose. It has been proposed by a nobleman, of whom I wish to speak only with great respect, that the canons and prebends and other dignitaries of the cathedrals of England, should have their revenues better apportioned for the purpose of giving spiritual instruction and consolation to the people. But can there be a stronger case put than that of these deaneries? As to English deans or canons, they have at least something to do, for there is the service in the cathedral to be attended; but the deans of the Chapel Royal of Scotland, since our Sovereigns ceased to keep court at Holyrood Palace, have, as such, absolutely and literally, no duty whatever to perform. I have studiously inquired into this matter, and I hear it is remembered that one dean said grace when George IV. dined in the Parliament House; and I believe it is usual for the dean to say prayers in the gallery at Holyrood house when an election of a Scottish peer takes place. These absolutely are the only spiritual duties performed by the deans of the Chapel Royal of Scotland within the memory of man. Is it, then, a very unreasonable thing to take the whole or part of the revenues, which will amount to somewhere between 1,500l. and 1,800l. a year, of these deaneries, for the purpose of relieving from this cruel burden that capital city which our Sovereigns are not likely again to honour with their continued residence? I must say that the way in which this proposition has been spoken of, as monstrous and detestable, by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. B. Smith), perfectly astonishes me, for every one of the principles upon which this Bill is founded, I find in that Report which the hon. Gentleman himself proposed to the Committee upstairs to adopt. [Mr. J. B. SMITH: No, no!] Yes, every one. The three remedies which he proposed to apply to this evil are—first, a reduction in the number of ministers; second, the abolition of the privilege of the College of Justice; and third, the application of the whole or part of the revenues of the deaneries of the Chapel Royal. The hon. Gentleman will hardly deny, then, that he agrees in principle with the Bill as to the first; and that he is for a reduction in the number of ministers—


To six, as it was previous to the Bill of 1808.


But is that a question of principle? Has the hon. Gentleman been a Member of this House so long and he does not know that the difference between three and six is not a question of principle? What I say, is, that the hon. Gentleman, in every point of the Report that he proposed, affirmed the principle of this Bill. He affirmed the reduction of the number of ministers; he affirmed the abolition of the privilege of the College of Justice; be affirmed the principle of applying the whole or part of the revenues of the deaneries of the Chapel Royal.


My Report says that—


I think the hon. Gentleman had better wait. What I have stated is in his own Report. There it is in print. The hon. Gentleman, I say, did propose that a portion of the revenues of the deaneries of the Chapel Royal should be applied to the support of the ministers. I say that to every one of the principles of this Bill—for these are the three principles of it—the hon. Gentleman has distinctly given his sanction, in the most formal manner, though not in his speech. This is not like bringing out Hansard—a thing that is often done unfairly—and finding a Gentle- man reported there with having said something at another time inconsistent with what he says now. But there it is in print, in a carefully prepared document written by himself. This, Sir, is not the Report adopted by the Committee, but the Report proposed by the hon. Gentleman, which was rejected; and here is the passage to which I refer:— Your Committee are of opinion that it would be desirable to abolish the Annuity Tax in the Canongate; and as soon as there be funds available, by the decease of the present deans of the Chapel Royal, that there be appropriated out of the deans' revenues a sum equal to the payment of the present stipends of the two existing ministers; and that upon the decease of either there shall be only one minister, to whom an annual stipend of 400l. shall be paid, including a manse.


Read what goes before.


Yes. "There shall be appropriated out of the dean's revenues a sum"—


Not that; begin at the top of page 26.


Very well. "Your Committee have heard the evidence of the minister, the town clerk, and the treasurer of Canongate." The hon. Gentleman may read it, but it has nothing to do with the question.


Yes it has.


But I am speaking of this proposition:— Your Committee are of opinion that it would be desirable to abolish the Annuity Tax in the Canongate; and as soon as there be funds available, by the decease of the present deans of the Chapel Royal, that there be appropriated out of the dean's revenues a sum equal to the payment of the present stipends. I say, therefore, it is perfectly clear that the hon. Gentleman does recognise the principle that part at least of the funds of these deans may, unobjectionably, be applied to the purpose of relieving the people of Edinburgh from this tax. I need hardly reheat now what has been so clearly said by my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate. I do not consider the clause relating to the Consolidated Fund as any necessary part of the Bill. The view which the promoters of the present Bill take is this, that the city ought to be secured—that the ministers ought to be secured—and that the State ought to be secured; our view is, that in no case whatever ought one particle of money to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund for, or on account of, these ministers. To any secu- rity whatever that can be proposed in order to make that certain, we shall be ready to consent in Committee; and unless there can be found securities that will satisfy these scruples, we shall be willing, whilst the other machinery is retained, to strike this out of the Bill. I have thus attempted to call the attention of the House to what I believe to be really the principles of the Bill. Those principles have been affirmed by three successive Governments. The Government before the last framed a Bill upon these principles; and the late Government framed one upon these principles. I repeat that these principles are in the present Bill—the reduction of the clergy, the abolition of the exemption of the College of Justice, and the application of the revenues of the deans of the Chapel Royal. Here, then, you find three Governments, each of which has adopted these principles. A. Committee of the House of Commons sat long and patiently on the question, and at the close of their examination they recommended that a Bill should be brought into the House upon these principles. Lastly, Sir, and I put it as the strongest proof of all, the hon. Gentleman himself, who has come forward to move that this Bill be read the second time this day three months, has himself distinctly affirmed these principles.


No, no!


What! Does the hon. Gentleman mean to say he does not recommend the application of any portion of the revenues of the deans of the Chapel Royal to the support of the ministers of the Canongate? Is he not in favour of abolishing the privilege of the College of Justice? Is he not for reducing the number of ministers in Edinburgh? Was it ever heard of, Sir, that when a grievance was allowed to exist, when three remedies for it were proposed, when everybody was agreed that they were just remedies, and when the only difference was about the amount—one recommending one sum, and one another—that whether you should take 400l., and leave 600l., or whether you should take 600l., and leave 400l.—that this was to be made a ground for throwing out the Bill upon the second reading, instead of sending it to be considered in Committee? For the sake of the peace of Edinburgh, for the sake of the peace of Scotland, for the sake of the Established Church, I implore this House not to reject the Bill. My right hon. and learned Friend has told the House what disastrous events have taken place in Edinburgh in consequence of this tax. Can anything be more opposed to the feelings of every man who reveres and respects religion, than that the ministers of religion should be compelled to call out soldiers to enable them to obtain the payment of this tax? Consider how widely the unpopularity of such a tax as this differs from the unpopularity of any other tax. The unpopularity of an Established Church is a very different thing from the unpopularity of the preventive service, of the army, or of the police. The police may be unpopular from its service, the army by the work it has to do, and the coast guard because they keep down smugglers; but of the Church, it may be said that it is worse than useless if it is unpopular, for it exists only to inspire respect and affection, and if it inspires feelings of a character opposite to respect and affection, it had better not exist at all. Most earnestly, therefore, I implore the House not to support an institution which is useless unless it is beloved, and by means which can only cause it to be hated.


said, he wished to explain. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he recommended a portion of the dean's revenues should be applied to the clergy of the Canongate; but what did his Report say? "The Holyrood Palace is within the parish of Canongate—"


said, the hon. Member could not reply to the right hon. Gentleman, and his explanation must be confined to the point which had been misunderstood.


said, the right hon. Gentleman had read one paragraph from his draft Report, but not the whole, and therefore he thought he was entitled to set himself right with the House. His Report said— The Holyrood Palace is within the parish of Canongate, but it has always been exempted from the payment of the annuity tax.


said, the hon. Member was not confining himself strictly to explanation. The explanation ought to have reference to what had fallen from himself during the debate; but the hon. Member was replying to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman as to his conduct in a Committee of a former Session, and the propositions made in that Committee. The hon. Gentleman could not do this.


said, that if the right hon. Gentleman in the chair decided that he had no right to correct a misrepresentation, he was bound to obey.


said, he objected to the Bill, though on totally different grounds from those stated by the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith), in not one of whose remarks did he concur. His objections were grounded on the broad principle that the Bill encroached on the institutions of the Church of Scotland, and on that ground he felt justified in opposing it. With regard to the reduction of the number of ministers, which formed the principal argument of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate in favour of the Bill, he believed it could not be denied that the population of the two parishes where the reduction was to take place, the Tron and St Giles's, were the worst in the city, and to take away ministers of religion from those two churches would be to do anything rather than advance the spiritual education of the inhabitants. In these two parishes there was not a dissenting place of worship of any description. The population of Edinburgh had increased to the amount of 11,000 persons since the time that the arrangement had been made, and surely that was no reason for reducing the number of ministers of religion. In 1824 the number of the ministers was seventeen; but, it being felt that this was not large enough, the ministers themselves determined to elect another additional one, and that he also should be paid out of the fund from which they were supported—that was, that the same sum which was formerly apportioned among seventeen should for the future support eighteen ministers. It was no doubt, true that the late Government had determined to introduce a Bill on this subject; but he believed that that Bill did not contain any clause for the reduction of the number of the ministers, and that was the clause to which the Church of Scotland chiefly objected. To effect a settlement of this much-vexed question, the Church of Scotland was willing to concede many things, but never to give up what it conceived to be its rights, or to consent to do anything which should injuriously affect those who might come after. With regard to the application of the revenues of the deans of the Chapel Royal, that was a question which affected various counties in Scotland quite as much as Edinburgh; there were many, such revenues in different parts of Scotland, and cases had occurred where, in consequence of the decrease of the population in the parishes where they existed, they had been allocated to the building of new churches. It could not be said, therefore, that they were altogether sinecures, though, indeed, if they were, they were the only ones which remained to Scotland of all her ecclesiastical wealth. With regard to the annoyance which had been experienced in the collection of these annuities, and the fact that the military had once been obliged to be called out to enforce their collection, he did not think that too much stress ought to be laid on that, for he believed that there had not been much difficulty experienced of late years in this respect. He supposed if a cabman were taken to a police-office for an infraction of the New Hackney Carriage Act, he would be received by his fellows with pretty much the same enthusiasm as the right hon. Gentleman opposite described to have animated he reception of those who had refused to pay the tax in Edinburgh by their fellow-citizens. Another ground of objection which he had to the Bill was, that there was no security for the collection of the tax. If the magistrates of Edinburgh refused to collect it—and many of them, it must be remembered, were no great friends to the Established Church of Scotland—the ministers would have to come on the Consolidated Fund to make up the deficiency. He objected, too, to fix the stipends of these ministers at a certain sum, because he could not foretell what might occur to alter the value of money to those who might come after; he also objected to it on the ground that the people might return to the Church of their fathers, and that the sum proposed might be inadequate to support the clergy. Sir William Johnstone, the Provost of Edinburgh, stated that he did not think a minister of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh could live as he ought on less than 600l. a year. If the hon. Member for Stockport had not put a Motion on the paper that this Bill should be read a second time that day three months, he himself should have done so; but after what had fallen from that hon. Member, he should be afraid, if he voted for his Motion, that he should be considered to be mixing himself up with the opinions which had been expressed by the hon. Member—opinions which he trusted would never come from him. He objected to the Bill as it now stood; but he hoped that the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would consider his objections, and would endeavour to modify the provisions of the Bill in such a manner that it could be accepted by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.


said, he was anxious to state, very shortly, the grounds upon which he should vote against the second reading of the Bill. He admitted the annuity tax was a grievance, and that it was desirable some means should be taken for its abolition; but he considered that the Bill contained some provisions so objectionable, that, although they might put an end to the grievance, he could not vote for them. His right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) had made a most able speech in defence of a very bad Bill; but, however admirable his arguments, they could scarcely prevail in favour of such a Bill as this. The right hon. Gentleman told the House that the Church Establishment in Edinburgh was too large. That was a question for the people of Edinburgh to consider; but it was no reason why the Consolidated Fund should be called upon to pay for it. Another grievance stated by his right hon. Friend was, that the College of Justice was exempt from this tax. Well then, let the College of Justice be included. But he must object to the third portion of the Bill, for it contained two bad principles. The first was, that it rendered the Consolidated Fund liable for this payment. Now, he could see no ground why the Consolidated Fund of this country should be liable to pay for the Church in Edinburgh. When once the people of Edinburgh got their hands in the public purse, there was no telling when they would get them out again. The other principle was still more objectionable: he meant the proposal of taking the money which belonged to the revenues of the deans of the Chapel Royal. This was most objectionable, because this money was, in 1846, appropriated to a most excellent purpose, for it was then given by Royal grant to the Principal of the University of Edinburgh, and the Professor of Biblical Criticism. He (Lord Seymour) had hoped that, in future years, the Professors in other universities might have been remunerated from this fund. Any one who looked at the state of Protestant learning in this country and in Europe, would see great reason for saying that professors of biblical criticism ought to be maintained in our universities; and he was surprised that his right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, and the Government, who were anxious to promote education, should now come forward to take revenues given by Royal grant for purposes of education and appropriate them to satisfy the clamours of the city of Edinburgh. Were the Professors overpaid? On the contrary, he apprehended that those in the universities of Scotland generally were miserably under paid. The people of Edinburgh had paid the tax for two hundred years, but that did not lessen the grievance. In Edinburgh, as in London, the number of churches existing were not required. In London they were removing the churches and the endowments too, where they were wasted; and Edinburgh should be treated in the same way, instead of despoiling the universities for the sake of satisfying public clamour. He objected to these two propositions. He objected to making the Consolidated Fund chargeable with the payment of the clergy of Edinburgh, and to the appropriation of the deaneries of the Chapel Royal. Unless those objections were removed, he must vote against the second reading; and he warned the House that this would be a charge on the public of this country, for as soon as they had taken away the deaneries of the Chapel Royal, and given them to the taxpayers of Edinburgh, they would come and tell them how ill provided the Professors were, and call on the taxpayers of this country to supply the deficiency which they themselves had created. He warned the House in time, that they might not be mistaken, and led into sanctioning this appropriation under the notion that the deaneries were mere sinecures. They were no longer sinecures, for they had been applied by Royal grants to what he conceived to be the best of purposes. He was surprised at some of the arguments of the right hon. the Member for Edinburgh. The right hon. Gentleman said, the Church which was not loved ought to be abolished. He did not think that a wise argument to use in that House, looking at the state of religious feeling in Ireland; and he was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have preferred laying down that broad principle for the House to act upon, to discussing the points and meeting the difficulties of this case. If the two clauses he had indicated were withdrawn, he would consent to the rest of the Bill, because he had no objection to removing the exemption from taxation of the College of Justice. He had no objection to the adjustment of the area of taxation; if it were not satis- factory, let it be altered; if the incidence of taxation were not fair, let it be amended; if the system were unjust, let it be remedied; but he would not have the House proceed in a course which might endanger the cause of education in Scotland, and bring a local charge upon the Consolidated Fund.


said; that as one of the Members of the Committee of 1851, he approved on the whole of the general principles of the Bill, though he objected to some of its details. He quite agreed with his noble Friend who had just sat down, that it was very objectionable to implicate the Consolidated Fund in any guarantee for the payment of the ministers of Edinburgh in case of a deficiency in the tax. It might be said that the Consolidated Fund was only a conduit-pipe for the payment of the ministers; but when the Consolidated Fund was made a joint security for any payments, he was afraid the other party was very apt to slip out altogether. He did not like the name of the Consolidated Fund being introduced at all, and it was with great satisfaction, therefore, that he had heard from the Lord Advocate that he was ready to give up this part of the Bill. He also objected to that portion of the Bill which proposed to apply to the rebuilding of a church a large sum of money which had been paid by a railway company to the Corporation. It had been distinctly proved before the Committee that Trinity Church was quite unnecessary, and he thought it would be far better that that sum of 10,000l. should be devoted to the purpose of increasing the funds for the payment of the ministers, and the consequent diminution of the tax. It must be borne in mind that this Bill was a compromise—that there was a great evil which it was desirable to get rid of, and that they could not get rid of it by merely consulting the extreme opinions on either side. He believed that it was a compromise which would be satisfactory to the great body of the inhabitants of Edinburgh; and surely the religious peace of the metropolis of Scotland was a public object, for the attainment of which it was quite right to appropriate the public revenues of the Church. The revenues of these deaneries were, in fact, a recently-discovered "nugget," and he could not conceive any object to which they could be more fittingly applied. The measure, too, it must be remembered, had met with the approbation of three successive Govern- ments, and though he did not exactly concur in all its details, he should feel it his duty to vote for the second reading.


said, he thought the principle of the Bill exceedingly unsound, and he had no hesitation in saying that it would excite considerable discontent in the minds of the people of Scotland. He believed, too, that that discontent would increase to such a pitch that the magistrates would in a few years find it impossible to levy the tax. He was convinced they would be laying the foundation of great injury to the Church of Scotland if they passed this Bill. When he was last in Edinburgh he had found that most of these established churches were empty; while, on the other hand, when he went to hear Dr. Guthrie or Dr. Candlish preach, their churches were quite filled. He disliked discussions of religious subjects in that House; but discussions of religious establishments did more injury to the establishments themselves than any other single thing.


said, that the arguments in favour of this Bill seemed to be, that because the good citizens of Edinburgh showed an extraordinary impatience of taxation, therefore Parliament ought to cast the burden of that taxation on the Consolidated Fund. He had no objection to the people of Edinburgh making any arrangement they pleased with regard to their own religious taxation; but he certainly would not suffer them to put their hands into the public purse. One would fancy, to hear their complaints, that they were the only persons who suffered under such a grievance; but go where they would, he believed there was no part of this country where Dissenters were not taxed for the support of an Establishment. Look, for instance, at the churches in London, built after the great fire. As in Edinburgh, they were greatly disproportioned to the wants of the community, though there was now a Bill in another place for the removal of some of these endowments; but some of them, he believed, were supported by a tax on the coals consumed by the people; others, like the churches in Edinburgh, were supported by a house tax. That was the case with the great church of Bishopsgate: and in the city which he had the honour to represent—Coventry, a Bill was passed 150 years ago levying a house tax for the support of the church of St. Michael. With regard to the revenues of the Chapel Royal deaneries, he believed that they could not be applied to any better purpose than that of promoting education. It was not very long ago that the Principal of the College of St. Andrews, Sir David Brewster, came to London to endeavour to obtain some endowment for the Professorships of his college, looking more to their future prospects than to their present state. The Church of Scotland, he believed, passed a resolution that, in future, no Professor should hold a living in conjunction with his professorship; and when this came into operation, how, he would ask, were the Professors to be supported? Considering the spread of elementary education which had taken place in Scotland of late years—and whatever effect the recent schism in that Church had produced, it certainly had done that great good—it was more than ever necessary to look to the improvement of the higher seats of learning. He hoped that the attention of the Government would be draw to the subject, for it was one of great importance, and he protested thus early against the proposition for withdrawing the funds most legitimately applicable that purpose for the relief of a few unwilling taxpayers. He hoped that before the Bill went to a second reading, the Lord Advocate would give a distinct assurance that he would expunge the clauses relating to the liability of the Consolidated Fund and the appropriation of the revenues the deans of the Chapel Royal, otherwise, he should advise the House to test the principle of the Bill by coming to a vote on the second reading.


said, he quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay), that it was a great grievance that the citizens Edinburgh should be taxed for the maintenance of an Established Church three times as much as any other of the Scotch towns was taxed for the same purpose. At the same time, however, he was surprise that when the right hon. Gentleman was upon that subject, he had not perceived that the proposition of the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith), to divide the present number of ministers by three, and reduce them to six instead of eighteen, was an exact remedy. The taxing of the large majority for the support of the religion of a small minority was a prominent principle in this Bill, and that was a principle which the speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself entirely condemned. Religious instruction had to be provided for 8,000 inhabitants of the ancient and extended Royalties of the city of Edinburgh, and here was a proposition to tax 66,000 people for that purpose. In the Parliamentary borough of Edinburgh there was provision made by the Free Church of Scotland for 18,000 people; by the United Presbyterians for 13,000; by the Episcopalians for 3,000; and by the Roman Catholics for nearly 20,000. He did not think it was at all statesmanlike policy, when they were obliged to come to the settlement of a long-vexed question to attempt to do it on an old exploded principle, simply putting, on it a new form, and leaving it to work as much mischief as before. The question must be settled in some intelligible Form, whether, after the fashion of our ancestors, by taxing all persons of the same Faith, or doing away with religious taxation altogether. He did not believe that this settlement of the question would be permanently satisfactory to the people of Edinburgh. They might rest content with the temporary compromise; but in another five or ten years the same excitement and agitation would take place, and the question would again he brought before Parliament. He objected, too, to the principle of making the Consolidated Fund liable for any deficiency in the tax. The people of England had good reason to fear that if ever this charge were placed on them, they would never get rid of it. It might be said that the magistracy of Edinburgh were liable to the Consolidated Fund; but, surely, the security which was good enough for the Consolidated Fund, was good enough for the ministers of Edinburgh. The Bill was simply a disguised form of injustice, and as such he should vote against it.


said, he had concluded to vote against the second reading of this Bill, though he entirely differed from all that had fallen from the hon. Member for Stockport. He was quite it a loss to understand what had influenced his hon. friend the Member for Ayrshire (Col. Blair) to vote in favour of this Bill, apposed as he had been to the details of it, except that it was from a fear of identifying himself with the views expressed by the hon. Member for Stockport, and those around him. He himself, however, had no such delicacy, and he should go into the lobby with those hon. Gentlemen, perfectly assured that no one who knew him would ever suspect him of being opposed to the principle of a Church Establishment. He objected to the details of the Bill, as well as to its principle. The clause which provided for the collection of this tax was not compulsory, but only permissive, and in default of its collection the ministers were thrown upon the security of the property of the city of Edinburgh. He was informed, however, that that was already burdened to the extent of two-thirds of its value, and, what with taxes and other public expenses, there was only a margin left of 300l. a year, which it must be acknowledged was not a sufficient security. That was not the way in which Her Majesty's Government had dealt with ministers in Ireland, for he believed that in their case an average of their emoluments was to be taken, and they were to receive 80 per cent of that, while the rest was to go to other ecclesiastical purposes. This was the third attack which had been made on the Church of Scotland this Session: first, the property which had been settled on it at the union of the two Canadas had been confiscated; then, it was proposed to deprive her of the authority of teaching by the repeal of the tests; and, now, it was sought to diminish her property. He should cordially oppose the second reading of this Bill.


said, he thought the House was in full possession of both sides of the question, and he hoped they would at once proceed to a division, as the people of Edinburgh were exceedingly anxious to have the matter settled at once, and without delay. He concurred in the views of his right hon. Colleague in supporting the measure.


said, he wished to call to the attention of hon. Members who had only just entered the House for the division, without having heard the discussion, that, though it had been stated this subject had been under the consideration of three successive Governments, this Bill had not been brought before the House until almost the very close of the Session. He believed that the principle of this Bill was very different from that which would have been submitted to the House by the late Government had they remained in office. [The hon. Gentleman continued to speak until four o'clock, when Mr. SPEAKER left the chair, and the House adjourned.]

The House resumed at six o'clock.

Notice taken, that forty Members were not present; House counted, and forty Members not being present., the House was adjourned at five minutes after Six o'clock.

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