The MARQUESS of BLANDFORD
presented a petition from 800 incumbents of parishes, stating that the endowments of a number of the benefices formed under the Church Building Act did not exceed 13l. a year, the remainder of the incomes of the incumbents being made up out of the pew rents; that upwards of 4,000 incumbents of parishes in this country were paid by incomes of less than 150l. a year; praying the House to take into their immediate consideration the inadequacy of the district system to meet the spiritual wants of the population; calling attention to the fact that the Church was already in possession of property sufficient to provide a remedy for these evils; and asking to be allowed to give evidence before the House respecting the matters stated in the petition. The noble Lord then proceeded to say, that in rising to move for leave to bring in a Bill to make better provision for the management of episcopal and capitular property, he would ask for the attention and indulgence of the House while he entered upon a subject wide in its range and most incalculable in its results, and which he felt himself incapable of treating as its importance deserved. In the first place, he would allude to what had been previously done upon the subject of church legislation, and he would endeavour to detail the steps upon which he had been led to make this proposition to the House—one which, he believed, was neither hazardous nor unconstitutional in its character, but which was one of those foundation stones upon which, in raising itself up to meet the exigencies of the times in which we lived, the 506 strengthened and enlarged structure of the Established Church must be based. He would remind the House of some of those great public Acts which had placed the Established Church in its present position. First, he would notice the 58 & 59 Geo. III., by which the Church Building Commissioners were constituted, and 1,500,000l. applied for church-building purposes. Then there was the important Act the 3 &4 Viet, which reconstituted the Church Building Commissioners; and the 6 & 7 Vict. — commonly called Sir Robert Peel's Act— which first provided for the subdivision of parishes, and a permanent endowment for the districts so created; the Act of 1850, the 13 & 14 Vict. c. 94, appointing a most important body—the Estates Commissioners; and, lastly, the Act of 1851, the 14 & 15 Vict. c. 104, permitting the voluntary enfranchisement of the property of the Church—an Act which has gone far to terminate the injurious description of tenure by which nearly five-sixths of the revenues of the Church have been enjoyed by a large portion of the public. To all these the Bill which he now moved for leave to bring in, was more or Jess immediately connected. But there had been other Acts to which he should also allude, and which had had very important bearings upon the present position of the Established Church. One of those was the Act for the Commutation of Tithes; another was the Act for Preventing Pluralities and Non-residence; and then there was the important Order in Council of 1851, limiting the incomes of the bishops, and fixing them for the future. In addition to these, he must not pass over without remark the efforts of private individuals, among which he must mention especially those made by Mr. Horsman in former years. In 1847 that Gentleman drew the attention of this House to the subject of episcopal incomes. In 1848 he broached the same subject in Parliament, and moved that an Address be presented to Her Majesty for an inquiry into cathedral and collegiate churches, with a view to render them more conducive to the service of the Church, and the spiritual welfare of the people. This Motion, although not in the way Mr. Horsman intended, had been ultimately carried out. In the same year Mr. Horsman moved for an inquiry into the full value of all Church property under lease, in order to render the revenues of the Church more conducive to the religious teaching of the people. In addition to this, in the same year, 1851, 507 this House voted an Address to Her Majesty, praying Her to be graciously pleased to take into consideration the state of spiritual destitution of England and Wales, with the view of providing means for a remedy; and Her Majesty was graciously pleased to state, in reply, that she would gladly give Her consent to well-advised measures for that object. In the following year, he (the Marquess of Blandford) was enabled to introduce a Bill, having for its object the remedying of some of the abuses existing in chapters, together with the increase, where necessary, of the episcopate, and other provisions somewhat similar to those contained in the proposed Bill. The result of that was, that the measure was withdrawn, but a Commission was appointed to inquire into the first two branches which he had proposed should be inquired into—namely, the state of chapters, and the increase, where necessary, of the episcopate; and it was the third of these branches—that connected with the property of the Church—which it was now his intention to bring before the notice of the House. All these things had, in their separate character, and in proportion to their relative importance, tended to bring the Church to its present condition; and regarding as they did its position in this country, he thought it was the bounden duty of the House so to strengthen that position— so to enlarge her structure and secure her foundation—as to make her an efficient instrument, not only to impart those truths for which she was divinely instituted, but also to enable her to maintain her time-honoured position by engaging the rational and well-placed affections of the people. Before he proceeded any further, he would advert to the question which had sometimes been mooted in that House, not only as to whether that House was a place where matters relating to the Church should receive their ultimate sanction, but whether such matters should be here discussed. In doing so, it would be necessary to inquire what were the prerogatives of that Personage under whose high authority that House held its sittings. It had always been their privilege to discuss matters relating to the Established Church, and he thought the House would not be able to resist the conclusion that to bring matters relating to that Establishment before the notice of the Legislature, was neither inconsistent with Parliamentary precedent, nor at variance with the privileges and practice of that House. He would first remind hon. Members 508 of what were the prerogatives of that Personage under whose high authority they were sitting. By the 26 Hen. VIII. it was enacted—That the King our Sovereign Lord, his heirs, successors, Kings of this realm, shall be taken, accepted, and reputed the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England, and shall have and enjoy annexed to the Imperial Crown of this realm, as well the style and title thereof, as all honours, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, & c, to the said dignity of supreme head of the Church belonging and appertaining, and shall have power, from time to time, to visit, repress, redress, reform, order, correct, restrain, and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offences, contempts, and enormities, whatsoever they be, which by any manner of spiritual authority or jurisdiction may lawfully be reformed, repressed, ordered, redressed, corrected, restrained, and amended most to the pleasure of Almighty God, the increase in virtue in Christ's religion, and for the conservation of the peace, unity, and tranquillity of this realm, any usage, custom, foreign laws, foreign authority, prescription, or any other thing to the contrary notwithstanding.It was true that this prerogative might have been abused in subsequent years, and by Parliament might have been subsequently limited; but the effect of whatever limitations were introduced had been to render the intervention of Parliament still more necessary than before in matters relating to the Established Church; and now by the Act of Union the duty of the Sovereign was—To preserve and maintain inviolable the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established.These being the prerogatives of the Crown, how had that assembly, which was convened by sovereign authority, availed itself of its privileges to discuss matter relating to the Church of this country? The beginning of the Reformation was ushered in by debates in that House on abuses in religion. In the reign of Edward VI. was an Act for the Reverend Reception of the Holy Communion. In 1552 a new Book of Common Prayer was discussed, and theKing, Lords temporal, and Commons, did in God's name require all archbishops, and bishops, and their ordinaries, to endeavour in the due execution of that Act as they would answer before God.In 1553 the Bishopric of Durham was suppressed, and two new ones were created out of it. In the reign of Elizabeth an Act was passed respecting the Liturgy. In 1571 there was a debate on abuses in religion, with a Bill for reformation of the Prayer-book, and the Articles of Religion 509 were ratified. In the reign of Charles II. a Committee was appointed—To compare the Book of Common Prayer sent down from the Lords, and the book sent up from this House, and to make their report thereon with all speed they can.In 1711, in answer to the thanks of the Lower House of Convocation, for a grant towards the building of churches, that House replied:—That this House will in all matters immediately relating to religion, and the welfare of the Established Church, have a particular regard to such applications as shall at any time be made to them from the clergy in convocation assembled, according to ancient usage, together with the Parliament.Since the closing of Convocation, it had, of course, been necessary that that House should discuss matters relating to the Establishment; but the instances he had given proved that even during the sitting of that body that House was not deterred from exercising its own inherent right, and from discussing matters relating to the Established Church. And he would add, that he thought no surer method could be adopted for depriving Parliament of that right, and for putting the Church on the same level with dissenting bodies in this country, than by so altering the constitution of the British Legislature as to render it a matter of doubt, whether consistency with Christian truth would admit of the introduction of ecclesiastical affairs into an Assembly which had parted with its distinctive Christian character. What was the position of affairs at the present moment? From the year 1818, from which period we might date the commencement of that revived interest in matters relating to the spiritual wants of this country, a variety of Acts had been passed relating to the building of churches, the subdivision of parishes, the prevention of non-residence and pluralities, and to the supplying, in a variety of ways, of the spiritual wants of this country, all which had kept one loading principle prominently in view—the strengthening and maintaining of the important machinery of the parochial system. He did not wish to ignore those two other great branches of the systen—-the episcopate and the chapters; but, in bringing a subject of this nature before the House, he believed that by laying great stress upon the wants of the parochial system, if he should be enabled to do anything towards the supply of those wants, he should be equally consulting the benefit of the two other great 510 branches, which together made up the entirety of the Church, and should be also devising a posture for the property of the Church, by which it would be enabled to yield the greatest amount of benefit to succeeding generations. He proposed, in the Bill which he wished to introduce, to transfer the entire management of episcopal and capitular property into the hands of that body, or those members of the Ecclesiastical Commission who were, by a recent Act, constituted the Estates Commissioners. In stating the grounds upon which he made this proposition, he must first ask the attention of the House while he endeavoured to show what was the present position of the property, together with the incomes of the dignitaries in connexion with that body, into whose hands he proposed to transfer the management of the property; and would then endeavour to show the advantages that might be derived from the step he proposed, which, when viewed in connexion with the vast requirements of the present day, rendered it one of primary and paramount importance. It was doubted at the time whether the constitution of the Ecclesiastical Commission warranted such a step; but a Committee was appointed to inquire into the mode of managing Church property, and the result of that Committee was the appointment of the Estates Com-mission, consisting of three members of high character—two being appointed by the Crown, and one by the Archbishop of Canterbury; and he need scarcely add that they were gentlemen whose characters entitled them to the very highest consideration; and when they considered their very close connexion with the other members of the Ecclesiastical Commission, there was a reasonable inference that in any future appointments a due regard would be had to the feelings of those with whom they were brought into immediate action. He now came to speak with regard to the property itself. Up to 1836 the injurious nature of the tenure by which Church property was held was undisturbed. In that year a Commission was appointed to inquire into the spiritual wants of the country, and thereupon the Ecclesiastical Commission was constituted, who were to receive the surplus of episcopal, capitular, and prebendal property, and to apply it to the parochial wants of the country. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners stated in their Report—They felt from the first that the possession of these estates, especially to so large an amount, involved the duty of carefully considering the principle 511 on which they should be managed, and the proper mode of dealing with the tenures upon which they were held by the lessees, and they felt also, that these questions were deeply affected by the responsibilities which the Legislature had devolved upon them, as trustees, for the general benefit of the Church, and more especially of the parochial clergy.The first great change, therefore, took place when the estates of 336 prebends became vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and an intimation was made that they were ready to commute the estates of the bishops for fixed instead of fluctuating and uncertain incomes. With regard to capitular property, they became entitled eventually to about one-third of the proceeds that were formerly divided among the members of the various ecclesiastical bodies; and here he wished to make a few remarks upon the tenure under which the property had been held. In 1838 and 1839 a Committee sat to inquire into the mode of leasing Church property. Their labours disclosed the fact, that a system of leasing had been shamefully and sinfully recommenced in the Church at the Restoration, and had been continued with the worst and most disastrous effects to the present day. The Committee said—Your Committee are prepared confidently to assert, that the system of raising revenue by fines, always improvident, is peculiarly disadvantageous to the church lessor, from the peculiarity of his tenure; and the objections to it are felt in leases for terms, and aggravated most materially in leases for lives.And they recommended—the abolition of the injurious system of fines upon leases for lives, and also upon leases for terms; the substitution of a fee-simple for a leasehold tenure throughout the property of the Church; and an Act to provide for the conversion of Church leasehold into fee-simple, commonly called enfranchisement.Now the justice of these views had been exemplified in a very remarkable manner, for, ten years afterwards, a Commission, entitled "The Episcopal and Capitular Revenues Commission," was appointed. Before that Commission the system of leasing was again revived, but to be again condemned; and a Bill was accordingly introduced, and the sanction of Parliament was sought to a plan by which it was thought that the system might be perpetuated upon a basis more favourable to the interests of the Church. That sanction was not, however, given; and later in the Session a Bill was introduced to carry out, with the express recommendation of the Committee of 1839, and permit the 512 voluntary enfranchisement of the property of the Church. But in whatever way such a system was exercised, it was equally open to objection. One of the great wants to be provided for was the enrichment of the poorer sees; and in order to effect that, it was necessary that the incomes of the more wealthy ones should be diminished. And the plan, therefore, first adopted was, that the incomes of the richer sees should be assessed, and that the surplus should be paid into the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, that surplus remaining as a fixed charge upon the see. That plan, however, was not found to answer; and then another plan was adopted—that the income should be fixed in future, and that the surplus should be left available. But that plan was also open to condemnation; for it should be remembered, that the bishop or other proprietor of the territorial estate was also a minister of the word of God, and that his time was taken up with other duties totally irrelevant with those imposed by such occupations as that arrangement would have enforced. In addition, however, there was the consideration that the interests of the property might be endangered, because the bishops were selected from a class of men who had little or no knowledge of the management of property; but more especially from the fact, that their attention was more lawfully taken up with spiritual matters. Nor, indeed, was it either consistent with the experience of human nature that men should evince an equal interest in property from which they derived a benefit, and property from which they derived none. Again, as far as the interests of the property itself are concerned, that plan which was anciently bad, and was still most injurious to those interests, was best for the bishop, as interfering least with his other spiritual duties. And, in dealing with this kind of property after such a manner, this anomaly had to be encountered. Did we wish to devolve acts of ownership upon the lessees, then by that system the Church was found to receive only about one-sixth of the value of its estates; and, on the other hand, did we wish to obtain an improved value for the property by bringing a portion of it into hand, then we found, unless some new mode of management were adopted, ecclesiastics and spiritual persons, occupying a position never before held by bishops and others in this country, as the managers of large landed properties, at a time, too, when the growth of population and the 513 increase of intelligence rendered the duties of the present day no fair comparison with those of a former epoch. It was true, indeed, that various opinions had been urged as to whether this property might be managed by the bishops and chapters themselves, under a species of rackrent to these ecclesiastical corporations. But, at the same time, even when that opinion was prevalent, it was admitted that a large amount of agency must be the necessary consequence. However, though a great variety of opinions had been expressed upon the subject, he would content himself by reading the evidence given by the Dean of Carlisle before a Committee of the other House of Parliament. He was asked—Do you see any objection to their being the actual proprietors at rackrents?—I do not see any other difficulty than that they might not look sufficiently well after the property.That would be obviated by their having a good agent?—Yes, if they looked well after him.It would be necessary for them to have a surplus fund to meet the demands that would be made upon them?—Yes.In what way do the chapter now carry on the arrangement of such estates as they do look after? Do they meet frequently for the purpose?—They only meet twice a year.Do they look minutely into all the circumstances of their several estates?—Certainly not.They are not aware precisely of the condition of the properties?—No, very rarely, indeed, are they so.If you converted them into immediate landlords they would, probably, look more carefully into their affairs?—Yes, the colleges do so, and I do not see why the chapters should not.Is there not a difficulty in comparing a chapter with a college in this point of view—that there is always a constant body resident in a college, whereas in the existing condition of the chapters the members are only successively resident, and therefore you have not any constant body always at hand?—The property of the college is almost entirely managed by the head of the college and the bursar; probably only by one person.Suppose in the month of January there is a communication from a tenant, Canon A. being then resident; and the next communication between the same tenant and the chapter is in the month of April, when Canon B. is resident, would not that give rise to difficulty?—Yes; it must be done by one person, and that person would naturally be the dean.You say that the present system is inconvenient, and sometimes places the chapter in a difficult position. Would not the yearly communications, and the almost daily communications which must pass between the tenants at rackrents and the chapter, be still more inconvenient than the still more infrequent communications which now take place relative to the renewal of leases? —They might.Would not they trespass more upon the time of the functionaries?—They certainly would.Might not they occasionally place them in situations of inconvenient collision with the ten- 514 antry?—They might; but I think they are in a very unpleasant position at present.Situations of collision would be inconsistent with the position and the dignity of the chapter? —I think they might have that effect.Do you not think that where land is held at rackrent, there necessarily arises between the landlord and the tenant a continual cause of pecuniary discussion and negotiation, which it would be very desirable to avoid between the clergy and the laity?—I was bursar of Baliol College for two years, and I never experienced any such difficulty, nor did I ever hear of any on the part of the master and fellows.Is there not a considerable distinction between a body of clergy who are acting in the capacity of a college, and a body of clergy in general who are acting in their spiritual capacity of ministers of religion towards the community at largo?—I suppose there is.So that it might not be inconvenient that there should be these daily pecuniary negotiations between a college and the laity; but great inconvenience might still arise if these pecuniary negotiations existed between the working clergy generally and the laity?—Yes.Such was the evidence of the Dean of Carlisle; and here he need scarcely repeat that the same arguments that applied to the property held by chapters applied to other cases also. The constant tendency of all past legislation, as of all future legislation would no doubt be, was to limit and fix the incomes of the dignitaries of the Church; and where that was the case it necessarily followed that the management of the property should be entrusted to other hands. And if it was considered an answer to that conclusion that a sufficient amount of estate might be assigned to each corporation to yield the stipulated income, then he (the Marquess of Bland-ford) would put it to the House whether it was consistent with either the advantage of the property itself, or the interest of its possessors, that large landed estates should be managed at a rackrent by those whose calling had been laid in a much higher sphere, and whose duty it was to feed the flock of God? He now came to the second class of reasons which he adduced for the step he proposed—that was, the advantages that would accrue from it when taken in connexion with the vast requirements of the present day. He had before stated that that point to which he wished principally to direct attention was the strengthening and establishing that great machinery so essential to the preservation of our national religion and piety, namely, our parochial system; and he believed that if this were effected, the other great branches of our Church, namely, the episcopate and the chapters, 515 would not want in those proportions which were necessary to sustain and complete the whole. The working of the parochial system was perhaps little seen, and few perhaps of those effects which really flow from it were attributed to it; but they could not doubt, that it had contributed, under the hand of God, to the cultivation of the temper and moderation of the people, and had been the cause of much of that social blessing with which this country had been so highly favoured. That House had, on different occasions, been forward to promote the building of churches, and where these had been erected, it had followed as a matter of course almost, that parishes and districts had been formed; the building too of churches, and the location of ministers of the Church in thickly populated places had tended to repress crime and to form a nucleus round which had gathered schools, district visiting societies, provident associations, clothing clubs, and literary institutes; while every family of the flock had been enabled to find that which no civil institution, however perfect, could afford him, the care of the Chistian pastor, and the sympathy of a common friend. That was the view which he took of the parochial system; and to maintain such a system in the most complete efficiency, he believed that abundant means might be produced from the resources of the Church itself by wise and judicious management, without calling upon Parliament for any additional funds to aid in its maintenance. Now, the principal wants of the present day might, for convenience, be divided into three classes. First, those into which inquiry had already been made by the Commissioners of 1836, for relieving which, therefore, expectations had virtually been held out, but which expectations had not yet been realised; second, those where a partial effect had been produced, but where the evils arising from want of completion were very severe; and, thirdly, those into which inquiry had recently been instituted, but towards supplying which no steps had as yet been taken. With regard to the first class, he would, with the permission of the House, read an extract from the Commissioners' Report of 1836, which had long excited expectation:—It appears, from the Report of the Ecclesiastical Revenues Commission, that there are no less than 3,528 benefices under 1502. per annum. In every one of these benefices it is desirable that there should be a resident clergyman; but unless their value be augmented, it will in many cases be impossible to secure this advantage. The neces- 516 sity of such augmentation will be greatly increased by the changes which we are about to recommend in the laws relating to pluralities and residence. The means which can be applied to effect the improvement, are very far short of the amount required. Even were no addition made to the incomes of benefices having a population below 500, it would take no less a sum than 35,000l. per annum to raise all benefices having a population between 500 and 2,000 to the annual value of 200l., those having a population of 2,000 and upwards to 300l., and those having 5,000 and upwards to 500l. per annum. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners also reported that the benefices in public patronage were 1,533, and the sum required for their augmentation 145,195l. The number augmented by the Commission was 796, at an annual charge of 44,728l. The number still to he augmented was 737, and the remainder of the sum required was 100,467l.It also appeared from their Report that the number of livings in public patronage was 1,533, requiring an annual sum for their augmentation of 145,195l. per annum. He would, therefore, take those, as, being in public patronage, they might appear to have most claim upon public funds, and he found that the number of these livings augmented by the Commissioners amounted to 796, at an annual charge of about 44,728l.; leaving to be yet augmented, 737; and a remaining portion of the sum originally considered necessary amounting to 100,467l. per annum. And when they considered that these wants had been thus deliberately set forth, he thought it was but fair to say that a virtual promise had been given for the remainder of that sum. With regard to that class of cases where partial effects had been produced, but where evils still arose from a want of the system having been thoroughly and completely carried out, he ought perhaps to include under them a great deal that had been done since the year 1818 by the formation of new districts and parishes; and by the Acts then and subsequently passed, separate and distinct parishes might be formed where part of the original endowment was divided, and separation from the mother parish was complete; district parishes might be formed, where no part was taken from the endowment of the original parish, and which were still in a degree subordinate to the mother parish; and district and consolidated chapelries might be formed, which by recent legislation occupied a position with regard to the mother parish nearly similar with that of district parishes; and to these might be added those parishes formed under the 6 & 7 Vict., commonly called Sir Robert Peel's parishes.
Now great as had been the good which 517 had been effected by these measures in the inculcation and spread of Divine truth, these districts still did form a subject of complaint, which in bringing forward a measure of this nature, having for its object the creation of a large surplus revenue, addressed itself especially to their notice. And here he must recall the attention of the House to that petition which he had that day presented, signed by upwards of 800 incumbents: from this it appeared that it was the opinion of those whose duties led them into a practical consideration of the position of these districts, that the law as it now stood was unable to provide for the completion of the parochial system, by their erection into separate and independent parishes, and that this inability arose mainly from the want of an adequate and fixed endowment. There were other evils also which flowed from this, and were scarcely inferior to it; he alluded to the anomalous position which was occupied by the incumbents of these churches, who were unable in some cases to perform some of the sacred offices of religion for their congregations, but as the law now stood might be called upon to admit for that purpose, cither the incumbent of the mother church, or one of his curates into their churches. The collection, too, of church rates for the mother church over the entire original parish, was an evil for which as yet the law had provided no remedy; in many cases it led to the refusal to pay them altogether, or, if paid, it robbed the district church of that legitimate support which it had a right to expect from its own congregation. The incumbents of these districts complained bitterly, that the tendency of the law, as it now stood, was to nullify that pastoral connexion which ought to subsist between a minister and his congregation. But one of the greatest evils, and that to which he would now especially call the attention of the House, was that which proceeded from the want of a permanent and adequate endowment. The petitioners stated—That those benefices which have of late years come into existence under the Church Building Acts, or by the operation of other causes, being for the most part inadequately endowed, having, in numerous cases, no more than the lowest legal endowment of 13l. annually, and in some no endowment at all, and being almost universally situated in the poorest localities, the incumbents are compelled to wander beyond their assigned districts, in pastoral visitation, after pew-renters resident in other parishes, who naturally expect and require a share of their time and attention. Hence it results that the churches professedly 518 built for the accommodation of the inhabitants of the districts are often practically closed against the great mass of the population for whom they were intended, and that the attention of the clergy is necessarily diverted from their appropriate duties within their districts by the claims of non resident pew-renters. That the extension of the parochial system, with an adequate endowment, to the districts already existing or hereafter to be constituted, would effectually remedy these evils, by throwing open the church to all parishioners, by exonerating the incumbent from all pastoral duties beyond the boundaries of his parish, and thus leaving him at liberty to concentrate his energies to his legal charge. That your petitioners would humbly represent to your hon. House that there are nearly 4,000 incumbents whose incomes do not amount to 150l., and very many incumbents of long standing in the ministry, and of exemplary and laborious lives, whose incomes are below 90l. annually. That, in consequence, many of your petitioners and other clergymen are obliged to engage in tuition—in writing for journals and periodicals—in labouring for religious societies— and in holding lectureships in other and distant parishes—in order to obtain food and raiment for themselves and families. That at the same time the claims for relief which are in all places made on the clergy are, in the case of your petitioners, considerably increased by the position of their incumbencies. That very many of the churches in the poor localities are gradually falling into decay for want of timely repairs; that considerable expenditure is also required in very many cases for the suitable conducting of Divine service, and for other purposes; and that there is a general feeling of objection to contribute to the expenses of the district church, on the ground that the inhabitants are already taxed for the support of the mother church.He would also mention some other of the anomalies of the present system, which frequently interfered to prevent the minister from performing his sacred duty; and oftentimes wholly impeded the collection of church rates throughout a district, and, as a consequence, deprived the Church of its legitimate source of income. They also tended to nullify that pastoral connexion which ought to subsist between the minister and his congregation. But the most serious evil of all was that to which they must now especially attend—that which proceeded from the want of an adequate endowment for the poorer clergy. Some of the correspondence that had taken place on this subject, showed the great necessities of the clergymen who laboured in those poor and populous parishes. He would read one or two of these statements to the House. The first stated:—I have a widely-scattered population of 700, necessitating a horse to visit the sick. There is no place nearer than two miles where we can obtain the necessaries of life. The endowment of my church is 36l. 5s. 4d. per annum. The pew rents need the assistance of a sermon yearly to 519 meet the incidental expenses. The rector of the parent church has hitherto given me 55l. 15s. 8d. per annum, and I believe will continue to do so; still he is under no legal obligation to do so, and it is far from agreeable that the incumbent should feel thus under obligation to the rector of the parent living, and so be scarcely independent, though nominally the minister of an independent charge. These statements are, I think, a fair sample of many, very many, of the district churches.The second was to the same effect:—I am a perpetual curate of one of the churches under Sir Robert Peel's Act, with an endowment of 150l. a year. The parties who built the church offered it to me on condition of receiving from me 700l. towards the building, & c. They gave mo to understand that I should have the pew rents in addition to the 150l. On that condition I accepted their offer. In the course of a few years, however, it was discovered that I had no legal right to pew rents at all in a church built under that Act; and it is because the leading persons in my congregation would not break faith with me that I have not long ago been deprived of every fraction of income arising from that source. We have no church rates, and yet we are obliged to pay church rates to the old parish. If I had only the 150l. for my income, then, after paying all ex-penses—organist, clerk, cleaning, lighting, & c. —I should probably receive nothing at all, and my 700l. would go in the bargain. lit appears to me, then, that churches built under Sir Robert Peel's Act, since they are limited to a fixed income, with no means, except the repairing fund, to pay all necessary expenses, are in many respects actually worse off than district churches with legal pew rents.In some parts it was so difficult to procure persons to undertake the duty, that it became necessary to make a rule to accept the first application which might be made. The system of providing for the maintenance of the minister by pew rents, was one totally opposed to the theory of our Church, which was one founded upon an endowed and not upon a voluntary principle. Some of the evils of the system had already been described in the correspondence he had read. To these he might add, that there were cases where the richer part of the population were removing their residences from those places where the church was first built, to the outskirts of the town; but as the income of the minister was still dependent upon pew rents, the church remained practically closed against the poor population, who were living immediately around it. In other cases, a preacher of some popularity in the pulpit, drew from a neighbouring district the richer, leaving to his brother incumbent but the poorer and more indigent parts of the congregation, and who were generally the occupiers of 520 free seats. In every case the present system had a tendency to limit and control that personal discretion and liberty on the part of the minister of a congregation which he was entitled by his high functions to exercise in matters relating to the arrangement of the spiritual concerns and wants of that parish with which he might be connected. He would state to the House his impression, that to provide for the ministration of the Gospel by means of payment from an unfixed and uncertain source, was at direct variance with the principles of the Established Church. It was a system which the principle of the Church providing for the religious instruction of the people by endowment directly negatived, and one which the Statute Law condemned. He would just read to the House the preamble of the Act constituting the Bounty Board, though he was far from saying that in all respects it was applicable to the present day:—Whereas a sufficient provision for the clergy had not yet been made, by reason whereof divers men and stipendiary curates are depending for their necessary maintenance on the good will of their flock—that they are consequently under great temptation of suiting their doctrines to the humours of those who contributed to their maintenance, thereby giving occasion to great faction and schism, and generating contempt for the minister,To remedy these evils, fixed and permanent endowments were required, and were these provided, the erection of all these districts into separate and independent parishes, would be a step, not only against which no good grounds of objection could be laid, but to which every reasonable consideration then would point. The districts formed under the 6 & 7 Vict., also formed a ground for serious complaint. In these no pew rents were permitted to be taken; their endowment was only 150l, per annum; and thus these ministers were occupied, in addition to their parochial duties, in writing letters and endeavouring to obtain subscriptions for the erection of a church; and unless a gentleman so situated possessed some little property of his own, it was impossible for him to present a respectable appearance before his congregation. Truly he was justified in saying, that these places also required an increase of endowment. With regard to the third class to which he had referred— namely, that class concerning which inquiries had been made, but for whose benefit no funds had been provided. It would be found from a return which had been 521 laid upon the table of the labours of the Commission which had been issued to take into consideration the question of the subdivision of parishes, that for places having a population of more than 3,000, there was need of no less than 580 new churches, and that the erection of those churches would necessarily involve a new division of districts; and if sufficient funds could be collected to enable a prospect to be held out that these districts would be permanently endowed, that would be a great inducement to the public to come forward and give subscriptions for the erection of new churches. A striking illustration of what might be done by means of public funds judiciously applied, would be shown by the statement he was about to make in respect to what had been done in the field of education. The total sum granted by Parliament from 1845 to 1850 for Church of England schools was 327,230l., and the sum that was raised by private contributions to meet this was 399,819l. They might, therefore, form a reasonable conclusion, that if there were a proper administration of the property of the Church, there would be provided not only an adequate endowment for ministers, but also a sum sufficient for the erection of those churches. Then, with regard to those classes of wants which he had detailed to the House, he found that the number of churches built under the Church Building Acts was 857. The number of districts that were formed by the 6 & 7 Vict. was 233, and the number of churches that were still required, according to the recent inquiry, was 580—total 1,670. To endow each of those with 150l. a year, would require about251,000l. To this he would add the sum of 100,467l. which was virtually promised by the Commissioners of 1836; and the sum would in the whole amount to about 351,000l. per annum. Such was the state of the ease as it now stood, and such were the requirements to supply the pressing spiritual wants of a portion of the people, which addressed' themselves to public notice, and which it would be wrong not to take some steps to remedy. Having now stated those wants, he would endeavour to show how far, from the condition and extent of the Church property, those wants might be supplied if the property were under a wise administration. The first Returns to which he had access were made in 1836; and by those Returns, calculating that the sums received upon the average of three years at 25 per cent of the entire annual value of the property, it 522 appeared that the entire annual value of capitular property held under lease would, according to this calculation, amount to 661,435l, per annum; and the value of the property from other sources amounted to 112,830l. per annum. The value of episcopal property under lease was 300,260l. per annum, and the amount from other sources was 107,097l., making the value of the total amount of property under lease 961,695l., and of property from other sources 219,927l. Now by the process of enfranchisement of some portions of church property, and the buying of the leasehold interest of others, he was informed, on the best authority, that taking one description of property with another, the effect was, that about one-half of the fee was actually parted with, while the remainder was brought into hand; the sum, therefore, with which they had to deal would be one-half of the entire annual value of property held under lease; to which, if were added that of property derived from other sources, we should have an annual sum of 700,775l. as that which by this calculation would be available for Church purposes. Now, in forming an estimate of the sum which would be necessary to provide for the incomes of all Church dignitaries, together with the expenses of the establishments, it was true that they could only as yet arrive at an approximation; but when they considered what had been the tendency of all past legislation on this subject, they would not be far from forming a just conclusion. All past legislation had tended to fix and limit the incomes of dignitaries; already those of the bishops were now or prospectively so fixed, as were also those of the members of four of the princi. pal chapters; and with respect to the others, though not in every case acted upon, Parliament had already made recommendations for regulating their incomes, recommending for deans, 1,000l. per annum, and for canons, 500l.; it was also exceedingly improbable that the Commission which was now sitting would conclude its labours without recommending in future fixed instead of fluctuating incomes for the members of the chapters; and, therefore, taking, with the exception of those whose incomes had been already fixed by Parliament, 1,000l. as the average incomes of cleans, and 600l. as that of canons, and taking the expenses of the Cathedral establishments upon a general average of the sums returned for those expenses in the year 1836, the total an- 523 nual charge that would be required to defray the incomes of Church dignitaries, would be—
Leaving a surplus in due course of time, of 337,026l. applicable to parochial purposes. There was, however, every reason to believe that the estimate of the value of the property was considerably greater since the commutation of tithes; in the chapters of York, Chester, Bristol, St. Asaph, Rochester, St. Davids, & c, the value of tithes alone, as returned by the Commissioners, equalled the entire annual value of the property under lease as given by the returns. It was given in evidence before a Committee of the other House that the value of the lands of the see of York was 20,000l. per annum, and that of tithes 27,000l., making a gross value of 47,000l.; whereas the return made under former calculations was only 37,000l. The value of the property of the see of Durham as given in evidence was 100,000l. per annum, whereas the value of it given from the Returns in 1836 was only 48,000l. In 1843 a Return was made to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of the entire value of the property of the see of Gloucester. It appeared, according to the evidence, that the sums received upon the renewal of leases on the septennial value were exactly one-sixth of the entire annual value; and the same result appeared upon comparing the annual value of properties held under lives under the see of Ely, with the sums received upon renewals of leases of that description; and further, by applying the results of this calculation to last septennial returns from the various sees, and to those sees, of the value of whose property, evidence had already been given before the Lords Committee, the result so nearly coincided as to leave little doubt that the calculation was a correct one. Assuming then that the sums derived from fines upon renewals, were one-sixth of the entire annual value, the entire annual value of episcopal leasehold property would be 547,094l. With regard to capitular property, he had gone no further than to assume that the sums obtained were one-fifth instead of one-sixth; and in this calculation the entire annual value of capit- 524 ular property would be 826,792l., making a gross total of 1,373,886l., one-half of which added to 246,797l., the annual value of episcopal and capitular property other than leasehold, gave a sum as being available for church purposes of 933,740l., and left an available surplus of 569,990l.; while the sum for which there was an immediate and pressing need, was 350,000l. Prom these calculations he was led to believe that, with this property, under a wise system of administration, it would not only be possible to provide for the present spiritual requirements of the country, but even to provide for an increased population, so that at no time an appeal would be made in vain to the resources of the Establishment. He would not detain the House much longer, but would now shortly detail the provisions of the measure which he wished to introduce. It was simply to transfer the management of the episcopal and capitular property to Estate Commmissioners, investing them with legal control for the purposes of management only, and empowering them to receive all the rents and profits, except such as were derived from land analogous to glebe land, and sums derived from money invested in any public security. He was anxious that the measure he proposed should come into operation with as little sudden change as was compatible with so important a step, and the Bill therefore did not interfere in any way with the fee of the property, or tend in the smallest manner to jeopardise its tenure, or to alienate it from those corporations in whom it was now vested. On the contrary, the measure provided that a separate account should be kept of the properties of each individual corporation, to which the parties should have access by themselves or agents, and that a seal should be used, with a distinctive die for each corporation. With respect to the transfer of property, the Bill would not interfere with the Act of enfranchisement of 1851; but it would provide that the power given by the former Act to the different ecclesiastical corporations should be transferred directly to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, in order that the process of his measure might not he interfered with, and also that the estates assigned to each see would be sufficient to yield its annual income. The Bill also provided that the sum which was necessary to make up the income of the bishop or chaplain, should be, of course, a rentcharge on the property; and in the event of this sum not being paid within 525 a certain time to be fixed, there would be given immediate powers of pe-entry. It would be in the recollection of the House that some of the sees were already in possession of fixed incomes, namely, those whose bishops were appointed since 1848. He proposed, in regard to those and all capitular estates, together with that of the other bishops who had already agreed with the Commissioners for fixed incomes, that they should immediately come under the operation of the Bill. In regard to those other sees appointed prior to 1848, it was proposed that the operation of the Bill should be delayed until after the next avoidance of the see. With regard to incomes, the Bill provided that a half-yearly return should be made to the Commissioners of all the sums derived from property, except such as were obtained from sources of income not under the control of the Commissioners. The salary for the dignitary would, of course, be the first rentcharge of the see or chapter. With regard to some chapters that had no fixed incomes, the Bill provided that such sums should be paid to them by the Commissioners as they should in any case be entitled to receive. It also provided that so long as the major part of the canons were not in possession of fixed incomes, they should receive from the Commissioners the sums necessary for the expenses of the cathedral without any inquiry; but after the majority of the canons were in possession of fixed incomes they should not be paid without the consent of the Commissioners, unless they were expressly mentioned in the Cathedral Statutes. The Bill contained one other provision, of the effect of which, however, he had taken no account, in the estimate he had laid before the House of the value of church property, but which, if adopted, would have the effect of materially enhancing that value. He proposed that the practice now adopted by the Commissioners, of not renewing the leases of any tithes, should be extended to all the episcopal and capitular property, as it came under their management; and that upon either the expiration or surrender, upon purchase, of the lease of any tithes, a proper provision should be made by them for the wants of those places where the tithes arose, and that the remainder of the tithes should afterwards be assigned to, and form part of, the endowment of the particular see or chapter to which they might belong.
Archbishops and Bishops £152,200 Deans 36,000 Canons 89,800 Minor Canons (150l.) 31,750 Cathedral expenses on returned average 54,000 £363,750
In conclusion, he had only to thank the 526 House for the attention they had given him in making these proposals. To conclude, from what he had stated that some such measure as that which he had now the honour of submitting, was the legitimate and necessary consequence of all previous legislation, appeared to him hut a fair and rational deduction. He had shown the present relation to the Commissioners of the property in question, and the large share of it to which they were already entitled, over which, however, they exercised little or no control. The present relation of the bishops to the Commission was very unsatisfactory; in order that they might be in possession of that income which had been assigned to them by Parliament, they had to make a half-yearly return of the proceeds of their property, and as much as it fell short of their stipulated income, they received— from where? From the common fund of the Commissioners, while the surplus, where it existed, was paid over; a surplus which the Commissioners might just as well have been at the pains of managing and securing on their own behalf. And yet they were told, that to make the bishops recipients of an income from the Commissioners, was to place them in a humiliating and stipendiary position. On the other hand, he proposed that in every case it was their own property which should yield them the income to be enjoyed; that the bishops should have power to inspect at all times the accounts, and that those accounts should be kept distinct from all other accounts, and that the strictest precautions should be adopted of which the law was capable to secure a prompt and accurate payment. He had also called the attention of the House to the fact that the property had been brought to some extent under a new tenure, and that a system of enfranchisement had been adopted, which could not but in time become general, and this tenure involved a totally new relationship of the bishop to his estates—one hitherto untried in this country, and equally at variance with the increasing responsibility of his other occupations. In addition to this, there were wants from which the most serious evils might flow, which would he left unremedied unless a large surplus were provided; and he would ask, was that surplus more likely to accure from a responsible and concentrated management than from a variety of quarters, each having their separate agencies?
527 Again, did they wish to confer in time a real efficiency upon the Church Building Acts. It could only be done, he thought he might assert, by holding out a prospect both to parishes and districts which those Acts were not able to afford—of a fixed and somewhat adequate endowment. Was the 14 & 15 Vict, to confer a real boon upon the Church by enhancing the value of its property? Such a value, it was true, might be conferred; but without a mode of administration suited to a new description of tenure, they might do little to promote the true interests of the Church, but encounter, perhaps; a new and a more formidable danger. And lastly, was population increasing; were a thousand forms of evil and ignorance threatening our social state; and were numbers of our fellow-countrymen still plunged in the grossest darkness, without either the will or the power to move towards their own relief? On them was laid the heavy responsibility, not only to frame enactments to repress their crime, provision to ameliorate their temporal condition and cheer their homes, but also, of regarding them as those whose understandings had been given them from above, and whose spirits had been formed in a mould measuring time and reaching into eternity. It was with these feelings that he asked the House to enter upon the consideration of this measure, and while the Legislature of later days had proclaimed its wisdom, by securing all individuals freedom of religious convictions, he would ask it, at the same time, to emulate the Christian fervour of a remoter period, in an active solicitude for the well-being of the Established Church—to vindicate, by the discussion of these questions, its long-established rights over all persons and things, ecclesiastical as well as civil; and, lastly, to discharge its alienable duties as the Parliament of a country still blessed with a union of Church and State, by enabling that Church widely to make known those truths which her Master purchased with his life, and which our ancestors strove for and secured. And could he better conclude those remarks, at a time, too, when events were daily proclaiming, in louder notes, that the period might arrive when they must rely not only on a human arm, but on the Divine protection for the inviolability of our shores, than by quoting to the House the words of one whose heart was warmed under the sense of an act of royal bounty to the Church—words which they could not doubt, it would glad- 528 den thousands in this country, could they appropriately form a page in the history of our own Most Gracious Sovereign:—This was to put to silence that insult of the common enemy, who abroad and at home upbraided us with the poverty and contempt of the English clergy, and this was to rebuke the spirit of profaneness which delighted in the same objection; and therefore Her Majesty prepared to consecrate the only ecclesiastical branch of her revenues to these pious uses—for God and His Church and Ministers; that so she might accomplish the wishes and desires of her Royal predecessors, and finish the good work that had been often recommended: that beyond any precedent in former reigns she might honour God, and promote His public worship, and countenance and confirm religion by repairing the supports of it: that she might vindicate the ministerial office, and restore the decent respects due unto that holy character: that she might extend her charity to the souls of all her people, by better exciting and rewarding the pastoral care of them: in a words, that she might bless the present age, and transmit that blessing to posterity.The noble Lord concluded by moving for leave to bring in the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make better provision for the management of Episcopal and Capitular Property."
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, the noble Marquess had devoted a great deal of labour to this subject, and he believed that the noble Marquess was animated by a very great regard for the good of the Church, and the spiritual welfare of her people. With respect to the particular purpose of the noble Marquess, and the details of his Bill, he (Lord John Russell) thought it was far better that the House should assent to the Bill being brought in, and that they should thus have a full opportunity of considering its details, than that they should then enter into any discussion of the statement which the noble Marquess had made. It was evident that many of the propositions of the Bill were of great importance, and that there were some to which objections might be made. He quite agreed with the noble Marquess that the House should not consider the Acts which had been passed from 1836 to the present time as forming a complete system, but that they should from time to time remove the objections, and extend the benefits of those Acts. With those few words he heartily concurred in the Motion for leave to introduce the Bill; and he trusted the noble Marquess would not unduly press a measure of such importance at a period of the Session when 529 Parliament might not be able to give to it that attention which it deserved.
said, he begged to express his satisfaction at the Bill itself, but he did not agree with all the principles laid down by the noble Marquess. He did not think that that House should assent to the payment of any more of the public money for the building of churches. He regretted that he did not hear the noble Marquess allude to the necessity of educating the humbler classes. Neither had he alluded to a point which also was of great importance. The noble Marquess seemed to think that Church property could only be applied to one sect. He should, however, recollect that when the Church property was first bestowed for religious purposes, it was intended to educate all the people. Since then one-half of the people had left the Church; and the question naturally arose whether one-half of the money taken from this religion might not be applied to the purpose of giving a good secular education to the people. He did not agree with the noble Marquess in all his propositions; but he thought he was, nevertheless, entitled to very great credit. The noble Marquess had shown, by his statements, that he well understood the subject; and he (Mr. Hume) was perfectly satisfied that, as the result of his efforts, a great and an important service would be done.
said, he willingly gave his cordial concurrence in the objects which the noble Marquess had in view; and he was of opinion that the Bill he proposed to introduce would effect a real and practicable improvement in the administration of Church property. But he had risen to point out some of the defects and anomalies of recent legislation in diverting the funds belonging to the Church in one district, from being applied to the wants of the Church in that district, and making them applicable to the country at large. In the diocese of Durham there were large funds applicable to the Church, and great necessities on the part of the people; but it was proposed to distribute them, not in the locality, but in the country at large. In Newcastle and Gateshead, both very large towns, this was peculiarly the case-Gateshead contained 113,000 inhabitants, yet there were really less funds applicable to the spiritual wants of the population than in many other places where there was not so large an aggregate of human beings; whilst in Newcastle the inhabitants 530 had been obliged to subscribe funds amongst themselves for the maintenance of the vicar. These things were objectionable; and whilst such wants existed, the inhabitants thought it rather unjust that the funds belonging to the district should be applied to other places, which had no such prior claim. The population of the county of Durham had increased more rapidly than that of any other county in England; with the exception of Lancashire and another county, arising in a great measure from the opening of the great coal field. With so great an increase to the numbers of the people, there must necessarily be a large demand for their spiritual provision; and certainly in many parts of the county there were most important wants of this description. But the inhabitants had been deprived by recent legislation of those means which were furnished by their own locality; and his object in now rising was to state that when the Bill was discussed in Committee, he should bring forward a clause giving these poorer districts a prior claim upon the funds which were now applied generally.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
congratulated the Church on the progress which reform was making in reference to abuses of which he had long complained. He was aware that those who took an active part some years ago in bringing these questions forward were subjected to much obloquy and opprobrium; but he, for his part, was always determined to persevere until he could bring the matter so prominently before the public mind that he might be quite sure it would be impossible to go on without the correction of those vast abuses in the distribution of the temporalities of the Church which had been a source of the deepest regret to all friends of the Establishment. He did not expect, however, that in the course of three or four years he should see the House of Commons acquiescing in the proposition of his noble Friend (the Marquess of Blandford), and permitting him to bring in a Bill which certainly wont further than any proposition he (Sir B. Hall) had ever ventured to make in that House. He congratulated his noble Friend on the success which had thus far attended his praiseworthy endeavours; and as it seemed to be the wish of the noble Lord the leader of that House (Lord J. Russell), and of the House generally, that no discussion should take place upon the proposition made by his noble Friend, he should bow at once to that wish. Nor was it necessary 531 to enter largely into the subject, because there appeared to be a unanimous feeling that the measure should go forward and be discussed on its second reading, should opposition arise at that stage. With regard to what had fallen from the hon. Member who spoke last, if it were proposed by his noble Friend the Marquess of Blandford that the revenues of the Church should be made available for the Church generally, instead of being confined to particular localities, he (Sir B. Hall) would give such a proposition his cordial and hearty support. His ground for saying so was, that our Church ought to be viewed generally, and not partially, as regarded localities; and if there were any one portion of the country more richly endowed than another, and if it could be shown that there were a greater amount of Church property in the diocese of Durham than was absolutely necessary for the spiritual wants of the community there, he thought it would be advisable that the benefits which might arise from the distribution of that property should be felt by the poorer districts of the empire, rather than be confined to one extremely wealthy locality, so far as Church property was concerned. If the hon. Member (Mr. Headlam) would accompany him (Sir B. Hall) to some of the districts of Wales, he would there see what real poverty amongst the working classes meant, and his sympathies would be excited by the narratives he might hear of the manner in which these poor hardworking ministers of our Church were compelled to live. If, then, he could see any way of making the superfluous revenues of the diocese of Durham available for the wants of the poorer districts in any part of the empire, such a proposition should have his support. In conclusion, he begged to thank his noble Friend for the pains he had taken in reference to this subject; and he sincerely hoped before the Session was over that the Bill of his noble Friend, either as it stood at present, or at all events in all its material features, might be passed into a law; because he was satisfied that by such a proposition our Church would be more beloved, more respected, more cared for, and rendered more beneficial to the community at large.
§ MR. EWART
said, he must express his concurrence in the approbation which had been bestowed on the Motion of the noble Marquess, and as a Churchman begged to thank him for his exertions and services. He hoped to see such changes 532 introduced as would render the Church more efficient; and he would remind the House that the poorer clergy had often contributed more to the schools in their districts than the richest landowners around them. He trusted that the anomaly of some of the canons in certain capitular bodies receiving more than the deans who were over them, would be removed, and that the inequality between the classes of "new" and of "old" deans would be removed.
said, he had been requested by a large number of the working clergy to convey their complaints to that House, and to state that they could not maintain themselves as they ought to do on the pittance allowed to them. The inequality of the revenues received by the different classes of the clergy operated much against the Church, and injured the rich even more than the poorer clergy, for it tended to make them care more for the things of this world than they should. Within the last few years a great change had come over the spirit of the Church. She had shaken off her coldness and apathy, and that change was entirely owing to the working clergy, who were the real successors of the Apostles, and who did the work of the Apostles, devoting themselves heart and soul to their sacred calling. He believed there was sufficient property possessed by the Church for the maintenance of all her ministers, if it was properly divided; and he thanked the noble Marquess most sincerely for his efforts to effect that object, and hoped he would meet with that success which his efforts so well deserved.
MR. APSLEY PBLLATT
said, it afforded him much pleasure in concurring in the tribute of praise which had been so deservedly bestowed on the noble Marquess for having introduced this Bill. He sympathised with the distresses of the working clergy of the Church of England, but, at the same time, there were clergymen in the enjoyment of large incomes for which they did little in return. He thought there ought to be a most searching inquiry into those incomes, and into the management of Church property. As a Nonconformist, he thought he was entitled to claim a part of the merit for the Nonconformist clergy in helping to bring about the improved state of things which the noble Marquess referred to.
§ MR. J. PHILLIMORE
said, that pluralities were rapidly disappearing, and by 533 the existing laws it was impossible they could be renewed.
The MARQUESS of BLANDFORD
said, he begged to tender his thanks to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) for the manner in which he had received the Bill. It was, indeed, matter for congratulation that a measure of this nature should be allowed by the Government to be laid on the table of the House, and to go to a first reading; and he quite agreed with his hon. Friend (Sir B. Hall) that it was a sign of very great advance—an advance which, he trusted, whilst we experienced its benefits, would, as far as he (the Marquess of Blandford) was concerned, be tempered with that moderation which would forbid departure from the principles of the constitution. He would not detain the House further than to say, that, whatever time or labour he had bestowed upon this measure, he had been abundantly repaid for it by the cordial manner in which the measure had been received, and which would be an ample encouragement to him to proceed with it to the end.
§ Leave given.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by the Marquess of Blandford and Captain Kings-cote.