HC Deb 26 May 1853 vol 127 cc567-647

* Mr. Speaker, before I enter upon the details of a subject, the importance of which will, I trust, obtain for me, that which I shall greatly need—the indulgent attention of the House; I am anxious to be permitted to say a few words—and they shall be very few—respecting the particular circumstances under which this subject is about to be introduced to the notice of Parliament.

I was not aware, not having taken my seat in the House till after Easter, that before that period the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets had publicly signified his intention of bringing the question of church rates under discussion in Parliament—and it was not till after notice had been given of my Motion, that I was apprised by the hon. Member himself of the fact; and, even then, if, after a conference with him, I had found that our measures were in principle identical, I would gladly have waived the accidental privilege conferred on me by the ballot, and have conceded to his superior ability, and greater Parliamentary experience, that priority in the discussion of this subject which would be unquestionably their due; but, I found, Sir, that both in substance, and in form, the proposition of the hon. Member was at variance with mine. At variance in substance, because, though we agreed upon one very considerable point, namely, the entire exemption of Dissenters from the payment of church rates, upon every other part of the question, our views most materially differed. At variance in form, because the hon. Member proposes to bind the House by an abstract Resolution on the subject; whereas, I am desirous—in conformity with what appeared to be the general opinion of the most eminent Members on both sides of the House, in 1851, when the last debate upon church rates occurred—to embody in a Bill, and endeavour to pass into a law, those great alterations in the existing system, which, in my opinion, jnstice and policy alike demand.

Sir, I wish to make one more preliminary observation: the only pledge I gave upon the hustings was, that, if ever I obtained the honour of a seat in Parliament, I would avail myself of the earliest opportunity to bring forward a measure, of the nature which I am about to propose. Sir, in rising to redeem that pledge, I can only hope that the intimate acquaintance with the subject, which many years of professional study and practice have, I may say, forced upon me, and the kindness of the House, will supply those deficiencies of which I am painfully conscious, in my personal ability, to grapple with the difficulties of this important question.

Sir, as I am about to propose that the Church of England shall, for the sake of peace, make a large sacrifice of her unquestionable legal right, I am anxious to impress clearly upon the House the certainty and character of that right, in order not only that the value and extent of her sacrifice may be duly appreciated, but that the House may exercise a judicial opinion as to whether, under all the circumstances, it be desirable or not that such a sacrifiee should be made.

My first proposition, therefore, is, that there is no legal right in the kingdom more ancient or more certain than that of the Church to levy a rate for the purpose of maintaining the fabric of the Church, and for making provision for the decent order of her services.

That quadripartite division of the property of the Church, whereby one portion was given to the bishop, another to the clergy, another to the maintenance of the fabric of the Church, never did, from whatever cause, prevail in England. The contrary assertion, though countenanced by Blackstone, book i. ch. 2, is now proved to be erroneous by the recent publication of a law of Canute, 1018 A.D., which is to be found in the Report of the Ancient Law and Institutes of England, printed in 1840, under the direction of the Commissioners of Public Records; in that law it is said, Ad fanum reficiendum omnes quidem opem ferre debebunt. The Statute of Edward the First, known from its commencement by the title of circumspecté agatis, proceeded upon the basis of this principle; and our great provincial canonist, Lyndewode, writing in Henry the Sixth's time, distinctly announced it in these words:— Unusquisque parochianus tenetur ad repara- tionem Ecclesiae juxta portionem terraæ quam possidet intra parochiam et secundum numerum animalium quæ tenet et nutrit ibidem. That is to say, that every parishioner is assessable to church rate according to the land and the stock which he possesses in the parish.

But the position does not rest upon these ancient authorities only. In the last decision on the Braintree case, that fruitful source of litigation, which has acquired so unenviable a notoriety, Mr. Baron Parke—himself, be it remembered, opposed to the power of the minority to make a church rate—laid down the law in these words:— It is now perfectly established law, that the parishioners in vestry assembled can alone make an order for a pecuniary rate, and that neither the Churchwardens, nor the Ordinary, nor Commissioners, nor any other, without the authority of the parishioners, can rate or tax them for the purpose. The rate, supposing a rate to be the only moans by which the money can be raised, must, under ordinary circumstances, when all are willing to do their duty, be one to which the majority present assent. It cannot be the rate for which most votes are given; it must be the act of the majority. If, in a vestry meeting of twelve, five vote for one sort of rate, four for another, and three for a third, the first rate would not be valid. No trace, I believe, can be found of a by-law, or any order of a deliberative or in some sense legislative body, which the parishioners in vestry assembled are, made more burgensium. The parishioners then ought to have assembled for the purpose of making a rate, and, being so assembled, ought to have made it; and it may be considered that those were liable to ecclesiastical censures who disregarded their duty, especially as a monition issued, fixing the time and place, and pointing out the making of the rate as a duty to be performed. I presume it is not to be doubted but that the Spiritual Court would punish those who wholly abandoned their duty, and wilfully and without excuse refused to concur in making any rate, or adopting any means to cause the repairs to be made."—Gosling v. Veley, 12 Adol. & E. (N.R.), p. 394. But it is not merely to the certainty but to the comprehensiveness of this parochial obligation that I wish to call the attention of the House. The rate is assessable indeed ratione personæ, but it is assessable upon all property, upon stock in trade as well as land—[Sir G. PECHELL: Upon ships]—and as the hon. Member reminds me, upon ships. The Court of Delegates decided that such was the law in the case of Miller v. Bloomfield, in the year 1828. No annual Act is passed to exempt stock in trade from its liability to pay church rate, though practically it is exempted by the difficulty of assessing and levying such a rate. The law is clearly stated by Prideaux, p. 106, to the same effect.

In the evidence taken before the Committee upon Church Rates (1851), over which my predecessor at Tavistock presided, and to which I shall have frequent occasion to refer, Dr. Lushington appears to have given the following evidence:— Q. 2389. Do you wish the Committee to understand, that church rates at any time would have been regarded as a poll tax?—Certainly they were of that nature, and it is obvious they were, because wherever there has been a charge upon land, as in the case of tithes, there has always been a power of distress and seizing the lands; but though since the time that any Church has been appropriated or impropriated, the impropriator is bound to repair the chancel, you cannot seize the rectory, or have a distress against the property; that has been decided by the Courts of Common Law upon the very ground which I am stating, that it was a tax in personam, and all you could do was to put the impropriator into prison, but you never could take his property. I take it that the whole question with reference to that is completely settled, whether it be a charge upon property, or upon the person in respect of property. The learned Judge refers to the different customs as to the assessing church rate, and speaking of the case of Miller v. Bloomfield, which I have mentioned, he says— At Poole, and also at Boston, persons were mode to pay, not merely for the houses and lands which they occupied, but for the ships which they possessed, and for their stock in trade; and when the whole case was legally decided, at the Delegates, some twenty-eight years ago, one of the Common Law Judges, Chief Justice, expressed his opinion that, in strict law, you might assess a man according to his whole personal estate; and he expressed it very strongly, because, in the course of the argument it was said, 'That you may as well assess Rundal and Bridge for all the jewellery in their shop;' and he answered, 'So you may.' But in practice and in usage the ordinary course is to assess the occupant always, and according to the value of his holding. Q. 2482. With respect to the property which should be made the subject of such rate,; are there any difficulties or doubts in the law at present which, in your judgment, should be amended?—No, I think none. Q. 2483. Is all land within the parish rate able, excepting such exempted land as I have spoken of?—Yes. I never heard of an attempt to relieve any other land from church rate excepting the glebe, Q. 2484. And it matters not whether the occupier lives within the parish or out of it?—Certainly not; there is an old case upon that subject. It is quite clear, therefore, without referring to other authorities—and there are many to the same effect—that under the existing law every parishioner is bound to contribute to the repairs of the nave of his church, and that the obligation attaches upon all his property of whatever description within the boundaries of the parish.

But, upon what principle of law does this obligation rest? And, upon what supposition of fact is this principle of law founded? for the House cannot do justice in this matter without attentively considering both the one and the other. Why—upon the principle of law, and the supposition of fact, that the Church and State are identical—that there is no such thing as any legally recognised difference of religion from that which the State has established, endowed, and professed.

Sir, it cannot be denied by any candid and intelligent person, that this hypothesis is the foundation of the present law respecting church rates; and it is a consideration, I think, of great moment for the House, whether the fact, upon which this law is built, namely, the uniform profession of the religion of the State by the subjects of the State, has not undergone extensive alteration, and whether, if this be so, it is equitable or just, when the reason on which the law is founded has, both legally and practically, ceased, the law should nevertheless remain the same and unaltered.

Now, I need not waste the time of the House by demonstrating that, before the period of the Reformation, the religious faith professed by the State was the only one contemplated by the eye of the law, and that there was no legal acknowledgment of any difference of religious opinion; but it is a great mistake to suppose that this principle was confined to the period before the Reformation—it continued to exist after that event, and for a considerable time in full vigour. The principle of an uniformity in religion was established and enforced by the most stringent laws, and is to be found not only in the statutes of Henry the Eighth, but in those of Edward the Sixth, and of Elizabeth. The canons of 1603 passed in the reign of James the First, sanctioned by the royal authority, and binding, unless altered by subsequent statute, the clergy to this day, contain the severest denunciations against persons who presumed to assemble together for the purpose of exercising the rites of any religion differing from that of the State. I pass by the reign of Charles the First, and the period of the Great Rebellion, during which, unquestionably, the system was broken down; but in the reign of Charles the Second, the principle of universal conformity to the Established Church (witness the well-known Test, Corporation, and Conventicle Acts) was again enforced by statute with as much severity as before; in fact, it was not till the time of William and Mary that a new principle of law was introduced into the constitution, that by Act of Parliament, by what is called the First Toleration Act, a legal recognition, and, in fact, a registration of dissent from the Established Church was effected, and from that period, in my opinion, the reason, the foundation upon which the law of church rates was built, was shaken.

It is true that the First Toleration Act imperfectly executed this principle—and that the idea of the one religion professed by the State was not wholly abandoned, for a clause in that statute required even dissenting ministers to subscribe, with some exceptions, to the Thirty-nine Articles.

The principle of this original Toleration Act of William the Third—the restriction of which, respecting the subscription to the Church of England Articles, soon disappeared, was developed gradually by subsequent statutes, and especially by those which passed during the reign of George the Third—towards the end of whoso reign another Dissenters' Registration Act was passed.

By the abolition of the Test and Corporation Acts in the reign of George the Fourth, when a participation in the rites of the Established Church ceased to be a necessary passport to office, the legal status and recognition of dissent was still further and very greatly advanced. But in the reign of Her present Majesty the last links which connected Dissenters with the Church Establishment have been broken off. During the reign of Her present Majesty non-parochial registers were made lawful evidence in courts of justice—a measure, the importance of which to Dissenters could scarcely be overrated; besides this, many other Acts of legal recognition are to be mentioned, such as Dissenters' Chapels, recognised for the purpose of serving notices, relative to elections and other public matters—Dissenters' burial grounds allowed—and, above all, Dissenters' marriages rendered lawful without any intervention of the rites of the Established Church. And only last year an Act was passed, which was introduced, I believe, by a right rev. Prelate in the House of Lords, which struck off the last link of the chain of legal connexion between Dissenters and the Church Establishment, ren- dering it no longer necessary that Dissenting meeting-houses should be registered in the Ecclesiastical Courts, but providing for their registration through the machinery of the office of the Registrar General. This, Sir, is a rapid sketch of the changes in the law with respect to the relation between the Dissenter and the State; and the mention of the last circumstance introduces the question of the change in point of fact.

Taking advantage of the recent statute which I have mentioned as to registration of dissenting places of worship, the Registrar General instituted a statistical inquiry into the growth and progress of dissent, as evidenced by the building of places of worship since the First Toleration Act in William the Third's reign up to the present time. The hon. Member for Manchester moved for a return of the result of this inquiry, and that return was not long ago laid upon the table of this House. It is entitled, a "List of Returns made to the Registrar General of the number of Certified Places of Religious Worship of Protestant Dissenters; with an Analysis and Summary of the said Returns; and total Number of Places of Meeting for Religious Worship certified to the Registrar General, under the Act of 15 & c 16 Vict. c. 36, up to 1st January, 1853, distinguishing the Total Number of Places so certified in each of the six preceding months by each Religious Denomination."

Hon. Members would do well to study it. It contains a very startling revelation. There are, it appears by this return, in England and Wales, including those belonging to the Roman Catholics, 54,840 Dissenting Places of Worship.

It is to be remembered, indeed, that many of these are of very small size, many not filled, many built on speculation, some closed; but after all deductions are made the statistic is, in my opinion, of an awakening and instructive character.

It is often said, and with truth, that the Dissenter purchases his property knowing that it is subject to the payment of church rates, and that he has therefore no right to complain of the burden; nevertheless, it must be remembered that not only the property but the house which he builds upon it becomes subject to this tax—it is not merely the property which the Dissenter finds in existence, but that which he creates himself which is charged for the support of a church from which he conscientiously and legally dissents. This appeared a hard- ship to the mind of one of the most accomplished Prelates of our Church, the late Bishop Coplestone, and he expressed himself to this effect, as hon. Members may see on referring to the volume of his Memoirs, which has been recently published.

Now, Sir, in this altered state of law and fact with respect to the existence of dissent in this country, it is not to be wondered at that great opposition should have arisen to the making and the payment of church rates.

It is true, indeed, and the circumstance is worth consideration, that opposition to church rates upon principle is scarcely to be found (for the case of Gaudern v. Selby, in 1799, can hardly be considered as an exception) before the year 1830. To the amount and the mode of levying the rate, and other matters of detail, opposition appears, from the cases in prohibition, to have been made in Charles the Second's time; but it is not much, if at all, before the period which I have mentioned, that a principled opposition was called into existence against the levying of any church rate under any circumstances.

Then the practical difficulty of enforcing the law became apparent, and to that I must briefly advert.

The existing state of the law is as follows: A church rate is duly made—a parishioner duly assessed, refuses to pay—he is summoned before the magistrates; but the validity of the rate is disputed, and their jurisdiction is at an end. He is, therefore, sued in the Consistorial Court of the diocese; from thence there lies an appeal to the Court of the Archbishop, and from thence to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. But then, this litigation may be infinitely increased by the following method: One of the parties in the suit applies for a prohibition to the Court of Queen's Bench—from the decision of this tribunal there is an appeal to the Exchequer Chamber—from thence to the House of Lords; all this protracted, costly litigation about a demand probably of a few shillings—a state of law wholly, in my opinion, indefensible.

It may be observed, in passing, that there is a special statute respecting the recovery of church rate from Quakers, 7 & 8 Will. III. c 34; 5 & 6 Will. IV. c. 74.

Well, but there is another case to be put. A rate is necessary, and the vestry refuses it. What is to be done? Can the minority make a rate? or, is the church to be allowed to fall into ruin?

The Braintree case is now depending before the House of Lords, and I believe it is no secret that they will reverse the decisions of the inferior courts, and decide that a minority cannot make a rate. This is the decision which, after two trials, each in two Common Law and two Ecclesiastical Courts, after many years of protracted and expensive litigation, is about to be promulgated. But if this be so, it will be by no means decided that there will not still remain the power in the Ecclesiastical Court to proceed against each individual for a contumacious refusal to make a rate for necessary objects, such as the maintenance of the fabric, and the procurement of the sacramental bread and wine; and compel him, by excommunication, that is, I grieve to say, eventually and practically by imprisonment, to contribute his quota. Can anything be worse than this state of the law? Observe, moreover, that it operates not only with great hardship upon the Dissenter, but with great injustice upon the Churchman. For what is the practical consequence? Why, that in the great manufacturing towns, no church rate is attempted to be levied, and that the necessary and legal expenses are defrayed by the liberality of a few zealous and pious Churchmen—while the illiberal part of the congregation, who would by no means abandon their right to church offices, who would think it very ungenteel not to go to church, escape from the payment of their just contribution under the shield of the Dissenter, because a rate cannot be levied upon him, it cannot legally be levied at all, and therefore they escape altogether. I would ask the attention of the House to the evidence before the same Committee on this point:— Q,. 3131. With respect to the out-townships of Leeds, would you tell the Committee whether church rates are levied there?—Church rates are not levied now in any out-townships of Leeds; there are several very large out-townships, Huns-let having nearly 20,000 inhabitants now; Holbeck has, perhaps, also 16,000 or 16,000. Q. 3132. Headingley?—The last place in which a church rate was laid was Headingley. There has been no church rate laid in Headingley, but the churchwarden of Headingley raised the amount necessary for the repairs of the Church and the support of the worship by a voluntary rate upon the Churchmen themselves. Q. 3133. Are church rates levied in any of the principal towns of the West Riding of Yorkshire?—In the principal towns of the West Riding of Yorkshire, church rates have been abandoned for some years. Q. 3134. Bradford, for example?—In Bradford, for the last ten years, and with its chapel- ries of Eccleshill, Haworth, Horton, Manningham. Shipley, Thornton, and Wilsden. In Halifax, for the last fourteen or fifteen years, there has been no rate, and there is none in the townships or chapelries of Midgley, Ovenden, Skircoat, Sowerby, Fixby, Rastrick, Heptonstall, and Stansfield. Q. 3135. (Sir D. Dundas.) Those are all populous places?—They are all populous places. In Huddersfield there has been no church rate for fourteen years; there is no church rate in the chapelries of Golcar, Lindley, and Longwood. In Sheffield, there has been no church rate for thirty years, nor in any of its chapelries. In Wakefield there has been no church rate for five or six years. There is no church rate in Otley; none in Barnsley, and in many of the large villages. The witness further states that— In most of the populous towns of the West Riding they do not now pay church rates, and that in many cases the opposition to church rates was seen to be so strong and so general, that neither the clergyman, nor the clergyman's friends, chose to have the bad blood that would have ensued from a contest, and they gave it up. Q. 2609. Do you happen to know the amount of the costs?—I do not, but generally I can say, that from that time to the present, no church rate has ever been levied in that parish, which is the largest parish in Leicester, containing about 25,000 or 30,000 inhabitants; I believe, also, that in the other parishes of Leicester, with one exception, for the same period, no church rates have been levied; I believe in that solitary parish, which was the parish of St. Martin, Leicester, up to the last year, church rates were levied; a violent opposition was raised there; I believe at the very last meeting there, the anti-Church party prevailed, and the rate was refused; therefore in Leicester now, I believe, there is not a single parish which pays church rates. Practically, therefore, it may be fairly said no church rate is made in any of the large manufacturing towns of the North of England; but this is not the only evil of the present system. Where the rate cannot be openly refused, various devices are resorted to for the purpose of evading it; and two appear to be of common use; one to make a nominal, insufficient rate, another to choose a dissenting churchwarden, an officer in fact, determined not to do the duty he is chosen to perform.

Here is the evidence of Mr. Courtauld, the hero of the Braintree Case:— Q. 485. It had been previously determined, as a very available mode of practically opposing a rate, that a Dissenter (and I was to have been the individual) should be the churchwarden. I refrained from taking office, and it was agreed that the Vicar's churchwarden should, without any obstacle or embarrassment whatever, take precisely that course which would, under the most favourable circumstances, at least settle this question, whether a minority could be enabled to make a rate. He then speaks of— —"the ten thousand expedients which may be found abundantly suggested in almost every judgment in this case, as means by which opponents "of a church rate may, if such be their policy, embarrass and throw obstacles in the way of its being made. And he is asked— Q,. 486. (Chairman.) Is the proposal of a nominal rate one of such resources to which you allude?—Yes, it is one of such manifold resources. Q. 487. And the appointment of a church warden who is notoriously adverse to the proposal of a rate?—That is an expedient by which considerable facility may be given practically…ֵ I am perfectly satisfied, from my rather abundant experience in this sort of warfare, that it is exceedingly convenient to the opposers of a church rate to have in their favour an officer in that character of churchwarden. And in the case of the church rates at Melbourne, in Cambridgeshire (in which I remember that I was counsel), I find in the report the following evidence:— Q. 3056. Do the parishioners ever elect Dissenters as churchwardens with the view of evading the rate?—Since 1848, we have elected a Dissenting churchwarden each Easter. These, Sir, are the legal difficulties which at this moment encompass the levying and collection of church rates; but if there were none—if the law was clear and easy of enforcement, I do not hesitate to say that such are the social, moral, and religious evils which attend the existing state of the question, that I would earnestly call upon this House to pass an enactment which should change the law.

Sir, I can appeal, upon this point, to the language of an authority highly respected both in this House, and in the country, and one from which hon. Gentlemen opposite, at least, will not dissent—the language of my Lord Derby, in 1834. And, Sir, I am reminded by the reference which I am about to make, and by citations which, for the sake of convenience, I have occasionally made, not only from my own notes, but from a pamphlet which I hold in my hand—a pamphlet which was put into my hands this morning, written by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn—The Church Bate Question Considered—which I hailed then and hail now with the greatest satisfaction, for the noble Lord, whom I now see opposite to me, suggests a remedy in all material features the same as that which I am about to propose. Sir, I well know the value of the aid which is conferred upon the csuse which I am advocating, not only by the illustrious name and the high position, but by the unques- tionable talent and ability of the noble writer of this pamphlet. Sir, I was about to say that in 1834 the present Lord Derby expressed himself in the following language:— Did any man suppose that those interests of the Church was by maintaining every one of its abuses? Did any man suppose that those interests were to be promoted by a profanation of the Church itself, year after year; by a desecration of the house of God; by a squabble about church rates at each succeeding Easter? In rejecting such a proposition, let them remember the immense amount of responsibility which they assumed, the quantity of ill-blood and heartburnings which they perpetuated, as well as the annual desecration of the house of God Easter after Easter. He entreated them to consider well before they arrived at any such conclusion."—[3 Hansard, xxij. 1036.] And again I may refer to the opinion of Dr. Lushington—from such opposite quarters does the same opinion come. He is asked— Q. 2375. Do you think that great social evils arise, as far as your experience is concerned, from the existing mode of repairing the fabrics of churches? His reply was— Most certainly. Looking back at my experience, which is now above forty years, I have seen not merely litigation in courts, but I have seen every description of heartburning and quarrels, the separation of parishes into two parties, not precisely upon religious scruples, but from the feeling of one party towards the other, and so on; and it has created greater feuds than any other subject that I know. 2376. Do you think the existence of church rates, for example, likely to impair the proper influence of clergymen over their flocks?—That depends entirely on the clergymen themselves. Every clergyman of discretion keeps himself, as far as possible, aloof and away from church rates; and he says,' that is the business of the churchwarden and the vestry; it is not mine.' If he imprudently intermixes himself with the church rate, then he is very likely to get into difficulty; but all the prudent clergy whom I have known have always kept apart. Now, Sir, let me state briefly to the House what measures for the relief of this evil have been proposed in Parliament.

In March, 1834, Mr. Divett brought forward a Motion— That, in the opinion of this House, it is just and expedient, that effectual measures should be taken for the abolition of compulsory payments of, church rates in England and Wales. The Government, however, undertaking to introduce a measure on the subject, the Motion was withdrawn; and accordingly, in April, 1834, Lord Althorp, the then leader of the Government in this House, proposed the abolition of church rates, and, as a substitute, that 250,000l. should be secured on the Consolidated Fund, and 50,000l. be raised from the better management of Church property. This proposition was, I rejoice to say, found impracticable, and abandoned. I rejoice, for these, among other reasons: that it would, in fact, have been no relief to the Dissenters, who would still have contributed indirectly, by payment of the additional tax, to church rate; and because I do not at all desire that the Church, for any purpose whatever, should come to Parliament for money.

In the next year, in May, 1835, Sir Robert Peel declared in Parliament that the reformation of the law ought not to be delayed for another year.

In March, 1837, Mr. Spring Rice, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, brought forward a Motion [3 Hansard, xxxvj. 1208] corresponding exactly, I believe, with the Amendment by which the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets proposes to overthrow my attempt to bring in a Bill this evening.

Mr. Spring Rice proposed "the total abolition of church rates, and that in lieu thereof a permanent and adequate provision be made by an increased value given to Church lands by the introduction of a new system of management, and by the application of the proceeds of pew rents." This debate was on many accounts remarkable, but, chiefly on account of the distinguished Parliamentary position of the speakers, and the great ability of their speeches. The Motion was carried by so small a majority that the measure was abandoned.

In 1841 and 1842, Mr. Easthope brought the case of Mr. Baines {a Dissenter, who refused payment of church rates), before Parliament, and the House came to a Resolution condemnatory of the existing law respecting church rates.

In March, 1849, Mr. Trelawny brought forward the question in the following shape: he proposed a Resolution:— That it is the opinion of this House, that effectual measures should be immediately taken for the abolition of church rates."—[3 Hansard, ciij. 639.] Upon this Sir Page Wood moved an Amendment, embodying the main principle of this measure— for discharging persons dissenting from the Church as by law established, from contributing to church rates, and from taking any part in levying, assessing, or administering the same. In April, 1851, however, this House ordered— A Select Committee to consider the law of church rates and the difference of practice, which exists in various parts of the country, in the assessment and levying of church rates, and to report their observations to the House. And on that Committee Mr. Trelawny presided. They made no report, but the evidence which they collected is recorded in that book to which I have so often referred.

Now, Sir, before I proceed to state the details of my own scheme, I wish to show that the plan of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, the revived plan of Mr. Spring Rice, is open to grave objections. The substitutes which it proposes for church rates are, first, "better management of church property;" secondly, "funds from pew rents."

Sir, as to the first substitute, I, for one, will never consent that the Churchman, who enjoys and avails himself of the ministrations of the Church, shall escape from the discharge of an obligation which, in his case, is sanctioned, not only by law and immemorial custom, but by reason, by justice, and by conscience. I will never consent that he shall avoid the payment of his just contribution to the necessities of the Church of which he is a member, by depriving the poor, the ignorant, the untaught, of a large portion of that aid which a better distribution of Church property is now about to impart to them.

It will be time enough, when the appalling spiritual destitution of the land is removed, when the light of the Gospel has penetrated into those dark alleys of our large manufacturing towns, when its healing influence has been shed over those festering masses of actual heathenism which exist in such fearful contrast and vicinity to those magnificent dwellings with which they are surrounded—it will be time enough when this blessed result has been achieved, when this disgrace and scandal to our country has been wiped away, to consider whether the funds of the Church, upon which the supply of proper ministers is the first demand, shall be applied to the relief of the pockets of Churchmen.

Not less objectionable, Sir, in my opinion, is the proposition to derive church rates from the sale and hiring of church seats.

Sir, at present, I rejoice to say, the common law of England knows nothing of the sale and purchase of seats in the house of God. It is true that in an evil hour the necessities of the Church have seduced some well-meaning persons to sanction in particular cases, under the authority of special Acts of Parliament, this most pernicious mode of endowment. And in some cases the common law has been evaded, and seats in parish churches have been illegally bought and sold. The consequence has been—I can speak from no inconsiderable personal knowledge and official experience of the fact—almost invariable evil: quarrels among the parishioners, disputes with the clergyman, and that great and cardinal evil, the exclusion of the poor from the Church.

Sir, it is to be remembered, that when Dr. Lushington suggested in answer to an inquiry, that pew rates might form a part of the substitute for church rates, that suggestion proceeded on the assumption that the Dissenter was still to contribute to the payment. He says— That all the inhabitants, without distinction, or regard to different modes of faith, ought to contribute to the repairs of the Church. Moreover, Dr. Lushington is of opinion, that the very evil which I anticipate from pew rents would follow. I must again cite from the Report:— Q,. 2601. (Mr. A. Hope.) Have you formed any opinion as to whether payment for the repair of churches out of pew rents would be either desirable or possible?—I have thought of that question very much indeed, and I will not hesitate to answer it to the best of my belief; I have not the slightest objection to tax the occupants of pews who are capable of paying, but I never would assent to any system that should leave the poor of England without a place to go to church. Q. 2602. And there would be great difficulties in any such tax as should not make it a beneficiary interest to the managers of churches to create as many pews and as few free seats as they could?—I am afraid it must be so; that is quite manifest; there is no difficulty in that proposition at all. Sir, the borough of Tavistock, which I represent, figures in the report upon church rates. No church rate has been collected there for some time. But it is said, that the system of pew rents has answered there. Now, with the permission of the House, I will read an extract from a letter which I have received from the hardworking and most exemplary curate (Mr. Gibbons) of that place:— The Churchwardens find great difficulty in collecting the present pew rents. Some openly refuse to pay—the Vicar among the number; of course they keep their seats—and even if the system was fair in its nature, and unobjectionable in point of principle, it cannot be enforced, nor can any man be ejected for nonpayment. It is in fact, a voluntary payment, liable to all the evils of the voluntary principle in working out. It likewise leads to the enormous evil of people taking far more sittings than they require, as though the money were the only question, and accommodating other people nothing in the case. Its obvious tendency is to exclude the poor, for the sake of rental. Sir, before I explain the principle of my own measure, I am especially anxious to draw the attention of the House to the real ground of the Dissenters' objection to the payment of church rates. That ground ought never to be lost sight of in the consideration of this question; it is this, that they entertain a conscientious objection to the payment of church rate, because it is levied to support the teaching of a church, which they believe to be untrue, and ceremonies of a church which they abominate. Now that this is the foundation on which Dissenters rest their claim for exemption is indisputable. Witness among other proofs the following:—

The questions and answers in the examination of J. Mellor Esq. Q. 2777. He is asked whether he believes that any remedy could be applied, which would give permanent satisfaction, unless it dealt with the conscientious scruples of Dissenters?—I think not; my belief is, that that is felt now very sensibly by a very great number of Churchmen, who are very extremely desirous of not having any more church rate discussions. To the same effect are the questions and answers in the examination of J. Hodgkin, Esq., Q. 2980. The Rev. W. Selwyn is asked— Q. 3905. Has the opposition to church rates in your parish been from a conscientious objection in point of principle, or a question of amount?—Partly both, I think. They took an objection to the church rate proposed, because we had had 100l. given by a friend. That, you may say, was an objection in point of amount; but the greater objection has been raised, I believe, by Mr. Wright and his friends to the principle of church rates. They said it was an offence against their conscience. The questions and answers in the examination of Mr. J. Manning, an Independent Dissenter residing at Orlingbury, in Northamptonshire, who is asked— Q. 4228. I believe you object on principle, to the payment of church rates?—Yes. In the debate of 1834, I find that Mr. Daniel Whittle Harvey, who was a very fair representative of the sentiments of Dissenters upon this subject, expressed himself as follows. He asks— What are the objections of Dissenters? Not [he answers himself] the sum of money which they are called upon to pay, but, 'that as Protestant Dissenters they are called on to support a church, from the doctrines and discipline of which, or both, they conscientiously, disinterestedly, and unequivocally dissent? In the same debate Mr. Wilks, himself, I believe, a Dissenter, and the Member for Boston, said— The principle for which the Dissenters contended was, that every man has a right to worship God according to his own conscience, and that he cannot, consistently with justice, contribute a doit to the support of a form of worship which his conscience condemns; and if any Dissenters did not act on that principle, they deserved the respect neither of the Established Church, nor of those to whom they professed to belong."—[3 Hansard, xxxij. 1031.] And in 1837 Lord Brougham, after presenting many petitions in the House of Lords, observed— It was on the ground that they considered the rate injurious to the interests of religion, as well as oppressive to them individually, and hard upon them conscientiously, that the great bulk of the prayers of the petitions were founded."—[3 Mansard, xxxvij. 557.] Now, Sir, the Bill which I ask permission of the House to introduce, will remove entirely the objections of the conscientious, though it will not remove those of the political Dissenter. And next, I confess, to my pleasure at relieving the really tender conscience of the honest Dissenter, would be my satisfaction at defeating the machinations of the dishonest Dissenter, who made his conscience a pretext for political agitation, who desired the wound to be kept open, lest his subject for declamation should be taken away.

Sir, I propose that every Dissenter, on professing himself to be such, shall be exempted from the payment of church rate. It is said, "Ah! but how can you define; Dissent?"

Sir, I have no intention of doing anything of the kind-—my faculties are wholly unequal to the task—the difficulties of it are to me insuperable—but there is no such difficulty in my proposition. A person may surely say, "I am a Dissenter." I propose that he shall make that simple statement in writing. No conscientious Dissenter can say that any intolerable grievance is imposed upon him by requiring this declaration. I propose that this statement shall be kept by the churchwarden and that a copy of it shall be evidence, in any court of law, of the exemption. I propose that a person who makes this statement, and who thereby obtains an ex- emption from any charge upon his property for the support and maintenance of the Church, shall cease to have the privileges appertaining to a member of that Church; that is to say, that he shall not be able to compel the clergyman to perform over him any religious rite. For, surely, it cannot be thought reasonable that a Dissenter shall at one and the same time say that he conscientiously objects to contribute to the maintenance of a Church because he dissents from her doctrine and her discipline, which are an abomination to him, and nevertheless insist that the Church shall be compelled, whenever he may think fit, to perform her rites in his behalf. Surely this is not a claim for liberty for yourself, but for tyranny over others. I further propose a mode whereby persons who have withdrawn from the Church shall be allowed to return to it. It has happened that persons who, in a moment of pique or from want of due consideration, have left the Church, have wished to return to her again. To these I would open wide the door; and I propose that, regard being had to the proper ecclesiastical authorities, and that under their sanction, a Dissenter, on signifying his wish to withdraw his statement, should be restored to the Church, and, of course, to all his former obligations. I also propose that a Dissenter claiming such exemption should cease to have any right to vote in vestry, or on any question relating to a church rate, or to the management of the property or affairs of the Church.

Then, Sir, with respect to the law and the administration of it over Churchmen. I do not propose any alteration in the former, because, after much consideration, I think the law itself has been made plain by many judicial decisions, and is in itself reasonable and wise.

By the existing law it is competent to the Churchwardens, without summoning a vestry to provide the bare necessities of divine worship, such as the bread and wine for the holy communion, and the washing of the minister's surplice. But for every expense which passes beyond this boundary, and partakes in the least of an extraordinary or an ornamental character, the previous consent of the vestry must be obtained; and it is therefore competent to the parishioners, if they please, to refuse the vote and prevent the expense being incurred. Subsequently to the consent of the vestry for any material addition or alteration, the certification of the bishop or ordi- nary, expressed by what is called the Faculty of his Court, must be procured; and, again, the parishioners may object to and be heard against the issue of this instrument—and this brings me to the reform of the administration of this law. The present state is very objectionable, owing to the expense, the delay, and the number of appeals, but these are accidental evils and not essentially incident to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, which, greatly altered and improved, for reasons which I think ought to satisfy the House, I propose to retain. It has been proposed to substitute the authority of the magistrates at quarter-sessions for that of the Consistorial Court; but it requires a moderate acquaintance with the subject to see the unfitness of this tribunal. Objections to a church rate are not simply or principally to the amount; if they were, something might be said in favour of quarter-sessions; but objections are frequently made to the character of the subject-matter for which the rate is made. Whether the spiritual wants of the parishioners required the addition or the alteration—whether it tended to their edification, and in these days especially, when ornaments are often supposed to be symbolical of doctrine, surely those are questions proper for the adjudication of the Consistorial Court. I propose, therefore, that proceedings in a matter of church rate should be heard summarily and vivâ voce, and that there shall be only one appeal on a matter of law to the court of the province. With these improvements and alterations I think justice would be more cheaply, expeditiously, and properly done in the Consistory than in any other tribunal, unless, indeed, the House was prepared to say that, with no amount of reform, under no circumstance, and for no objects, however strictly ecclesiastical, should the Consistorial Court exist, but that the bishop should, without any legal intervention of the kind, deal with questions of this description. Otherwise, there is no assignable reason why the Consistory should not be made perfectly efficient, and when made so, it seems to me much better to retain the authority of this the proper forum over cases of church rate, than to transfer them to a wholly incompetent jurisdiction. How could magistrates at quarter-sessions decide whether an ornamental addition or alteration for which the rate was perhaps on principle objected to, was of a proper ecclesiastical character or not?

Such, Mr. Speaker, is the outline of my scheme of the Bill which I ask the House to read a first time. That the principle of it, namely, the exemption of persons from paying church rates who give up their claims of Church privileges, ought to satisfy Dissenters, cannot, I think, be doubted, and there is evidence in the Report which confirms this natural exdectation.

There cannot be better authority than that of Mr. Baines, of Leeds:— Q. 3356. (Chairman.) Will you state whether you think, that if church rates were abolished, churches would still be maintained in the agritural parishes?—I am fully confident that they would. Q. 3367. Should you, as a Dissenter, but yet interested in the maintenance of the edifices of the Church as public property, be disposed to give up those edifices entirely to the members of the Established Church?—I do not think I should feel justified in expressing an opinion upon a question of so much importance as that. But being pressed he says— If you ask for my mere individual opinion and feeling, it would be certainly to give them up to the Establishment, and not to disturb the Establishment at all in the possession of them; that is my individual feeling, but I cannot speak for others. I know no feeling to the contrary of that, however, I may say. Then there is the evidence of Mr. Offor to the same effect:— Q. 228. (Mr. A. Hope.) Have you remarked among those who you say, and I suppose quite truly, by the increase of knowledge raised a conscientious objection to paying church rates, any conscientious objection on their part to partake of what they would get in return for that church rate, namely, a refusal to be married in the church, or to use its burying ground?—Yes, very much indeed. Q. 229. (Sir D. Dundas.) In your parish?—In my own parish, and in others. Q. 234. (Mr. A. Hope.) All of your friends, I suppose, who are unwilling to pay church rates, are willing to give the quid pro quo; they think it reasonable and just, that if they are to be emancipated from church rates, the church also should be emancipated from religious services for Dissenters—those of marrying, baptising, burying, and so forth?—Certainly. Mr. Burgess, the Rector of Chelsea, appears to entertain the same opinion.

But if the Dissenter has no right to complain of, but every reason to accept my measure, the Churchman will perhaps complain that I offer—such is the common phrase—a premium on dissent. I hope not. I hope that the Church of England has a firmer hold upon her people; if she has not, it is high time that she acquired it. It is possible that some nominal Churchman may leave her; but is the loss of such any real detriment to her? And is there no premium on dissent now? Does this existing state of things offer no argument in favour of the Dissenter?

But, Sir, I am well aware that in proposing such a reform as I have now had the honour of submitting to the House, I have exposed myself, not only of necessity to much criticism, but most probably to considerable censure and severe animadversion from certain quarters. For all this, Sir, I have laid my account. I cannot expect to escape the fate of far abler, wiser, and better men than myself, whose early endeavours to apply a remedy sufficiently powerful to cure an existing evil, have generally been derided and rejected in the beginning, though not unfrequently triumphant and adopted in the end. Sir, the task of finding fault is one which is easily and often readily performed. There is always something extremely consolatory and agreeable to our self-esteem in shaking our head, in confessing and deploring the existence of the malady, and after carping and cavilling at the remedy proposed, sitting down with perfect complacency and satisfaction, having proposed nothing whatever as a substitute for the remedy which you have condemned. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets is certainly not of that class of objectors; to him and to his supporters these observations can of course have no application. But with his Amendment I have already endeavoured to deal, and I will not weary the House with a repetition of arguments which, with whatever effect, I have already employed against it. There is, however, another class of objectors from whom I widely differ, but for whom I entertain sincere respect; they do not ackowledge the existence of any evil, or, at least, of any considerable evil, in the present law respecting church rates, and they are unable to conceive that this great boon—for such it unquestionably is—of entire and unqualified exemption from church rates, should be offered to Dissenters by any well-wisher to the Church of England; they consider the proposer of it a traitor to her cause and an enemy to her establishment. Sir, this imputation of disloyalty to the Church of England is one to which I am not ashamed to say I am extremely sensitive, not the least so, perhaps, because it carries with it an air of plausibility, and may, nay, doubtless will, obtain very general credence.

Sir, I can truly say, that while in my ability to serve the Church of England, I yield to most men, in my attachment to her I yield to none.

Nor am I, Sir, among the number of those who can contemplate without the profoundest alarm, the State stripped of that support to the maintenance of order, loyalty, morality, and religion, which she derives from the Church established within these realms. It is, Sir, because I am deeply convinced of the blessings which would flow from her extended influence, and of the evils which would accrue from her separation from the State; it is, because I am anxious to see her regain by legitimate—that is, by spiritual means, her empire over the hearts of the people, that I implore her to abandon this privilege, which, though it be unquestionably guaranteed to her by law, is not in accordance with the existing state of things around her; which brings discredit upon her teaching, odium upon her ministrations, and keeps alive a bitter spirit of party hostility to her institutions.

Sir, I have proposed this measure, because, in my conscience, I believe that it will tend to promote in this country that invaluable blessing—religious peace. Certain I am that it has been brought forward in this hope, and with no other object, by the individual who has had the honour of offering it to the attention of the House.

I think, Sir, that I may, without profaneness, apply to this measure (I am sure I may to the intention of its promoter) a portion of the beautiful language of that prayer of our incomparable ritual in which we invoke the Divine blessing—and long may we continue to do so—upon the proceedings of this House; and that I may designate it as a measure, ordered and settled upon those foundations whereby "peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, may be established within these realms," and, as I would fain hope—nay, as I would earnestly pray, "for all generations."

I move, Sir, for leave to bring in a Bill "to alter and amend the law respecting Church Rates."


seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That Leave be given to bring in a Bill to alter and amend the Laws respecting Church Rates.


said, that in rising to move, as an Amendment to the Motion of the horn and learned Gentleman—the Motion with respect to church rates, of which he had, on the first assembling of the present Parliament given notice—he was happy to find that on one important point he had the support of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He seemed fully to agree with him (Sir W. Clay) as to the present discreditable state of the law; it would, indeed, be strange if, after the investigation by the Committee of 1851, there could be two opinions on the subject. The actual state of the law respecting church rates was so inconceivably bad, that the real difficulty in treating of it was to convey an adequate idea of its absurdity. From the very inception of a rate to its final payment, all was uncertainty, hopeless perplexity in every step—doubts which no authority can remove as to the result. Did they want to make, a good law by finding out the extremest instance of a bad one? Take the law on church rates, they would have a perfect illustration of everything they ought to avoid. It is doubtful what is a good church rate; doubtful by whom it should be made; doubtful whether the making a rate can be compelled; yet more doubtful by what process, when made, payment of it can be enforced; most doubtful of all, whether by any process it be worth enforcing. When a suit for church rates is begun, nothing is certain, except the utter uncertainty of the decision. Nothing can with confidence be predicated as to the termination of the suit, except that if the parties to it are so minded, there is no reason why it should have any termination at all. The thing would be supremely ludicrous, but for the mischief it does to great interests, and the sufferings with which it is attended. Was he using exaggerated language? The description falls short of the fact. Truth goes beyond what fiction would dare invent. Jarndyee v. Jarndyce, and the celebrated report of Martinus Scriblerus of the case of the piebald horses, are dull and prosaic by the side of the history of the Braintree case. Dickens and Swift are tame compared with the "Term reports." The "Braintree case!" Did any hon. Gentleman think he was referring to an obsolete illustration? Having heard of it so long, did he imagine it was concluded? By no means. It is in its full vitality. It stands for hearing at this moment before the House of Lords. Having commenced in 1837, it is yet to be decided in 1853. He had spoken of the Braintree case as one; technically there are two, but substantially one only, the suits relating to the same subject matter, and arising between the same parties. Did the House recollect the circumstances of the case? They were well worth recalling for a moment. In 1837 the Braintree vestry postponed the consideration of a church rate for twelve months; in other words, refused it. The churchwardens levied one on their own authority, and it was resisted. The case first went to the Consistory Court. There it was confirmed. It went, "on motion for prohibition"(for reversing the decision of the Consistory Court), to the Queen's Bench. The prohibition was granted. The churchwardens appealed to the Exchequer Chamber. It confirmed the prohibition. But, in delivering the judgment of the Exchequer Chamber, Chief Justice Tindall had thrown out a doubt as to what might have been their opinion had the churchwardens, instead of acting quite alone, had with them a minority of the vestry. "The Court," he said, "would not give an opinion on that point, but reserved to themselves the right of having an opinion." Ill-omened words—fruitful as the dragon's teeth of strife. They were spoken in February, 1841. In that very year the war which rages still, began again. This time, of course, the churchwardens took care to have a minority of the vestry with them. Again the rate was resisted—again it went to the Consistory Court. There it was pronounced invalid. The case was removed, by appeal, to the Court of Arches, the judgment of the Consistory Court was reversed, and the rate pronounced good. It was again removed to the Court of Queen's Bench, the rate was pronounced good as before; the decision was appealed against, and the case once more carried to the Exchequer Chamber. The Judges in that court (by four to three, however, only), confirmed the decision of the Queen's Bench. Appeal was made to the House of Lords, before which the case, as he had said, now stands for hearing, Should their Lordships' decision confirm the judgment of the Exchequer Chamber and the Queen's Bench, the effect, he apprehended, would be, that the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Court would be reversed; but, from the judgments of these Courts, appeal may be made to the Privy Council. Thus, after sixteen years of law proceeding, and the expenditure of thousands, Braintree has yet, perhaps, some few years to wait, before it be certainly known whether the church rate of 1837 was good or bad. But he might be told, there was no neces- sity to resort to the Ecclesiastical Courts—that by the 53 Geo. III., c. 127, it was provided that any case of church rates under 10l. might be heard and determined by two magistrates. Yes; but that statute also provided that if the validity of the rate was denied, the jurisdiction of the magistrates was ousted, and no remedy left but a reference to the Ecclesiastical Courts. In fact—and as if no element of absurdity was to be wanting to the present state of affairs—although, upon the whole, it would seem to be the prevalent opinion among the sages of the law that there was, at common law, an obligation on a parish to maintain the fabric of the Church—it was agreed on all hands that there was no process known to the law by which that objection could be enforced. The result was such as might be expected. After long and fierce contests—contests in which the ordinary bitterness of party strife was enhanced by the addition of religious zeal—the law was frequently and successfully set at defiance. It was widely disobeyed, and disobeyed with impunity. Oppressive to the weak, it was resisted by the powerful. In many of our largest towns all attempts to levy church rates had been abandoned.' In Leeds, Bradford, Huddcrsfield, Wakefield, Halifax, Manchester, Leicester, Nottingham, Bath, Tavistock, Birmingham, and he believed others, no church rate was levied. Occasionally one was agreed to, on the understanding that no one was to pay unless he wished it. But while, in communities where Nonconformists are numerous and wealthy, the vexations arising from church rates have been got rid of—in communities where the opponents of the impost for conscience sake are few or poor, those vexations abound. Many cases had been put into his hands of distress levied, under the statute to which he had referred, on persons who shrank, not unnaturally, from carrying their resistance into the Ecclesiastical Courts. He might mention one of recent occurrence at South Shields, in which, for rates amounting to 5l. 12s. 3d., goods were seized of the value of 67l. 10s.; the money returned after the sale to some of the parties was 6l. 7s. 3d., while, from some others, balances amounting to a few shillings were yet claimed. He did not think it necessary, however, to detain the House by stating these cases in detail: they were the same in substance as cases with which the House was already familiar, differing only in the more or less of suffering for conscience sake. No man, he trusted, would speak lightly of those sufferings, or seek to turn into ridicule those who have been called candidates for cheap martyrdom. At the bottom of the vast majority of these cases of resistance, lie deep and conscientious convictions. They are the manifestations of that spirit which has made us what we are as a people. And if in some rare instances the resistance has been prompted by less worthy motives—if there have been pseudo martyrs, why did they permit a state of things to continue in which resistance to the law can be made matter of profitable speculation? That law stands self-condemned which is widely disobeyed, and to which disobedience is popular. Law in a free country should be but the expression of enlightened public opinion. It will want, otherwise, its best, its only efficient sanction. The sympathy of the people should be with those who enforce, not with those who violate the law. Before closing his observations on the legal character of church rates, he would beg leave to refer for a moment to a point on which stress had been sometimes laid, although he did not himself consider it of much practical importance—he alluded to the question whether church rates were to be viewed as a tax merely, or as a perpetual obligation on property, and, therefore, savouring of the nature of property. On this point they were already in possession of the opinion of one who was, as would scarcely be disputed, if not the very high-eat, among the highest living authorities on the laws of England—he referred to the Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench, who, in a letter to the Earl of Derby (then Lord Stanley), published in 1837, lays it down distinctly, that "the church rate never was a charge upon the land; and in this respect as well as others, is clearly distinguishable from tithes, which can in no respect be considered a tax, or a tender, or a payment by the occupier of the land of anything that ever was his." To this distinct and positive opinion must now be added that of Dr. Lushington, Judge of the Admiralty and Consistory Courts, equally entitled to be considered among the very highest living authorities on questions of civil law. The whole of the evidence given before the Committee of 1851, by this learned Judge, and most clear-headed, able, and upright man, is completely decisive as to church rates being a personal obligation—a personal tax—any reference even to the value of the holding of the persons legally subject to the tax, having arisen merely from the insuperable difficulty found, as in the case of poor-rates, in ascertaining their "ability;" in other words, the real amount of their property, without regard to whether it were real or personal. He {Sir W. Clay) would beg the attention of the House to the emphatic language in which Dr. Lushington gives a summary of his opinion on the point. In answer to Question 2,389— Do you wish the Committee to understand that church rates would at any time be regarded as a poll tax? The right hon. Gentleman replied— Certainly they were of that nature, and it is obvious they were, because, where there has been a charge on land, as in the case of tithes, there has always been a power of distress, and seizing the lands; but though, since the time that any church has been appropriated, or impropriated, the impropriator is bound to repair the chancel, you cannot seize the rectory, or have a distress against the property. That has been decided by the courts of common law, upon the very grounds that I am stating—that it was a tax in personam, and all you could do was to put the impropriator into prison, but you could never take his property. I take it that the whole question with reference to that is completely settled, whether it be a charge upon property, or upon the person in respect of property. And were not the opinions of these eminent men consistent alike with common sense and notorious facts? Church rates have every quality of a tax; none of the qualities nor attributes of property. They may or may not be levied, they spring into existence from necessity, and their amount is measured by that necessity. They are incapable of any form of conveyance, they belong to no person, no man has any beneficial interest in them. How widely different in this particular from tithes, to which it has been attempted to liken them! Tithes, whether in the hands of a clerical incumbent or an impropriator, are an absolute tangible property. They are capable of assignment, of sale, of settlement, of bequest. With respect to that portion of them still connected with the cure of souls, and which remains in the hands of the State or of the great ecclesiastical corporation, men may differ as to the best use to which they could be devoted, but no honest man can assert that, if they ceased to exist to-morrow, be would have any greater claim to the remission of any portion of the corn rent, for which they have been commuted, than he would to an equal amount, of the national debt. But, if this be so, the whole argument founded on the contrary assumption falls to the ground. It had been said, that there was no claim to the remission of church rates, because every man has acquired his property subject to its obligation. But if this argument be good against the remission of church rates, it is equally good against the remission of any other tax. Take the window tax, for instance; nine-tenths, probably, of the owners of houses in London, and the great towns of the country, had acquired their property since the imposition of the? window tax. Was that ever considered a sufficient reason against its remission? The corn laws, indeed, were perhaps even a still stronger case in point, as creating a tax under the operation of which so large a portion of existing social arrangements had been framed; and in the maintenance of which one class of the community fancied they had a distinct interest. In his (Sir William Clay's) opinion, those were but dangerous friends to the Church who contended for the identity of character of church rates and tithes, or attempted to' place on an equal footing her title to the two. But were it otherwise—were the arguments on this point less conclusive—would the members of the Church act either generously or wisely in seeking too curiously for reasons to excuse their maintenance of church rates; of an impost felt by so large a portion of their fellow-citizens, as a grievous wrong, as repugnant alike to the principles of civil and religious liberty? And were they not justified in this feeling? In their origin church rates were a just tax when all were of one religion, all might be justly called on to contribute to its support. They were still capable of logical defence, when the whole people were assumed to be, although in reality they had ceased to be, of one faith. The former description applied to church rates before the Reformation, the latter applied to them long after the Reformation. For it must not be supposed that when we ceased to be Roman Catholics, we became really Protestants. Ages passed before we understood the real import and significance of our glorious creed, before we comprehended the full meaning of the term "religious liberty". Henry maintained his infallibility by arguments as sharp and convincing to recusants as the Pope himself. Elizabeth was scarcely more tolerant of difference of religious opinion than her bigot sister. In another and somewhat milder age, the Star Chamber made short work of dissent; and those even by whom the Act of Uniformity was revised, and the Test and Corporation Acts exacted or maintained, might still, with some show of reason object to the abrogation of church rates, as the remission of a penalty on that perversity of opinion, which they still visited, as an offence, with legal disabilities. But what is now the character of church rates? Just in the fifteenth century—logically defensible in the sixteenth and seventeenth—not without excuse in the eighteenth, they are worse than an absurdity in the nineteenth. Step by step, slowly and reluctantly, it is true, but still always advancing, we have relieved dissent of every legal disability, and raised our nonconforming fellow-citizens to the same level of civil rights with ourselves. We have done more—we have acknowledged their forms of religions worship and ministration to be of equal efficacy with our own, in their bearing on the most important relations, in the most solemn occasions of social life. We take legal note of their places of worship—we do not hold it necessary that they should, on any occasion, enter our sacred edifices. We recognise Dissenters, fully and completely in their religious as well as in their civil capacity; but when it comes to the payment of church rates, we ignore their existence with a disdain as lofty as Laud himself could have manifested. Can greater wrong or folly be conceived? How can we account for its existence? Is it, as the noble Lord the Member for London said, recently, that the spirit of bigotry, condemned to abandon the more congenial and exciting amusements of the fagot and the rack, still clings to the milder forms of persecution which the manners of the age yet endure; or is it, that we are base enough to desire that our churches shall be kept up at the expense of those, whose perfect right we have admitted, never to enter within their walls? But if this be so—if the appetency of pecuniary gain—mingle in any degree with the resistance to the abrogation of church rates, then it falls in the scale of moral feeling, as compared with honest bigotry: the resistance to the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, becomes noble and dignified by the contrast. That such a state of things should be longer endured, was impossible. It would be an affront to Parliament to suppose that it would so far linger behind public opinion, as to permit the continued existence of laws so little in accordance with the spirit of the age. But what should be the character of the remedy? He (Sir William Clay) had ventured to propose a remedy; another was before them, in the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. Before explaining the grounds on which his own proposition rested, it was incumbent on him to comment on the plan of the hon. and learned Gentleman, That plan was—and the hon. and learned Gentleman would correct him if he misstated it—that church rates should still continue, and the payment of them be enforced by process in the Ecclesiastical Courts, but that Dissenters might relieve themselves of the payment, by declaration before the churchwardens, that they did dissent from the Established Church. But this mode of settling the church-rate question had been already more than once before the House, and as often rejected. It is the precise scheme embodied in the Bill which the hon. Member for Finsbury moved for leave to bring in, in 1840. On the 11th February of that year, he moved for leave to bring in a Bill to relieve Dissenters from payment of church rates. He proposed that Dissenters should declare before a magistrate as follows:— I. A. B., do solemnly and sincerely declare that I am not of the communion of the Church of England as by law established, but I do dissent therefrom; and I do solemnly declare that on that account I object to the payment of church rates, that I do not do so from any pecuniary or interested motives, but for the sake of my conscience only. On this declaration being made, the magistrate was to be bound to grant a certificate which might be pleaded in bar to any action or suit, citation or summons, for the payment of church rates. The Motion was lost by a majority of fifty-five, the numbers being 115 against 62. It is in substance all the plan contemplated in the Amendment proposed by the present Vice-Chancellor (then Mr. Page) Wood, to Mr. Trelawney's Motion for the abolition of church rates in 1849. That Amendment was to the effect— That Dissenters should be discharged from the charge by law established of contributing to church rates, and from taking any part in the levying, assessing, or administering the same. This Amendment, although brought forward by a man highly and deservedly respected by the House, met with but little support—twenty Members alone having voted for it on division—Sir Robert Peel, Sir George Grey, and Lord John Russell having all expressed themselves strongly against it. The objections to the scheme are indeed so obvious; as well as so strong, that he (Sir W. Clay) only wondered the hon. and learned Gentleman should have thought it worth while to bring it again before the House. Its necessary effect would be to introduce ill-will and unfriendly feeling into every parish in the country—its inevitable tendency to widen and perpetuate those religious differences which it should rather he our aim to soften or obliterate. The very fact of classing all the inhabitants of a parish in distinct categories, as regards their religious opinions, would of itself be an insufferable evil. It would have the effect of forcing asunder those who were scarcely aware that they differed—of compelling, in innumerable instances, men to define, probably to exaggerate to themselves, disagreements with their neighbours on religious questions of which they were scarcely conscious. By what test, moreover, would the hon. and learned Gentleman ascertain the validity, of the claim for exemption from church rates? Would he forbid any person who has registered himself as a Dissenter, under this Bill, from ever entering the parish church? Would he inflict a penalty on him for so doing. Was the parish beadle to stand at the door and warn him off? or if he entered the church, would he be liable to a suit in the ecclesiastical courts? Then, again, it was the head of the family who was to make the declaration. Supposing the head of a family declared himself a Dissenter, would the hon. and learned Gentleman prevent the members of his family going to church? [Mr. PHILLIMORE: Certainly not.] Then an ingenious man might send his family and his friends who lived with him to church, and himself stop away and escape paying. But the hon. and learned Gentleman said he would reserve a locus pœnitentiœ he would enable a man on going before the churchwarden and paying the rate to again enter the Church. An astute person might, therefore, register himself as a Dissenter, when a heavy repair to the parish church was impending—a new roof for instance, and as soon as that was completed—if there was no prospect of more than a trifling rate for many years—again declare himself a member of the Church. Could anything equal the absurdity of such a system? There were the gravest reasons for doubting whether such a plan would, on other grounds be acceptable to the lay members of the Church. Perfect contentment prevailed where church rates were abolished, while it should not be forgotten, that in places where new churches had been erected from private funds, those who had erected them, and even invested a fund for their maintenance, were still liable to church rates for the maintenance of the parish church in all places, he believed, for twenty years, and in some, in perpetuity. Dismissing, then, not only as inadequate, but as impracticable, the measure proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman, what is the course expedient for the House to pursue in a case which is admitted on all hands to call imperatively for legislative action? He ventured to believe that it was indicated in the Amendment he had proposed. By that Amendment the House was called upon to declare, first, that church rates should be wholly abolished; and, secondly, that other specified provision should be made for the repair and maintenance of parochial churches and chapels in England and Wales. The first part of the Resolution pledged the House to the total abolition of church rates. He had no hesitation in declaring that with that mere abrogation he would himself, as a member of the Church, he satisfied. He had the most profound conviction that its tendency would be to strengthen, not to weaken, the Establishment. Nor did he doubt for a moment of sufficient funds for the support of the sacred edifices belonging to the Church of England, being contributed by members of her communion. To entertain such a doubt would, in his opinion, be disgraceful to them beyond the power of language to express. What! when they were relieved from the charge of maintaining the ministers of their own communion; when those ministers were the most richly endowed religious teachers in the world; when they already exclusively possessed land—the noble churches erected by their ancestors—would they hesitate to contribute the miserable sums required for the mere maintenance of those churches? He fully believed that the members of the Church did not deserve so injurious a suspicion. Let them look around. They could see, not in London alone, but throughout the country, more new churches raised within twenty years than for centuries, probably, preceding. How were these built and maintained? In the very large majority of cases, by the zeal and munificence of individuals. He might cite numberless instances; but he had not been able to obtain any statistics applying to the whole country, and he should only do injustice to the members of the Church by imperfect statements in corroboration of a fact which, after all, would not, he apprehended, be denied. He would venture, however, to detain the House for one moment by referring to a very striking illustration of the strength of the feeling to which he had adverted. Mr. E. Baines, before a Committee on church rates, 1851, stated— A. 3,128. On the authority of Dr. Hook, that since church rates had been refused in Leeds, the parish church had been rebuilt at an expense of 30,000l., six new churches consecrated, thirty-seven schools built for 10,000 children—at a total expense of 100,000l. He could not refrain from also citing the evidence of the same most respectable gentleman, as to the extent to which Dissenters in the same town had discharged duties of a like kind:— A. 3,193. Congregation to which witness belongs has for several years raised about 670l. per annum for the maintenance of its minister, fabric, and worship, besides paying 14,000l. for the building of its chapels and schools, and besides 1,270l. a year for missionary and other religious 'objects, making a total in ten years and a half of 35,309l., being a yearly average of 3,363l. A. 3,188. Assume as a low average that by Dissenting congregations 80l. per annum may be spent for the maintenance of the fabric, the minister, and the expenses of worship, amounting on 14,300 chapels to 1,147,200l. per annum. A. 3,195. Throughout England there are county associations, in which the richer congregations subscribe to assist the poorer village congregations. He should, then, as he had stated, be himself perfectly prepared to abolish church rates, without providing any substitute, in the full confidence that the only result of such abolition would be to stimulate the zeal of the members of the Church. He had, however, in compliance with the opinions of many who, although as warm advocates as himself for the abolition of church rates, yet thought that some substitute should be provided by law, included in his Resolution the suggestion of such a substitute. He had done it the more willingly, as he conceived that the substitute he proposed was not only unobjectionable in principle, but easy of application—ready, indeed, at hand. He might also add, that no other was practicable. No one he apprehended, would now think of substituting for church rates a charge on the general taxation of the country. It would be in the recollection of the House that the measure brought in by Lord Althorp in 1834, for charging the land tax with 250,000l. per annum, for maintaining the fabrics of churches and parochial chapels, was abandoned on the just ground, stated by those whom it professed to relieve, that it contained the very same objectionable principle as church rates themselves. Sir Robert Peel, in his statement of intended measures in 1835, after saying that the church rate question ought not to remain in its present state for another twelve months, intimated his intention of charging the repairs of churches. &c, on the Consolidated Fund; but in the debate on Mr. Trelawney's Motion in 1849, he did not any longer consider that such a plan would be expedient. In 1837 the Government of Lord Melbourne, feeling strongly the necessity of setting the question at rest, brought forward a plan of a different character. In that year Mr. Spring Rice (now Lord Montcagle), being then Chancellor of the Exchequer, moved on the 3rd of March, 1837— That it is the opinion of this Committee, that for the repair and maintenance of parochial churches and chapels in England and Wales, and the due celebration of divine worship therein, a permanent and adequate provision be made out of an increased value given to Church lands by the introduction of a new system of management, and by the application of the proceeds of pew rents—the collection of church rates ceasing altogether from a day to be determined by law. This Resolution was carried, in a very full House, by 273 to 250; and the sanction of the Commons of England, thus given to the principle which he ventured to propose to the House now to reaffirm, and as he hoped, under happier auspices. The opposition then offered to the plan proposed occasioned its abandonment; but he could not persuade himself that the opposition would be renewed. Since 1837, the reasons for the settlement of the question have become more urgent, and the facilities greater. The discreditable and inconvenient state of the law has become more notorious, and the evasions of it more frequent. It can be no longer urged, as was urged by the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford, in 1837, that the cases of successful resistance to a rate are few. Those cases now comprehend no inconsiderable portion of our large towns and populous parishes. But again—and that was a far more important consideration—they were now aware of the extent—the hitherto unsuspected extent—to which the classes not in communion with the Church had provided places of worship for them- selves, rendering still more striking, of course, both the injustice of, and little necessity for, church rates. On this head he would refer the House first to the evidence given by Mr. E. Baines before the Committee of 1851; and no one could read that evidence without feeling how fully it was entitled to credence:— A. 3,176. The Nonconformist chapels in England and Wales, of all denominations, are 14,340, of which there were 597 Roman Catholics; the preaching stations in villages having either schoolrooms or hired rooms, were 7,472; none of these latter were Roman Catholics. Mr. Baines assumed the number of parochial churches and chapels to be 14,000. A. 3,221. Mr. Horsman said, in the House of Commons, in 1847, the number of churches was 13,147, and from the rapid increase since, he assumes them now to be above 14,000. This calculation is completely confirmed by the recent return by the Registrar General, of the number of Dissenters places of worship. There were certified from 1688 (date of passing of the Toleration Act, 1 Wm. and Mary, c. 18) to 1852, total, described as 'temporary and permanent' together, 54,804. Note. The materials from which the return was prepared do not afford the means of distinguishing disused places from those which are still existing. But at the census of 1851 returns were obtained by the Registrar General from upwards of 20,400 places of worship then existing, and not belonging to the Established Church, of which number nearly 17,000 were stated to be "separate" buildings, the remainder being either described "as not separate, or not described at all." We have thus returns that can be relied on, showing that the religious classes not in communion with the Church have provided places of worship actually outnumbering, although they may not be of equal capacity, the churches and chapels of the Established Church. He did not know that any language can add strength to the argument which the bare statement of these figures affords. The eminently religious and conscientious men who constitute the great nonconforming classes have erected from their own funds more than half the entire number of places of divine worship throughout the land; and they—the members of the Established Church, comprehending the wealthiest classes of the community (he omitted for the moment all reference to the wealth of the Church itself)—are sufficiently dead to the claims of dignity, of honour, of common honesty—he must use the word—to permit them to pay for the maintenance of our places of worship likewise. But if the reasons for abolishing this unjust and odious impost have become stronger, the facilities for its abolition have increased in a yet greater ratio. Doubts were thrown out in the debates of 1837 of the sufficiency of pew rents as a resource for the maintenance of churches and chapels: the whole experience of the years which have since elapsed show that doubt to be groundless. It was found that in the metropolis, and in all the large towns of the kingdom—almost universally, he believed—wherever new churches had been erected, large revenues might be derived from pew rents. The public mind was familiarised with the revenue so derived being applied to defray the expenses incident to the performance of divine service, and there could not be a doubt but that from such revenue, wherever it existed, those expenses would be cheerfully defrayed. He might add, that there was an exact precedent for so charging them, in one of the Church Building Acts, 1 & 2 Will. IV., chap. 38, s. 16. A large portion of the debates of 1837 consisted of statements and counter statements as to the sum that might be available for the better management of church estates. This doubt also is conclusively, and indeed authoritatively, solved. In an address from certain prelates, members of the Privy Council, and others, members of the United Church of England and Ireland to Her Majesty, on the subject of Church extension, signed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, by seven Bishops, and by many Privy Councillors, Members of Parliament, and others, in all 107, they say, "It is also shown that by a better system of managing Church property, not less than half a million per annum might be obtained in the course of a few years, for the support of the additional clergymen which our crowded towns and widely extended parishes require." They refer, as authority for this statement, to the two reports then recently issued by two Royal Commissions. One, appointed to inquire into the state of the property of the Church (Report, January, 1850, of the Episcopal and Capitular Revenue Commission); the other, into the means of increasing its efficiency (Second Report, May, 1850, of the Commission for inquiring into the practicability of the Subdivision of Parishes). If he were told that in the same address it is recommended that the surplus thus stated to exist should be applied to the extension of church accom- modation, he would reply in the language of the noble Lord the Member for London, to a similar objection raised against the Government plan of 1837:—"The Commissioners recommend that 15,000l. a year should be given to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and 10,000l. a year to the Bishop of London, for the sake of supporting the dignity of the Church, and for the maintenance of the hierarchy. Why, if this were the opinion of the Church Commissioners—and I humbly bowed to that opinion—if it were their opinion that the demands for spiritual instruction were great, but, great as they were, that they should be postponed, for the sake of providing what might be considered a munificent income for the hierarchy—if the Church Commissioners say this, is it not to be permitted to us, simple as we are, while we admit that the spiritual demands for the instruction of these uninstructed millions are great, also to feel that the demands which are made on us for the establishment of religious peace are of a most urgent description, and that we are as fully entitled to provide for that object as the Church Commissioners are entitled to provide for the dignity of the hierarchy and the patronage of the clergy?" It would be easy, looking at events sufficiently notorious which have since occurred, to carry further this argument ad verea cundiem, so forcibly urged by the noble Lord. It would be easy to create a smile, perhaps to arose feelings, which smiles do not express, by referring to claims to retain yet larger incomes than those which the Commissioners allotted to the episcopal office—to vast sums spent on episcopal palaces—to princely establishments for sporting purposes, which sound oddly as appendages to the household of a successor of the meek and lowly apostles. But he would prefer to rest the claim to apply this surplus to the extinction of church rates on the broad ground of justice. If, having a surplus revenue, they applied that surplus to building new churches, still levying church rates for maintenance of those already built, they were guilty of an act of oppression and wrong as great towards Dissenters, as if by Act of Parliament they took from them a sum expressly, and in terms, for building churches. It was merely spoliation in disguise. He had shown, upon authority not to be disputed, that a surplus from church estates might be obtained twofold greater than was ever supposed it would, in addition to pew rents, be neces- sary to provide for the extinction of church rates. The dignitaries of the Church themselves estimated that surplus at 500,000l.; it would probably be much larger. Lord Althorp had only asked for 250,000l. No reliable information existed as to the amount of church rates actually levied—it probably did not exceed 400,000l. per annum; with what could certainly be taken from pew rents, 250,000l., would be more than ample for the extinction of the tax. Would the House hesitate as to the justice and expediency of calling on the Church for such a contribution? The hon. Baronet concluded by saying that he should leave the Resolution he had had the honour to propose in the hands of the House, with the earnest prayer that it might not lightly be rejected. Of the urgent, the imperative necessity for legislating on the subject, none could doubt. His had been but the humble task of recalling to the recollection of the House the considerations drawn alike from reasoning and experience that bear upon this question; but were not those considerations of overwhelming weight? Condemned alike by justice and by policy, resisted by the powerful, oppressive to the weak and humble, repugnant alike to the principles of civil and religious liberty, injurious to the best interests of that Church for the maintenance of which they were retained—church rates could not long remain part of the laws and institutions of the country. He would venture to assure the Government that by the abolition of this odious, unjust, and injurious impost, they would earn a fresh title to the respect and gratitude of the great Liberal party throughout the country, and establish a lasting claim to the confidence of all to whom the principles of religious liberty were dear.


said, that as a Nonconformist he had much pleasure in seconding the Amendment; and he regarded it as a happy omen for the progress of enlightenment and liberality that both the original Motion and the Amendment should have been introduced by Gentlemen who were consistent and conscientious members of the Established Church. The supporters of any description of tax ought, in his opinion, to be prepared, to show that it was a good public tax; but with regard to church rates, neither in their origin nor in their effect could they be considered to answer that description. At the first establishment of church rates the inhabitants of this country were all of the Roman Catholic persuasion. Dr. Lushington had admitted that the existence of Dissenters had introduced an entirely new element, and one which did not exist when the impost was established; yet these rates had been carried down to the present time although the tax was unequazl in its character, and unfair in its working, inasmuch as it compelled all to contribute for the benefit of only a part. The Dissenters objected to this tax, on the ground that they had 15,000 congregations, and that they raised a sum exceeding 1,400,000l. for paying the stipends of their ministers, and defraying the expenses of their chapels; and they considered it unfair to be compelled to contribute towards the support of a minister of another denomination. The only argument in favour of church rates was, that all persons derived good from the beneficial influence of the ministers of the church. Well, he admitted that most cheerfully; but surely the Dissenters were justly entitled to reply, "We admit the benefits, but we find an equal number of ministers doing the same work whom we pay for doing it; and it is hard to compel us to pay for yours at the same time." Some of the most distinguished statesmen of the day had declared against the tax; and in 1837 the Earl of Derby, speaking upon this subject, said, "I am ready to acknowledge that church rates, as they stand, form to the Dissenters a serious and substantial grievance." The Quakers had objected to pay this tax; and it had been said that they refused to pay a tax upon property which they bought, knowing it to be liable to that tax. Church rates, however, were not a tax upon property. Dr. Lushington, one of the highest ecclesiastical legal authorities, had distinctly stated that the tax was a personal tax. To a candid and conscientious Churchman, the fact was, that the operation of that tax was simply compelling one man to support another's creed, and that the creed of the imposer of the tax: this must present an unpleasant aspect In case of refusal to pay the tax, several warrants were issued in the same case, thus materially increasing the fees. In consequence of the defective state of the law, cases which had been decided by a magistrate had been carried to other courts, and had been productive of great misery in the parish whore, they originated. To take the Braintree case—suppose that the Lords should decide that a minority should have the power of making a rate, the ne- cessary consequence will be the abolition of all vestries; but, if not, then church-rate agitation will awaken a perpetual civil storm. Dr. Lushington had expressed a decided opinion that great evil arose from the present system of church rates; and he (Mr. Peto) was sure that the House would feel that there was good ground for legislation on this subject. Experience proved that church rates were not indispensable for keeping the churches in repair. In many places a rate had been discontinued for many years. There had been none in Bradford for 12 years, in Halifax for 16, in Huddersfield for 16, in Sheffield for 32, and Wakefield for 7: and no difficulty had been experienced in keeping the churches in repair. The rate had been abolished in Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Newcastle, Stockport, Rochdale, Plymouth, Brighton, and many other towns; and it might equally easily be abolished altogether. Another instance of the non-necessity of church rates, and the power of the voluntary system, might be drawn from the increase of chapels and churches in the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, and Derbyshire, connected with the Church of England. In the year 1800 in those districts there were 178 chapels and churches, containing 176,752 sittings, while in the year 1843 there were 383 chapels and churches, with 377,104 sittings. Out of those, 205 chapels, built during the course of 13 years, 57 only were built by Parliamentary grant, while the remaining 148 had been erected by voluntary contributions. In the year 1800, there were, belonging to other denominations, 228 chapels, containing 135,036 sittings; and in 1843 these had increased to 1,258, capable of holding 617,479 persons. Thus, there had been an increase in the number of chapels of 1030, and, accommodation provided for 482,443 additional persons. He would now refer to a particular instance of the amount of agitation and consequent ill-feeling produced by church rates, in the instance of Tavistock. Church rates were opposed in 1833, when an adjournment was carried, and again in 1834. In 1838 the vicar took the chair, and refused to put the amendment against the rate; and although he was in a minority of 14 against 200, he made the rate. In 1840 and 1845, attempts were again made without success to levy a church rate. The resolution was negatived by 150 votes against 2, and a poll was demanded, when it was refused by 286 against 36. Among the opponents of the church rates who were Churchmen, there was a clear majority of 20 over the friends of the rate, so that the rate was refused by Churchmen. The vicar then applied to the voluntary principle, and with so much success, that 2,600l. were raised by voluntary offerings for the repair and beautifying of the church, to which sum a great many of the vicar's dissenting friends contributed most liberally. The vicar was asked by the Committee upstairs, "Do you think it possible that a church rate could be raised in Tavistock?" To which he replied, "No; it is quite impossible." He (Mr. Peto) wished that the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock had consulted the vicar of that borough instead of the curate. But it would be said, "Parliament is not prepared to trust the voluntary principle, although you may be." The hon. Member (Sir W. Clay) had then pointed out two modes of raising the amount required: firstly, by pew rents; and, secondly, by the improvement of Church property. There were many churches in London now supported by pew rents, among which he might mention the churches in Woburn Square, North Audley Street, St. Peter's, Pimlico, Hanover Church, Regent Street, three churches in Marylebone, and Dr. Burgess's Church in Chelsea. The Rev. Dr. Dale, of St. Pancras, found no difficulty in the absence of a church rate. New churches were rising in every direction—no church rate was necessary for their support; and voluntary appeals for the maintenance and support of these churches were responded to with kindness and without difficulty. The Rev. Mr. Bickersteth, the excellent minister of St. Giles's, could bear the same testimony. He had eleven Scripture readers going round in his parish, and he found no difficulty in getting preaching rooms, and in obtaining the voluntary assistance of his parishioners in carrying out his views. Another means of raising money was by the improvement of Church property. Upon this point the House were called upon, if they wished to protect and preserve the Church of England, to take immediate legislation; and if hon. Members were anxious to stop the torrent of dissent, about which so much alarm was felt in some quarters, they could find no better way of doing so than by giving their support to the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets. The House might be assured that to Dissenters —many of whom differed in no respect in doctrine, but only in points of ecclesiastical polity from the Established Church—it was most painful to see prelates of that Church charged, in the most influential paper in Europe, with things which, left un-denied as they were, would exclude a merchant from the Royal Exchange. This the Dissenters felt to be a stigma on the faith which was common to all Christian sects. If the noble Member for London (Lord John Russell), who had already so distinguished himself in the cause of religious liberty, would yet further distinguish himself, he might do it in a manner which would not readily be forgotten, by reforming the Church with no sparing hand, and by employing the vast sums thus placed, as it were, at his disposal, in the erection of places of worship in those districts—and they were not a few—which, notwithstanding the liberality to which he (Mr. Peto) had already referred, were still almost spiritually destitute. He would venture to say, that when the Dissenters saw the members of the Church take the course which, in truth, was the only one to preserve it, then they would be found to have no wish to place the hand of spoliation upon its property. The prelates to whom he had adverted were members of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. Now, in Calcutta, there were eleven native printing presses at work, which spoke to 200,000,000 of our fellow-subjects, and the conduct of these prelates of the Established Church was held up in these publications as reasons why Hindoos should continue steadfast in their faith, and not adopt Christianity. That these arguments were not without effects the following facts would testify—that in one town of India a wealthy native had given 80,000l. to build an idol temple, and a native of Calcutta had given 150,000l. for a similar purpose. Could it be that Christianity, which ought to guide and influence all our actions, was unable to accomplish what these Hindoos were willing to do for the maintenance of their religious faith, while some of our prelates were doing things which brought a blush of shame to all who professed Christianity? The Dissenters wanted nothing from Churchmen; they only asked to be left to do their own work in their own way. They asked, that Prelates who received three times the salary of Prime Ministers should not be left to administer Church property, but that it should be placed in the hands of laymen, who would devote a portion of the surplus to the objects adverted to by the hon. Member (Sir W. Clay), whereby the prelates of the Church would be relieved from charges which were painful alike to Churchmen and Dissenters.

Amendment proposed— To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'this House do resolve itself into a Committee, to consider whether Church Rates should not be abolished, and provision made for the charges to which such Rates are at present applicable—from Pew Rents, and from the increased value which inquiries instituted by authority of the Crown have shown may be derived, under better management, from Church Lands and Property,' instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, he felt extremely indebted to the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock. His speech showed that the reforming spirit had at length penetrated into the regions of Doctors' Commons—a spot long held sacred from such an intrusion. But while thus far he gave the hon. and learned Member his thanks, he was bound to say that he thought that his proposition did not go far enough, and that the proposition of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay) was more suited to the exigencies of the case. Undoubtedly of all the taxes levied in this country, church rates were the most objectionable. In the first place, they were levied upon all for the benefit of the few; they were uncertain with respect to the property on which they might be levied, and the purposes to which they might be applied; and they were enforceable only in the worst courts of the country, where the method of proceeding was tedious, expensive, and dilatory, and calculated to tax to the utmost the funds of the suitors and the patience of the public. Not only did they awaken the natural repugnance of the human species to pay money in any shape, but they exacted payment by the most odious of all processes—an injury to the conscience of him who paid. They were not conformable to the spirit of the British constitution. They had high legal authority—that of Blackstone—to show that originally the repairs of the church were provided for out of the tithes, which were divided into four portions—one for the repair of churches, another for the maintenance of the bishops, a third for the support of incumbents, and the fourth for the poor. In the process of time, however, the ecclesiastics appropriated to their own purposes the funds which should have gone to the repair of the churches, and the consequence was, that the tax known as church rates had to be imposed to make good the deficiency. The church rate was originally a poll tax, enforceable by the thunders of the ecclesiastical courts under pain of interdict and excommunication, and when those thunders became obsolete, and when the process of law succeeded to ecclesiastical censure, then the ecclesiastical courts became altogether ineffective, and those who had read of the litigation that took place in those courts must come to the conclusion that the ecclesiastical courts generally were inefficient, except for one purpose, namely, the creation of costs. They had a terrible efficiency as taxing machines, but were otherwise useless. With regard to church rates, which were all the more objectionable that they were enforced through the medium of such tribunals, they were a most impolitic and unjust tax. He begged to call attention to the evidence of Dr. Lushington, of Sir John Dodson, and Mr. Barnes, from which it appeared that all sorts of odd parochial charges were frequently defrayed out of church rates—even payments made for the destruction of vermin and sparrows, and that the practice in many places was to pay out of church rates whatever could not be got out of the poor and other rates. The hon. and learned Member for Tavistock proposed that the rate should remain as it was, and should be payable by all persons except by those who signed a declaration that they were Dissenters. That was a proposition that once or twice previously had been before the House, and on each occasion had been rejected, He called the attention of the House to the observations made on the subject in the year 1837 by Lord Monteagle, then Mr. Spring Rice and Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was of opinion that to require a declaration that a man was a Dissenter would be a renewal of the Test and Corporation Acts. If the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman were adopted, there would be a premium offered to dissent, by enacting that there should be a pecuniary advantage to a man for belonging to a certain class of religionists; and on that ground he decidedly objected to it. He was not quite sure that in all cases it would exempt the Dissenters from payment of church rates indirectly. When a Dissenter was making a bargain with his landlord, he considered that he might be distrained for church rates; and he (Mr. Collier) could not but think that if this burden were taken off houses occupied by Dissenters, it would be giving them an increased value over houses occupied by Churchmen, and eventually the Dissenters might have to pay the church rates indirectly through the medium of an increased rent. He decidedly objected to the payment of this tax on a great number of grounds, and amongst the grounds upon which he strongly relied was this—that, according to the plan of his hon. and learned Friend, all persons who did not choose to sign a declaration that they were Dissenters, would remain liable to pay church rates, and subject to all the doubts and difficulties which surrounded the law of church rates, and the disputes—if there were any—should be settled in the ecclesiastical courts. His hon. and learned Friend said the cases were to be disposed of in a summary way by the ecclesiastical courts, and there was to be no appeal except in certain cases; but he (Mr. Collier) did not know that it would be fair to leave the parties entirely to the tender mercies of those courts. If they were obliged to go into them, it would be desirable that they should also have the power to go out of them by appealing to some other court. The weak point of the case of his hon. and learned Friend was—that any question arising regarding the levying of those church rates should be solely a matter for the consideration of the ecclesiastical courts, and if those rates were to be levied he did not see any good reason why the magistrate should not be permitted to decide whether this or that sum was necessary for the repairs of the church. He thought that, upon the whole, the plan of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Tavistock failed to grapple with the difficulties of this question; and he preferred to see churches maintained and supported out of the revenues of the Establishment. In reference to the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, he certainly thought it reasonable to apply the surplus from the improvement of church property to the maintenance of churches. It had been established by the best evidence, that there was a surplus amounting to nearly double the sum that would be required, and one half of that sum might very properly be applied to the repair of churches. The principle was one which had been affirmed by the House before, and he saw no reason why it should not be sanctioned by it again. It certainly seemed to him to be a sound principle, and one which was well calculated to get them out of the difficulties of this vexed and complex question. He objected, then, to the plan proposed by the hon. Member for Tavistock, because it failed to meet the difficulties of the question, and he approved of that of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, because it fairly grappled with it; because it threw the maintenance of the Church on the church revenues, which were originally devoted to that purpose, and which ought still to be devoted to it; because it would relieve not only Dissenters, but Churchmen, from an oppressive and odious tax; and because it was a plan which he conceived would benefit the public, and, above all, would promote the interests and safety of the Established Church.


said, he had never considered that a church rate was an impost which ought naturally and necessarily to offend the consciences of Dissenters, because he had always supposed that Dissenters were bound, under the prescription which was their special and peculiar law as religious men, to obey the law of the country in which they lived; and therefore, although they might have, as he himself had, strong objections to a church rate, he could not think they could justly regard it as a violation of their consciences, or as being offensive to God, to pay a tribute which was levied upon them by the law of the country which yielded protection to them and to their property. But, if he had ever entertained any doubts or misgivings as to the necessity of coming to some speedy decision on the question, what had been advanced by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Phillimore) on this occasion had satisfied him that they could no longer, and ought no longer, to delay the settlement of it. The law imposing these rates seemed to occupy a portion dissimilar to that of all other laws; for it had been stated to-night that in large populous districts, where the vox populi could make itself heard, church rates were abandoned; and that in other places, where the population was small, the arm of the law was found to be insufficient to carry out its own enactments. He believed it was the only law in the country which was unable to maintain itself. The fact he had mentioned, of its being paid in some parts, and not in others, showed that it was perfectly nugatory as regarded the accomplishment of its purpose; and, likewise, that it was unfair and partial in its operation, and did not affect alike all classes of the community. Hence it was that he thought they should endeavour to improve the law in respect to these rates. In coming to the consideration of the question, his feelings were somewhat peculiar, because as a Dissenter his situation was very different to that of most hon. Gentlemen in the House. Hon. Members opposite had no hesitation in deciding on the part they should take, because they viewed the established religion in a different light to what he did. He felt it would be more politic on his part not to vote at all, especially more politic to refrain from speaking upon the question. On the last occasion that a religious question was brought before the House, he had felt it his duty to express his opinion, knowing that opinion was utterly adverse to those of many of the Gentlemen who sent him to that House; and he was apprehensive that the sentiments he was about to deliver would be equally offensive to them, but he would consent to endure any pain or penalty to save himself from the effects of an unquiet conscience. Though he was a Dissenter, he approved of the established religion. If he went to a partially unoccupied country, took possession of it, and had the government of it entirely under his own control, he should consider it a duty which he owed to God and society, to make provision for the maintenance of Christian worship. He should set aside a certain portion of the land for supporting that form of the worship of God of which he most approved; and he must say he believed that very great benefit accrued from the establishment of a national faith. Those being his feelings, he could not see how he could conscientiously oppose the Established Church. He believed in the necessity of a national religion, and that by it a considerable deal of good had been and could still be done. Another reason which induced him to support the Church of England was, that largo masses of the people would never have received the benefits of the Christian religion, or worshipped God anywhere, if it had not been for that Church. But from what he had seen about the country, he could say that no question was so pregnant of agitation—of a nasty, malignant, bitter spirit, as that of church rates. He was, therefore, for endeavouring to put an end to that miserable feeling which embittered the minds of all, and was destructive of the charitable influences of our common Christianity. The hon. and learned Member who proposed the Motion said the Dissenters were at great expense in maintaining their religion—that they paid their ministers, and were continually subscribing towards the maintenance and support of the Gospel in various ways; and that, therefore, compelling them to contribute money for the repairs of parish churches, and for the duties performed therein, was a violation of religious liberty. He (Mr. Ball), considered that these were good grounds for objecting to the payment of church rates. In his own parish, the church rates became a subject of dissension and division; but, for the sake of peace, they were not enforced, and all had remained quiet since. Had those dissensions continued, they would have operated as a hindrance to the progross of the Gospel among the inhabitants. He did not approve of the mode in which the hon. and learned Member intended to remedy the evil of which he complained. He considered it to be a premium upon dissent, and he seemed to have recourse to such a means to propagate sectarian views. A landlord, for instance, who did not care cither about the Church or dissent might, by adopting that expedient, save himself 15l. or more a year. Hence, he thought, the proposed Bill would be a premium on dissent. He thought also that it would tend to produce a clashing of various interests; for suppose the case of a Dissenter having a child to bury—he came to the clergyman to ask for burial; but the latter turned-round and told him he could have no such claim, as he paid no rates. Now that was an instance of the mode in which the proposal of the hon. Gentleman would work to create inimical feelings between various, classes of the community. For those reasons he thought that the proposition instead of being one that would settle the question, would rather aggravate the difficulties of it. Instead of its leading to a termination of those dissensions, he believed it would have a tendency rather to make them more intricate and more pungent than they were at present. He spoke from a feeling of good will towards the Church. He was almost as much a Churchman as a Dissenter. If it were not for certain words in the Common Prayer Book, he should himself belong to the Church of England. But as he could not approve of those words in the sense in winch the Church said they were intended to be used, and as he could not think it right to palter with solemn things, and to give the words a meaning which at first sight they could not fairly bear, he could not conscientiously be a Churchman. But he was quite sure that if they could get rid of church rates, and if an alteration were made in some portion of the Common Prayer Book, he believed that hundreds of thousands of persons who were now Dissenters would become members of the Church of England. He hoped that upon the present question some understanding would be arrived at which would remove those feelings of discord, and promote a kindlier spirit amongst all parties than had existed heretofore.


was anxious to recall the attention of the House to what had already been done by Parliament on this subject, and what still remained to be effected. About fourteen or fifteen years ago, the church cess or church rates in Ireland were made the matter of discussion in that House; and it was stated that they were the most fruitful source of dissension and heartburning in that country; and Parliament then determined that they should be absolutely abolished. In 1834, Lord Althorp brought in a Bill to abolish church rates in England as well as in Ireland; but he (Mr. Hume) opposed the proposition of the noble Lord, and he believed it was upon his opposition that the measure was abandoned, and he opposed it on this ground—that the noble Lord proposed to throw a portion of the burden upon the Consolidated Fund; whereas he (Mr. Hume) maintained that the Church ought to maintain the whole burden out of its own property. He was still of the same opinion; and he wished that his hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay) had omitted all reference to the pew rents in his Amendment. He should have confined himself to the proposition, that church rates ought to be abolished, and that the expenses now defrayed by church rates should be charged on the property that belonged to the Church, and which was now at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He had never heard any speech more convincing to his mind—if he wanted conviction on the subject—that church rates were an evil to the Church, than the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock (Mr. R. Phillimore). He thought the speech of the hon. and learned Member ought to convince every Churchman that these rates, instead of improving or strengthening the Church, were the cause of all the discord that existed. But when the hon. and learned Member spoke of the sacrifice which the Church was disposed to make, he must confess he had not been able to discover any sacrifice in his proposition. The hon. and learned Member also added that the opinions he gave utterance to were no Radical opinions. He (Mr. Hume) begged to say, however, that Radical opinions were the only good opinions. He recollected that when he ventured, twenty-five years ago, to announce himself a person who entertained Radical opinions, a Radical was looked upon very much like a mad dog. It was then supposed that such an individual wished to undermine everything that was good and valuable in the State; where as he conceived a Radical was one who endeavoured to root out all kinds of abuses. He hoped the Government would take this question of church rates in hand, and endeavour to settle all these disputes. He did not see why the same measure of justice which had been granted to Ireland should not be extended to England. He feared the proposal of the hon. and learned Member would rather keep up that religious hostility and bitterness to which he was desirous to put an end. The proposition, besides, had already been repeatedly made and rejected by this House; and, therefore, he gave the preference to the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Sir W. Clay). If the hon. Baronet would alter his Amendment to the effect that all rates required for the repairs of churches, and for other purposes in connexion with them, should come out of the funds at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, he would terminate the question in a much more satisfactory manner. In the event of a division taking place, he (Mr. Hume) should, however, vote for the Amendment in preference to the Motion; though, at the same time, he thought it would be better if the Government would take the matter in hand, and place the people of England in the same situation with regard to church rates as the inhabitants of Ireland.


said, that he considered both the original Motion and the Amendment equally objectionable; but when a proposition was made by an hon. and learned Member sitting immediately behind the Treasury bench, and an Amendment to it moved by an hon. Baronet who stated that he gave his general support to the Government, he (Sir R. H. Inglis) thought he might have been accused of presumption if he had urged his objections to both propositions before any Member of the Government had spoken. Having waited until that moment, in the expectation of hearing the opinion of Her Majesty's Ministers upon the question, he thought that he might now not unfairly ask the attention of the House. The question then, viewed either in the light of the original proposition or the Amendment, was to him almost equally objectionable. The proposition which had been placed first in the hands of the Speaker was one which went to destroy absolutely the nationality of the support of the Established Church, and would leave it only on the footing of one of the many sects which were tolerated in this country. The distinction existing in favour of the Established Church was, that it was the Church that was supported by the nation and by law; and therefore even if as much money could be raised voluntarily as was now raised under compulsion of legal assessment, it would yet cease to be a national Church; it would become neither more nor less than a system of religion supported by the voluntary contributions of those who adhered to it. [Cheers.] He did not mistake those cheers, which recognised the consequence deducible from such a principle—he violated no confidence when he said he heard it whispered around him that this was the point to which they wished to bring the Church—that the Church, to which the richest classes of the community belonged, should be supported by the wealth of her individual members. He would consistently object, as he always had done, to the proposition before the House. What was the principle, and where was the pressure which should induce the House to come to this result? His hon. and learned Friend said, if their house wanted repair they ought to repair it in a time of calm, and not wait until a storm should arise. But he (Sir R. H. Inglis) asked, did the house want repair, as the hon. and learned Member assumed—for that was the very basis of the argument? The hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. Collier) stated that the tax under discussion was unique as a tax, for it combined every possible evil existing in every other tax. But who felt the evil? He defied any hon. Member who sat on the back benches to produce a single instance of a tax in favour of which so many petitions had been presented. No less than 3,198 petitions had been presented a few years ago from different parishes, the prayer of the petitioners being that they might be allowed still to possess the privilege of maintaining their own religion. He was justified, therefore, in saying that the hearts of the people of England were identified with their Church—that they supported her voluntarily in the form and manner in which the law enabled them to do, but that they would not consent to degrade the Church to the level of other sects. The property represented by this tax had been for fourteen centuries the appanage of the Church of England; and he trusted that this House, which still represented the feelings of the great body of the Church of England, would hesitate to assent to a proposition which virtually destroyed that property altogether. The proposition of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets was a more open and intelligible mode of getting rid of the impost. But with regard to both propositions, he must say that this tax was an impost upon property; and it was a mere quibble to contend that the tax was a tax upon persons and not upon property. It was not a capitation tax—it was not a poll tax upon the hon. Members for Tavistock and Plymouth, in respect of their persons—it was imposed upon them, relatively to the property they held. If it were otherwise, every pauper in the country would be taxed equally with them. To put the matter into the simplest form, one that would be intelligible to the meanest capacity, and, he might add, to the meanest morality—if a man buys something that is worth 30l. per annum, subject to the payment of 1l. to B, is he at liberty to keep the whole 30l. to himself, because he does not like the person or the coat of B, or objects to the use which B will make of his 1l., and he pockets 1l. extra? When this subject was first introduced into the House of Commons, Mr. Daniel Whittle Harvey, on the 21st of April, 1834, said— The church rate affects property in the same way as any other charge. The other day I was called upon to pay 14l. for my house in Great George-street, for the repair and maintenance of a neighbouring church. Now, if I were to sell my house, would not the purchaser inquire after the church rates as well as the parish rates, the sewers rates, and all other charges affecting property; and having taken them into consideration, would not the amount of them influence the price?"—[3 Hansard, xxii. 1045.] But surely if this be the case in selling, had it not been the case in buying? Had not this Gentleman purchased the property in like manner? Where was the honesty of endeavouring to get rid of this impost for the purpose of putting the amount into his own purse? He had the greatest respect for honest and sincere consciences, though he believed conscience might be misguided as well as passion; and it was not every conscience that was enlightened;—but, of all things, keep him from a conscience that resided in the breeches pocket. In all questions of this kind it behoved us to take care that it was not the purse which raised the objection. They were told that it was not the amount of ship money which Hampden resisted—it was the principle; and that was the course professed to be followed by many a village Hampden in this day on this subject. But his question was, did not the owners of property engage to pay this burden when they purchased the property, as much as they engaged to pay the water rate or the sewer rate? If they did, he hoped they were not deceiving themselves when they refused to fulfil a solemn contract on the ground of principle. The House had been told that this impost bore very heavily upon the consciences of some of the most estimable bodies in this country; but it must be remembered that the members of these bodies had acquired their property subject to the same obligation with their neighbours; and, moreover, the real number of objections to the church rates, so far as was evinced by resistance to their levy was small; and of the 15,000 country and town parishes of England, it could not be denied that the enormous majority paid church rates without doubt or objection; the resistance was only where large masses of men were collected together in towns. The proposition of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Tower Hamlets, was intelligible, for it was to abolish church rates altogether. He (Sir R. H. Inglis), however, had already contended that it was not just to the Establishment, as such; but, above all, it was not just to the religious claims and interests of a great body of our fellow-subjects, to take such a step. He believed that, without some such source of support, the great principle of a religious Establishment could not be maintained. There might be, no doubt, here and there places where churches could be maintained by the voluntary principle; but in these places where it was most important to have the legal, authoritative, and substantial support for the Church in the shape of church rates, namely, in the 13,000 villages of England, the pious foun- dations of our forefathers would be left to decay; and the people, without religious assistance. But when he heard the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who made the first proposition, he found that the age of bounties had not ceased, even in these free-trade days; for the proposition in fact was to bestow a bonus upon Dissenters, and hold out an inducement to any person to declare himself a Dissenter, in order to avoid the payment of church rates. By this proposition the law would either tempt a man by an appeal to his pocket to declare himself a Dissenter, or, if he were conscientious, it would practically excommunicate him. He knew the proposition of his hon. and learned Friend provided a locus pœnitentiœ: it would allow persons at Easter to declare themselves Dissenters, and at Michaelmas, when the time for paying church rates was past, to repudiate Dissent and become Churchmen. Probably these were not the views of his hon. and learned Friend; but they had no security that such would not be the working of the measure; and that the number of Dissenters would not be continually fluctuating according to the season of the year. But, it had been suggested by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay), how would that affect the case when the head of a family declared himself a Dissenter, but where all the other members attended the Church and received all the benefits of its offices? Again, as was suggested in a pamphlet circulated yesterday from the pen of a noble Lord (Lord Stanley), were Dissenters still to be entitled to receive the rites of the Church? Were the bodies of men to be brought to the churchyards who had admitted themselves to be Disssnters by a solemn document signed by themselves? These were some of the practical difficulties which the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock would necessarily involve. When this subject was formerly introduced to the House of Commons, the same proposition was answered very forcibly by the noble Lord who then led the House (Lord Althorp), and which received the concurrence of the noble Lord the Member for London. On the 21st of April, 1834, Lord Althorp said— Another proposition was to continue church rates as at present, but to exempt Dissenters from the payment of them. As far as Dissenters were concerned, this would of course satisfy them; but it would be detrimental in the highest degree to the interests of the Established Church. If any person could exempt himself from the pay- merit of church rates by saying he was a Dissenter, he apprehended that the number of Dissenters would be greatly and rapidly increased. For this reason he could could not prevail upon himself to bring forward a proposition contrary, as he thought, to the plain principles of justice."—[3 Hansard, xxii. 1013–14.] They were told to-night that they had no time to capitulate on this subject, but they must yield at once. In the course of the same debate in 1834, however, it had been predicted by Mr. D. W. Harvey that church rates would not last above a year or two; but now, twenty years later, the same discussion was revived, although he (Sir R. H. Inglis) thought that the petitions presented in 1837 in favour of the maintenance of church rates, proved most conclusively the attachment of the great body of the people of England to the mode of supporting their Church as by law established. It might be desirable to make some change in the mode of enforcing the law; and if the proposition before the House merely were for leave to bring in a Bill to alter and amend the laws relating to church rates—without reference to the speech delivered by the hon. and learned Gentleman—he did not know that he should object to it. But that was not the object of this proposition. The proposition was, I as he had already described it, neither more nor less than to render the Church of England one of the many sects supported by voluntary contributions. It was to denationalise the National Church; for Dissenters had over and over again said within the last twenty years, "Get rid of church rates, and we shall get rid of the Church." Whether they were right or wrong it was not his present purpose to inquire; his purpose was rather to show the animus which prompted them to desire to get rid of church rates; and it was against this animus he wished to warn the House. He felt that, upon every ground, this House was not called upon to adopt either of the propositions before it. It was not called on to adopt the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay), because that proposed to destroy the system of church rates without providing any adequate equivalent—indeed, he (Sir R. H. Inglis) believed there was no equivalent which could be adequate, either in point of amount or of principle. With respect to the reference which had been made to Church property, that had been a perpetual claim made, by every ecclesiastical reformer during the last twenty years; and he believed that it was now thoroughly exhausted. When it was stated that 500,000l. remained in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, he begged to remark that that sum was already pledged to objects which were infinitely more important than that of getting rid of church rates. Church rates were applied to sustaining the external fabric of the Church; but that 500,000l. was applied to the providing spiritual instruction for the people; and from that purpose he, for one, would never consent to divert it. Then, as to the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Tavistock (Mr. Phillimore), that, he contended, was still more objectionable than the Amendment, for it went to withdraw national support from the Church altogether. Upon all these grounds, therefore, he should oppose both Motion and Amendment.


said, he could assure the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock, that if he apprehended his proposition would give satisfaction to the Nonconformists, he was utterly mistaken. They never yet in any broad question of civil or religious liberty had asked anything for themselves which they were not willing to give to others; and they deemed that the exclusive proposition of placing them, as it were, in the position of suing in formâ pauperis to the churchwarden, by declaring themselves Dissenters in order to be exempted from the imposition of church rates, was a degradation to which they could not submit. The proposition would tend also to a great amount of deceit and scandal to religion; since, when a church rate was about to be enforced, it might induce men to avow themselves Dissenters for the sole purpose of evading payment of a rate—as in the case, for example, of a heavy rate for a new church a man might be exempted from it by declaring himself a Dissenter; but when the church was completed and the rate satisfied, he could become a Churchman again, and obtain all the advantages of the new church. The tendency of this would be to disgrace religion without occasioning any corresponding advantage to the community at large. The hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University (Sir R. H. Inglis) had used the word "toleration" as applied to Dissenters. He begged to assure the hon. Baronet that they repudiated the epithet, believing that in the advanced state of the times in liberty and intelligence, and with the progressive influence of civilisation, it ought to be erased from the lexicon. He was at a loss to know how the hon. Baronet traced the existence of church rates for fourteen centuries, or to anything like that time; but the fact was, that tithes ought to have included church rates, for the church rate was originally payable out of tithes. If the hon. Baronet wished to retain the nationality of the Church, let him bring in a Bill for capitalising the fines now payable on the granting and renewing of leases of Church property from colleges and from deans and chapters, by commuting those fines into a rent charge payable on leases granted in perpetuity, instead of the existing system. By so doing, he would not only dispense with church rates, but add 20 per cent to the income of the Establishment. The words "free trade" had fallen from the hon. Baronet in the course of his observations. The principle of free trade was now practically recognised with respect to the physical food of man; and he would ask the hon. Baronet why the people ought not to have free trade in food of a spiritual description? The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire stated that while it was the law he believed it to be his duty to pay church rates. But many persons believed that it was not the law—that it might indeed be a remnant of the canon law, and might have existed fourteen centuries ago even, but that it certainly was not a law which in those liberal times ought to be enforced. Archdeacon Paley had laid it down that a law being found to produce no sensible good, was a sufficient reason for repealing it, as adverse and injurious to the rights of free citizens, without demanding specific evidence of its bad effects; and he gave as instances of such laws, the game laws, the poor laws, and the laws against Papists and Dissenters. Blackstone stated that questions of this nature should be tried by the ordinary legal tribunals of the country. He asked, were the Ecclesiastical Courts entitled to that appellation? He had had something like two years' experience of them, and could speak feelingly of the manner in which they were conducted. He must do them the justice to say that he had obtained a very honest and impartial hearing; but the expenses were of such a nature as must ruin any cause and any man, whatever his fortune, if he chose to persist and go through the whole course of litigation and appeals which those Courts hold open to him. He asked the hon. and learned Member what he intended to do with Dissenters in regard to the churchyard question? As he understood the Bill, Dissenters were to be excluded from the burial ground and from the rites of the Church. He contended, however, that at least a portion of the burial ground, either consecrated or unconsecrated, he cared not which, should be set apart for Dissenters. The fact was, that after all it was very much as the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford had represented it—a breeches-pocket question; and Milton was right when he said that the Church would never cease to persecute until she ceased to be mercenary. If the laws had been left as made by Alfred and Henry the Eighth, the Dissenters would be much better off than they were now. The system of plurality of votes—or rather the legal screw which the Church was allowed to put on, enabled the few in many instances to make the rate, because the number of votes was regulated, not by the individuals voting, but by the assessment. A great deal was said about the liberality of the Church of England. That Church knew nothing of any one except as a member of her own community. No matter where a man was born, no matter what religion he professed, if he went into the Ecclesiastical Courts, his soul's health was dealt with on the assumption that he was a member of the Established Church. Even the Spanish Inquisition, in dealing with Jews, was, he maintained, more liberal than the Court of Arches in dealing with Dissenters. The Spanish Inquisition held that as Jews had not been baptised they could not be dealt with as heretics or apostates—the historian adding, that the jurisdiction of the Inquisition was directed against heretical pravity and apostacy. Dissenters in this country had certainly been guilty neither of heretical pravity nor of apostacy, and, therefore, ought to be excused from paying church rates. In 1835, Sir Robert Peel observed, that there was not a single question except that of the Irish Church, which so much pressed for a practical settlement as that of church rates; and after the lapse of several years since that declaration was made, he (fir. A. Pellatt) called upon the present Government to deal with the church revenues as the only means of providing a complete and final remedy for the evil.


had prepared himself to encounter some resistance in the course of this debate; but he found that scarcely any resistance, at least in the way of argument, had been offered to the propositions now under consideration. Previously to coming into the House he had looked through a pamphlet published a day or two since by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), and he beg- ged to tender to that noble Lord his sincere thanks for the kindly spirit he had there manifested towards his dissenting brethren, and for the spirit of justice in which he was disposed to deal with the whole question. So far as he understood the noble Lord, he wished, bonâ fide, to relieve the Dissenters from what he believed to be an injustice, and the Church from a reproach which now attached to it. Both the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock and the hon. Baronet the Member for the Tower Hamlets must be regarded as sincerely attached to the Church to which they belonged; yet they were the parties who were seeking to relieve the Dissenters from that impost which pressed so much upon their consciences. With the exception of the speech of the hon. Baronet (Sir R. H. Inglis), which consisted rather of assumption and assertions than of argument, there had hardly been any opposition to the propositions before the House; and, strange to say, the only argument they had heard in the course of the debate in favour of the principle of an Established Church, had come from the hon. Member from Cambridgeshire (Mr. E. Ball), who was himself a Dissenter. They were spending precious hours in settling a difficulty which to most persons in the kingdom was no difficulty whatever. They were asking how the fabric and the services of the Church could be maintained? That was no matter of difficulty whatever with the large number of the Dissenters—nothing could be at once so simple and so just as that the Churchman should pay for the fabric and the service of his own Church, in the same way that the Dissenter was both willing and able to pay for the support of his church and his minister. The hon. Baronet (Sir R. II. Inglis) said no less than 3,000 petitions were presented during the Session of 1837, from members of the Church, praying that they might be allowed to continue in the privilege of maintaining their own Church. He (Mr. Miall) would have thought that did not in the least degree depend on any decision of the Legislature. If the law had prohibited them, still they would have been left the opportunity of supporting their own Church, and in the way most consonant with their own feelings. But, according to the census of 1851, no less than 17,000 separate buildings were maintained by the Dissenters for religious worship. Dissenters found no difficulty whatever in maintaining their own ministers and carrying on their own service, and it struck him as being odd, not to say condemnatory of the whole system, that there should be the slightest difficulty in the minds of hon. Members as to the mode in which this question should be dealt with. The Church did not always feel this difficulty. In its earliest ages there was no discussion or question as to the mode in which this necessary object should be achieved. He took the history of the church-rate question from its commencement to its close to be simply a history of the encroachments of tire priesthood upon the rights of the laity. The voluntary principle in the early ages of the Church was only defective in one respect, and that was in its excess. It produced too much; the source was too exuberant. It threw into the lap of the Church riches which in time became its great tempation; and during the period that the possessions of the Church were only held by the connivance—he could not say with the sanction—of the State, there was little harm done; but when the State took the Church under its patronage and control, scarcely fifty years elapsed before the character of the clergy became changed in the eyes of the people. They were then called legacy hunters, haunting the houses of widows and orphans, and an edict was passed prohibiting them from receiving bequests from female penitents. But he must do the Church the justice to admit that the funds which she thus received from the voluntary benevolence of her own children, she distributed with some regard to equity and religion. By an early statute it was provided that a third of the tithes of every person should go to the repair of the church; and he believed it would be found that the first specific mention which was made of the obligation of parishioners to keep the church in repair occurred in a letter by the Archbishop of York in 1256. He might remind the House, however, that this impost was not submitted to quietly by the people. Encroachments and invasions had been gradually taking place, but the people had always stronuously resisted them; and in 1257 it was stated, in an assembly of the whole body of prelates, that when they summoned persons before them for refusing to enclose the churchyard or roof the church, a prohibition was obtained from the common-law courts to the injury and disparagement of the Church itself. Down to the present day the spirit of encroachment seemed to him to be going on. All recent proceedings had tended to curtail the rights of the Commissioners; and he felt that the very proposition proposed to them no doubt in a spirit of kindness by the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock, would be found to be a further encroachment of the sacerdotal power and influence upon the rights and privileges of the laity. The hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford viewed the church rate as a charge upon property, and not upon persons; and thought that the demand now made was equivalent to a demand for the transference of so much money from the coffers of the Church to the pockets of Dissenters. Now, that was an assertion which was very easily made, and if only reiterated with sufficient frequency, and maintained with sufficient obstinacy, as he had no doubt it would be by the hon. Baronet, it was not unlikely to pass unassailable for some time; but there was not one particle of evidence to support it. Was it not the case that in thousands of instances the property now assessed for church rates positively came into existence only within the last few years? He maintained that this was a tax upon persons, measured, indeed, by a certain description of property, but in no respect to be considered a tax upon property. The Dissenters might, therefore, honestly and bonâ fide, seek to obtain the repeal of such a tax. He would not detain the House by referring to any of the objections to the tax; they had already been ably and sufficiently stated; but there was one topic upon which he would venture to say a few words, and that was in regard to the mode of dealing with this question. There were two modes proposed to the House. To the proposition of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Tower Hamlets, if it come to a division, he should most undoubtedly say "aye," though he would have said it with far more satisfaction if the hon. Baronet had simply proposed to abolish this obnoxious impost, and to leave the maintenance of the Church to be effected out of those funds which would accrue from the better management of its property. He did not like the system of pew rents being recognised by law, and he did not approve that they, as Dissenters, who sought to be exempt from the impost altogether, should, by their assent, impose the tax upon the members of the Church, who were equally desirous of being relieved from the burden. Then came the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock. He (Mr. Miall) did not for a moment cast the smallest suspicion, or entertain a doubt as to the purity of the motives with which that hon. and learned Gentleman made his proposition; but he thought it was very important that the question should be looked to, and especially by Her Majesty's Government, because it was one which might involve matters that hereafter might prove of grave consequence. It involved a principle which might prove very dangerous when considered in reference to the Church of England as an Established Church. It was a proposition calculated to convert that which was now a national institution into a religious association, vested with public funds. Now he submitted to the House, whether this was a question which ought to be entertained incidentally and without the fullest and most anxious discussion? A simple proposition was made to exempt Dissenters from church rates, but that proposition was couched in such a form by the hon. and learned Gentleman that it would have the effect of transforming that which was now a national institution into a private sect possessed of certain funds. Under these circumstances he could not vote for the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. But if he were assured that such would not be the effect of the measure, he, with his anxiety never to do aught which would denationalise the present ecclesiastical institutions of the country until they could fairly sever the Church entirely from the State, would content himself with making this protest; and he would further say, that if his hon. and learned Friend would give him the assurance that his Bill would not interfere with the right of Parliament to deal with the whole ecclesiastical affairs of the country, then, if the Amendment of the hon. Baronet should fail, under the circumstances and with such qualifications, he should be happy to give his vote for the hon. and learned Gentleman's Motion.


said, he could not but regard the present Motion as one of great importance, especially considered in reference to the Amendment brought forward by the hon. Baronet (Sir W. Clay), because he could not, when he saw that the ground upon which the opposition to church rates rested was that of conscience, help perceiving that this Motion, at present aimed against church rates, was in its ultimate object an attack upon tithes. He was justified in saying so by a petition which had been presented to the House, signed by several members of the Society of Friends. The petitioners considered it an infringement on the rights of conscience to call upon members of any dissenting body to contribute, either directly or indirectly, to the support of a mode of worship from which they conscientiously dissented. It was clear, therefore, that they were now dealing with all that was dear to the national Church of this country. The substantive ground upon which these rates were maintained was this: The law required that a church should be established and maintained in every parish in the kingdam; and that for the maintenance of that church, and of religious worship therein, a portion of the property which Providence had given to the rich should be set apart. The proposal now before the House was to abrogate that law, and thus suffer that church to go into decay which was especially meant for the poor, which was free to the poor, and for a seat in which no rent could by law be enforced. It was said that church rates were a personal tax, and not a charge upon property. Lot them look at that question. If a person resided in a parish, but was not an occupier of land, he was not called upon to pay church rates; but if, on the contrary, he was an occupier of land—that is, an owner, although he was residing 200 miles away—he was still liable to the rate. That certainly appeared to him to be very like a charge on land, and not on the person. Again, the rector, if he occupied only a glebe land, was free from church rates, but if he occupied one acre of other than glebe land, he became chargeable as much as any other tenant; and, on the other hand, if he let the globe land to another, that other was free from church rates. These facts showed that the charge was in respect of the land, and not the person. The fallacy which had been so potent over some arose out of the phrase that these rates were charged upon the person in respect of the land. Apart from technical language, that phrase meant no more than this—that the remedy was against the person, and not against the land. Now, he would have no objection to assist in taking away the remedy as against the person, in order to its being altogether laid against the land, if that were the chief subject of complaint. Upon every consideration of justice and principle, it was evident that no ground had been laid for the Motion of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets. Indeed, the only thing which looked like a practical argument that had been offered was, that in the large towns church rates had fallen into desuetude, and were seldom collected. But that was no real ground why there should be no church rate. What was the case in regard to rural parishes? He had been informed by a friend that in one archdeaconry, having no less than 300 churches, the church rates were collected and paid with cheerfulness, and without any difficulty whatever, although a great number of Dissenters were living in those parishes. There might be a reason for making an alteration in the law with respect to the great towns; but there was no reason for abrogating church rates altogether. The reason for this was not that in the towns the people were strong enough to resist church rates, but that in the rural districts they were not; but the fact was that in the rural parishes the church rates were really and truly wanted; and the general sense of the people was that the church ought to be supported. But in great towns, instead of church rates being levied by a high rate on a few, it was spread over a largo body in minute sums, thereby making it difficult to collect. But added to this was the fact that the population of the parishes being poor, the wealthy portion of the inhabitants were seen to be using the church to the exclusion of the poor. He was sorry to say that that was unhappily the case. The rich exclusively occupied the pews, so he could not therefore be surprised that in the large towns a feeling of jealousy was excited when the people were called upon to pay church rates for the benefit of their wealthier neighbours. He saw another objection to the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend. At present the parish minister was considered to be the minister for the whole parish. This Bill, for the first time, broke in upon that principle. It proposed that the parish minister should no longer be minister for those who chose to give notice that they dissented from the Church. The Bill would increase the movement against the Church of England. Let them consider the effect of the measure in a country parish. A farmer registers himself as a Dissenter. What follows? A church rate is levied upon his neighbour. What is the consequence? Undoubtedly, the repudiation of Farmer A would not diminish the amount of church rate. That would remain exactly the same. The consequence then would be that not only would A be relieved, but the whole burden would alone be thrown on the shoulders of B. The effect of the Bill would be to excite the greatest possible dislike to the Church Establishment. Why, what would be the effect in some parishes? No rates would be paid at all; for there were many parishes in which the whole of the rates were paid by one party. Well, suppose that party should declare that he was a Dissenter, who was there, then to pay the rates? A challenge had been thrown out that those who opposed the Bill ought at least to suggest something definite as to what the remedy ought to be. Now, he thought the necessity of the case was a good deal exaggerated, and he quite concurred with what had been said by Dr. Lushington in his excellent evidence on the subject. That learned authority observed in the first place upon the uncertainty of purpose for which church rates were levied, and said, it would be advisable to limit those purposes to the maintenance of the Church and the necessaries of divine service; and that by such a course he was convinced nineteen-twentieths of the objections to church rates would be removed. Another point was, that when property was improved by the building of houses, the rates should be commuted on the same principle as the Tithe Commutation Act; and Dr. Lushington further suggested that the rates should be paid by the landlord instead of the tenant, He could not but think that an Act might be framed upon those suggestions which would remedy the grievances complained of under the existing system, and place the law upon a much more satisfactory basis than it was at present.


said, he felt bound to express his entire dissent from the sentiments of the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last, and of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. H. Inglis), who, he thought, took a very exaggerated view of this question in holding it to be one affecting the very existence of the Church of England. He must say that to him (Sir G. Grey) the question of Church rates did not in any degree appear to affect the existence of the Church of England; and he thought they were injudicious and ill-advised friends of it who staked its existence upon such a question. He thought church rates and tithes stood upon a totally different footing. He believed that if church rates were abolished to-morrow, however great the inconvenience it might cause in some parishes. the Church would still remain as firmly established as it was now, and as he trusted, it would long remain, in the affections of the great bulk of the population of this country. But, while he differed from the hon. and learned Gentleman and from the hon. Baronet in this respect, he must at the same time avow his entire concurrence in the unanswerable objections which had been made by his hon. and learned Friend (Sir R. H. Inglis), in common with others, to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock (Mr. Phillimore). Indeed, he could not fail to be struck by the circumstance that, though they had been debating that question more than six hours, and many hon. Gentlemen had addressed the House, not a single Member had risen in support of the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He (Sir G. Grey) wished also to supply an omission which had struck him. He had carefully read the pamphlet of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) on this subject, and he had attentively listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock; but both the noble Lord in his pamphlet, and the hon. and learned Member in his speech, Had omitted to state that the proposition now put forward was not a new or original proposition. The noble Lord and the hon. and learned Gentleman had stated—the one in his pamphlet, the other in his speech—that different proposals had, from time to time, been laid before the House for the settlement of this question; but they each omitted two propositions, one of which was made some twelve or thirteen years ago by his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. T. Duncombe), and the other in 1849 by his hon. and learned Friend the Vice-Chancellor Page Wood, at that time Member for Oxford city—both of them intended to remedy the grievance of which Dissenters complained, by exempting them from the rates, and leaving the burden to be borne entirely by members of the Established Church. Now, in 1849, when the last proposition was made, it was his duty as Member of the Government to state his objections to it; and looking at the difficulties that surrounded the question, and the many abortive attempts that had been made to settle it, he should not the least feel himself bound because he opposed the proposition then, to oppose it now if he thought it would have the effect of satisfactorily settling the question; but he was bound to say the ob- jections he then entertained to drawing this line between Dissenters and Churchmen remained not only unimpaired, but were greatly increased, when he heard in detail the plan of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He (Sir George Grey) then stated, with reference more particularly to that part of the country with which he was connected—the north of England—bordering on a country which followed a different mode of worship from this, that Presbyterians in large numbers and Episcopalians mingled with each other on terms of good feeling in their religious services; and he thought it would be most prejudicial to the interests of the Church itself and to that harmony which he desired to see subsist among men professing a common Christianity, though differing in the form of worship, if a line of distinction were to be drawn by which Dissenters were, upon declaring themselves to be registered, to be placed on a different footing from Churchmen. He apprehended that when once a man declared himself a Dissenter, to escape the payment of church rates, he would then feel that access to the parish church would be less desirable to him, and instead of joining in Divine worship at that church, as to his (Sir G. Grey's) own knowledge Dissenters now constantly did attend the services of the Church—such a man would feel that he had no right to intrude himself into a place of worship belonging to the Church of England. But what was proposed now? No option was to be left to the Dissenter; having once registered himself as a Dissenter, he was, according to the plan of the noble Lord, and, although with a slight variation, according to the scheme of the hon. and learned Gentleman, to be debarred for ever thereafter from all participation in the rights and privileges of the Church. Now, he (Sir G. Grey) must say that, to declare that the admission of those rights and privileges should be by payment of church rates, was a proposal which that House ought never to entertain. If a man, declaring himself a Dissenter in order to being registered on the books of the churchwardens to be exempted from church rates, was to be thereby excluded from all the privileges of the Church thereafter, it came very near to a proposition that, for the payment of a miserable sum of money, he might obtain admission to those privileges. The hon. and learned Gentleman stated his plan in a manner that led him (Sir G. Grey) to believe that he intended a man so declaring himself a Dissenter should never partake of the communion of the Established Church—which in his own knowledge many Dissenters did at present; that he should be debarred from having his marriage solemnized in the parish church, and should be debarred, after death, from burial in a churchyard. The hon. and learned Gentleman, he was bound to admit, had not said so in so many words; but his language justified him (Sir G. Grey) in arriving at that conclusion. On referring to the pamphlet of the noble Lord opposite, he found that the right of burial in a churchyard was specially reserved to Dissenters, but only on the condition that additional burial fees should be paid for the interment; these additional fees being, he (Sir G. Grey) presumed, intended to serve as a compensation for the non-payment of church rates by Dissenters. Such a proposition appeared to him to be open to the most serious objections. He did not think with his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, that the proposed Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock should be called a Bill for occasional conformity, but, on the contrary, that it should be called a Bill against occasional conformity. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. R. Phillimore) had stated a proposition from which he (Sir G. Grey) entirely dissented, namely, that the whole population of this country was divided into two classes—those, on the one hand, who were members of the Established Church, and those, on the other, who held her doctrines and her discipline in abhorrence. That was the strong term used by the hon. and learned Gentleman himself. Now, he (Sir G. Grey) must say that he believed there were many Dissenters who objected conscientiously to the Established Church, who, dissented, perhaps, from the discipline of that Church, and from some parts of her formularies and mode of worship; but yet they held the great doctrines of that Church—they substantially held the same doctrines as those taught by the Established Church—and, so far from holding that Church in abhorrence, they respected her members, and looked upon her as a Church which had been the means of conferring inestimable blessings on this country, by maintaining and diffusing the principles of true religion. He believed that the present was the first attempt to draw a line of distinction between members of the Established Church and those who might call themselves Dissenters, and by that means escape from the payment of church rates. If these propositions were the only means by which they could escape the payment of church rates, he believed the consequence of their adoption would be very prejudicial; but then he agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last (Mr. L. Wigram), that this plan would not settle the question—that it would not produce peace and quietness, and contentment, in a large portion of the country, and chiefly not in those very places in which the church-rate contests had occurred. He thought the question had become very materially altered since the first discussion, which took place twenty years ago on this subject. At that time nothing was more common than to see a contest carried on in many large towns in this country between the advocates and the opponents of church rates; and scenes occurred which could only be called disgraceful, and which were most prejudicial to the interests of the Established Church. He believed that these scenes had, for the most part, passed away. It was now a rare thing to witness such scenes as those. He believed that in many large towns in this country—in more than those enumerated in the pamphlet of the noble Lord opposite—owing to the good sense of the members of the Established Church, and to their desire to promote peace and unity, and to avoid the consequences which resulted from those unseemly contests, church rates had been practically abolished, and that the repairs of the church were now most effectually provided for by the voluntary contributions of the members of the Established Church. In the country parishes, he was aware, the case was different. But what would follow the introduction of the hon. and learned Gentleman's plan into those towns where church rates had been abolished? Why, this—that those voluntary contributions would cease. The hon. and learned Gentleman proposed that Dissenters, or persons claiming exemption as Dissenters, should be exempted from the payment of church rates. The burden of the church rates would consequently fall with increased weight upon the members of the Established Church; and, as the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to introduce a much more effectual plan than the present for enforcing the payment of church rates—to make their enforcement universal throughout the country, so that it would no longer he in the power of vestries to dispense with church rates as they had hitherto done in many large towns where volun- tary contributions had been resorted to—he (Sir G. Grey) was afraid that, where church rates had ceased to be enforced, an attempt to revive them even amongst members of the Established Church would be attended with a recurrence of those scenes which had now happily passed away. Again, he must say that the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman to leave the jurisdiction with respect to church rates in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Courts was one which would be universally condemned; and when it was considered that the noble Lord the leader of the Government in that House had announced his intention of cleansing out that Augean stable, the proposal to give the jurisdiction to the Ecclesiastical Courts was one which he was sure the House would not for one moment entertain. He must do the noble Lord opposite the justice to say, that that part of the plan of the hon. and learned Gentleman was not a part of his (Lord Stanley's) scheme, for the noble Lord proposed that the same authority, namely, the magistrates who had for some years administered the laws with regard to the relief of the poor, should also be confided with power to adjudicate in the matter of church rates. He should therefore have no hesitation in voting against the introduction of the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock. He wished he could feel the same certainty as to the course which he thought he ought to take in reference to the proposition of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay). He (Sir C. Grey) must admit that he felt the force of the objections which had been urged against the levying of pew rents in order to make up for any deficiency caused by the abolition of the church rates. In large towns and cities that plan might be extremely practicable; but if such a plan were resorted to in the country churches, the effect would be to deprive the poor of access to the church. He would not be a party to levying pew rents by way of making up for the deficiency in the church rates. With regard to the proposition of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Tower Hamlets to provide out of the ecclesiastical funds a sum necessary for the repair of the churches, &c, he (Sir G. Grey) should like to see a distinct scheme for that purpose before he gave his assent to it; and he did not think that the hon. Baronet was prepared, as was the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock, to lay a Bill upon the table of the House embodying his views on the subject. He should like to know what means the hon. Baronet proposed for limiting the amount which parishes might draw under his Bill from the ecclesiastical fund. He would not vote for a simple abstraction, and he could not, therefore, vote for the promised proposition of the hon. Baronet. Until the hon. Baronet submitted the details of his measure to the House, he (Sir G. Grey must withhold his vote.


Sir, I cannot say that there is anything very satisfactory cither in the propositions which have been made to the House, or in the debate in which these propositions have been discussed. At the same time the House must feel that the subject is a most important one, and therefore that their decision ought to be deliberately made. I quite agree with my right hon. Friend who has just sat down that it is not absolutely essential for the Established Church that any part of its funds should be raised by church rates. I quite admit that the Church Establishment might well exist without church rates, as in Ireland the Established Church remains without those rates. At the same time, if we are looking at this as a practical question, we must consider in the first place that here is a very considerable sum—those who put it at the least sum, set it down at 300,000l. a year—and that sum of 300,000l. in many parts of the country is raised by parishes with scarcely any opposition, probably in many no opposition whatever is offered; and the sum so raised is applied to the keeping in repair and maintaining those ancient edifices which have belonged to the worship of the country from the first introduction of Christianity. To do away with that sum at once would be a very serious matter. But, then, it is likewise not to be overlooked that, although we may say that we may maintain the principle of the Church Establishment—that although, as my right hon. Friend truly says, the Church Establishment might exist and flourish, even if there were no church rates—yet the ground on which church rates have been objected to—objected to upon principle—objected to upon conscientious grounds—is not so much that they are a very peculiar and odious and vexatious burden, but that they do form part of the funds of an endowed and established Church. I will take the words of the hon. Member for Southwark before the Committee in 1851, who, after stating the particular objections which applied to his own parish, said:—"There is also the circumstance that Dissenters object on principle to the payment of church rates. That principle, I consider, leads to other objections against the union of Church and State. They are placed in a position of inferiority, and therefore they have not only religious but strong civil objections." Now that is an objection not to this particular burden, not to this particular rate or tax, but to this rate or tax as forming part of the funds of a Church which is endowed and established, and which has long been endowed and established, and is thought to place Dissenters in a situation of inferiority. I am not now going to argue the great questions of the Church Establishment and the voluntary principle. But what I wish the House to keep in view is this—that this is not a tax that is considered odious and oppressive in Itself, so that if you take it away all persons professing to be Dissenters will be satisfied; but that it is in their view part of a system which is in itself odious and objectionable; and, therefore, by taking away this part of it you will immediately produce not a uniform state of peace, tranquility, and contentment, but you immediately open the ground for some fresh attack upon some other part of the Establishment which is considered opposed to rights and principles which ought to remain sacred. Well, it may be a wise policy or it may not be a wise policy to abandon these church rates; but I do not think the general who has to defend a fortress is apt to say, "I will abandon the outwork, and then the citadel will be safe." That is not the wisest plan to follow. Such are, I think, the general considerations which the House ought to bear in mind in this question. Now, with inspect to the propositions that have been laid before us by the two hon. Gentlemen who have addressed the House in defence of their separate propositions, I own I was much more struck with the force with which each of those hon. Gentlemen, attacked the proposition of the other, than I was with the skill with which each defended his own. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Tavistock said, with reference to the proposition of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, "I object to pew rents being universally established—you are making the poor in our country churches pay for admission to those churches; excluding them from the churches unless they pay would be a very great hardship—would be inconsistent with the principles of a Church Establishment, and would practically be very injurious to the Established Church." That was one very strong objection. The hon. and learned Gentleman next said—"I object to the other proposition of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, which proposes to provide substitutes from the Church property, because I think there is so much need of additional means of religious worship and religious instruction, that whatever funds can be raised, or whatever can be added to the value of the Church property, should be applied to that spiritual destitution." I think everything we have heard of late years confirms that objection of the hon. and learned Gentleman. That argument strengthens very much my objection to the proposition of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets. But then came in his turn my hon. Friend to deal with the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Tavistock, and he said, "I think it will be a very great evil to separate the whole community into two bodies, Churchmen and Dissenters. The man who is once registered as a Dissenter, who is marked out as a Dissenter, will become more hostile to the Church than if you leave him in his present state, when, although he goes to a dissenting chapel, be may occasionally be an attendant at the church." Now, in that argument, I think the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets has the best of the dispute; as the hon. and learned Gentleman almost demolished the proposition of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, so the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets fired his battery with such effect that the arguments of his opponent were exceeding damaged. My right hon. Friend (Sir G. Grey) has stated his objection to the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman. When the same proposition was made in 1849 by Sir W. P. Wood, it was objected to in 1849 by my right hon. Friend, by Sir Robert Peel, who pointed out the same disadvantage of separating formally and by Act of Parliament Churchmen and Dissenters, and it was also objected to by myself. It seems to me that while it would place some persons in a position of hostility to the Church, which they do not now occupy, by excluding them from its services, on the other hand it might act as a penalty on Churchmen—because, although the noble Lord in his pamphlet says that there may be 600,000l. a year collected as church rates, and that not more than 80,000l. is paid by the Dis- senters, yet no man can exactly say what will be the case in a year or two after such a Bill should acquire the force of law. Although there is many a man who belongs to the Church generally, yet his affection to the Church is not such but that he may say, "I can be exempted from the payment of church rates, which I find a very inconvenient payment, by merely writing myself a Dissenter, and registering myself as a Dissenter, and I will take that course." And the man who remained with the Church would perhaps say, "Last year I paid 2l., this year I am charged 4l.; what is the reason of that difference?" "Oh, sir," it will be replied, "the reason of that difference is that you remained attached to the Church; your neighbours have gone and freed themselves from church rates, and, therefore, you must pay twice as much as you did last year because you belong to the Established Church." I own it does appear to me that we expose the Established Church to some danger by proceeding in such a manner. At the same time I am so far willing to listen to the Bill, that I shall not object, at least, to its being laid on the table. I cannot conceive its being so much altered and changed as to become a Bill which the House would entertain; and, as at present advised, unless its provisions are very much altered, I could not consent to its passing into a law. Then the question is, what are we to do with regard to this question of church rates. I own I think that the evil, as it at present exists, has been very much exaggerated. In the year 1835, no doubt we continually heard of battles and contests in parish vestries, and of very scandalous scenes; and many persons thought that some remedy was necessary; but the House did not appear inclined to choose either of the remedies then offered, but rather to remain quiescent on the subject; but I must say that from 1840 up to 1853, I do not think many great practical evils have resulted from the present state of the law. I am not saying that the law might not be much improved, or that the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts, so far as respects church rates at least, might not be reconstituted, or, in fact, entirely swept away. I think, also, with respect to the Act of the 10 Geo. IV., that, instead of taking away any jurisdiction from the magistrates in question as to the validity of church rates, some authority ought to be allowed to the magistrates in such cases, although there ought also to be some simple mode of appeal and of having the question finally decided without imposing unduly expense and delay upon those who entered upon such litigation. That, I think, was certainly fair; and that, as the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Wigram) has stated, might be done without infringing upon the general state of the Jaw. I do not think we are quite ready for legislation, even of that kind yet; because I think it desirable that in the long-disputed and celebrated Braintree case, the law should be law down by the highest judicial authority in this country, the House of Lords, before we proceed with legislation. But what is the present state of this question? It is this: that with regard to most of the large towns where there has been an opposition to church rates, that opposition has been successful, and no church rates are levied. On the other hand, where there is a willingness to pay church rates throughout the rural districts, those rates have been levied. I am told that, because it has been proved that there has been a voluntary effort made by Churchmen, or was likely to be made, in towns where church rates have been refused, that, therefore, nothing is more simple and easy than to part at once with this 300,000l or 600,000l a year, whichever it may be, and have the deficiency supplied in the same manner as in the case of dissenting communities, and also in the cases where church rates have been refused. But I think the House ought to consider, and that the Protestant Dissenters themselves ought to consider, that the real cases are often very different from those which are cited as examples. Both in the case of those large towns where church rates have been refused, and in the cases in which the Dissenters provide for their own places of worship, the fact is generally this—that there is a place of worship sufficient to accommodate those persons who form the congregation, and that there is no difficulty in keeping it in repair; but with regard to the churches generally, in the country districts especially, it must be remembered that these fabrics were not originally intended for a small portion of the community, for a single sect, or even for a majority of the population; but they were the places of public worship intended for the nation at large; and I do think that as regards Churchmen it would be a hardship—as regards the nation it would be a shame and disgrace—if a certain number of persons only in a district were obliged to keep up large edifices which required heavy sums to be spent on repairs, and if you should run the risk of those which are, in fact, national edifices falling into a state of ruin in consequence of neglect. You provide against that by the present system of church rates; you have a remedy at present as the law exists. I must, therefore, own that I would rather the law should remain for the present in the state in which it is, than that we should adopt either of the remedies proposed to-night; and I do request the House to be aware how they give authority and sanction to doctrines which, although they may not appear upon the face of the proposition, would be said to be carried by the votes of the House, if you agreed to such a Motion as that of my hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets. I have read certainly with great interest the pamphlet of the noble Lord opposite, who has summed up, with great accuracy and in a very logical manner, both the history and the arguments which have lately been placed before Parliament on the subject of church rates. But more than once I observed that the noble Lord states a principle which I think would go much farther than he himself, and, I believe, the House would be disposed to go. I see that in one passage—there are several similar to it, with which I will not trouble the House—the noble Lord says, "As a matter of justice it is felt to be a wrong to call upon a man to pay for the propagation of opinions in which he does not share." To the application made by the noble Lord of his argument—namely, against the more rigorous enforcement of the law regarding church rates, I am as little inclined as he is to object; but if you do lay it down as a principle that it is unjust and a wrong to call upon men to pay for the propagation of opinions in which they do not share, why that principle goes to the whole foundation of Church establishments. There are some Gentlemen who no doubt concur in that view; but that, I have said, is far too large, and wide, and important a matter to be gone into upon the present occasion, and this debate does not directly raise that question. But let the House not conceal from itself the importance of these subjects; and that, if we lay down the abstract principle that it is wrong to call upon a man to contribute for the spread of principles from which he disagrees, then none but Churchmen ought to be called upon to pay tithes—none but Churchmen ought to be called upon in any way for the support of the Established Church; and if that principle be conceded, it strikes at the root of the Established Church throughout the whole of the United Kingdom. That being the case, Sir, I trust, while this House will be ready to listen to any practical remedies which may be proposed for lessening the evils attendant upon the levying of church rates, that if they wish to maintain the principle of an Established Church, they will not countenance doctrines inconsistent with it.


said, that the noble Lord had pointed out how the movers of both the propositions before the House had destroyed each other's arguments; but the noble Lord himself had not been always so consistent upon this matter as not to be in some degree obnoxious to the same charge as he had brought against these two hon. Members. If he recollected rightly in 1837 the noble Lord was a party to a proposition made in that House, which was precisely the same as the Motion now made by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets; and in 1849 the noble Lord stoutly opposed the proposition which Sir W. Page Wood then made, which proceeded on the principle involved in the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock (Mr. R. Phillimore); but to-night he objected altogether to the Motion of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, and said he was willing to admit a first reading of the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock. It appeared that, upon this question, as upon some others, the noble Lord bad not made much progress lately, for he seemed to suppose that the objections he had taken that night were so insurmountable, that the church-rate dispute must still remain open and unsettled. He (Mr. Bright) was glad, however, that this question had been brought forward, and the course which the debate had taken was gratifying, because it showed that the House, with the exception of the hon. Baronet below him (Sir R. H. Inglis), and the hon. and learned Gentleman who represented the other University, Mr. Wigram, was arriving at more rational views, and that this subject was becoming more simplified. He was sorry that in the Universities, opinions which were now obsolete with most men, were still found to linger; and he believed that if this country had been governed upon the opinions prevalent in the Universities, it would have remained Roman Catholic in religion, and Austrian in politics, till this day. He was quite ready to admit that there appeared to be objections to both the plans before the House. He did not quite see the force of the objection to the whole system of pew rents. He had not so much right to speak upon that point as if he had been a member of the Established Church; but he had yet to learn that the churches in places where there were no dissenting chapels (in which the pew rent system most prevailed) were more frequented by the poor than the chapels were; and he did not believe that the people abstained from attending a place of worship merely because of a payment being levied according to the circumstances of the persons, which was the practice pursued in dissenting chapels. With regard to the Bill of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. R. Phillimore) there were grave objections to it, and although he might feel those objections as a Dissenter, yet if he were a Churchman he would feel their gravity still more, because the hon. and learned Gentleman repudiated the nationality of the Establishment. But there had been another plan proposed with regard to church rates. Hon. Members from Ireland would remember that a church cess used to be levied in that country, where the objection to the tax was greater, because the proportion of Dissenters from the Established. Church was larger. But the Government abolished the church cess in Ireland, and by the better management of church property, and placing the funds in the hands of a Commission, they provided for the: maintenance of the fabric of the Church. Why was the same thing not done in this country? The noble Lord said that whatever funds had accumulated in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in England were required for the extension of spiritual instruction in quarters where there existed spiritual destitution. He (Mr. Bright) admitted that there was room for the application of the existing funds in that manner; but so long as enormous sums were employed by the Commissioners in providing gorgeous residences for the members of the episcopal bench—far more than, he believed, in the opinion of conscientious Churchmen themselves were necessary, and far more than in his own opinion were consistent with the simplicity enjoined by Christianity upon its professors—and so long as the Government thought it satisfactory to give an archbishop 15,000l. a year, as the noble Lord' did in his last appointment to the primacy of the Church—a sum far greater than the Prime Minister or any Secretary of States received—so long as that was the case he (Mr. Bright) should consider it might be impossible, out of the other resources of the Church, to find a sum to maintain the fabrics of the Church. And again, it should be borne in mind that the 300,000l. or 600,000l., or whatever was the amount of church rates raised yearly, was at present a great deal wasted. In his own parish 700l of church rates used lately to be levied; but recently, by having the matter looked into, it had been brought down to 150l., and the Dissenters were no longer troubled by a demand for this impost; and last Easter each of the two sets of candidates who stood for the office of churchwarden claimed the support of the parishioners on the express ground that they never would make any further call for church rates. He spoke of Rochdale, which had a population of between 70,000 and 80,000 souls. He believed that the voluntary principle was taking as extensive root amongst the members of the Established Church themselves as among the dissenting bodies, and of that being the fact he thought there was evidence everywhere. Take the case of the city of Manchester. There, out of about fifty churches, there was only one not supported by voluntary contributions; and in Rochdale, there was only one church that was supported by church rates. So with regard to the Free Church in Scotland—it had been recently stated at a meeting in Edinburgh, that the voluntary principle within the last six years had done more to provide places of worship and religious instruction for the people, than the Establishment had in three centuries. All we saw in Scotland showed how wholly unnecessary compulsory rates were to any sect. In Ireland, again, we saw that that portion of the population which was poorest had built chapels in the most out-of-the-way places, where it was a puzzle how they obtained funds. But not only had they done this where there was but a sparse population—in many places they had built large churches and cathedrals, thus showing their zeal and the way in which they could contribute to the religion to which they were attached. Take then the case of Wales. There eight-tenths of the population were dissenting bodies, and there was scarcely a hill-side or a valley in which one did not find the chapel of some dissenting sect. In Merthyr Tydvil, when he was there seven years since, there was only one Established Church; but there were actually twenty dissenting chapels supplied and built entirely by voluntary contributions. His conclusion from this was that really the question of church rates, if the House would but grapple with it, would be very easily settled. There was one mode of dealing with it, proposed by a Government of which the noble Lord was a Member, which calculated 250,000l. as enough to maintain the fabric of the Church, and proposed to take that out of the improvement and due application of her property. Supposing the House not to approve that, they might pass a Bill for the simple purpose of abolishing church rates, and in that case he would undertake to say that by the voluntary contributions of the persons who attended the churches throughout England and Wales, either by periodical contributions or by contributions on occasions when a sermon was preached for that purpose, they would raise in every parish as much money as would be necessary fairly to support the fabric of the Church. And if he were a Churchman—such was his confidence in the liberality of those who went to church, if that liberality were relied upon—he should have no hesitation in relieving from the burden of church rates those who were not members of the Church. The Church ought, in this respect, to be thrown upon her own resources; and he said that that Church could not be worth support if she was so deadened to zeal, so careless of her faith, and had so destroyed the vitality of her people, as not to do that which was done by the Free Church of Scotland, by the poor population of Wales, and by the trampled on and insulted Catholics of Ireland. Did any man suppose that a substitute for the church rates could be voted out of the Consolidated Fund? No Government, however strong, dare propose it; and if that were impossible, what was to be their resource? It must be found either in the fruits of a better administration of the funds of the Church, or in the voluntary contributions of her congregations throughout the country. He should be content with either of those propositions; and to one of them they must ultimately have recourse. It would appear, from what had fallen from the noble Lord and from the right hon. Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey), that as this question was settled in most of the large towns, as there were no serious agitations on it just at present, it did not require the attention of the House. Why, if in those towns the church-rate question was settled, it was settled contrary to the spirit of the exist- ing law, and by the fact of the Dissenters and what were called the liberal Churchmen having united together to put an end to the system. But where there was one such parish, one parish which escaped church rates, there were more than ten in which this grievance remained, and the House, therefore, must not for a moment suppose that this was not a question still having great interest for the people, and still demanding a just and fair settlement. He asked Churchmen, then, whether it would not be better for the true and lasting interests of their Church to get rid of it finally, and for ever? From ail that he had heard, the House was now more ready than it ever bad been to deal with and to decide the question. He urged them to do so, and felt sure that the pleasure they would thus give would not be confined to Dissenters, but would be largely shared in by those who were members of the Church, As regarded the Resolutions, if that of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets were carried, he presumed that that hon. Member would be ready, in deference to the House, to withdraw that part of it which regarded pew rents. If, however, that Amendment was not carried, and the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock was introduced, he confessed he should like to have the interval between this and the second reading to consider its principle. It would be extremely difficult to vote against it, because it did exempt those who were unfairly taxed; still there were, on the other hand, objections to it, and he did not at present see how they were to be overcome.


rose to reply, amidst loud cries for a division. He referred to the contradictory objections that had been urged against his measure, as proving that it was one of great moderation. Until yesterday morning he was perfectly ignorant of the provisions contained in Lord Stanley's pamphlet. He contended that his measure had been much misrepresented by the right hon. Member for Morpeth (Sir Cr. Grey) especially as regarded its operation on Dissenters.

Question put. The House divided:—Ayes 185; Noes 207: Majority 22.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.
A'Court, C. H. W. Baring, T.
Adderley, C. B. Barrington, Visct.
Atherton, W. Blair, Col.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Boldero, Col.
Bankes, rt. hon. G. Booth, Sir R. G.
Bramston, T. W. Johnstone, Sir J.
Brockman, E. D. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Jones, Capt.
Bruce, Lord E. Jones, D.
Buck, L. W. Kelly, Sir F.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Keogh, W.
Burghley, Lord Kingscote, R. N. F.
Campbell, Sir A. I. Kirk, W.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Knightley, R.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Lacon, Sir E.
Cayley, E. S. Langton, W. G.
Charteris, hon. F. Lawley, hon. F. C.
Cholmondeley, Lord H. Lewisham, Visct.
Christopher, rt. hn. R. A. Liddell, H. G.
Clive, hon. R. H. Lindsay, hon. Col.
Clive, R. Lockhart, W.
Cobbold, J. C. Long, W.
Cocks, T. S. Lovaine, Lord
Coles, H. B. Lowe, R.
Colville, C. R. Lowther, hon. Col.
Coote, Sir C. H. Lytton, Sir G. E. L. B.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Macartney, G.
Cowper, hon. W. F. MacGregor, J.
Cubitt, Ald. Manners, Lord G.
Davies, D. A. S. Manners, Lord J.
Dent, J. D. Masterman, J.
Bering, Sir E. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Meux, Sir H.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Miles, W.
Egerton, Sir P. Michell, W.
Egerton, W. T. Molesworth, rt. hn. Sir W.
Egerton, E. C. Moncreiff, J.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Montgomery, Sir G.
Esmonde, J. Moody, C. A.
Euston, Earl of Morgan, C. R.
Fellowes, E. Mulgrave, Earl of
Ferguson, Sir R. Mullings, J. R.
Fitzgerald, W. R. S. Mundy, W.
Fitzroy, hon. N. Murphy, F. S.
Follett, B. S. Naas, Lord
Forester, rt. hon. Col. North, Col.
Forster, Sir G. Ossulston, Lord
Frewen, C. H. Paget, Lord A.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Galway, Visct. Palmer, R.
George, J. Palmerston, Visct.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E. Parker, R. T.
Gladstone, Capt. Peel, Sir R.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Peel, F.
Graham, Lord M. W. Peel, Col.
Granby, Marq. of Percy, hon. J.W.
Greenall, G. Philipps, J. H.
Greene, T. Portal, M.
Grenfell, C. W. Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Grogan, E. Repton, G. W. J.
Grosvenor, Earl Rolt, P.
Hale, R. B. Rumbold, C. E.
Hamilton, G. A. Russell, Lord J.
Hanbury, hon. C. S. B. Russell, F. C. H.
Harcourt, G. G. Sandars, G.
Hayes, Sir E. Sawle, C. B. G.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Seaham, Visct.
Heathcote, Sir G. J. Seymer, H. K.
Heathcote, G. H. Seymour, Lord
Heneage, G. H. W. Smijth, Sir W.
Heneage, G. F. Smollett, A.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Somerset, Capt.
Hervey, Lord A. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Hildyard, R. C. Spooner, R.
Hughes, W. B. Stafford, A.
Hume, W. F. Stafford, Marq. of
Ingham, R. Stanhope, J. B.
Jermyn, Earl Stanley, Lord
Stephenson, R. Walcott, Adm.
Stirling, W. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Strutt, rt. hon. E. West, F. R.
Stuart, H. Whitbread, S.
Talbot, C. R. M. Whitmore, H.
Thesiger, Sir F. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Tollemache, J. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Towneley, C. Wrightson, W. B.
Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J. Wyndham, Gen.
Turner, C. Wynne, W. W. E.
Tyler, Sir G. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Vance, J. Young, rt. hon. Sir J.
Vane, Lord A. TELLERS.
Vivian, J. E. Phillimore, R. J.
Vyvyan, Sir R. R. Bruce, H. A.
List of the NOES.
Adair, H. E. Davison, R.
Aglionby, H. A. Denison, J. E.
Alcock, T. Divett, E.
Anderson, Sir J. Duffy, C. G.
Archdall, Capt. M. Duke, Sir J.
Arkwright, G. Duncan, G.
Bagge, W. Duncombe, T.
Bailey, C. Dunlop, A. M.
Ball, E. East, Sir J. B.
Barnes, T. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Barrow, W. H. Ellice, E.
Bass, M. T. Evans, Sir De L.
Beaumont, W. B. Ewart, W.
Bell, J. Farnham, E. B.
Bennet, P. Farrer, J.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Fergus, J.
Berkeley, hon. H. P. Ferguson, J.
Berkeley, hon. C. P. Fitzgerald, J. D.
Bethell, R. Fitzgerald, Sir J. F.
Biddulph, R. M. Floyer, J.
Biggs, W. Foley, J. H. H.
Blackett, J. F. B. Forster, C.
Bland, L. H. Forster, J.
Bonham-Carter, J. Fortescue, C.
Booker, T. W. Fox, W. J.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Gardner, R.
Bowyer, G. Gaskell, J. M.
Boyle, hon. Col. Geach, C.
Brady, J. Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.
Brand, hon. H. Glyn, G. C.
Bright, J. Goddard, A. L.
Brocklehurst, J. Goderich, Visct.
Brotherton, J. Gooch, Sir E. S.
Brown, W. Goodman, Sir G.
Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W. Gower, hon. F. L.
Burroughes, H. N. Greaves, E.
Butler, C. S. Greene, J.
Butt, I. Gregson, S.
Byng, hon. G. H. C. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Cairns, H. M. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Cavendish, hon. G. Gwyn, H.
Chambers, M. Hadfield, G.
Chambers, T. Hall, Sir B.
Chaplin, W. J. Halsey, T. P.
Cheetham, J. Hanmer, Sir J.
Chelsea, Visct. Harcourt, Col.
Clifford, H. M. Hardinge, hon. C. S.
Cobbett, J. M. Hastie, A.
Cobden, R. Hastie, A.
Coffin, W. Headlam, T. E.
Collier, R. P. Heywood, J.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Heyworth, L.
Crossley, F. Hindley, C.
Currie, R. Hotham, Lord
Dalrymple, Visct. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Dashwood, Sir G. H. Hume, J.
Hutchins, E. J. Price, W. P.
Hutt, W. Pritchard, J.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Ramsden, Sir J. W.
Keating, H. S. Ricardo, O.
Kendall, N. Robartes, T. J. A.
Kennedy, T. Robertson, P. F.
Kershaw, J. Sadleir, J.
King, hon. P. J. L. Scholefield, W.
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Scobell, Capt.
Knatchbull, W. F. Scully, F.
Laffan, R. M. Seymour, H. D.
Langston, J. H. Seymour, W. D.
Langton, H. G. Shelley, Sir J. B.
Laslett, W. Sheridan, Sir R.
Layard, A. H. Smith, J. B.
Lee, W. Smith, M. T.
Lucas, F. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Mackie, J. Smith, W. M.
M'Cann, J. Strickland, Sir G.
M'Gregor, J. Stuart, Lord D.
Maddock, Sir H. Sullivan, M.
Maguire, J. F. Swift, R.
Martin, J. Tancred, H. W.
Massey, W. N. Taylor, Col.
Meagher, T. Thicknesse, R. A.
Miall, E. Thompson, G.
Milligan, R. Thornely, T.
Mills, T. Vansittart, G. H.
Milner, W. M. E. Vivian, J. H.
Mitchell, T. A. Vivian, H. H.
Moffatt, G. Waddington, H. S.
Morris, D. Wall, C. B.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Walmsley, Sir J.
Muntz, G. F. Walter, J.
Murrough, J. P. Warner, E.
Newark, Visct. Whalley, G. H.
Newdegate, C. N. Whatman, J.
Norreys, Lord Wickham, H. W.
Oakes, J. H. P. Wigram, L. T.
Oliveira, B. Wilkinson, W. A.
Osborne, R. Willcox, B. M.
Paget, L. G. Williams, W.
Pechell, Sir G. B. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Pellatt, A. Wise, A.
Pennant, hon. Col. Woodd, B. T.
Phillimore, J. G. Wyvill, M.
Phinn, T. TELLERS.
Pigott, F. Clay, Sir W.
Pilkington, J. Peto, S. M.

Question proposed— That the words 'this House do resolve itself into a Committee, to consider whether church rates should not be abolished, and provision made for the charges to which such rates are at present applicable—from pew rents, and from the increased value which inquiries instituted by authority of the Crown have shown may be derived, under better management, from church lands and property,' be added to the word 'that' in the original Question.

Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment— To leave out from the word 'House' to the end of the said proposed Amendment, in order to add the words 'is of opinion that the present mode of levying church rates for the repairs of the edifices, and for the service of the Church of England, shall henceforth cease, as by law has been already accomplished in Ireland; and that the amount inquired for the service of the Church should in future be supplied from the funds belonging to the Church of England, and at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners,' instead thereof."—Mr. Hume.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the said proposed Amendment."

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn; Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put— That this House do resolve itself into a Committee, to consider whether church rates should not be abolished, and provision made for the charges to which such rates are at present applicable—from pew rents, and from the increased value which inquiries instituted by authority of the Crown have shown may be derived, under better management, from church lands and property.

The House divided:—Ayes 172; Noes 220: Majority 48.