HC Deb 27 July 1854 vol 135 cc864-72

Order read for going into Committee of Supply.

Motion made, and Question proposed', "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said, in calling the attention of the House to the case of the Bishop of New Zealand, he begged to observe that when he had complained on a former occasion of the withdrawal of the grant to the Bishop, he was told there was nothing new in it, as the grant had been stopped in 1853. He then inquired if any despatch had been sent out either to the Bishop of New Zealand or to the Governor of New Zealand to state the intention of the Government to withdraw the grant, or to state the fact that it had been withdrawn, and the answer of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir G. Grey) was, that no such information had been sent to either of these parties. In the year 1853 the income which the Bishop had received from the time of his appointment was withdrawn, without the slightest intimation being sent of the intention either to the Bishop or to the Governor of New Zealand. He would say nothing of the position of the Bishop of New Zealand, of his exemplary character, and great and admitted capacity. He would assume for a moment that instead of being a bishop of the Church of England he was the lowest official of the smallest colony, and he (Sir J. Pakington) would ask the House whether in the case of any public servant, be he who he may, it was consistent with good faith and fair dealing, that an allowance once granted by Parliament, and on the faith of which that public servant had gone out to the Colony, should be so withdrawn. Putting the case in that way to the House, he begged to say distinctly that he did not intend to make any accusation against the Duke of Newcastle, the Secretary of State who arranged the matter. He was quite sure that the Duke of Newcastle was as little inclined as any one could be to do anything unfair towards any public servant connected with his department, and more especially one holding the high position of the Bishop of New Zealand. He might add, that he knew too much of the Colonial Office to feel surprised that occasional mistakes of that kind should arise, and he could only suppose that this was a mistake, and that in withdrawing this grant from the Estimates of 1853, without the slightest warning to the Bishop, the Duke of Newcastle had acted inadvertently, and in that view he looked to its speedy and effectual rectification. He (Sir J. Pakington) would not advert to the attempt that had been made to throw the blame of this upon him. He could only say that he felt extremely innocent on the subject. It was true that in the year 1852, he expressed a hope that after two years New Zealand would cease to be a charge upon this country. Perhaps he had not been so cautious in making a distinct exception with regard to the salary of the Bishop as he should have been, but nothing would induce him to be a party to such a withdrawal of the grant as had actually taken place, and that without due notice. He would remind any hon. Gentleman who attempted to throw blame on him of the fact that it was stopped in 1853 without any warning or notice, and, at all events, he was innocent of that, because it did not devolve on him to send out notice. But if hon. Gentlemen thought he was to blame, be was willing to bear his share of it, but he would not be a party to stopping the grant under such circumstances. In a letter written by the Under Secretary for the Colonies, by the direction of the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey), it was stated that, until it had appeared incidentally, the Governor was under the impression that the Vote for the salary of 600l. had been continued. Now, he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman if those words did not establish his (Sir J. Pakington's) case? Why was the Governor under the impression, or how did he discover it incidentally? If the intention had been courteously communicated, no such erroneous impression would have existed. The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to say that the Estimate of 1853 had been diminished by previous engagements to 5,090l and he (Sir J. Pakington) must beg to correct the right hon. Gentleman with respect to that passage of his letter. The right hon. Gentleman would not find that anything that had been said by him would render it necessary to reduce the grant in 1853 to 5,090l. He (Sir J. Pakington) had talked of gradual reduction, but said nothing with respect to the reduction of the grant to that amount. He then said the salary of the Bishop, with other items, was omitted, but he gave no reason why they were omitted. It was perfectly clear from those extracts that the right hon. Gentleman did not intend to give any reason for the withdrawal of the salary. His letter to the Bishop was, of course, worded very politely, but the real substance of it was, "I am sorry to say that I have to inform you that your salary is stopped." To this letter the Bishop sent an answer. It was written in a calm and dignified tone, and he made no complaint; and if there was anything like severity in the letter, it was only the severity that was inseparable from the nature of these unfortunate circumstances. The Bishop stated the facts on which the question mainly turned. The salary was taken away by the Government in 1853, and he never received any notice of the fact until the 25th of June, 1854. It was true that the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell), who was Colonial Minister when the arrangement respecting the bishopric was originally made, had said that he would not be responsible for the permanence of the salary. But in saying that the noble Lord could only mean one of two things—first, that he would not answer for Parliament being always disposed to continue this grant, and that at some future day the income of the bishopric might be transferred from the Parliamentary grant to some other source. He (Sir J. Pakington) did not believe the noble Lord had intended to intimate to the Bishop the possibility that he, the very Minister who made the arrangement, would turn round on the Bishop and say his income was to be taken away without any warning, or any provision being made for it elsewhere. It was well known that the Bishop of New Zealand did not desire income for income's sake. He bestowed his income in a manner that was worthy of a Bishop of the Church. He bestowed it with liberality and generosity, and from the fact of his devoting his income to the benefit of his fellow-Christians, and never making it a source of profit to himself, he might have been exposed on receiving this intimation to the want of pecuniary means. He (Sir J. Pakington) did not affirm that the salary of the Bishop of New Zealand was to be a permanent charge on the funds of the country. He thought it might be desirable to do in that case as had been done in others, and transfer it to some other source; but until they had done so, they were bound in good faith, and by a regard for the dignity and welfare of the Church, to continue that salary until they had otherwise provided for it. He asked the noble Lord the Lord President of the Council, and the right hon. Gentleman who filled the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies, whe- ther it had not been the uniform policy of successive Administrations in this country to increase the episcopacy in Colonies; and it was also their uniform policy never to allow the establishment of a new bishopric until a sufficient endowment was provided. Did it not follow from that that it was the uniform opinion of successive Governments that it was absolutely necessary that those who held the office of bishops in the Colonies should be properly provided for, and if it were opposed to that policy, to establish a bishopric until an endowment was found, it was equally opposed to it to leave this bishopric destitute. Before placing his Motion in Mr. Speaker's hands, he would confess that he entertained the most sanguine hope that the Government would admit, whomever the blame might rest upon, that his proposition should be acceded to, and it should be recollected that the salary was stopped by an act of the Government, and not by the act of the House of Commons. It was stopped, he believed, under a misapprehension, and he hoped Her Majesty's Government would not resist his application. In conclusion, he begged to propose the Motion of which he had given notice.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words— This House will To-morrow resolve itself into a Committee to consider of presenting an humble Address to Her Majesty, praying that She may be graciously pleased to give directions that the Salary of 600l. heretofore voted annually to the Lord Bishop of New Zealand shall be paid for the years 1853 and 1854; and assuring Her Majesty that this House will make good the same.


said, that this grant of late years had been allowed to pass upon the distinct understanding that it would be gradually reduced and ultimately withdrawn altogether. When the grant was last before the House, he threatened to divide upon it, but upon receiving a distinct pledge that it would not be resumed he did not persevere in his intention, and the grant was allowed to pass. Under these circumstances he contended that it would be a breach of faith to Parliament if this Motion were agreed to. Upon what principle of common justice or common honesty could the right hon. Baronet expect this country to support a Bishop of New Zealand? If the Colony wanted a bishop the Colony was well able to support one; on the other hand, if the Colony did not want one, let the right rev. Prelate withdraw from it.


said, he trusted the Government would not oppose this act, he would not say of grace, but of justice and common fairness. It was now twelve or fourteen years since that House, by a distinct vote, without any qualification, had sent out this most distinguished man to the diocese of New Zealand, and certainly at that time there was not the slightest intimation held out that his stipend would ever be thus summarily withdrawn. When the Vote originally appeared in the Estimates, it appeared not as a charge relating to the colony of New Zealand, but as an item in the Estimate for the ecclesiastical and clerical charge of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Zealand, and several years elapsed before it appeared in its present form. But some time afterwards it was presented in a different form, and it became liable to the grave consideration whether, generally speaking, the provision for the prelates of the Church in the colony should be made by the colony or by this country. As regarded the ecclesiastical salaries of Canada and Nova Scotia, they still continued to be voted by Parliament during the lives of the present recipients. The salary of this Bishop belonged to the same class; and in their Report the Committee on the Miscellaneous Estimates, which sat five or six years ago, stated that they declined to enter into the consideration of salaries belonging to this category, because they would lapse altogether with the lives of the life-holders. Well, this admirable Prelate had gone forth to a remote colony to discharge most important Christian duties there, never dreaming that he would receive treatment such as was now suggested, and which he (Sir T. Acland) could hardly trust himself to characterise as it deserved. It was not merely the bounty of Parliament that was asked for him, but rather what was justly due, on the principle that the labourer was worthy of his hire. The Bishop of New Zealand had helped to prepare in those islands a state of society in which was exhibited perhaps the most remarkable instance ever known of the bringing of a numerous and high-spirited native population into full union and sympathy with a Christian country to whom they had become subject. This the right rev. Prelate had done in a manner that deserved the highest consideration on their part; and he (Sir T. Acland) felt assured that that House would not refuse the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington), and which he sincerely trusted would meet with no opposition from any Member of the Government.


said, that, having answered various questions that had been put to him recently on this subject, and correspondence relating to it having been produced, the facts of this case were already sufficiently known to the House, and it was therefore unnecessary for him now to reiterate them. Neither was it needful that he should repeat his entire concurrence in the eulogiums that had been passed upon the excellence, the zeal, and the ability of the Bishop of New Zealand. He believed the appointment of that Prelate by his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell), in 1839, to the diocese which he had now for many years occupied had been productive of the greatest benefits to New Zealand and the neighbouring islands, and especially to the native races inhabiting them. With regard to this salary itself, he must say, that although it was originally proposed in the manner stated by his hon. Friend the Member for North Devonshire (Sir T. Acland), not as a salary for New Zealand alone, but in common with the ecclesiastical salaries voted for different parts of our Colonies, yet this arose from the circumstance that there used to be no Vote for New Zealand asked from Parliament, and as soon as a Vote came to be required for the civil service of that Colony, the Bishop's income of 600l. formed a part of it. The Vote was justified on the ground that in an infant colony like New Zealand the local resources were not sufficient to meet the exigencies of the settlement, and, therefore, the aid of Parliament was invoked in its behalf. Thus the Vote was continued from year to year, till in 1851 a despatch was addressed to the Secretary of State by the Governor of New Zealand, describing the financial condition and prospects of the Colony, and stating that if 10,000l. was voted in 1852 by Parliament in aid of the colonial revenues, in 1853 the Vote might be reduced to 5,000l., after which he thought no further help would be asked from the British Parliament in aid of the finances of the Colony. He (Sir G. Grey) thought the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) would find, independently of what he was reported to have stated to the House at the time, that a note was appended to the Estimates for 1852 (which were prepared under the direction of the right hon. Gentleman), in which it was stated, in accordance with the opinion of the Governor, that if 10,000l. was granted in 1852, a sum of about 5,000l. would be all that would be required in 1853, after which no further Vote would be required for the civil services in New Zealand; and he (Sir G. Grey) found, on looking over the records, that when the Vote of 1852 was objected to on the specific ground that it contained 600l. for the Bishop, the right hon. Gentleman rose and said that after 1853 nothing more would be required on account of the civil service of New Zealand, making no exception of the Bishop's salary, so that the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Williams) was entitled to express himself as he had done, because he had been induced to withdraw his opposition to the Vote on that occasion by reason of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. But it seemed now that the right hon. Gentleman intended to except from that general statement this 600l. a year; but he thought it was the right hon. Gentleman himself who ought in 1852 to have addressed a despatch to the Governor, informing him that he had stated in the House of Commons that no Vote would be brought forward again, and suggesting to him that proper means should be taken for providing this sum from the resources of the Colony. No such intimation, however, was conveyed by the right hon. Gentleman, and next year, when the Vote was discontinued—no doubt it might have been from accident or inadvertence on the part of the right hon. Gentleman—no direct communication was made to the Governor or to the Bishop of the actual cessation of the Vote. The right hon. Gentleman was wrong in saying that no intimation of any kind had been sent to the Colony, because, as he had informed the right hon. Gentleman, in answer to a question that had been put to him, the Estimate itself had been sent to the Colony, and the inspection of it would at once show that the salary had been withdrawn. Yet, owing to there having been no previous communication to the Governor on the subject, either from the right hon. Gentleman or from the Duke of Newcastle, the 600l. had been actually paid to the Bishop in the Colony for the year 1853, so that the alleged sudden stoppage was no sudden stoppage at all; and in point of fact the salary had only ceased from March, 1854. The Bishop certainly, however, had no intimation of this cessation, and he (Sir G. Grey) had received a despatch from the Governor, as if the salary were still pay- able. The House must be aware that he had nothing to do with the occurrences to which he had adverted; but upon learning these facts, he thought it right to communicate immediately with the acting Governor, and desire that he would take steps, without delay, to induce the authorities in the Colony to provide for the salary of the Bishop from the time it had actually ceased. If it should appear that the payment to the Bishop of the salary of 1853 was an illegal payment, and that there existed any claim upon him in respect to that salary, he (Sir G. Grey) was willing at once to express his opinion that this was a claim to which the Bishop ought not to be liable, and the House, he thought, ought to be called upon to make good such a demand. So, with regard to the year 1854, to which the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman was limited, he was prepared to say that, if the Bishop had been put to inconvenience—which it was impossible he should not have been put to from the sudden withdrawal of the salary and the absence of all notice—and if the appeal to the Assembly of New Zealand was not successful, then this House ought, he thought, to make good the salary for that period also. They were not, however, in a condition now to determine that question. The Bishop had received his salary for 1853, and he hoped the appeal to the Assembly of New Zealand would be productive of a good effect, and that it would be unnecessary to call upon this House to make good his salary. With regard to these two years the Bishop had a claim upon the Colony, and that was a claim which the Government would very willingly recognise, in the event of the Assembly not taking it upon themselves to meet it.


said, that, although the right hon. Colonial Secretary had, with respect to these two years' salary, said everything which could be wished for, an important principle was involved in this case, to which it was right the attention of the House should be called. The House should consider in what position any bishop or clergyman sent out would be placed if an appointment of this nature were made, fixing on a person an office of which he could be divested, and if the salary which had been accorded to him was then suddenly discontinued. It seemed to him that the Government of this country, assenting to the appointment of a bishop, and leading him to the expectation that his salary would be provided for by Parlia- ment, were bound, so far as that individual was concerned, to continue to provide for him that salary during the whole of the time he might continue to retain that position, in default of such a provision being forthcoming from any other quarter. In the absence of any disposition on the part of the Colonial Assembly to take upon themselves this charge, it appeared to him that it would be a most undignified and unworthy course of proceeding for this country to send out to a colony a person in an ecclesiastical situation, teaching him to rely upon the provision made by the Legislature for his annual support, and then to put the matter on a new footing, and say that if the Colonial Legislature did not take the charge of paying this salary the Bishop would have to go without his stipend. It was his conviction, that it would be the duty of this House to provide permanently for the salary of the Bishop if the Colonial Legislature did not do so. This was no colonial question, but a question simply concerning the honour and the good faith of the Imperial Parliament.


said, that after the statement they had heard from the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey), the House had nothing to deliberate upon. If the Bishop of New Zealand were the excellent man he was represented to be, and he did not doubt that he was, why did not the denomination to which he belonged enter into a subscription amongst themselves for the purpose of raising the money necessary for his support, without coming and asking the House of Commons to do it for them. This was not the place to grant money for religious purposes. Let the prosperous colonies connected with this country maintain their own religious establishments, in the same manner that the majority of the people of England now did theirs.


said, in reply to the hon. Member who had last addressed them, that the Bishop had expressed his determination to return to New Zealand, whether his income was secured to him or not, and there maintain himself by digging or begging in the best way he could.


said, that after the statement that had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, he should not persevere in his Motion.

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

Main Question put, and agreed to.