HC Deb 27 June 1855 vol 139 cc221-37

Order for Second Reading read.


said, that in moving the second reading of the Bill, he hoped the House would take its principle into consideration, not withstanding the late period of the Session, on account of its great importance, although there might not be much prospect of its being passed into a law during the present Session. In furtherance of his desire to have the Bill at least read a second time—and he did not propose to go further with it this Session—he might instance the present state of the Education Bills. Its object was three fold; in the first place, to promote the independence of existing districts; secondly, to give increased facilities for the formation of new districts; and, thirdly, to provide means for the better endowment of poorly endowed churches. He would briefly state the inconvenience arising from the present system, and the remedy which he proposed to apply. The House was of course aware that the Established Church was divided into two great branches, the episcopal and capitular branch, relating to the dignitaries of the Church, and the parochial branch, relating to those who were, in fact, the sinews of the Church, the working men, upon whom devolved the labour and heat of the day. Upon the first branch much attention had been bestowed by Parliament, and a great deal had been done to promote its efficiency, but the attention of Parliament had been very little drawn to the parochial portion of the Church. Large funds had been voted for the building of churches and other purposes, but little had been done to regulate the complex and anomalous laws affecting the various divisions of the districts assigned to the churches after they had been built. The consequence was, great and serious inconvenience had resulted, as he would shortly show, to hon. Members. The divisions of districts and parishes had been made under the authority of a Commission appointed thirty years ago to administer a Parliamentary grant for the building of churches. That Commission granted loans for the building of churches, and assigned districts to them as they were built. The first description of districts formed under the Church Building Commissioners' Act was that of district parishes. The churches in these district parishes were built either by means of rates, or loans, to be repayed by rates; they had then districts assigned to them; no services of the Church, such as the services for marriage, burial, and baptism, was permitted to be performed in them until after the avoidance of the mother churches, and the inhabitants of the districts were liable, with those of the original parishes, to be rated for the repairs of the mother churches for twenty years. There were seventy-nine of these district parishes, but, as they were found to be insufficient for the wants of the country, the Commissioners created consolidated chapelries, the number of which was at present ninety-two, consisting of portions of different parishes contiguous to each other. There was a remarkable difference in the laws regulating the district parishes and the consolidated chapelries, for in the latter all the services of the Church were permitted to be solemnised immediately on their formation, and whereas in district parishes the patronage was vested either in the patron or in the incumbent of the original parish, it was disposed of in consolidated chapelries in whatever manner might be agreed upon between the patrons. The next description of districts to which he wished to call attention, consisted of districts assigned to chapels-of-ease already in existence. They were called district chapelries, and they numbered no less than 578. The patronage was vested in the incumbent of the original parish, and there was a most incongruous and extraordinary arrangement with regard to the services and fees. In 355 cases the services were secured to the incumbent of the district, in ninety cases they were reserved to the incumbent of the district after the avoidance of the parish church, in three cases a portion of them only was so reserved, in six cases they were wholly reserved to the incumbent of the mother church, in thirty-two cases some of them were reserved to the incumbent of the parish church until after its avoidance, in fifty-seven cases they were divided between the incumbents of the district and of the parish church, in nine cases a similar arrangement was made under local Acts, in one case they could be performed by the incumbent of the district after a given date, in fourteen cases the incumbent of the district could perform them subject to the repayment of some of the fees to the incumbent of the mother church, and in thirteen cases none of them could be performed by the incumbent of the district. Another class of districts was created under the private Patronage Act, which gave the patronage of any district chapelry to any person building and endowing a church to the amount of 40l. per annum, and the number of districts of this description created by the Commissioners was seventy-two. There was some difficulty in distinguishing in what cases the Commissioners, and in what cases the bishops, had power to create these districts; 221, however, had been created by the bishops. The natural result of the state of things he had describ- ed was one of great complexity and confusion, much of which had, no doubt, arisen from the extension of the principle upon which the Commissioners had first proceeded. One of the first conditions originally laid down for the building of a new church was, that the population of the district should not be less than 4,000, that there should not be accommodation for more than one-fourth of the inhabitants in the mother church, and that 1,000 of the inhabitants should reside at a distance of more than four miles from the church; but a subsequent Act partially removed these restrictions, and by the 14 & 15 Vict, they were altogether removed. District chapelries at first had no parochial status, but were looked upon as appanages of the original parish, dependent on its incumbent, but successive Acts of Parliament had increased their independence, and a recent Act, provided that when they had received an augmentation from Queen Anne's Bounty they should become benefices and the incumbents perpetual curates. Great inconvenience a rose from the present state of things in three respects—the payment of church-rates in these districts, the effect of the present system upon the performance of divine service in the mother churches, and the payment of fees to the mother church. With regard to the payment of church-rates, the Rev. F. Wade, the incumbent of a large parish in Staffordshire, in his evidence given before the Commissioners, said— There is one case I should wish to bring before the Commissioners, and I think it is a very strong one as illustrating my view, that where a division takes place, it tends to facilitate the collection of the rates. I allude to the parish of Stoke-upon-Trent, one of the largest in England. Some years ago that parish was divided; the Act of Parliament under which it was divided was the 47th of Geo. III., c. 114, s. 2, and the ancient chapelries of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Burslem, Whitmore, Bucknall, Bognall, and Norton-in-the-Moors were constituted under the provisions of that Act separate rectories, leaving still to the parish church of Stoke-upon-Trent the two ancient chapelries of Lane End and Hanley. These five rectories that had been severed from the parish church enjoy their rates unquestioned at the present moment, and the parish church of Stoke-upon-Trent has lost its rates, and every attempt to collect a rate in that parish has been frustrated—not by the people resident around the parish church in its own proper district, but by the opposition offered to the rate from the outlying townships of Hanley and Lane End. The parishioners of those districts have come down and voted against the rate; no portion of it would go to support their new chapelries, and therefore they have successfully resisted the rate. Now, those churches that were severed have their rates at the present time, and there are a number of new chapelries built in that parish under various Acts, principally the 1st and 2nd Will. IV., c. 38—the chapelries of Penkull, Fenton, Trent Vale, and Hart's Hill; every one of these parishes or districts is a source of weakness to the mother church, because they oppose the rate for the parish church, whereas I have the authority of the clergy of those districts to state that if they were severed they would at once lay a rate and collect it. The inconvenience of the present system in regard to the solemnisation of the rites of the Church could not be more forcibly shown than by the evidence of Mr. J. Morley, speaking of the collegiate church of Manchester— How many marriages have you of a Sunday?—Sometimes as many as sixty. I presume the Commissioners are to understand, when you say from 124 to 312, with reference to banns, you only mean for a single time?—The gross number of banns published on the 2nd of January, 1848, was 124. Can you state to the Commissioners the number of baptisms?—In 1847, 4,269; in 1848, 4,652; and from the 1st of January this year to the 24th of June, 2,208, Is the whole ceremony gone through?—No; it is anything but solemnly performed on account of the numbers. The clergy used their best endeavours, and we have four apparitors present to preserve order. How are the fees paid, and where are they demanded?—The sacrament of baptism is administered on Sunday after the evening service, and usually commences about 5.30. The mothers, with their infants, are admitted into the chapel adjoining the chancel. Those having male children are placed on one side, and those with females on the other, the sponsors standing behind. The service is read by one of the officiating ministers present. The responses are made by the clerk and a few of the sponsors in the immediate vicinity of the clergyman. The ceremony of baptising then begins; one minister takes the boys and another the girls; but before the conclusion of the words that are repeated to all, there exists a scene of confusion and noise not consistent with so solemn an ordinance; the children crying and the mothers in vain endeavouring to appease them; some talking, others walking, notwithstanding the efforts of the four apparitors. It ought to be stated that prior to the baptismal service, and during the general service, many of the parents and sponsors resort to a public house adjoining the church, where they may be seen drinking and smoking; those who are unable to write out in proper form the paper required to be given to the clerk for registration are here furnished with a form in consideration of the parties paying a small sum of money or taking a glass of liquor. The writer was shocked to witness these scenes on Sunday last at the Black Boy public house, whither he resorted with one of his colleagues. Some of the men who stated that they were about to become sponsors were under the influence of the drink they had taken. With regard to fees, Mr. Wade was asked whether there were not other reasons besides the former that made him desirous of separating his districts more completely from the mother church? His answer was— Yes; two or three reasons that I would simply refer to, and one is, the great objection and opposition that arises to the payment of double fees, where double fees are exacted from those new districts. The people have been at great expense to build the churches, and yet they find they cannot enjoy from their own clergymen the various offices of the Church. Their associations naturally lead them to call upon their new minister for burials, marriages, and other offices, but they cannot have them without paying double fees. The Rev. E. Blick, the rector of Rotherhithe, gave important evidence on this subject. He said— I may add, that I so dislike the system of double fees, that I think they ought never to be endured, except when the poverty of the mother church renders it necessary. …. The case was different at Rotherhithe, and I have been able not only to give the clergymen the fees in their districts, but also every fee they could take at their church, leaving to myself any fees that came to my church; then you see the people do as they like, and the fees at the district churches are beginning to be very considerable, and, strange to say, mine have not diminished very much at present, and I believe it is the parochial division that has worked up the thing. He now came to the proposals of his Bill, First, with regard to sites, he proposed to follow the precedent of the existing law, and to vest all the sites in the incumbent of the different churches as soon as they assumed an independent character. He proposed that all the districts created under the Church Building Acts should have a complete and independent parochial character. The Bill provided that upon the application of the incumbent and churchwardens of a district, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should have the power to erect that district into a separate and independent parish. The name and designation of the ministers was not unimportant. It might be asked, "What is in a name?" He thought there was a great deal in a name. The name of perpetual curates implied dependence upon some authority other than a bishop, and he had received communications from clergymen of great experience in the Church, stating the in convenience which a rose from this cause. The Rev. Dr. J. Baylee, the head of a theological college at Birkenhead, said— Small a matter as it may appear, yet it is a practical inconvenience to a district minister never to be able to speak of his parishioners. It creates an invidious distinction which has in it no reality, and yet some times the pressure of it is felt when a clergyman feels it almost too small a thing to speak of in public. It creates a sort of apparent vassalage to the parish church, often abundantly sufficient to create irritating trivialities, all the more annoying because they are so little understood by the general public that a clergyman who complained of them would appear to make too much of trifles. I speak from considerable experience in assuring you that the removal of this inconvenience would prove a great boon to the Church. What was wanted was, that the ministers of these churches should feel that they, and they alone, were responsible for the spiritual welfare of their flocks, and he there fore proposed that the incumbents of those districts which were created into separate and independent parishes should either be designated vicars or rectors, as the mother parish was a vicarage or rectory, and that all the services of the Church should be performed in all these districts. Where the fees were reserved to the incumbent of the mother parish, they would be continued, until the first avoidance of the mother parish, after which these fees would form part of the usual and ordinary endowment of the separate parishes. The 6th and 7th Vict., commonly called Sir Robert Peel's Act, vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners the power to constitute districts and parishes. The Commissioners had erected 242 parishes under that Act, in 189 of which churches had been built, and they had become perfect parishes. The Act consisted only of some twenty-five clauses, strongly contrasting with the cumbrous machinery of the Church Building Acts. Unless some Act were passed to continue the Church Building Commissioners in the exercise of their functions, their official existence would expire on the 26th of July, 1856. Instead, therefore, of consolidating the various Church Building Acts, he proposed to repeal them, and upon the expiration of the Church Building Commissioners to vest whatever property they bad in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England. He also proposed that the powers of Sir Robert Peel's Act should be extended, so as to enable the Commissioners to continue the subdivision of parishes to any extent that might be required in future, and to give them powers to constitute a district, whether it contained a church or not. It was a very simple Bill; because it had taken as its basis, the parochial status. Saving existing interests it proceeded upon that simple principle that the districts constituted should be parishes, and their ministers pastors. As an instance of the benefit of this principle, he begged permission to read a statement of what had been done in the parochial district of St. Andrew's, Lambeth, which contained a population of a most demoralised character. A church was being built in this district, and the incumbent said— The district was assigned under the late Sir Robert Peel's Act. Its boundaries are the river Thames and the New Cut, Cornwall Road, and Broad Wall, and it has a population of 8,000 souls. When I came here, five years ago, there was no place of worship of any kind whatever, and only a small ragged school; since then the Ragged School house in Windmill Street has been built; the temporary church in Thomas Street and the Ragged Church in Windmill Street have been opened; Sunday schools, a district visiting society, a clothing society, a maternal society, a young men's society, a provident fund, cottage lectures, and Bible classes have been established. … Reviewing our work, while, on the one hand, we have many shortcomings, infirmities, and deficiencies to humble us, yet, on the other, we have abundant reason to thank God and take courage. The Divine blessing has graciously rested upon our endeavours. This is seen in the improved physical, social, and moral condition of the people, in the kind reception which the clergy and their assistants universally meet with, in the readiness shown by the people to receive religious instruction, in over-crowded schools, in the number of outcast boys got into refuges, fallen females into asylums, persons living in fornication married; in the evidence which many give of real conversion to God; in the large number of district visitors, Sunday and week-night teachers, and in the general interest which has been awakened in the minds of the people; so that we have reason to believe that many hundreds would attend church if they had the opportunity. Another subject was, that of endowments. The ancient principle as to endowments was stated in Burn's Ecclesiastical Law. Those who built or endowed churches were entitled to the jus patronatus—the right of presentation. Now, that he considered was a principle upon which the House should still proceed. At present, endowments were frequently provided in great part out of pew-rents, but there were great evils attendant upon this system. He did not mean that pew-rents, as a source of revenue could be altogether discarded in the present state of the Church, and he thought that both rich and poor were glad to obtain a vested right in a particular sitting by a quarterly payment. But pew-rents ought not to be looked to permanently as the means of providing a suitable maintenance for a clergyman. He had said, that one great principle of endowment was, that the patronage of churches should be placed, under proper restrictions, in the hands of the persons who built and endowed those churches, in order to stimulate private liberality. This principle had already been adopted in several existing Acts. The 1st and 2nd Will. IV., the Private Patronage Act, had led to endowments to the amount of 90.000l. Under the 6th and 7th Vict., the amount was 158.000l.—altogether upwards of 250,000l., which had been acquired for the Church by private liberality, upon the principle that the donors should enjoy the patronage. He proposed to carry this principle further, and with that view to deprive the incumbents of mother churches of their patronage of district churches which might be endowed by private persons, and to transfer the patronage to the persons so endowing, except where the incumbents of the mother churches had been the principal means of erecting the churches. A gain, as to livings under 200l. a year, he proposed that the patronage of them should be transferred to persons endowing them, provided that in cases of livings in the patronage of the Crown, the consent of the Crown should be required; in the case of livings in the patronage of bishops, that of the archbishop; and in the case of those in the patronage of deans and chapters or rectors that of the bishop should be required. He proposed, also, that powers should be given to divide parishes and distribute their tithes between the districts, leaving the patronage in the same hands as before, with the same consents as in the previous case. By means of the provisions of the Bill adequate endowments would be obtained for parishes which were either languishing for want of proper maintenance, or were in the objectionable position of being entirely dependent on pew-rents. These were the main features of the measure. He was obliged to the House for the patience with which they had listened to a statement of a somewhat complex nature. He was sure a measure of the kind he had brought forward was deserving their most attentive consideration, because, in providing for the extension of the parochial system, they were performing a duty incumbent on them, and in the performance of which they would reap the reward of seeing the Established Church ministering to the interests of religion, and completing that work which she was destined by her Lord and Master to accomplish.

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


said, it was impossible to deny the importance of the Bill, and the value of the main provisions embodied in it. The Bill to a certain extent was founded on the Report of a Commission on the subdivision of parishes; but the complexity of its details, and the several important subjects with which it dealt raised serious doubts whether at this late period of the Session, and in so thin a House, the noble Marquess ought to ask the consent of the House to its second reading. The noble Lord had stated that he should not proceed beyond the second reading, and had instanced the Education Bills as an argument for seeking to advance the Bill a stage. There seemed, however, to be a great disinclination to read the Education Bills a second time, because it would lead to no practical result. It was said that it would not advance those Bills, but it would fetter the discretion of Parliament. The same remark was certainly applicable to the present measure. If the principle of the Bill were to give further facilities for the subdivision of parishes, he was ready to accede to it. But the principle involved a great variety of subjects, as the noble Marquess proposed, not only to abolish the Church Building Commission and transfer their duties to the Ecclesiastical Commission, giving the latter very large and increased powers, but he proposed like wise to interfere with the endowment of parishes, with the law of mortmain, with the question of patronage, and with the question of pew-rents. Now all these subjects required, as the House was well aware, very grave consideration. He therefore did not see what advantage there would be in pledging the House to the principle of the Bill, when no further progress could be made with it. Even if it were earlier in the Session, he thought it impossible the Bill could be considered in a Committee of the whole House, and that referring, as it did, to a variety of Acts of Parliament, some of which were partially kept alive, and some of which were partially repealed, while others were wholly repealed or left wholly in force, it ought necessarily to be considered first by a Select Committee. He should be sorry to oppose any obstacle to the further progress of the measure, but he would ask the noble Lord to take that course, which it was pretty clearly indicated would be taken with re- gard to the Education Bills—namely, to lay the Bill before the country during the recess, and take it up again early next Session, when real progress might be made. Upon the main points to which the noble Marquess had adverted he quite agreed with, him, but, if he understood correctly the fourth clause, the Commissioners might constitute parishes, without permanent endowments, which, under Sir Robert Peel's Act, could not be done. He understood the noble Marquess to say it was expedient that the clergymen of new parishes should have such incomes as would make them independent, and it was matter for consideration whether that was as effectually provided by the Bill as it was by Sir Robert Peel's Act, which required that before parishes were constituted permanent endowment should be made. With regard to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, it was impossible to go on casting upon them duty upon duty without infusing new elements into their constitution so as to enable them satisfactorily to perform those duties. He thought the noble Lord should be satisfied with having laid the Bill before the House and the country, and given that exposition of its details which he had so ably presented, and should withdraw it at present, taking it up again at the commencement of next Session, when the Government would offer no objection to the second reading upon the condition that it be referred to a Select Committee.


said, he attached great importance to an extension of the parochial principle and the substitution of bonâ fide parishes for the multifarious and anomalous divisions which had been eliminated from the old parishes. If the parochial system was good, why should it not be carried out? Nothing could be more anomalous than the present condition of district church incumbents, authorised to perform some services and not others—to receive some fees and not others. He attached great importance to the extension of the parochial system, and he thought the consolidation of the Church Building Acts was very desirable. He concurred with the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary in thinking it might be requisite to strengthen the Ecclesiastical Commission. With regard to the clause relating to the Statute of Mortmain, there was a precedent in Sir Robert Peel's Act, which, it was stated, had produced beneficial results; and as to the formation of districts without endowments, though there were some words in the Bill open to that construction, he believed all that would be done would be to accumulate the pew-rents for a while, to form an endowment for the minister and render him for the future independent of such an undesirable source of revenue. He would, therefore, appeal to the right hon. Baronet to reconsider his decision, and, if the House agreed on the main principles of the Bill, to allow the Bill the sanction and weight throughout the country which the passing of the second reading would give it, with the understanding that it should proceed no further this Session, but be taken up early in the next, when it would have the advantage of those comments and observations which were sure to be elicited, and there would be some prospect of its being carried into effect.


said, the advantage of laying the measure before the country had already been attained by the first reading and printing of the Bill, which was of a most important and complicated character, and one to which the House ought not hastily to give a second reading without duly understanding it. There could be no such thing as reading a Bill a second time pro forma, while the second reading would diffuse the impression that the House had adopted and approved of the Bill. To diffuse such an impression was plainly the object of the noble Lord (the Marquess of Blandford), and the House should hesitate before they allowed it. The second reading would fetter the House on a future occasion. The objects of the Bill were most important, but, as to the means proposed, he did not agree with the noble Lord. The subject was most extensive, and would require a very careful investigation. The noble Lord had better be satisfied with the assent of the Government to the second reading of the Bill next Session. It was too much to ask the House to read the Bill a second time now.


said, he also must protest against the Bill receiving the sanction of a second reading. There were a dozen principles enunciated in the Bill. In the first place, with regard to church-rates, the noble Lord brought forward an entirely new principle, and created a new form of church-rates under circumstances peculiarly objectionable. The clause said that church-rates should be applicable to the new district. [The Marquess of BLANDFORD: Only to those districts. It is a negative clause.] The noble Lord had provided another mode for maintaining the fabric of the Church, and ho also provided that the church-rates should be applied to these new parishes. It was, therefore, not only giving a sanction to church-rates, but it was keeping them on when he himself, by the whole scope and nature of his Bill, acknowledged they might be done away with. Another provision gave power to the officers of any department under the Government, with the sanction of the Treasury, to make grants of land and convey to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners lands belonging to the Government. [The Marquess of BLANDFORD: For sites.] In other words, this was a new devotion of the national property to the purposes of the Established Church—a matter of very great importance. Then, again, he gave power to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to avail themselves of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act; it certainly was not for the purpose of compulsory purchase, but still it gave them a large power they did not before possess. If this matter were to be dealt with at all, it should be taken in hand by the Government, and all the Church Building Acts and Ecclesiastical Commissions Acts should be consolidated. He trusted the noble Lord would not press the second reading of the Bill.


said, he would advise the noble Lord to accept the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for it was quite impossible to legislate upon the subject without previous inquiry. He quite approved of the object of the Bill; but the object was one thing, and the sanctioning of the machinery proposed to carry it out was a different question. The statement of the noble Lord in moving the second reading evinced not only his sincerity, but the amount of reading he had bestowed on Acts of Parliament bearing on the subject; but he still thought that it would be better that the Bill should undergo the investigation of a Select Committee. He, therefore, hoped the Bill would be withdrawn now with the view of renewing it next Session, when there would be ample time for considering its details.


said, he did not doubt the good intentions and worthy objects of the noble Marquess, but he must take exception to the mode in which the noble Marquess proposed to carry his object out. The powers to be conferred by the Bill were far too extensive to be entrusted to one set of Commissioners; in fact, with reference to the taking of land, it conferred larger powers than those embraced in the Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts. Dissenters and Roman Catholics experienced just as great difficulties in obtaining sites for their chapels as the Church of England, and if the powers of the Bill were due to the Church of England, the Dissenters were equally entitled to the same authority. He should prefer, however, still to rely upon voluntary exertions exercised under Sir Robert Peel's Act; a great deal had already been done in that way, and he, for one, could see no necessity for a new Church Building Act. He should therefore move as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day three months; but it should be distinctly understood that he did so from no disrespect to the noble Marquess.

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

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


said, he would gladly see the Bill proceed to a second reading, to show that Parliament was prepared on the earliest occasion thoroughly to go into this complicated question. He knew practically that it was most difficult to build a church under any circumstances, and the expense of obtaining a private Act of Parliament was almost as much as the cost of the edifice. Although he was not prepared to go into the details of the measure, he considered a material fault was that no fund was provided for building churches, there being no great difficulty, when the edifice was reared, in obtaining proper endowment. As far as he could see, there were no means provided by the Bill by which church edifices might be erected. He knew that there existed a great objection to the appropriation of pew-rents to the building of churches, but he did not partake of that objection. Pew-rents could not he obtained except in rich parishes, and he saw no reason why the aristocracy and the country gentry should not contribute to the building of the church of which they would receive the benefit.


said, he did not think it desirable that the House should commit itself to the principle of the Bill without further discussion. At the same time he considered the Bill to contain some very valuable principles, to which he gave his hearty assent. Its main principle was the extension of the parochial clergy. It contained also the principle, that the powers of the Church Building Acts should either be consolidated or should be done away with altogether. The Bill likewise contained an excellent principle, which the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay) appeared to have misunderstood, with regard to church-rates. It was not proposed, as the hon. Baronet seemed to think, to extend the application of church-rates, but, on the contrary, that they should be curtailed. With respect to the power given to grant sites of ground on which churches were to be built, considerable misunderstanding appeared to prevail. It had been said that this power was unconstitutional. The fact was that a clause in the present Bill was a verbatim copy of the clause in the Church Building Act. A power already existed to grant these sites; all, therefore, which had been said upon that subject was a mere bugbear, and intended to scare the House from the measure. He certainly objected to the proposed endowments which were to arise from pew-rents, because he objected altogether to the system of pew-rents. The proposal to transfer the powers of the Church Building Commissioners to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would require great consideration. He was by no means enamoured of the proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, nor was he inclined, as at present advised, to give them further powers by transferring to them those which the Church Building Commissioners now possessed. He, however, thought it highly necessary that the various Commissions should undergo revision and consolidation. In conclusion, he joined his appeal to those which had been made to the noble Marquess, to be content with having drawn the attention of the House to this question, and with having had the Bill circulated, and to accede to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department, to allow the Bill to stand over till next Session, and then have it referred to a Select Committee.


said, he thought the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Pellatt) was not justified in supposing that there was anything in the Bill to which a conscientious Dissenter could have any object- tion. He conceived that it was equally the object of the Dissenters and members of the Church of England to promote the extension of Christianity and of morality; and certainly that could not be done by depriving the Church of England of the power which it was endeavoured to confer upon her by introducing a more efficient system than at present existed. He felt this measure to be one of such great importance, that the time of the House could hardly be better occupied than by fully entering into a discussion of the subject. It was impossible that the question could be left in its present position. Should, however, the Bill of the noble Marquess be adopted, there would arise this inconvenience, that there would be one law-applicable to existing parishes, and another law applicable to those parishes which would be established under the Bill. Under all these circumstances, therefore, he thought the better course for the noble Marquess to pursue at present would be to rest satisfied with having drawn attention to the subject, and to introduce the Bill again in the next Session of Parliament.


said, he found fault with those parts of the Bill which embraced the provisions of the Lands Clauses Acts, but at the same time he would rather see the Bill withdrawn than that it should be met by a direct negative, which was the real meaning of the Amendment. If the principle contained in the compulsory clauses of the Bill were ultimately sanctioned by Parliament, it ought not to be confined only to the Church of England, but should extend to all classes of religionists. The hon. Member for South Devonshire (Mr. Palk) talked of the difficulty which was experienced in obtaining sites for churches under his denomination; but if the followers of the Established Church experienced that difficulty, what must the difficulty be that the Dissenters laboured under? He would place all upon the same footing, and if the Bill were eventually amended to that extent it should have his most cordial support.


said, he begged to thank the House for their patient consideration of his measure, and, as he was anxious to conciliate their favour in its behalf, he would adopt the offer made by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary on the part of Her Majesty's Government; and upon their dis- tinct assurance that a measure upon the subject might be introduced next Session, and then pass its second reading in order to be afterwards referred to a Select Committee, he would now consent to withdraw his Motion. There were, however, some misapprehensions which he wished to remove. One related to the power which was to be given to the Government to grant land for church building. The clause as it had been drawn, was perhaps more extensive in its scope than he had intended, and would have been altered in Committee. The intention was only to reenact powers which already existed under Church Building Acts, one being the Act of the 58 Geo. III., chap. 45. It would be quite necessary, in such a district as Dartmoor, or the New Forest, that the Crown should have power to grant sites for churches. The other matter, that of the powers under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, was of great importance, no doubt, and would have to be dealt with by the Legislature, keeping in view, of course, those principles of equity which had been appealed to by some hon. Members.


said, he must assent, that the subject was too large to be dealt with by an independent Member, considering at the same time that the Church Building Act would shortly expire, and the Government would be bound to take the question up. Of what use then was it for the noble Lord to trouble himself further in the matter, seeing that he could not mature his plans before the time would have arrived when Government would have no alternative but to take it out of his hands. His objection, in limine, to the Bill was, that it was proposed to place its working in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, in whom he contended a large mass of the people had no confidence. He objected to the idea of a Select Committee, as the question was of too vast and vital importance to be dealt with by such a tribunal; the question of the Church Building Act was in such a very unsatisfactory state, that it could only be effectually disposed of by the whole House, and therefore when the proper time came for doing so, he should object to the Motion for referring the Bill to a Select Committee.

Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill withdrawn.

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