THE MARQUESS OF BLANDFORD
said, that in moving for leave to bring in a Bill to make better provision for the formation and endowment of separate and distinct parishes, he wished to point out that the measure was rendered necessary by an Act which was passed last Session to continue the existence of the Church Building Commissioners until July, 1856. The object of the Bill was, in the first place, to carry out the powers now vested in the Church Building Commissioners by means of the Act commonly known as Sir Robert Peel's Act, which empowered the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to constitute districts which had no churches at the time of such constitution. When churches were built in such districts they became new parishes, and were regulated by the general law of the land with respect to parishes. The number of these districts constituted under the Act was about 250. There were about eighteen Church Building Acts, and an attempt had been made about twenty years ago to consolidate them. Some of the districts were consolidated chapelries, others district parishes. There was a great 661 variety in the districts, and it was necessary to suit the various cases by having separate constitutions for each district. There were, as he had just stated, 250 parishes under Sir Robert Peel's Act, and a strong contrast was afforded by its simplicity as compared with the complex and unworkable character of the Church Building Acts. The Legislature had, in the exercise of a wise discretion, limited the term of the Church Building Commission to two years, and the present Bill proposed to repeal the existing code of Church Building Acts, and so to enlarge Sir Robert Peel's Act as to enable the Ecclesiastical Commissioners hereafter to carry out the general subdivision of parishes that might be necessary. The districts constituted under these Acts had a semi-parochial character, but they were not independent, being still connected with the mother parish. He proposed, on the application of the incumbent or the churchwardens, to enable the Commissioners to give these districts an absolute and independent parochial character. One part of the Bill had reference to the principle of endowments. One means of providing endowments was from the funds of the Church, and under a proper administration that would be a large source of endowments. Another, and a fruitful and successful mode of providing endowments, was that of placing the patronage in the hands of the person endowing the Church. That principle he proposed to extend. At present the patronage was usually vested after the first presentation in the incumbent of the mother parish, for want of a better person to exercise it. The incumbent had no particular right to this patronage, and he proposed, whenever a person was willing adequately to endow a district Church, that the patronage should be vested in him. He proposed to extend this principle to livings under 200l. which might be in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor, or of any corporation, aggregate or sole—of course with the proper consent in each case. He trusted that the measure, if the House should agree to it, would prove useful and beneficial, and would promote the usefulness of the Church and aid the cause of religion in this country.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he would not object to the introduction of the Bill. The subject was one well deserving of consideration; but of course he should reserve to himself liberty to deal 662 with the measure afterwards according to the manner in which it might appear to him to be calculated to operate.
§ Leave given.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by the Marquess of BLANDFORD and Viscount EBRINGTON.
§ Bill read 1°.