HC Deb 17 February 1858 vol 148 cc1552-3

Order for Second Reading read.


, in moving the second reading of this Bill, said that it was a Bill for practically amending the law relating to Ecclesiastical Residences in Ireland. In 1851 he had found these laws in such a complicated and neglected state—one statute crossing another—that no one could tell what the law really was. On that occasion, thinking that he would be doing a service by consolidating and amending these statutes, he had given his attention to the subject, and had been assisted by the noble Lord the Member for London, who had always been a sincere and active co-operator in every measure for reforming the law. At that time a vast number of statutes were consolidated, and an Act was passed relating to ecclesiastical residences; another with regard to endowments, and a third for the repealing of all the old laws. He was happy to say that, since then, he had got the sanction of the House for the establishment of a Department of Justice. There would never be anything like sound law reform until they had a Department of Justice specially charged with that, and until they got rid of amateur reformers. A large number of his constituents being clergymen, he had felt it to be his duty to devote himself to the particular branch of the law to which the present Bill and the former Acts referred. The old law proceeded on the unjust assumption that the ecclesiastical residence ought always to be kept up as a new house; and acting under it, the Commissioners of Dilapidation often condemned materials which would have lasted for years, and the deceased clergyman's family were, consequently, called upon to pay for repairs and dilapidations to an extent to which they were not justly liable. It was against this injustice that the Act already passed had been directed. It attempted to divide these payments equitably among the different holders of a benefice. That Act was made as complete as it could be at the time it passed; but an Act, like a house, required occasionally to be repaired. He had kept a record of all the cases which the Act in question did not meet, and what he desired to do by further legislation on the subject was to meet, as far as possible, the defects for which that Act had not provided a remedy. He had confined the Bill to a very few points, and what he then proposed was, that it should be read a second time, and that the Committee should be deferred until after Easter, so that ample time should, in the mean time, be given for the circulation of the Bill through Ireland, with a view to considering the details. He understood that there would be no objection in any quarter to the adoption of that course.


said, he was quite ready to assent to the proposal of the right hon. and learned Gentleman.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Wednesday, 14th April.