HC Deb 09 March 1859 vol 152 cc1567-98

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed—. "That the Bill be now read a second time."


rose to move, as an Amendment, that it be read a second time that day six months. He admitted that the right hon. Gentleman who had in- troduced the measure (Mr. Walpole) deserved the thanks of the House for endeavouring to grapple with this question, and for the sincere desire which he had evinced to remedy the evils arising out of the existing law of church rates. He (Sir John Trelawny), however, thought that these attempted remedies were only—to use a phrase of Sir John Dodson's in the evidence before the Church-rate Committee—like "changes of posture upon an uneasy bed," and he believed that nothing short of the total abolition of church rates would meet the difficulties of the case. However ingenious the devices proposed for amending the law, none of them satisfied the nature of the complaint, and he believed that, unless Parliament should allow the voluntary principle free scope, they would never accomplish the end they had in view. His course would be to contrast the two measures. As to his own measure, it did just what was necessary and no more, and was so simple that he who ran might read, while he thought that the measure of the right hon. Gentleman was full of difficulties and complications. The very first clause, for example, of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill, which defined the meaning of the word "owner," enabled a person who was a trustee for others, or who had only a life interest in an estate, to bind his successors in perpetuity to the payment of church rates. This, he contended, amounted to a little less than an act of confiscation. It would be far more just even to place the charge on the Consolidated Fund, which was, however, very properly objected to. Ought a Protestant trustee or owner of an interest for a brief period to tie the hands and bind the estates of Catholic or Nonconformist families? Again, he held that it was not desirable in these days to increase the number of endowments. They ought not to "crystallize" belief, as it was called; for no one could tell what in a hundred years' time the be-belief of this country might be; very likely it would be the same, but he would not prejudge the question by creating new endowments for the existing establishments. He contended, moreover, that the measure was in direct contravention of the principle of the Mortmain Act, and he foretold that it would be successfully opposed exactly in the same manner as ministers' money in Ireland—which had been abolished—and the annuity tax in Scotland. He objected, again, on the ground that it made the church rates a prior incumbrance, next to tithes, and he wanted to know on what ground the right hon. Gentleman was going to encroach on the rights of those who had already got a charge upon landed property by interposing this prior encumbrance. He objected again that the Bill constituted a corporation consisting of the churchwardens and the incumbent. It appeared to him that the old institution of churchwardens was quite sufficient for the purpose; but the incumbent was now to be mixed up with the churchwardens, and the consequence would be to bring the clergy into more frequent collisions with their parishioners on these questions of church rates. He objected again to the Bill because it abolished or suppressed, in a great degree, the constitutional and useful control exercised by vestries. As it was, the laity had not sufficient action in the Church, and this Bill was intended still further to limit their power. It was said that the Dissenters who did not pay had no right to attend the vestry; but he thought it might often produce a happy feeling on the part of Dissenters on behalf of the Church if they were allowed to attend the vestries. But this Bill tended to check Dissenters from attending; for if they were once compelled to sign a certificate that they were Dissenters they would be prevented from afterwards drawing back from the position they were thus compelled to take up. If this Bill passed into a law how many landowners, he should like to know, would be willing to put their hands into their pockets in order to relieve Dissenters from the impost of the rate? He apprehended very few. It would be felt by sincere supporters of church rates that a voluntary subscription in the way of a charge on land, in order to get rid of church rates and relieve Dissenters of what it was I said they were bound to pay, would be like playing the Dissenters' game; finding, them, as it were, "powder and shot." Practically, then, he considered the plan calculated to perpetuate church rates in parishes where they were now levied, and to revive an agitation in a number of parishes where they had long ceased to exist. In these last the Bill actually held out an incentive to young and zealous ministers to endeavour to get one rate; since, if Dissenters then exempted themselves by the declaration under the Bill, they might forfeit their votes, and thus future rates might be sanctioned by majorities. He believed also that disputes would arise between landlords and tenants, and that Dissenters were in as good a position at the present moment as they would be under the Bill, since the mode of successfully resisting rates was day by day coming to be better understood. He said the Bill proceeded on a supposition that was false in itself; that it proceeded on a supposition that the land was chargeable with church rate, though that was so obviously fallacious that he was certain no lawyer in the House would venture to maintain it. A noble Lord in "another place" once said that the title to church rates was as indefeasible as the title of any gentleman in the land. But how could that be, when the decision in the first Braintree case was, that the churchwardens could not make a rate of themselves; and in the second Braintree case. that the churchwardens and a minority of the vestry combined could not make a rate? By the existing law a rate must be approved by a majority of the vestry. Such was the decision of the House of Lords. Then, again, they were very different from tithes—the right of recovering in respect of church rates being only theoretical instead of practical as in the case of tithes. In the case of tithe there was a remedy by distress, and even by seizing the land of defaulters. Not so in church rate. You might indict a county for non-repairs of a bridge, or a parish for non repair of a road. But there was no common law sanction in the case of a church rate, the remedy being in theory pro salute animæ. The occupier only was liable for church rate. If the occupier abandoned his tenement, the owner was not liable. Owners were only liable in respect of what they occupy, and executors are not liable in respect of church rates due from deceased persons. Land, therefore, as such, was not liable, but land was merely a "test of the ability" to pay rates. The whole theory was, and is, that a man pays for what he gets, and this grew up at a time when all were of one religion, or pretended so to be, and when dissent was treated as a crime by numerous Acts, in the days of Elizabeth and others. What could be more easy than resistance to church rates under the present law? There were five principal grounds upon which church rates might be objected to: that the rate might be illegal; that it was illegally made; that a person was not fairly assessed; that he was assessed in respect of property for which he was not liable; and that a rate was unnecessary; and, according to Dr. Lushington, in any case which came before a magistrate, it was only necessary for the party summoned to use these words:—"I dispute the validity of this rate," in order to take the whole question out of the magistrate's hands, and carry it into the Ecclesiastial Courts. The case was then taken from the magistrate's court to the Ecclesiatical Courts; thence to the Common Law Courts—the Court of Queen's Bench and the Court of Exchequer, and eventually to the House of Lords. Then it got back to the Consistory Court and the Court of Arches, and lastly to the Committee of Privy Council. The remedy in the case of resistance was a farce. The Church followed the recalcitrant through legal swamps and quagmires, and midst briars and thorns, scarifying herself and earning little credit, and found at last that she was hunting a will-o'-the-wisp, for in the end Dissenters were sure to come off victoriously. The Bill offered exemptions on terms of registering dissent. Was that gracious or wise? Dissenters were, many of them, disposed to attend, under favourable circumstances, such as when a minister, of views approaching their own, happens to be the incumbent, or happens to preach. Once compel the Dissenter to register his dissent, and human nature would keep him estranged. Thus he would lose the benefit of the service of the Church, and his subscription would be lost, and perhaps his nonconformity fixed for ever. Why treat Dissenters as persons so peculiar as to require exceptional legislation? Either the voluntary principle might be trusted or not. But it was unwise to trust it by halves. "One volunteer was better than a pressed man." Dissenters should be encouraged to "come in" to the Church, not irritated and extruded by a brand of disconformity, which was unkind and unchristian, and, in a worldly sense, impolitic. With regard to what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole) had said upon the subject of pew-rents, he 'Sir John Trelawny) entirely agreed with him. He thought that an opportunity ought to be given to the working classes to attend any religious communion which they considered upon the whole to represent the feelings they entertained. The services of the Nonconformists, in this repect, were hardly estimated as they deserved, The right hon. Gentleman ought to have remembered that but for the Dissenting chapels the working classes would not have the means of publicly worshipping God at all; the number of sittings provided by the Established Church being only 5,317,515 sittings in 14,077 churches and chapels, whilst the number provided by the Dissen- ters reached very near that amount, being 4,894,648 sittings in 20,300 chapels. Believing that the measure would be inadequate to accomplish the object it had in view, that it was founded upon injustice, being a measure of confiscation, and that it was calculated to perpetuate litigation on the one hand, and create fresh litigation on the other, he could not recommend the House to adopt the Bill in its present form; and under those circumstances he conceived it to be his duty to move, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

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

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


seconded the Amendment. Of the many schemes of compromise which had been suggested with reference to church rates, so far as his judgment went, the Bill before the House was the worst that had come under their notice. It was, in fact, a combination of two schemes of compromise. It proposed, in the first place, to transform church rates into a new species of tithe, and in the second place to relieve none whatever from the payment of the rate except those who had conscientious objections to it. With regard to the first of these points, he believed although there might be many landlords who would be willing from year to year to set aside a part of their rentals for the purposes to which church rates are now applied, yet few would be willing to charge their estates in permanency for that object. The objections to this part of the measure were, first, that it would make a charge fixed and permanent which at present fluctuated with the necessity of the case, and which was voted year by year by a body of persons who were tolerably competent to decide on that necessity; and next, it would withdraw the fund so raised entirely from the control of the parish vestry, who had an immemorial right to take charge of it. With regard to the other part of the measure, there were four great classes of persons who were interested in the question, and had strong grounds for objecting to the present state of the law. The first of these were churchmen who lived in parishes where the parish church did not give sufficient accommodation, and in which there were no district churches. They said with truth that it was hard to call upon them to contribute to the repair of a church which they never had the opportunity of entering, and to the support of a service from which they could derive no benefit. But this class was in no way relieved by the provisions of the Bill. The second class consisted of Churchmen who had to supply the means of keeping up divine service in their own district churches, and who said that it was unfair and unjust to compel them to contribute also to the mother church. Amongst these would be found many of the strongest opponents of the present law; but this Bill would not give them any relief. The third class was the great body of Dissenters, excluding those few who based their opposition to church rates entirely upon religious grounds. The great objection of Dissenters was, that they contributed for the maintenance of their own services a sum equal to, if not exceeding, the sum which was said by churchmen to be necessary in the shape of church rates. They raised £300,000 a year for this purpose. Besides this, they paid their own ministers; and he believed that the sum annually applied to that purpose considerably exceeded a million sterling. They said, therefore, that it was contrary to the principle of common justice that they should also be called upon to contribute towards the support of the church; but they were in no way relieved by the provisions of this Bill. The fourth class consisted of those Dissenters who rested their objections to the payment of church rates solely upon religious grounds. This, he believed, was a very small class—and if the persons composing it analysed their convictions a little more closely, he thought it would become smaller still. And this was the only class in any way relieved by the Bill. In his opinion, also, the measure was not only inadequate, but more than that, it was subversive of public morality, inasmuch as it offered a direct premium upon hypocrisy of the worst sort—religious hypocrisy. It did not, however, treat all kinds of hypocrisy in the same way; for if a man was a Dissenter, and professed to be a Churchman, the Bill would fine him; while, on the other hand, if a Churchman pretended to be a Dissenter with conscientious scruples, he would be rewarded. So long as the conscientious refusal to pay church rates brought with it disagreeable consequences, those who refused might be accused of obstinacy or of hostility to the Church of England, but they could not be called hypocrites. As soon, however, as this refusal was attended by a pecuniary advantage, honest and dishonest recusants alike would be liable to a charge of religious hypocrisy. This he thought most objectionable on grounds of public morality, for the first step towards making men hypocrites themselves was to let them see instances of what they considered successful hypocrisy in others. On these grounds, therefore—as thinking the Bill inadequate in some of its provisions and injurious in others, not likely to be carried out where it would do but little harm, and certain to be taken advantage of where it would demoralize and degrade—he should vote against the second reading of the Bill.


said, that whatever opinion any Gentleman might entertain against the Bill of his right hon. Friend—whether he might think it deserving of the bad character given it by the hon. Gentlemen who had moved and seconded the Amendment—be thought it was an advantage in discussing this question that at last an alternative course had been submitted to the House. This, he thought, an advantage, because every hon. Gentleman could now draw the comparison between the two Bills; and if they did so, he thought the majority of the House would arrive at a different conclusion from that to which those two hon. Gentlemen had come. The Bill contained two principles—voluntary commutation and individual exemption. On the other hand, the Bill of the hon. Baronet had one principle—abolition. The abolition of church rates had been more than once proposed, he must say with great temper, by the hon. Baronet the Member for Tavistock, but that was rather a rough and inartificial mode of dealing with the question. If there were some inconveniences and hardships connected with a system, that was no reason for utterly abolishing it. Surely, the practical way of dealing with such inconveniences and hardships was to devise a remedy for putting an end to them. But the hon. Baronet advised the House to act very much in the same manner as the man who, because he had smoky chimneys in his house pulled it down, instead of simply remedying the defect in the chimneys. The House was not now dealing with any custom or law which originated within their memory. They were dealing with a custom which had prevailed universally in this kingdom for more than 1,400 years. Permit him to point out what he believed to be the inconveniences of the present system, and he would show them how, by the present Bill, those inconveniences would be remedied. No one could deny that some inconveniences—or hardships if you will—were connected with church rates. These inconveniences were twofold. There was the objection of the Nonconformist. He objected to being called upon to contribute towards the maintenance of the Church in the service of which he did not share, and to which he might positively object. The objection of the Churchman was, that he found that by the old law or custom of the country there was an obligation on the parish in which he lived to maintain the fabric of the Church, but when he came to raise the money he found there were no means of doing so. He found that the law laid upon him the necessity, but provided him with no means. The Churchman and the Nonconformist had another reasonable ground of objection to church rates, and it was this—that as the matter now stood, when a church rate was proposed it was made a source of jealousy, heart-burnings, and misunderstanding, and frequently the scene of strife was within the very precincts of the Church itself. The unfortunate clergyman, who was the official chairman of the vestry, very often found himself exposed to most unmerited obloquy. Well-conducted Dissenters and well-conducted Churchmen must admit, that vestry squabbles were an annoyance to every person in the parish. What, then, did the Bill propose? It proposed to commute rates by a rent charge, and to give the privilege of individual exemption from church rates, His right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) in introducing it explained it so ably that he (Mr. Sotheron-Estcourt) should not attempt to add anything to that explanation; but he felt a strong objection to that part of the Bill relating to the exemption of individuals and the mode in which that exemption was provided for. It seemed to him that it was the duty of a church warden when he came into office to ascertain what was required for the maintenance of the fabric, and, having done so, to fix upon the church door a notice that a certain sum was required for that purpose, and that a vestry would be held upon the subject. If any person in the parish objected to contribute, let it be competent for him to send in a notice in the form given in the schedule to this Bill that he objected to contribute or to have anything whatever to do with the imposition of a rate. That process would withdraw the man who signed the notice from the proceedings in the vestry, and those who attended the vestry would simply have to consider in a business-like way the amount to be levied. He (Mr. Sotheron-Estcourt) had mentioned to his right hon. Friend the alteration which he proposed in this part of the Bill, and his right hon. Friend offered no objection. Now, if his suggestion were adopted, what objection could be made to the Bill? He did not believe it was the wish of the most rigid Nonconformist in England that our churches should fall down. The question was, how they were to be maintained? A certain part of Her Majesty's subjects said they objected on principle to provide money for the maintenance of the fabrics of the Established Church. The Bill would meet their case. It in effect said, "Withdraw yourself, then, from interfering with the maintenance of those fabrics." Surely in that there would be no sacrifice of principle and no abandonment of any right to which an Englishman could lay claim. He could not understand why that course should be objected to. If the Legislature simply abolished church rates, great injustice would be done to those many parishes in which hitherto no objection had been made to the payment of church rates. They would be deprived of a machinery to which they had always been accustomed for levying sufficient to meet the wants of their parish churches. He hoped the House would allow the Bill to be read a second time, and leave the discussion of its details to the Committee. Let them not hastily reject this measure, which would preserve to those parishes that did not object to church rates their customary machinery of collecting them, while it provided for the case of those who objected to the payment of church rates. He did not think the House had sufficiently considered another part of this question—namely, that relating to churchyards. The Nonconformist, as well as the Churchman, wished to be buried in the churchyard. He believed that if the case of the fabric could be separated from that of the churchyard, no objection would be made by any one to the levying of rates for the latter. His opinion ever had been that the system by which church rates were levied was in accordance with the Saxon principle of self-government, and that the House ought not lightly to put an end to it. He believed that the question of maintaining the fabric of the Church should be left to the parishioners, who were the best judges of their own wants and interests, and who, if they voted money from their own resources, would be much more likely to exercise a vigilant control over its expenditure than if it were obtained from any other source. He did not wish, and he did not expect that by any commutation they would provide for the expenses now defrayed by the church rate. That which he should desire was, that church rates should continue to exist; but if by this Bill they should altogether exempt from the payment of these rates every man who conscientiously objected to them, if they thought this was desirable, they could effect the object by this Bill, and he could not but hope that the House would allow his right hon. Friend who had brought forward the Bill in a mariner that was pleasing to both sides of the House to go into Committee.


said, the question before the House was not whether the Bill of the hon. Baronet the Member for Tavistock should be read a second time, but whether the Bill proposed by the Government was a fair compromise on the subject of church rates, and such as the House ought to adopt as affording the best settlement of the question. His right hon. Friend who had just addressed the House had rather lost sight of the question when he assumed that the only alternative presented to them was the adoption of the Bill of the Government, or the adoption of the Bill of the hon. Member for Tavistock. He agreed with his right hon. Friend that it would be an arbitrary act on the part of the House to abolish church rates universally because in some parishes grievances were felt in respect of them. But he felt that the House roust recognize the fact that church rates had been practically abolished throughout a great portion of this country; and no measure on this subject could be satisfactory which would leave those large cities and towns where they had been so abolished subject to future agitation. The basis of any settlement of this question should be such that there would be an end of strife for the future in those parishes in which there had been a discontinuance of church rates for such a number of years as to indicate the settled will of the parishioners in favour of the discontinuance of church rates. That was the proposition which he ventured to suggest to the House on a for- mer occasion. He knew that it met with considerable opposition, but he thought that it was a sound principle, and the same principle was embodied in a Bill laid upon the table of the other House (as stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge) by the Archbishop of Canterbury three years ago, on behalf, he believed, of every Bishop on the bench. If they proceeded on that principle they would have some chance of maintaining church rates in rural parishes. That principle only regarded the past; but if you were to establish that statute of limitations—if he might so call it—of five years or any other term as to the past, you must also have a similar limit with regard to the future, so that if the parishioners of any parish in future—not acting from any temporary motive which might operate for a year or two—continued for a given period systematically to refuse to levy church rates, so as to intimate a settled opinion that they should not be continued—such parish should for the future be relieved from further agitation on church rates. He agreed with his right hon. Friend that this Bill was introduced in a conciliatory spirit, and that it involved a considerable sacrifice on the part of those on whom the Government relied for support, inasmuch as it abandoned, as they imagined, a principle they had hitherto held—namely, that of maintaining an Established Church. [Mr. WALPOLE intimated dissent.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head; and he (Sir George Grey) agreed with him, having always contended that it was anything but wisdom on the part of the advocates of church rates to speak of them as being inseparable from the idea of an Established Church. But a very different opinion was entertained by many persons, and it was obvious that the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman did, in fact, abandon the principle hitherto maintained by the supporters of the Government, because it would exempt from the payment of church rates any person who professed to have a conscientious objection to them. The right hon. Gentleman proposed the Bill as one which would be satisfactory both to Churchmen and Dissenters. He saw very little prospect of that. He was not aware of any petition having been presented in favour of it, whereas several petitions had been presented against it. He had received, and he dared say other Members had received, a printed statement from a body who styled themselves a committee of laymen to de- fend church rates, in which they urge Members to support the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman on its second reading, in order that they might in Committee exclude from it those principles that were inconsistent with the integrity of the Established Church. Of what advantage would it be to revive the discussion of the churchrate question in those parishes where the rate had been practically abolished, and where, generally speaking, the churches were in excellent condition? In the present state of law and fact he could not conceive anything more injurious than such a course, which could not fail to prevent a settlement of the question. The right hon. Gentleman who addressed the House last seemed to think that he met the case by exempting those who had a conscientious objection to church rates; but the objection to the rate did not come only from the Dissenters. The rate went in every parish exclusively to the support of the mother church; and in those parishes where district churches had been built, their congregations, by whom these churches are supported, also objected to the rates. There would be as determined an opposition from these persons as from Nonconformists to the revival of the church rates. He assumed that the object of the Government was to provide for the extinction of church rates, and facilitate raising a fund by voluntary contributions. Those objects were not likely to be attained by the provisions of the Bill. It was made a condition precedent to the extinction of the church rate in a parish that there should be a fixed endowment created equal to the average amount of the church rates for the last three years. Let them try to carry out this plan in any populous city or town parish, such as Westminster, or St. George's, Hanover Square. Would any landowner in such parishes voluntarily burden his property with an annual rent-charge equal to the annual amount of the church rates? It might be possible that in parishes that belong to a single proprietor the church rate might be extinguished by this means; but these were the parishes in which there is now no dispute as to church rates, and where there were twenty or thirty other proprietors the dispute would go on unless the concurrence of all the owners were obtained. He objected to the proposed transfer of the rate from the occupier to the owner, because it would give the owner as many votes in the vestry as the number of rates on separate holdings that were so transferred. Those several occupiers might be members of the Church, while the one owner to whom the votes were transferred might be a Dissenter or a Roman Catholic. To the proposed exemption of Dissenters from the payment of the rate by signing a declaration he had formerly objected; but looking at all the difficulties of the case, he admitted that some mode of relieving the Dissenters should be devised. Still, he thought the proposed declaration would include some it ought to exclude, and exclude some it ought to include. Many members of the Church of England, of elastic consciences, would be able to exempt themselves under this declaration. He thought persons should not be called upon to make a formal declaration that they had conscientious objections to pay the church rates; it ought to be sufficient that they objected to pay them. He regretted that for these reasons he could not support the second reading of the Bill. He would not now raise the question whether the power to impose pew-rents ought to be extended; but he wished to take this opportunity of showing, as he had before intimated that he would do on the second reading of this Bill, it was no new principle, but had been adopted and acted on to a large extent. By the 58 Geo. III. c. 45, the Church Building Commissioners are empowered, with the consent of the Bishop, to direct any part of the churches built under that Act to be arranged in pews and let, the rent being fixed by the Commissioners, but liable to be altered by the churchwardens, with the consent of the Bishop, patron, and incumbent. The 65th section of the same Act empowers the Bishop, in certain cases, to require the appointment of a curate for the performance of an additional service in any parish church, and to require the churchwardens to let a portion of the pews to defray the expense of such service. The 59 Geo III. c. 134, and subsequent Church Building Acts, extend the provisions respecting pew-rents to other churches built under these Acts. The 3 Geo. IV. c. 72, contains special regulations as to the manner of letting the pews, and authorizes, in certain specified cases, their being let to the inhabitants of adjoining parishes. The 1 & 2 Will. IV. c. 38, authorizes the pews or sittings in churches built under that Act to be let on a scale approved by the Bishop; and finally, the 19 & 20 Vict. c. 104, s. 6, provides that where sufficient funds cannot be provided from other sources the Eccle- siastical Commissioners may, with the Bishop's consent, order rents to be taken for pews or sittings in a church to which a district is assigned, for repairs, maintenance of minister, services, and endowment of the church, provided half the sittings are left free. Whatever opinion might be entertained as to the expediency of such provisions, no doubt could exist as to a system of pew-rents, under certain limitations and restrictions, being largely adopted, with the sanction of Parliament, in the Established Church.


said, he had listened with very great disappointment to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House. He was sorry to say that that speech forced upon his mind the painful conviction that the spirit of party ["Hear, hear!" "No, no!"]. He would repeat it, that that speech forced irresistibly upon his mind the conviction that the spirit of party ["Hear, hear!" "No, no!"]—that the spirit of party—[Interruption.] He presumed that hon. Gentlemen would allow him to address the House, and to express the opinions which he honestly entertained. He would not shrink from making the avowal that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman had forced upon his mind the painful conviction that the spirit of party was still to be paramount in that matter to the spirit of peace, and that because hon. Gentlemen opposite had shrunk from endeavouring to deal with that subject themselves, they would not, at present, allow other people to deal with it. He said he was forced to that conviction, and for this plain reason, that the right hon. Gentleman had himself advanced arguments which, according to the rules and practice of that House, ought to have led him to vote for the second reading, while he had assigned no reason whatever why he should vote against it. The greater part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was devoted to reminding the House of some proposals he had made on this subject two or three years ago. Now if he understood the right hon. Gentleman rightly, his reason—if reason it could be called—for not voting in favour of the second reading of the present Bill was, that it did not contain the provisions to which he had referred. But could that be fairly assigned as a reason for the course which the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to pursue? In the first place, let him remind hon. Members that those proposals of the right hon. Gen- tleman were not received by the House with any remarkable degree of favour. They were met by the noble Lord the Member for London by one of the best and most powerful speeches he (Sir J. Pakington) had ever heard upon that or upon any other question; and the noble Lord, he should add, had done himself great honour by the steadiness with which he had maintained one uniform view upon the subject of church rates. But let him remind the House of the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had brought forward his proposals. The late Government had never submitted to the House any measure of its own upon that subject. The right hon. Gentleman proposed a plan; but how did he propose it? He proposed it as an Amendment on the Bill moved by Sir William Clay for the total abolition of church rates. The right hon. Baronet then declared that he disapproved of that abolition, but that he would vote for the second reading of the Bill in order that he might introduce his propositions in the Committee upon the measure. Under these circumstances he (Sir J. Pakington) asked the House with what consistency—he had almost used a stronger term—could the right hon. Gentleman refuse to vote for the second reading of the present measure, because it did not contain his propositions, when he voted for the other Bill which did not include them. Could any one say that it would not be quite as much open to the right hon. Gentleman to move his provisions in the Committee upon the present Bill, as it could have been in the Committee upon the Bill of Sir William Clay. He (Sir J. Pakington) would not attempt to conceal the indignation which he felt at such tampering with the forms of the House in order to promote a momentary, and, as he believed, a party purpose. But he would go further. They all knew what was at issue upon the Motion for the second reading of a Bill. The practice of Parliament was, that when the second reading of a measure was moved a decision should be pronounced upon its principle. Now what were the principles involved in the Bill of his right hon. Friend? They were two, and only two. The first was the prospective commutation of church rates, and the second was the exemption of Dissenters from the payment of that charge. How had the right hon. Gentlemen dealt with these principles? To the first of them he had no objection; and he gave his sanction to the second. He told them that he had no objection to the commutation, and that after much deliberation and some change of mind he approved of the principle of exempting Dissenters from that burden. The right hon. Gentleman did not object to either of the two principles of the Bill; and, therefore, he was going to vote against the second reading. But there were other judges of those things besides the partisans of the two sides of that House. The people of England would read those debates; and after the exposure he had made of the right hon. Gentleman he left it to the country to judge of his conduct. The right hon. Baronet had alluded to some other points involved in the Bill. He stated an objection to the provision which would transfer the charge from the occupier to the owner of property; and he (Sir John Pakington) quite agreed with him on that point. He thought that that would be a very questionable provision, and it was one he should be quite willing to reconsider in the Committee on the Bill. But that would not account for the vote which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to give against the Second Reading. He would next allude for a few moments to the speeches of the hon. Members who had moved and seconded the proposal for the rejection of the measure. He had listened in vain to those speeches for a reason against the House going into Committee, at all events, upon the Bill. The hon. Baronet who moved the rejection of this measure (Sir John Trelawny) objected to the provision making the clergymen and church wardens a corporation for certain purposes. But even if the hon. Gentleman's own views were carried out, somebody, legally qualified, must be created to control the expenditure of the funds raised by voluntary contribution. The hon. Baronet also alluded to the objection which churchmen felt, and the hardship those who resided in districts suffered in having to contribute to the mother church. He for one quite admitted the validity of that objection, and thought it ought to be provided for. He had, therefore, no objection that, in the Committee on the Bill, some clause should be inserted providing for the proper support of the district churches. He would now make a few observations on what he considered the real spirit and scope of the Bill. It had stripped the question of a good deal of what he might term, without intending to use a harsh phrase, the false pretences by which it had been surrounded. Hereafter the question would stand before the public not as a question of conscientious objection upon the part of the Dissenters, but as one of political attack upon the Church of England; it was necessary, therefore, that anything like erroneous views should be removed, and that they should view it in future in its real light. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) had told the House that he had received a circular from a committee of laymen. Now, he (Sir John Pakington) had received one from a body of men terming themselves "the Executive Committee of the Society for the Liberation of Religion from State Patronage and Control," and in that he found a good deal of what he thought was the real cause of the opposition to the church rates, and which he thought would rather deprive the hon. Baronet the Member for Tavistock of the position which he desired to assume, namely, that of being in a middle position in regard to this subject. He (Sir John Pakington) quite recognized the spirit of general moderation in which the hon. Baronet had conducted his measure; but still, when an hon. Gentleman came forward with a Bill fur the total and immediate abolition of church rates, he could hardly be termed a man who occupied a middle position in regard to the question. He would now call the attention of the House to the document which had been issued by the Society for the Liberation of Religion from State Control. They had drawn up certain objections to the Bill before the House. It was not necessary to trouble hon. Members with the whole of them, but he would refer to the third, in which the Society dealt with the proposal for the exemption of Dissenters from church rates in this way:— That every provision of law whereby Dissenters are placed in an exceptional position, either of exemption from the responsibilities or of disability in regard to the privileges of the rest of Her Majesty's subjects, is bad in principle and mischievous in effect—that Dissenters do not ask to be excused the performance of any duty which the State may justly impose—and that where the claim, as in the case of church rates, necessarily involves injustice, they deem themselves bound by their duty as citizens not to accept exoneration for themselves, but to seek the abolition of the system under which they suffer. [Sir JOHN TRELAWNY: Hear, hear!] The hon. Baronet cheered that sentiment, and would adopt it as a basis upon which to found his opposition to church rates. He could only say that if the hon. Gentleman and those who resisted the proposal of the Government were driven to the necessity of putting on record language so unreasonable as that which he had read—if the words had any meaning at all—they could only be understood as indicating that, whatever might be the steps which were taken, however conciliatory the proposition might be, there were parties who were determined to act in a spirit of hostility. Would the hon. Baronet, or any other Member of the house, attempt to justify the expression that church rates necessarily involved injustice? He totally denied the proposition. He defied any man to support the doctrine that church rates were not one of the most ancient imposts on the property of the country; that they were imposts for one of the most sacred objects to which any impost could be devoted, and in respect of their amount one of the lightest and most supportable. Thousands of Dissenters recognized the fact which had been stated by the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell) who had treated the subject in a very fair spirit, that an Established Church for the dissemination of religious truth was a national benefit shared by the whole of the community. It was not only the members of the Church that benefited therefrom, but all classes of society. He agreed with the noble Lord most entirely on that question, and he also agreed completely with the feeling exhibited by the hon. Baronet in entertaining a grateful respect for the Dissenters of England on account of what they had done for the dissemination of religious truth and education. He was not a man—and never had been—to speak with disrespect of the Dissenting body; but, looking at the growth of the population, looking at the inadequacy of the Church to meet the religious requirements of the people, he desired to see religious truth extended throughout the length and breadth of the land, and, therefore, he was most grateful for the efforts which had been made in that direction by the Dissenters: but should have wished to have seen questions of that kind discussed in a more charitable spirit than they had been. ["Hear, Hear!"] He quite understood the cheers of the hon. Members opposite, but he defied them to say that he had ever spoken in any other manner of his Dissenting brethren. What he desired was to see, as well in that House as elsewhere, Churchmen and Dissenters work harmoniously together on all points with respect to which they agreed, and to regard each other with a spirit of charity with respect to those upon which they differed. He believed that the great bulk of the Dissenters were willing to accept a compromise which was for the benefit of the whole community. There was another point in connection with this subject which had been raised again and again: every one who had spoken on that side had urged it, and it had never yet been answered—and that was that the whole of the property in this country was held subject to the liability of supporting the Church. Every man who held property, who purchased it, or who occupied it, held it, purchased it, or occupied it, subject to this ancient national impost; and therefore it was impossible to maintain the proposition that there was any injustice in a rate for the support of the Church, or that it inflicted any grievance on Dissenters. But although it was an ancient and legal obligation, he could not but admit the jut policy of continuing to levy it upon those who felt conscientious scruples with respect to its payment; it was natural that those who did not agree with the tenets of the Church should feel that they ought not to be called upon to pay an impost which went to the maintenance of a church of which they were not followers; and therefore it was that he, in common with his colleagues, after the full discussions which had taken place upon the subject, was willing to meet the question in a spirit of conciliation. To the first part of the proposed measure there did not seem to be any great objection; but in the second part of the Bill they had proposed to exempt all Dissenters from the payment of the rate, and this exemption it was which bad become so serious a matter of discussion and debate. He did not think that the manner in which the exemption was proposed to be made was so objectionable; but surely that was a matter for consideration in Committee, together with some other points, such as the introduction of voting papers, which had been suggested by his right hon. Friend. The broad question to be decided upon the second reading of the Bill was, whether the House was disposed to entertain a proposal for a conciliatory compromise upon this subject; it was a question between compromise and abolition. In discussing that question they must feel the force of what had been said by his right hon. Friend, that you could not adopt abolition without doing violence to the conscientious views of the majority of the people of this country. The Dissenters had, it was true, a right to conci- liation, but surely the conscientious judgment of Churchmen was equally entitled to regard. The Church throughout the kingdom was the poor man's Church, and he knew no means of supporting the fabric in the rural districts except this ancient and legal one. The Government had offered this Bill as a solution of the difficulty, and he hoped and trusted that it would not be met in a spirit of faction; that they should not be told that those who had hitherto been their opponents, having drawn the sword, had thrown away the scabbard; that, if the Bill was to be rejected, some better reasons would be given for the adoption of that course than had yet been offered. Whatever the result of the division might be it would be to him a matter of sincere satisfaction that the Government had acted in a conciliatory spirit, and had done what none of their predecessors ever did—had made a fair offer upon the subject. They had made a fair offer, and it remained for the House and the country to decide whether this question should be settled in a fair and conciliatory spirit, or whether it should remain a subject of prolonged agitation and discord.


explained, that he supported Sir William Clay's Bill upon the public assurance that there should be embodied in it certain Amendments of which he had given notice. He had received from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge an equally certain assurance that he would never accept those Amendments.


said, the right hon, Baronet (Sir John Pakington) seemed to think he had spoken in a tone of peace and conciliation. What notion hon. Gentlemen opposite had formed of peace and conciliation, he (Sir Richard Bethel]) could not pretend to divine, after the speech the House had just heard. The right hon. Gentleman began by attacking his right hon. Friend (Sir George Grey) in a manner not only unsuitable to the occasion, but most unfounded and unjust; and then he concluded with a pious prayer for charity. He was willing to accept the latter half of the right hon. Gentleman's speech; but if the right hon. Gentleman thought he had given an exposure of inconsistency, he had certainly made one. He (Sir Richard Bothell) was now going to say something that would be very uncharitable; but, he trusted, not rude, which no one would be to the right hon. Baronet, for he was uncharitable enough to declare that the right hon. Baronet had proved himself ignorant of the first elementary principles requisite for the understanding of this question. The right hon. Gentleman professed not to understand the complaint of Dissenters; and then he told the House that he defied any man to say church rates were not one of the oldest imposts upon the land of this country: but he ought to have known that they were not an impost upon land at all but a tax upon occupiers. His (Sir Richard Bethell's) objection to church rates was one that would perhaps surprise the right hon. Gentleman—it was precisely because they were imposed 1,400 years ago. It was because they were the legitimate offspring, the direct progency of that old wicked principle of intolerance which compelled men in ancient times to adopt one mode of faith, one belief, one form of worship, and when if any presumed to think differently he was either burnt or tortured in some fearful manner. The right hon. Baronet would be surprised to learn that even at the present day the common law supposed that all the inhabitants of a parish were of one uniform religion and were bound to present themselves at the same church for the purposes of worship. In fact, it was this presumption which formed the foundation on which church rates rested. But he did not see how their continuance at the present time was consistent with any just notions of religious liberty. The Dissenter would not thank them for toleration, nor would he think that the principle of religous equality completely established until he was relieved from every rag and vestige of the old system. He (Sir Richard) trusted that no Dissenter would accept this miserable compromise—this attempt to create harmony between two things that were utterly irreconcilable. He hoped that every man who took part in this contest would inscribe upon his flag the words, "No compromise—absolute abolition." In adverting to the Bill brought in by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole), he must say that he regarded it as a most unsatisfactory compromise. He thought that the Bill retained the most objectionable principles. It was provided that when the rate collector called upon the Dissenter the latter might sign a paper stating that on conscientious grounds he objected to the payment of the tax, and that he should then be exempted from its payment; but he (Sir Richard Bethel]) said that the Dissenter might give another answer to the collector, and tell him that he had no right to make such a demand. They had no right to put him to any alternative in the matter. If they went into details, it would be found impossible that this Bill could work. With respect to landed property it would create the greatest difficulty and complexity. He thought, therefore, that these schemes and this proceeding on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, ingenious as they might be, were utterly unsafe, and incapable of being carried into effect. As a lawyer, he must entirely dissent from the proposition and offer it his strongest opposition; but his main ground of objection was the question of principle to which he had adverted.


said, it was with very great pain that he felt himself compelled to vote against the second reading of the Bill brought in by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) because there was no one in the House with whom he felt so much pain in differing; and he was equally astonished to find himself in perfect unison with the learned Gentleman who had just criticised the right hon. Baronet for his ignorance respecting the antiquity of the impost—he came down upon him like another Coke upon another Littleton. The learned Gentleman informed them that he objected to the impost because it had grown, 1,400 years ago, out of the strange and absurd notion that all the country was of one mind in religious matters. He (Mr. Drummond) would take it to a much earlier time, when there was "one body and one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all." It was at that time, when all worshipped in one church, that all were bound to contribute to its maintenance. The hon. and learned Gentleman was quite right—it was a question of abolition or non-abolition; and he (Mr. Drummond) would never consent to have the church rate tampered with or modified. They had now arrived at that point when the question was involved whether as a nation we would worship God or not. The thing they called "a conscientious objection" had no more right to be entertained than the conscientious objection of a republican to a monarchy, or of a democrat to the machinery of King, Lords, and Commons. If they admitted a conscientious objection in one case, they were bound to admit it in all—if they once began to give way to the plea of "conscientious scruples" they would not know where to stop. Let them point out a single rate, whether poor's rate or county rate, water rate or lighting rate, in which the ratepayer had choice of payment or non-payment. [An hon. MEMBER: Church rates.] That was the very thing with respect to which he was denying the right of the rate-payer to be consulted. Take the poor rate, the county rate, or the water rate—in no single instance had the rate-payer any alternative choice. If they abolished the church rate it was quite clear that they abolished the Church of England as far as outward machinery was concerned; and that was the object of the Dissenters. It was only by the priests getting this question into their own hands and bringing it into their ecclesiastical courts, which had properly nothing whatever to do with it, that the ratepayer obtained the means of defeating his liability. The Church itself had abolished the Church, in denying the essentials of a church. St. Paul said, "We have an altar;" the Church said, "we have not an altar;" and thus it showed that it was no longer the same as the Church of St. Paul. Churchmen themselves, he repeated, had destroyed the very essence of the Church; and now they complained that the Dissenters wanted to throw down the walls which they rendered useless. He warned the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole) that this attempt to make these rates palatable would not succeed. This was a question of principle. He held in his hand some extracts from Mr. Miall's publications, in which it was maintained that the Dissenters did not care about church rates, but considered their abolition the first step against the connection of the Church with the State, and for getting tithes out of her possession. Let them not hear anything more about conscientious scruples. It was the wish of a large party to pull down the Established Church. Upon that point he stood, and he would not consent to the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman or to any other Bill of the kind.


said, that this was the first practical measure which had been brought forward by any Government with the view of doing justice to the Dissenters, and at the same time making provision for the maintenance of the fabric of the church; and it would therefore be most ungrateful of him, who had always recommended some such compromise, if he were to repudiate and oppose it. He felt in his conscience that they ought to adopt this measure. If this Bill was rejected for that of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Trelawny) the latter measure would have no chance of receiving the assent of the House of Lords, while this probably would. Neither from the noble Viscount the Member for Tiverton, nor from the noble Lord the Member for London was there any reason to expect a settlement of this question; and he therefore earnestly recommended the House to adopt that which was now proposed to it. It was said that the Dissenters would be pained at having to state that he had a conscientious objection to church rates. If a man really entertained such an objection he could have no difficulty about stating it, and if lie did not, let him pay the rate. If, however, there was any real objection to the word "conscientious," that might be altered in Committee, where also the difficulties suggested by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Morpeth might be dealt with. If any body of Dissenters wanted something more than the abrogation of these rates he wanted nothing more; if any party wanted to go further lie was not with it, and he should cordially support the Bill of his right hon. Friend.


said, he was quite satisfied that the present state of the law was not only oppressive to the Dissenters in the borough which he represented, but had a most injurious effect upon the labours of the exemplary clergymen employed in the pastoral care of that place. Had the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University reviewed the state of the church-rate question he would not have proposed this measure as a settlement of it. He called it a "compromise," but the only compromise he (Mr. Lowe) could see in it was that the parties were left to fight it out. The church-rate question had three parts, which pretty fairly represented the three divisions of time—the past, represented by what went on in country parishes; the present, in towns like that which he represented, where this rate was still a matter of contest; and the future, in the large towns, where it had been altogether abolished. Beyond that there was the conscientious objection to the rate, and beyond that the unconscientious, or secular, objection to it on the ground of its uncertainty and inequality, and the differences of opinion as to its appropriation. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London said that to exempt Dissenters from the payment of church rates on the ground that they supported other places of worship would be to denationalize the Church of England; that the only ground on which a national church could be supported was that it was good not only for those who belonged to it, but also for those who did not. That might be true; but who was to judge whether it was so or not? If the noble Lord said that Dissenters must be bound by the majority, how was that to be distinguished from any other persecution or violation of religious liberty? The most important part of this Bill was that which changed the constituency of the vestry and introduced a system of cumulative votes; the effect of which probably would be to induce the revival of the attempt to lay a rate in some rural parishes in which none had been laid for years. In places which were now torn to pieces by periodical contests this Bill would produce no improvement, because rather than accept as a matter of favour and grace, as the right hon. Member for Cambridge University had put it, that to which they were entitled as a right, Dissenters would continue to suffer distraint and imprisonment. He was quite sure that such would he the case among his own constituents, more especially as this exemption from payment was to be coupled with disfranchisement. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) had spoken of church rates as a charge upon land, and the same statement was repeated in the 7th and 14th Clauses of the Bill—indeed it was the basis upon which the Bill was framed, as on no other ground could Ministers ask the House to enable a tenant for life to charge the property:—but nothing could be a greater mistake. The question lay within small compass. One of two courses must be adopted—either the compulsory rate mint be maintained, or it must be replaced by the voluntary principle. The House could not avail itself of both. He thought, for his own part, that the compulsory rate could not be continued much longer, and that it would be necessary to resort to the voluntary principle. But that principle, if adopted, must be trusted thoroughly, and must on no account be mixed up with a compulsory rate. Snell a combination of two opposite systems would destroy whatever virtue resided in each. He believed, however, that if the great landowners' and capitalists of the country were assured that the Church depended upon their voluntary contributions alone they would act in a spirit worthy of the emergency, and the absence of a compulsory rate would not be felt. Nothing could be more injurious to the church than to confound in the public mind the property to which it had an ancient and unquestioned right with such an unpopular, unequal, and impossible impost as a compulsory church rate.


Sir, as the House seems to wish that I should make a few observations upon the present question before we go to a division, I am desirous of calling your attention to this—I think most important—fact that, having arrived at the second reading of the Bill, we ought rather to determine the principles simply and solely involved in the measure, than to occupy our attention with a discussion of the machinery by which those principles are to be carried into effect. My right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department (Mr. Sotheron-Estcourt) has most fairly stated to the House what those principles are—namely, First, the voluntary commutation and redemption of the rate instead of the compulsory obligation of paying it. Secondly, the exemption of those who object conscientiously to the payment of church rates by giving them the opportunity of stating their objections, upon which they shall be no longer compelled to discharge it. I wish, Sir, to know from all those who have expressed their objections to the Bill whether any one of those hon. or right hon. Gentlemen have really pointed out one or other of those principles as a principle to which they have an objection? I have heard no such objections urged, and yet those Gentlemen are going to vote against the second reading. Sir, the main objection of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey) seems more particularly to be, not an objection to the provisions of the Bill, but that he cannot obtain the consent of the Government to the insertion of two particular clauses—one providing that where the people do not now obey the law the exemption shall last, and the other that where parishes are successful in urging disobedience to the law, Parliament shall encourage agitation by saying that they shall no longer be liable to this impost. Sir, I could not assent to the insertion of the right hon. Gentleman's clauses. I have always objected to the recognition of the principle in his Bill of allowing the exemption to last in cases where, by a previous disobedience of the law, certain parties had obtained a temporary exemption. I am of opinion, that if you recognized by statutory enactment such a principle, you would be doing an injustice to those who had continued to obey the law. It is also to be borne in mind that there are many places in which the rate has sometimes been refused, but in which it has been subsequently granted. Then, are you, because a majority in one year has objected to the rate, to deprive the majority in another year of the opportunity of paying this rate, which has been levied from time immemorial? The other clause of the right hon. Gentleman is, I think, still more objectionable. He says, that you cannot have a settlement of the question unless by statutory enactment; you say, if any parishes have been hitherto successful in objecting to the law, that you are to establish by law an exemption in their favour to the payment of this impost. Sir, I think that, in effect, it would be giving a premium to them for their disobedience of the law. With regard to the principle of voluntary commutation, the right hon. Gentleman, it appears, has no objection to it. In reference to the exemption of Dissenters, the right hon. Baronet looked upon that as a reasonable principle. Well, then, if the right hon. Gentleman assents to these two principles contained in the Bill, but wishes to insert some clauses in the measure, I think I may fairly claim his vote for the second reading. The hon. and learned Member for Aylesbury (Sir R. Bethell) has also some objections to the measure. Now, my learned Friend is, I believe, one of the astutest lawyers that ever lived. He has taken to task my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty for some of his observations upon this question, and he taunted my right hon. Friend with what he was pleased to term an ignorance of the nature and origin of the church rate. The First Lord of the Admiralty, not being a professional man, cannot, of course, be expected to know the law as well as my hon. and learned Friend who charged him with being guilty of ignorance on the subject; but I confess I was surprised, when he was taking my right hon. Friend to task on this subject, and when he told him he was ignorant of the nature and origin of the impost, to find him gravely informing the House that this rate was 1,400 years old, thereby taking it back to a period antecedent to the law of the Saxons, and then adding that at this time there existed those hard, severe, and persecuting laws which inflicted penalties upon those who dissented from the principles then es- tablished in the country, but which were not passed for some centuries afterwards. In the very next sentence, however, I think my hon. and learned Friend answered himself; because he observed—what was perfectly true—that at the time, when this impost was first levied, the people of this country were all of one mind in matter of religion, and they bore a common burden in consideration of a common benefit. Now, does not that go to the very gist of the question and of the great principle involved in it? It is, no doubt, true that there was at that time in this country one uniform religion, and that our ancestors imposed this charge on themselves in respect of the property which they had in the parish. This tax upon persons in respect of property was established in order that the poor might have the benefits and ordinances of religion in every hamlet and parish through, out the kingdom. Well, that was the principle upon which church rates were imposed, and its importance is recognized by the Bill before the House when it exempts Dissenters from the payment of the rate. It keeps the charge on those who have the benefit; and enables those to exempt themselves when that benefit is no longer enjoyed. I maintain, therefore, that no valid reason has yet been urged why the two principles contained in the Bill should not receive the assent of the House. The right hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) has really raised the only objection I have heard urged against the measure that is anything like a substantial one. The right hon. Gentleman says, instead of putting an end to war and strife on this subject, that in his opinion the Bill before us would tend to increase it. Now, I take issue with him upon that objection. The Bill does not encourage the imposition of a rate in any place where a majority had already determined that no rate should be levied; nor does it propose to excite agitation in any parish where the law was now obeyed. It simply provides that, instead of the assessment which our ancestors for behoof of the Church imposed upon themselves in respect of their property, there should now be substituted a voluntary payment, while it exempts altotogether those who entertain conscientious objections to the payment of the rate. How could strife be raised or increased in parishes by such a measure as that? Who, then, can properly say that the measure will occasion any strife in the country? I concur with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kidderminster that you must draw a distinction between the rural and the town parishes; but I say that the town parishes at this moment have no grievance to complain of, for by a majority they have succeeded in their refusal to pay those rates. In the country, however, where the impost is willingly paid and the property is mostly in the hands of Churchmen, and I contend it is wrong to declare by enactment that the people there shall not have an opportunity of making that a permanent charge for the benefit of the poor without occasioning that strife and agitation which may prevail in attempting to enforce it. Then comes the question as it regards the Dissenters; and here I find that I am met with a cross fire. I am told that by exempting Dissenters I am giving up the principle of an Establishment, and I am told that the Dissenters will not accept that kind of exemption. Sir, the principle of an Establishment I take to be this—that the benefactions of those who have gone before you, aided by the State, shall be dedicated to the support of one religion for the whole country. Those benefactions were given for the purpose of enabling every town and hamlet throughout the kingdom to supply the blessings of religion to the poor without any charge being placed upon them. But by exempting Dissenters front the payment of these rates in particular instances can it be said that you deprive the poor of what they have a right to receive—the ordinances of religion without any charge upon themselves? Not a bit of it! but since the position of the Church when these rates were imposed no longer exists—since, unfortunately, we are not of one mind in regard to religion—we propose to remedy the only practical grievance which exists in connection with the church rate—namely, that a certain portion of the community being obliged to contribute towards the sustentation of a Church from which, unlike their forefathers, who lived when the rate was first imposed, they derive no benefit—shall not—while they cease to enjoy the benefit be exposed to the burden. This measure was intended as a message of peace to the Dissenter. I regret, however, to find it is not received by the Nonconformists in that spirit. I regret it the more because non-acceptance of the measure gives rise to continued agitation on the subject. The object of the measure was to combine that principle with the endowment which has existed—to establish a spirit of conciliation and peace instead of war and discord. I will only trouble the House with one or two observations more. I wish to advert to what has fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury (Sir Richard Bethell). That hon. and learned Gentleman says that the case before us is the great principle of abolition or non-abolition. The hon. Baronet the Member for Tavistock (Sir John Trelawny) puts the question more gently. He says if you have the voluntary principle at all why not introduce it without this new machinery by which you seek to encumber it? Why not abolish church rates at once, and trust altogether to the voluntary principle? I think, Sir, I have shown that I have no distrust of the voluntary principle by introducing the present measure. I have shown what Churchmen have done for their Church—how by their exertions they have extended the benefits of religion throughout the length and breadth of the land. But when I have got the endowment principle in aid of the voluntary principle, I will never give up the advantages of the one because I can have the assistance of the other. The endowment principle is not to be flung away so easily. Fling it away in the case of church rates, and how can you retain it in other cases also? Are we to give up what were intended for charitable and benevolent purposes merely because we can get volunteers to supply the place of those who object to contribute their quota? The great objection to giving up the endowment in the present case is this—that if you take it away entirely there are parts of the kingdom which the voluntary principle will not reach, and where it will be impossible to provide for the ordinances of religion without the aid of the rate imposed by the piety of our ancestors. Unless you keep up that Establishment for which your ancestors so liberally provided in giving the benefits of the Church to the people of the entire country, you will be doing a great injustice to the poor, who have hitherto been so liberally provided with these benefits. Sir, I have no distrust in the voluntary principle; I recognize it in every page of my Bill. It is one of the two principles contained therein. Let the House improve the machinery of the measure if they please; but I entreat of you to admit these two principles—first, that, instead of having a compulsory obligation placed upon all, you shall allow the voluntary principle to exist in places where there is no objection on the part of the great majority of the peo- ple to pay for the maintenance of that Church to which they belong; and, secondly, out of consideration for those who do not receive the direct benefits of the Established religion, you may allow them to claim an exemption from payment of the rate. In attempting to settle this question, I may, like many abler and better men, have failed in my object. But failure in the present case, under existing circumstances, is not to be wondered at. I shall not, however, despair until I see the vote of today. I will not despair, Sir, where such an offer is made to arrive at a settlement of the question in such a spirit as I have approached it. I only trust the House will now adopt the second reading of the Bill, and improve it as they may think fit in Committee, so as to ensure the great objects aimed at by it.


then rose to address the House, but it being near six o'clock, and the House being anxious to come to a division, the hon. Gentleman was received with continued cries of "Divide, divide!" The hon. Gentleman, after struggling in vain for a hearing, moved the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed—

"That the Debate be now adjourned."


appealed to the House to allow the hon. Gentleman to proceed.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


commenced to address the House, but was again met with continued cries of "Divide, divide!" and finally sat down.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 171; Noes 254: Majority 13.

List of the AYES.
Adderley, rt. hon. C. B. Burrell, Sir C. M.
Akroyd, E. Cairns, Sir Hugh M'C.
Annesley, hon. H. Carden, Sir R. W.
Arbuthnott, hon. Gen. Cayley, E. S.
Ashley, Lord Charlesworth, J. C. D.
Baillie, H. J. Child, S.
Ball, E. Christy, S.
Baring, T. Churchill, Lord A. S.
Bernard, Tho. T. Codrington, Sir W.
Bernard, hon. Col. Cole, hon. H. A.
Bathurst, A. A. Corry, rt. hon. H. L.
Beach, W. W. B. Cross, R. A.
Beecroft, G. S. Cubitt, Mr. Ald.
Bennet, P. Davison, R.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Deedes, W.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Bramley-Moore, J. Du Cane, C.
Bramston, T. W. Duncombe, hon. Col.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Edwards, H.
Bruce, Major C. Egerton, W.
Elphinstone, Sir J. Milnes, R. M.
Estcourt, rt. hn. T. H. S. Montgomery, Sir G.
Farquhar, Sir M. Moody, C. A.
Fellowes, E. Morgan, O.
Finlay, A. S. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
FitzGerald, W. R. S. Naas, Lord
Forester, rt. hon. Col. Neeld, J.
Forster, Sir G. Newdegate, C. N.
Fraser, Sir W. A. Newport, Visct.
Galwey, Sir W. P. Noel, hon. G. J.
Gard, R. S. North, Col.
Gilpin, Col. Northcote, Sir S. H.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Packe, C. W.
Goddard, A. L. Pakington, rt, hn. Sir J.
Gore, W. R. O. Palmer, R.
Graham, Lord W. Patten, Col. W.
Greenall, G. Peel, rt. hon. Gen.
Gray, Capt. Pennant, hon. Col.
Griffith, C. D. Percy, hon. J. W.
Grogan, E. Pevensey, Visct.
Haddo, Lord Philipps, J. H.
Hamilton, Lord C. Powell, F. S.
Hanbury, hon. Capt. Pritchard, J.
Hardy, G. Pugh, D., Carmarthen
Hardy, J. Pugh, D., Montgomery
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Repton, G. W. J.
Henniker, Lord Robertson, P. F.
Holford, R. S. Rolt, J.
Hope, A. J. B. B. Rust, J.
Hopwood, J. T. Sclater-Booth, G.
Hornby, W. H. Scott, Major
Horsfall, T. B. Seymer, H. K.
Hotham, Lord Sibthorp, Major
Hudson, G. Smyth, Col.
Hughes, W. B. Smollett, A.
Hume, W. W. F. Spooner, R.
Hunt, G. W. Stanhope, J. B.
Ingestre, Visct. Stirling, W.
Johnstone, J. J. H. Steuart, A.
Jolliffe, H. H. Stewart, Sir M. R. S.
Jones, D. Sturt, H. G.
Kekewich, S. T. Sturt, N.
Kelly, Sir F. Tempest, Lord A. V.
Kendall, N. Thornhill, W. P.
Ker, R. Tollemache, J.
Kerrison, Sir E. C. Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.
King, J. K. Vance, J.
Knatchbull, W. F. Vansittart, G. H.
Knight, F. W. Vansittart, W.
Knox, Col. Verner, Sir W.
Knox, hon. W. S. Walcott, Adm.
Langton, W. G. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Lefroy, A. Warre, J. A.
Legh, G. C. Welby, W. E.
Lever, J. O. Whatman, J.
Liddell, hon. H. G. Whitmore, H.
Lisburne, Earl of Willson, A.
Lockhart, A. E. Woodd, B. T.
Lyall, G. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Lygon, hon. F. Wyndham, Gen.
Lytton, rt. hon. Sir G. E. L. B. Wyndham, H.
Wynn, Col.
Macartney, G. Wynne, W. W. E.
Macaulay, K. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Mainwaring, T.
Malins, R. TELLERS.
Manners, Lord J. Joliffe, Sir W.
Maxwell, hon. Col. Taylor, Colonel
List of the NOES.
Adair, H. E. Alcock, T.
Adeane, H. J. Anderson, Sir J.
Agnew, Sir A. Antrobus, E.
Ayrton, A. S. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Bagshaw, R. J. Ellice, E.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Baker, R. W. Elton, Sir A. H.
Baring, H. B. Evans, T. W.
Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T. Ewart, W.
Baring, T. G. Ewart, J. C.
Bass, M. T. Ewing, H. E. C.
Baxter, W. E. Fenwick, H.
Bazley, T. FitzGerald, rt. hn. J. D.
Beale, S. Fitz Roy, rt. hon. H.
Beamish, F. B. Foley, J. H.
Beaumont, W. B. Foley, H. W.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Berkeley, F. W. F. Forster, C.
Bethell, Sir R. Foster, W. O.
Biddulph, R. M. Fortescue, hon. F. D.
Biggs, J. Fortescue, C. S.
Black, A. Fox, W. J.
Blake, J. Freestun, Col.
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. French, Col.
Bouverie, hon. P. P. Garnett, W. J.
Brand, hon. H. Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.
Briscoe, J. I. Gilpin, C.
Brocklehurst, J. Glyn, G. C.
Brown, J. Glyn, Geo. G.
Bruce, H. A. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Buckley, Gen. Greene, J.
Bury, Visct. Greer, S. M'Curdy
Butler, C. S. Gregory, W. H.
Buxton, C. Gregson, S.
Byng, hon. G. Grenfell, C. P.
Calcraft, J. H. Grenfell, C. W.
Calcutt, F. M. Greville, Col. F.
Calthorpe, hon. F. H. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Grey, R. W.
Campbell, R. J. R. Grosvenor, Earl
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Gurdon, B.
Castlerosse, Visct. Gurney, J. H.
Cavendish, hon. W. Gurney, S.
Cavendish, Lord G. Hadfield, G.
Cheetham, J. Hall, rt. hon. Sir B.
Clay, J. Hamilton, C.
Clifford, C. C. Hanbury, R.
Clifford, Col. Hankey, T.
Close, M. C. Hanmer, Sir J.
Cobbett, J. M. Harcourt, G. G.
Codrington, Gen. Harris, J. D.
Coke, hon. W. C. W. Hatchell, J.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hay, Lord J.
Collier, R. P. Hayter, rt. hn. Sir W. G.
Cotterell, Sir H. G. Headlam, T. E.
Cowan, C. Heneage, G. F.
Cox, W. Hodgson, K. D.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Holland, E.
Crawford, R. W. Horsman, rt. hon. E.
Dalglish, R. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Davey, R. Hutt, W.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Ingham, R.
Deasy, R. Ingram, H.
Denison, hn. W. H. F. Jackson, W.
Dent, J. D. Jervoise, Sir J. C.
De Vere, S. E. Johnstone, Sir J.
Dillwyn, L. L. Keating, Sir H. S.
Dodson, J. G. Kershaw, J.
Duff, M. E. G. King, hon. P. J. L.
Duff, Major L. D. G. Kinglake, A. W.
Duke, Sir J. Kinglake, J. A.
Duncombe, T. Kingscote, R. N. F.
Dundas, F. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Dunlop, A. M. Knatchbull-Hugessen, E
Dutton, hon. R. H. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Egerton, E. C. Langton, H. G.
Laslett, W. Russell, A.
Levinge, Sir R. Saint Aubyn, J.
Lindsay, W. S. Salisbury, E. G.
Locke, John Salomons, Ald.
Lowe, rt. hon. R. Schneider, H. W.
Luce, T. Scrope, G. P.
Macarthy, A. Shafto, R. D.
Mackinnon, W. A. Shelley, Sir J. V.
Mangles, C. E. Sheridan, H. B.
Marjoribanks, D. C. Smith, J. A.
Marshall, W. Smith, M. T.
Martin, C. W. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Martin, P. W. Smith, A.
Martin, J. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W. M.
Massey, W. N.
Matheson, A. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Mills, T. Stapleton, J.
Mitchell, T. A. Steel, J.
Monsell, rt. hon. W. Stuart, Lord J.
Monson, hon. W. J. Stuart, Col.
Morris, D. Sykes, Col. W. H.
Mostyn, hn. T. E. M. L. Talbot, C. R. M.
Napier, Sir C. Thompson, Gen.
Nicoll, D. Thornely, T.
North, F. Tite, W.
Ogilvy, Sir J. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Onslow, G. Tomline, G.
Osborne, R. Trueman, C.
Paget, C. Turner, J. A.
Paget, Lord C. Vane, Lord H.
Pease, H. Verney, Sir H.
Pechell, Sir G. B. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Peel, Sir R. Vivian, H. H.
Perry, Sir T. E. Vivian, H. J. C. W.
Philips, R. N. Walter, J.
Pigott, F. Watkins, Col. L.
Pilkington, J. Western, S.
Portman, hon. W. H. B. Westhead, J. P. B.
Price, W. P. Whitbread, S.
Puller, C. W. G. White, J.
Ramsay, Sir A. Wickham, H. W.
Ramsden, Sir J. W. Willcox, B. M'G.
Rebow, J. G. Williams, W.
Ricardo, J. L. Wilson, J.
Ricardo, O. Wise, J. A.
Rich, H. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Ridley, G. Wood, W.
Roebuck, J. A. Woods, H.
Rothschild, Baron L. de Wyld, J.
Rothschild, Baron M de Young, A. W.
Roupell, W.
Russell, Lord J. TELLERS.
Russell, H. Trelawny, Sir J.
Hardcastle, J. A.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Bill put off for six months.

House adjourned at four minutes before Six o'clock.