HC Deb 21 August 1860 vol 160 cc1688-92

First Amendment read. Page 3, line 13, after 'allow,' add, 'Provided always, That if a difference of opinion as to the value or sufficiency of the estates which such Committee may propose to leave or to assign to any See shall arise between the Archbishop or Bishop thereof and the said Committee, such difference shall be settled by arbitration before such arrangement as is last mentioned shall be made.'


said, the Amendments which had come down from the other House would have the effect of increasing and perpetuating the powers of the Ecclesiastical Commission. The original objects of the appointment of that Commission were the augmentation of the small livings of the working clergy and the relief of spiritual destitution out of the large incomes of the Bishops in some cases, and out of the estates of the Deans and Chapters in others; yet it was notorious that there had been a great waste of Church property, that large palaces had been erected for the Bishops, and increased salaries given to rich Deans, while, on the other hand, the applications for increased stipends for the working clergy had been in most cases despised or disregarded. One illustration of this was furnished by the Whit by case, which was described in the papers presented to Parliament. And hero he must beg a moment's attention from the hon. and learned Member for Wallingford, towhom he had listened all day and all night. The incumbent of Whitby applied to the Commissioners for a small augmentation of his living out of the renewal of the tithe rent-charge, and stated that the chancel of his church was positively falling down for want of money to repair it. The late Archbishop of York had, much to his credit, entered into a correspondence with the Commissioners on the subject, from which it appeared that although the parish of Whitby contained, by the last census, a population of more than 12,000 souls, and would require the services of a whole staff of curates, its net income was only £200 a year. The Commissioners, however, when appealed to, replied that they could do nothing in the matter. This was merely one out of a hundred cases which went to show how little the Commissioners had done for the augmentation of poor livings. He came now to the great job of the Session—the increase in the salary of the Dean of York. The House was aware that by Act of Parliament the salaries of the Deans were, with some exceptions, fixed at £1,000 a year. The present Dean of York, who was a most excellent man, and who out of his property had expended large sums for the benefit of his parishioners and in keeping up the buildings, was said by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) to have been appointed because he was possessed of large property. This reason was accepted; but the Ecclesiastical Commissioners increased his salary to £2,000 a year. No application was made by the Dean for such an increase; he took no part in the matter, and stood fully acquitted; but the increase took place notwithstanding. Now he (Mr. Osborne) wanted to know why no application was made to Parliament. In "another place" a noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) said that had he been at the head of the Government he would never have consented to the increase without consulting Parliament; and yet a Liberal Government had sanctioned this proceeding, which had been carried out by an Order in Council. Was the proceeding a legal one? Would not the correct thing have been to come to Parliament for a declaratory Act? How was it that this irresponsible body had been allowed to take such a step directly in the teeth of Parliament? Some explanation ought to be given by the Government of the part which they had taken in the matter. In the other House Lord Stanley of Alderley, an excellent man of business, whose appointment to the Post Office he saw with great pleasure, gave notice of an Amendment which Lord Derby said was absolutely necessary, and which he should support. Somehow the Amendment had not come down from the other House, and he would, therefore, take the liberty now of moving it as an addition to the first Amendment of the Lords.

Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, by adding at the end thereof the words,— In all cases where any schemes are proposed by the Ecclesiastical Commission by which the incomes of any ecclesiastical dignitaries are altered or increased, the same shall be laid before the Two Houses of Parliament six weeks at least before they are submitted to Her Majesty in Council.


apprehended that this Amendment could not be put, the rule being that in altering a Lords' Amendment it was necessary that the alteration of this House should be relevant to the words which were amended. Now, the clause under discussion, related simply to the adjustment of the estates of the Bishops at the avoidance of a See, the amount was taken to be fixed; and if at the avoidance of the See it should be found that the estate assigned to the Bishop gave either too large or too small an income—an income greater or less than the amount fixed by law—then the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were to adjust the amount, and either deduct a portion or augment it. The amount, however, was fixed, and no discretion was left to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. This Motion, therefore, which implied a discretionary augmentation of the stipends of the Deaneries, had no application to the clause, and could not, he submitted, be put.


regretted, that though the Motion might be informal, the Home Secretary had not condescended to give some explanation of the affair of the Deanery of York alluded to by the hon. Member for Liskeard. That was a case which, taken in contrast with the case of Whitby, supplied an excellent specimen of the proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Commission. Was it correct that applications had been made for the increase of the stipends of two other Deaneries?


expressed his opinion that the objection of the right hon. Gentleman with respect to the irrelevancy of the Amendment was well founded.


wished to know who was to pay the expenses of the arbitrations that would be required to settle the value of the estates to be assigned to Sees? He believed that the practice of assigning estates was a very dangerous one, and would entail great expense. The Lords' Amendment appeared to him calculated to aggravate the evil of the existing state of things.

The said Amendment not being consequent upon or relevant to the Amendment made by the Lords, the same was not put from the Chair.

Lords' Amendment agreed to.

Another Amendment, page 5, line 38, "leave out from 'income' to the end of the Clause," read.


moved that the Amendment be not agreed to. When the Bill left the House of Commons a proviso had been inserted, the object of which was to compel the Commission to fulfil the object for which it was created, namely, the augmentation of small livings, by attending first to local claims upon each property that came into their hands. That proviso had, however, been struck out, and now there was no check left upon the extravagant propensities of high ecclesiastical dignitaries to expend money upon objects to which there was not attached the slightest spiritual idea. There was no need for these large salaries; for they were all familiar with instances in which ecclesiastics had obtained the respect of large communities without being in the receipt of an extravagant income.


thought the Amendment was unimportant, and might be agreed to. The proviso was introduced in that House without notice, and, in fact, he believed the only difference was that the Commissioners made provision for local claims after the sale of the original lands, while the proviso required them to make provision beforehand, which was almost impossible.


agreed that it would be difficult, and indeed practically impossible, to carry on the business of the Commissioners if the proviso struck out by the Lords were restored. A proposal had been made for the augmentation of the salaries of the Deans of Wells and Salisbury, but the Resolution had not been carried. With respect to the case of the incumbent of Whitby, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were anxious to increase his income; but they were assured by their legal adviser that that could not be done. At the expiration of a certain term some property would devolve upon the parish of Whitby, and the incumbent's income would there by be increased.


believed that the ordinary administration of the Ecclesiastical Commission was very satisfactory.


said, it was desirable to afford facilities for the enfranchisement of lands under Church corporations, which could only be effected by a sale to the tenant of the fee simple. It was doubtful whether, without the Lords' Amendment, the Bill would not interfere to prevent those sales, which were the only method of enfranchising Church property.


wished to know how it was that an Order in Council could supersede an Act of Parliament?


said, it was not the fact that the increase of the stipend of the Dean of York was inconsistent with the Act of Parliament. The opinion of the counsel consulted by the Commissioners was, that the augmentation was within the letter of the Act. He only doubted whether it was within the spirit.

Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment,

The House divided:—Ayes 35; Noes 18; Majority 17.

Remaining Amendments agreed to.

House adjourned at Two o'Clock.