HC Deb 06 July 1860 vol 159 cc1520-4

Order for Committee read.


expressed his surprise that the two Liberal Members for the city of Edinburgh should support a measure of that description, which was formally opposed by the Town Council of that city, and met with the almost unanimous disapproval of the inhabitants. He had intended to propose upon that occasion that it should be referred to the examiners of private Bills, to inquire and report how far the Amendments made by the Committee in the Bill were in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House; but he had ascertained upon the highest authority that there had been no violation of the Standing Orders in the case; and as he was at all times prepared to bow to that authority he would not press that proposal.


said, he wished to make a final Appeal to the Lord Advocate to withdraw the Bill. The Lord Provost and Town Council of Edinburgh had petitioned against it, and declared that it was opposed to the wishes of their fellow townsmen. The Bill had already been changed in its form in passing through Committee; and the parties whom it would specially affect had as yet had no opportunity of considering it in its altered shape.


said, it was true that the Bill had been changed since its first introduction in the House; but the change had been made at the request of the Town Council of Edinburgh and of a public meeting; but no sooner did he make the change they asked for by making the rate permanent, than the Town Council turned round and said it was a new Bill, that the Standing Orders had not been complied with, and that the Bill should be withdrawn. Such was a simple statement of the facts of the case; he made it reluctantly, and he left the House to draw from it their own conclusions.


said, he believed that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate had not adhered to the arrangement originally proposed in the Bill, with respect to the mode of ascertaining the value of the quit-rents; and it was in consequence of that change, to which the Town Council had been no parties, that they opposed the measure as it at present stood.

House in Committee.

Clauses 2 to 6 inclusive agreed to.

Clause 7 (Pews in the City Churches to be let by the Kirk Session, and the Surplus of the Rents to be paid to the Commissioners).

MR. DUNLOP moved the addition of a proviso to the effect that whenever, after deducting the charges on the particular church, the balance should exceed £1,600 a year, the excess should be divided—one-haif to the Commissioners for the purposes of the Act, and the other half to be held by the Commissioners in satisfaction pro tanto of the amount payable under the head of annuity towards the extinction of their claims thereunder for each year.


supported the Amendment.


expressed his astonishment at the course taken by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Black) on the question, considering the strong language in which he had in former times denounced this iniquitous tax, which had the effect of deadening all religious zeal among the people.


objected to the Amendment as altogether unnecessary.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 11; Noes 66: Majority 55.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 9 (Property of the City deponed in Security of the Payment of the Annuities).


objected to the clause as unnecessarily offensive. He had an Amendment on the paper by which he proposed to give a security, not over the property of the town itself, but over the income. A security over the property of the town would lead to great inconve- nience, and it was in order that the degradation of the magistrates of the city might be avoided that he wished to see the nature of the security changed. According to the Amendment the security would still remain ample. However, he did not intend to divide the Committee upon it.


said, there was nothing in the security provided by the Bill that was not absolutely indispensable, and there was nothing in it that ought to be offensive to the Town Council. In 1853 the Town Council agreed to a kind of security far more stringent than that proposed in the present Bill.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to; as were also the remaining Clauses.

MR. STIRLING moved the insertion of a clause to the effect that the patronage of the churches in Edinburgh should be transferred from the Town Council to the Kirk Sessions and the male communicants of three years' standing. The present was, he thought, a good opportunity of transferring the patronage from the hands of those who were seldom members of the Church of Scotland, and putting it into the hands of those who were members of the Church and likely to take an interest in its welfare. He did not think that the conduct of the Town Council since this Bill was introduced had been such as to increase the confidence of the people of Edinburgh in their wisdom. He only wished to have done in Edinburgh what had already been done in Montrose. Clause (The right of patronage or presentation of ministers of each and every one of the parochial churches or charges in the said city (other than those of which the patronage is hereby expressly transferred to the Commissioners) shall be and the same is hereby, from and after the passing of this Act, transferred to and vested in, and may at all time thereafter be held and exercised by the elders and other male Members of each of the said churches, or any majority of their number, being in full communion, and whose names shall hare stood in the Roll of Communicants of the church and parish in which there is a vacancy, for not less than three years next preceding the occurrence of the said vacancy.")

Brought up, and read 1°.


said, he hoped the hon. Member for Perthshire would not press his Amendment. He believed, notwithstanding what had passed, that the Town Council of Edinburgh would carry out the Act with perfect fidelity. He was not prepared to take the property of the Town Council and hand it over to the Kirk Sessions of the various churches. His hon. Friend referred to the case of Montrose, but the difference between Montrose and Edinburgh was this—that the Town Council of the former place was willing to give up the patronage, whereas the Town Council of Edinburgh were not willing to do so. He maintained that the patronage of the Town Council of Edinburgh had hitherto been wisely exercised. He hoped his hon. Friend would not endanger the safety of the Bill by pressing his clause.


said, he approved of the principle of the clause; but he was not prepared, by urging it, to risk the success of the Bill.


said, that the Town Council of Montrose had surrendered their patronage because they had received an equivalent for that loss; but no such equivalent was offered to the Town Council of Edinburgh in the present instance.


said, he was not aware that the Town Council of Edinburgh was opposed to the transference of the patronage from their hands. It was not a question of property at all, for the patronage in this case was not a saleable thing, being held by the Town Council in trust for the public. The feeling in Scotland was in favour of vesting the patronage in the congregations.


said, he would propose an Amendment on the clause to the effect that the Town Council should be empowered to sell the patronage of the churches to the congregations.


objected, that the hon. Member for Perthshire proposed to transfer the patronage only of those churches that were supported by a public tax, while the others were to be under the patronage of the Commissioners. He congratulated hon. Gentlemen opposite on the progress they had made in favour of the popular election of ministers.


expressed a hope that the hon. Member for Perthshire would not persist in pressing his clause.


(St. Andrews) also expressed a hope that the clause would be withdrawn.


said, he thought that if the congregations would not pay a reasonable sum for the right of patronage, it ought to remain where it was.


said, he would call upon the congregations to pay their own Ministers, and then no one would dispute their right to elect them.


expressed a hope that the Lord Advocate would introduce a clause which he had inserted in a former draught of the Bill, giving the Town Council the power to sell their patronage.


said, he had no hesitation in saying that he was prepared to support the proposal for empowing the Town Council to dispose of patronage by sale.

Question put, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 25; Noes 87: Majority 62.


proposed a clause to the effect that the Town Council of Edinburgh should be enabled tos ell to the Kirk Session, or to the Commissioners, the right of patronage of the parochial charges in the City of Edinburgh, on the receipt of £600 in each case.


said that £600 would be a very moderate amount for a rich parish to pay; but in the poorer parishes it would form a very considerable sum.


said, the clause was substantially the same as one which had been originally inserted in the Bill. He feared its tendency would be to induce the Town Council to bully the congregations in order to make them purchase the Church patronage.


said, he should not object to the clause, which was then agreed to and added to the Bill.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered on Monday next.

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