HC Deb 30 July 1860 vol 160 cc404-8

Order for Consideration read.


moved a Clause providing that whenever any proposition was brought forward at any meeting of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners the object of which was to increase the revenues of any member of the episcopal Bench, or of any church dignitary, the clerical members should be entitled to deliver their opinions, but not to vote. Clause (Whenever any proposition or scheme may be brought forward at any meeting of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the object of which may be to increase the endowments, emoluments, or revenues of any member of the episcopal bench, or of any dignitary of the church, or of any capitular body or corporation aggregate, the episcopal or clerical members of the Commission may attend such meeting and deliver their opinions, but shall not be entitled to vote upon such proposition or scheme). Brought up, and read 1°.


opposed the clause. He did not see bow it was possible to make any distinction in point of power between the different members of the Commission.


said, the Commission consisted of twenty-eight ex officio members and six or eight gentlemen who were responsible to Parliament. What he complained of was that the latter were reduced to mere ciphers by the votes of the ex officio members. The Commission was intrusted with extensive powers, which it ought to exercise under great responsibility, but at present the reverse was the case.


said, that as long as the clerical members of the Commission had a seat at the Board it would be an invidious thing to deprive them of their votes.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."

The House divided:—Ayes 28; Noes 202: Majority 174.


then proposed, with a view of preventing a secret transaction between one office and another, a clause to the effect that every transaction between the Ecclesiastical Commission and other public office should be laid on the table of this House for three months before it was carried out.


said, that the hon. Member seemed to have forgotten that the very identical speech in support of the same Motion was delivered at three o'clock some days since, when the Committee showed no disposition to assent to his proposal. It appeared to him that there was no reason why transactions with a Commissioner acting under the Crown should be particularly in want of precautions of this kind. It was very improbable that the House of Commons could be a proper guide in matters of this kind.

Motion made, and Question, "That the said Clause be now read a second time." put, and negatived.


in moving an additional clause, said, it was not his fault that the House was discussing the Bill at that hour of the night, or that period of the Session, for the Bill was one that might have been introduced on the first day of the Session. He was about to propose a clause which was of the greatest importance, not merely to the Metropolis, but to the whole of the kingdom. There was no part of the country which more deserved the sympathy of Parliament than that with which he was connected. Some two years ago a Committee of the House of Lords was appointed to consider this question. That Committee was composed of sonic of the most distinguished Members of the other House, both temporal and spiritual. It reported that Middlesex, the county which was the centre of the civilization, the enterprize, the wealth and power of the country, was actually the very lowest of all the counties in England with regard to provision for public worship. That reflected the highest discredit on the whole kingdom. Speaking of the ecclesiastical property in the Metropolis, which had become of greater value through the population assembled upon it, the Committee observed that the wants of the population formed in justice a first claim upon that property. At present the Ecclesiastical Commission applied the property to the augmentation of small livings throughout the country; but lie contended, in accordance with the Report of the Lords' Committee, that it was wrong to deprive the inhabitants of the Metropolis of the use of it. The clause he had to submit applied to every city in the kingdom, as well as to the Metropolis. The principle of it was that where the inhabitants themselves had by increase of number increased the value of the Church property, that the revenues should he, in the first instance, applied to relieve the spiritual destitution of the town or city from which the increased revenue was derived. Moreover, it must be recollected that no personal injury could be done, because, under the Act of Parliament, the different bodies interested could not themselves dispose of the surplus property, and he knew of no better way of disposing of it than by relieving the existing spiritual destitution. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would, no doubt, tell them that this clause was unnecessary, as there was already a clause in the Bill to provide for the want that he had pointed out; but that clause only applied to rural parishes, and not to cities, and still less to the chief city of the empire. Looking to the large sums which had been lavished by the Commission on the dignitaries of the Church, he the thought the time had come when they should apply the funds to the benefit of the poor, and when the Church property in a parish should be applied in the first instance to relieve the spiritual destitution of that parish. He would, therefore, move the insertion of a clause to the effect that where estates of any corporation transferred to the Commissioners yielded an income beyond the amount paid by the Commissioners to the Corporation, the surplus should be employed for the purpose of increasing the provision for the cure of souls in the Metropolis or other city or town from which such excess or surplus arose. "Clause (Whore any estates of any corporation, aggregate or sole, which have been or may be transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, yield a net surplus of annual income above the amount, if any, paid by the Commissioners to such corporation, or where any ecclesiastical corporation, solo or abrogate, is in receipt of an income fixed by Act of Parliament, and the estates of such corporation yield a net surplus of annual income above the income so paid, the rents and profits of any houses, buildings, or works, or of the ground on which the same arc or may he erected or carried on, forming part of any such estates, and situate within the limits of the Metropolis as defined by the Metropolis Local Management Act (1855), or within the municipal limits of any other city, borough, or town, shall, so far as any such surplus as aforesaid may extend, be applied by the Commissioners in the first place for the purpose of making sufficient provision for the cure of souls within the limits of the metropolis, city, borough, or town respectively, within which such houses, buildings, or works are situate, and the rents and profits of any mines, factories, or works, and of any houses occupied by persons employed therein, or of the ground whereon the same are or may be erected, forming any part of the said estates, shall, so far as such surplus income as aforesaid may extend, be applied by the Commissioners in the first place in making sufficient provision for the cure of souls in the parishes where the persons employed in or connected with such mines, factories, or works, reside).

Brought up, and read 1°.

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


moved, that the debate be now adjourned.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."


hoped the hon. and learned Member would not persist in his Motion. The hour was not late. This Amendment was not a new one. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ayrton) moved one to the same effect in Committee, and it was negatived. The question of local claims had been fully discussed, both in a Committee of that House and a Committee of the House of Lords, and the Committee of that House recommended the course which had been adopted in the Bill. The present law limited local claims to tithes; but by the Bill it was extended to lands. He trusted that under these circumstances the Bill would not be altered. If they gave an absolute preference to London and other large towns, they prevented the application of the principle on which the Commission was founded—the increase of small livings. The clause would compel the Commissioners to apply the property to London, though they might think that rural parishes had a better claim.


said, he was informed that there was a canonry of St. Paul's which would be suppressed in about six years, and to which property in Fins-bury was attached, which would eventually be worth £60,000 a year; and he asked if it were just that such a property should be taken from the Metropolis and applied to rural parishes?

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 54; Noes 116: Majority 62.


said, he would then move the omission of the 5th, 14th, 15th, and 16th Clauses, which were not necessary to carry out the provisions of the Bill. No body of men had managed to concentrate upon itself so much odium as the Ecclesiastical Commission, and now in July they were asked to give it an enormous extension of power. The first and last clauses he proposed to leave out had already been condemned by a Committee, and the whole question of capitular estates would be dealt with next Session. He therefore invited the House to leave out the se clauses, and obtain for the Bill a good chance of passing the House of Lords, which it would not have if it were complicated with these clauses.


said, the question had already been settled in Committee. There was nothing in it that prejudiced the question of capitular estates, as it related exclusively to the objects of the Commission. He disapproved of the course taken by the noble Lord in proposing the omission of Clause 5, and he should therefore support the clause.

Question, "That Clause 5 stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Bill to be read 3° To-morrow.