HC Deb 25 June 1860 vol 159 cc954-70

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [6th June.] 'That the Bill be now read a second time;' and which Amendment was to leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.'

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

Debate resumed.


said, that he principally objected to the Bill because it proposed to transfer all Chapter property to the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, without making any provision for those whose claims were condemned unheard in 1840. Those claims were most just, and the Bill ought not to pass without their recognition, especially after what had taken place before the Cathedral Commission issued in 1852, under the Earl of Derby's Government, when those claims were fully considered and their equity satisfactorily established. It was in the knowledge of those who had paid attention to the question that many of the cathedrals of the country were not like those of the old foundation, but were Protestant establishments, founded by Henry VIII., and confirmed by Queen Elizabeth, for three distinct purposes. First, for religious instruction and the celebration of Divine worship; next, for educational purposes; and third, for purposes of charity, or for public works. For the first of those purposes—that of religious instruction and the celebration of Divine Service, there was a staff of dean and canons, prebendiaries, minor canons, and lay clerks. For the second purpose there were head masters and under masters with a certain number of boys who were to be educated free of expense. For the purposes of charity there were a certain number of old men to be maintained; and comparatively largo sums were also set apart for public works. Regular stipends were allotted to the various officials, and on looking into the statutes he found that the head master, who was next in dignity to a prebendary or canon, was to receive two-thirds of a prebendal income; the under master was to receive one-half, and the lay clerks one-third. The college boys and choristers were to receive from four to six times the sum of a prebendal income to be distributed among them for their maintenance; for public works a sum was set apart ten times the prebendal income. But changes had taken place in the course of time, and though the property of the Dean and Chapter was considerably reduced, they were still in receipt of considerable incomes, while the minor canons, upon whom the duty of performing Divine worship mainly rested, scarcely received anything at all. Before the Act of 1840 the minor canons had been stripped of their emoluments to such a degree that they barely had the income of the poorest curate, while those at Westminster Abbey were reduced to live on the sums realized by showing the Church, and the painful spectacle might be seen of a clergyman standing at the door to check the numbers that went into the Abbey as if they were going to a concert. He believed that since, by a reduction of the number, the salaries of those who remained were now made up to £150 a year; but as the value of the cathedrals was at last discovered, and thousands flocked to hear Divine service performed there where only hundreds attended before, the reduced staff was inadequate for the performance of the additional duties. And yet if they were to apply to the Ecclesiastical Commission for an augmentation it was certain they would meet with a direct refusal. The next body who were entitled to consideration was the lay clerks, upon whom the solemnity in the mode of conducting public worship depended, and yet he believed there never was a class of men more ill-treated. They were entitled to one-third of a prebendal income, but they had been so plundered that they did not receive the pay of an ordinary menial servant, or a journeyman mechanic. In the cathedral church of Canterbury the lay clerks till very lately received only £40 a year. The Dean and Chapter had recently made the munificent arrangement of allowing them £25 a year certain, with half-a-crown or three shillings for every day they attended, so that if they never missed a day through the whole twelve months, their income would be increased to about £70 a year. But that pittance again was fettered with the condition that they were bound to retire whenever called upon on an allowance of £25 a year. The case of the choristers, whom it was imperative on the chaplain to maintain and educate, was equally pitiable. A collegiate church, one of the most noble foundations in England, within a short distance of that House, gave £14,000 or £15,000 annually towards the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but all it could spare to the 15 or 16 boys who were upon its foundation was £130 a year. These lived in a distant suburb, and being obliged to attend morning and afternoon service, they had to spend the intervening time as best they could, and which certainly was not in a manner creditable to the Church. At Canterbury affairs were just in the same state, and the state of Westminster and Canterbury was that of every cathedral body throughout the kingdom. That was a scandal to the Church, and it was a scandal to the Ecclesiastical Commission. He did not blame the Dean and Chapter for it; the Ecclesiastical Commission had taken all power out of their hands. The educational purposes for which these foundations had been made were defeated in the same manner. All the cathedrals were bound to maintain and educate from forty to fifty boys, the most promising of whom were afterwards to be sent to the University. In such of the schools as still existed—for some of them had vanished altogether—those arrangements were shamefully set at nought. In Westminster School, where he was educated, as well as the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, the head master, who ought to have two-thirds of a prebendal income, received only £39, and the under master only £15 a year. The consequence was, that the remuneration of the masters was a tax upon the forty boys, who, according to the statutes, ought to be maintained free of all expense. Westminster was the only one of the collegiate schools that had attained to any eminence, but at Canterbury there was a school for fifty boys which was founded by Henry VIII., and in which Charles I. took so much interest that he ordained that in the election of boys for the Chapel Royal the boys from that school should have a preference. Yet the salary of the head master from the cathedral funds was only £100; the rest of his salary being a mere tax on the boys. He maintained that these schools, if preserved in vigorous operation, would be of incalculable advantage, more especially in the poorer parts of the country. The head master of the cathedral school of Carlisle, the Dean and Chapter of which, by the way, had surrendered all their property to the Ecclesiastical Commission, had made a touching appeal to that body on behalf of his school, and the advantages it might afford in the education of a poor district like that diocese, but that appeal had hitherto produced no results. He came next to the third purpose—the works of charity and public works. It was not, indeed, to be expected that the cathedrals should now pay the expense of public works. But there was also provision made for aged persons, chiefly for old soldiers; and many of these had vanished altogether, like the schools. Now in all these cases, if application was made to the Ecclesiastical Commission for augmentation, the answer was invariably that was not the proper place to apply—in fact, they would not entertain the proposition. He was told that the Ecclesiastical Commission was very liberal to those cathedrals that surrendered their property to them; but that was not always the case. One of the most remarkable instances of an edifice being suffered to languish from want of needful supplies from its own funds was that of St. Paul's Cathedral. The riches attaching to that foundation were proverbial, and one would be disposed to think the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would recognize it as an imperative duty to preserve the body of the church in repair. Mr. Penrose, however, the surveyor of St. Paul's, a gentleman much looked up to in his profession, had written him an interesting letter, in which it was stated that the total income of the cathedral for last year was £1,166, of which, after deducting the cost of fire insurance, with the salaries of clerk, organist, &c, only £827 was left to keep this vast building in repair in the trying atmosphere of London. That small sum would be wholly inadequate to arrest the progress of decay, if it were not for the most painful economy, which only permitted repairs to be undertaken at those points where they were urgently needed. At least £500 additional would be requisite for the purposes of this building. Hon. Members would remember the fee of 2d. which used to be paid to the vergers for admission into St. Paul's. That question, which had given rise to many warm discussions at the time, was settled by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who, in lieu of these fees, gave the vergers £100 a year each. He had lately heard, however, that the Commissioners were inclined to discontinue this payment, in which case either the 2d. admission fee must be reimposed, or the Dean and Chapter would have to supply the necessary funds from their own pockets. He thought that was a proper duty which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners might take upon themselves. Again, what was called the "cupola money"—the fee charged for showing the whispering gallery and cupola of St. Paul's—now constituted one of the principal sources of income of the lay clerks and minor canons. Surely it was very improper that any portion of the cathedral authorities should be paid by show money; and he should be glad to see a proper provision made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for doing away with this scandal. Go to what cathedral they would, they generally found part of the church furniture falling into decay, and the reason given was, "We can get nothing from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners." That body paid their secretaries and surveyors handsomely, but were very averse from contributing towards objects of this kind. Now, nobody at the present day could deny the utility of cathedrals. The congregations in many cases were largely increasing, and with proper care the cathedral schools throughout the country might be made of the greatest use. But the Bill contained no provision for carrying out any of these objects. He did not wish that more money should be given to the Deans and Chapters, but he did want to see the cathedrals utilized and the schools improved, and he appealed to hon. Members who were anxious for the spread of education to aid him in endeavouring, if the Bill got into Committee, to provide for the expenditure of a reasonable sum in this way. It was a principle of English law to carry out the intention of founders, and faith ought to be kept with the dead as well as with the living. Therefore, unless such provisions as he had referred to were introduced, he should feel it his duty to oppose the Bill.


said, the argument of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Selwyn) on this question had been misunderstood by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley). His hon. and learned Friend urged that the duties and labours of the Ecclesiastical Commission had been so increased of late that it was not only unfair to them, but would be injurious to the public that those duties should be added to by the Bill. In support of this argument he adduced the fact, that the rentals of the estates vested in the Commissioners amonnted to £173,000 a year. That was not the full value of these estates, but was the sum mentioned in the Report of the Commissioners appointed in 1839. His hon. and learned Friend had also stated that the expenditure of the Commission in 1839 in law, surveying, and other matters amounted to £43,000, but he did not mean to convey, as the right hon. Gentleman had wrongly inferred, that this expenditure was in respect of estates the rental of which he quoted. With regard to the statement that there had been no audit for the last three years, the House and the public were certainly not aware of any efficient audit, as no mention of any such audit was made in the Reports for 1859 and the previous years. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had stated that the principle of the present Bill had been admitted, because a similar Bill had previously passed that House. The Bill referred to by the right hon. Gentleman was introduced in 1857–8, and failed in the House of Lords; but it should be borne in mind that in 1859 a Bill was brought forward omitting the very clauses which his hon. and learned Friend specially objected to. He wished to know on what authority that provision was embodied in the Bill which effected the involuntary transfer of the episcopal lands to the Commissioners, and that, too, within a short period. That enactment was certainly not founded on the recommendation of the Committee of 1855. He observed that there was to be a revision of the episcopal incomes on the avoidances of the several Sees, but with respect to Capitular estates he did not see that any provision for revision was made. That was an important matter, and required to be settled, if the present measure was intended to be permanent and final. He deemed it extremely objectionable that the Bill tended to confirm and perpetuate the stipendiary character of the incomes given to the Bishops and to the Deans and Chapters; and the measure was liable to censure both for faults of commission and omission.


said, that he regretted that a Bill of such importance should have been pressed on that evening which, it was intended, should be devoted to other business, and when very few Members who took an interest in the question were present. With regard to the provisions: of the Bill he entirely concurred with the observations which had been expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Selwyn), and he regarded the centralization contemplated by the Bill as a great evil. There was this inconsistency in the Bill, that while it enacted that all the property of Deans and Chapters should be vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, there was also a provision to the effect that at a future time some portion of it should be handed back. This was a most roundabout and ridiculous process. The plan to be pursued ought to be that of separating the lands according to their value, and then to hand over the proportion set apart for the Deans and Chapters, and let the Ecclesiastical Commissioners take the remainder. In principle, what objection could there be to that plan, for were not the Ecclesiastical Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing all the Church property? If the great accumulation of property in the hands of the Commissioners were to proceed, it would be impossible that any of the advantageous relations which ought to exist between landlord and tenant could have place between them and their lessees. He had listened to the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for the county of Oxford (Mr. Henley) on a former occasion with anxiety, in order to discover the great public advantage which would be derived from concentrating all that property in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but had failed to discover any good grounds for doing so. Already the revenue of the Commissioners was estimated by his right hon. Friend at £200,000 per annum, and he asked how it was possible that the relations of landlord and tenant could be properly maintained when the property of the former was so large that the landlord could never visit it or even know where it was situated. In the case of the Deans and Chapters the property was generally small, and there was no difficulty in the tenant communicating with them. He could speak from experience of the Dean and Chaper of Westminster, under whom he held property in Worcester, and he assured the House that no landlord could better manage his property than did that corporation. He was one of those who held that there were great disadvantages in such large properties that the possessors could not know all about them, but was forced to leave them to the care of subordinates. He had been recently engaged in a cause where it turned out that the landlord had not visited his estate for twenty-five years. Now, there was a great disadvantage in a man not being able to visit his estate for a quarter of a century. How was the relation of landlord and tenant to stand in such cases? Why, it became a mere question of local agents—surveyors and land stewards. Should persons come to London to see the Commissioners they would be received with courtesy, and every one knew the kindness of his hon. Friend the Member for Kent (Mr. Deedes); but, as a matter of necessity, and in the nature of things, they would go to men who were entire strangers to the property with which they had to deal. What then were the advantages of that centralizing system of which his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Selwyn) complained, and of which he (Mr. Malins) also complained? What advantages were the public to gain by this Bill? He (Mr. Malins) believed all the advantages sought by it would be attained if the Dean and Chapter were allowed to receive the whole income of their estates, some machinery being devised by which the whole of the surplus might be handed over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. A petition had lately been presented from Chichester, in which the petitioners set forth that great evils would arise from the system of accumulating large estates in the hands of a central and undying Board, most prejudicial to the interests of the public. He entirely agreed with the petition of the inhabitants of Chichester, that there would be great disadvantages if these lands were invested, to use their own words, in undying central bodies, with no other change than a change of men composing them. But there was another point in the Bill which, in his opinion, was open to objection; he alluded to that portion of it which provided that in the case of renewable leaseholds the interest of the lessee should come to an end in 1884. Was there any public necessity for this? It was true that the lessee had no right to enforce a renewal; but if the Dean and Chapter refused to renew they lost their fines every seven years, and therefore, practically, they never refused to do so. Bishops' lessees frequently sold their leases, and, in fact, they had become the subject of sale and settlement so much that the Court of Chancery had always compelled trustees to provide for the payment of the accruing fines. If, then, that renewable right was become the subject of property recognized by the law of the land, what public necessity existed for changing the lessees and destroying the rights of the present owners? The only pretext on which it was proposed was that this description of lease was an impediment to building and improvement, but was that a reason for depriving people who held that kind of property of their interests in it, and perhaps reducing their children to beggary? He should not object to some reasonable arrangement which would provide for the improvement of this property, but it was not because a particular tenure of property was inconvenient that it was to be confiscated. He thought that if they secured to the Dean and Chapter the amount of the reserved rent and the value of the renewable fines they would derive all the advantage they sought, and would put the lessee in the position of a permanent instead of a precarious holder. He protested against confiscation of the property. What they wanted was some system that would make it compulsory on the lessor to sell the reversion, throwing on him the compulsory obligation to sell his interest to the lessee, or to make the lessee sell his interest at a fair market value to the lessor. The objects of the Bill were to be obtained without confiscation: and unless that objection could be removed he should certainly vote against the second reading. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners only held the property for sacred and religious purposes; but if they acquired it by means which beggared families how could they apply it properly? The lessees had just as much right, after paying renewal fines, to look upon this as their own property as landed proprietors had to their own estates. If the right hon. Gentleman would give a pledge that he would provide some machinery for the transfer of the property on equitable terms he should not object, but at present they took away all the rights of the lessee and gave him in exchange a terminable lease for twenty-four years, and the unfortunate lessee would find that property wrested from him which he expected to hand down to his family. He implored Parliament not to permit such an injustice as that. If they were determined upon vesting all this property in one great public body like the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who would certainly fail in the performance of their duty as landlords, at all events let them do it on fair principles, and not, because it was for public convenience to change a certain description of tenure, discard the principles of public justice. On these grounds he should oppose the second reading of the Bill.


I did not intend to take any part in this debate, and I will not now enter into a discussion of any of the details of this measure. I think the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), when this Bill was last under discussion a few days ago, sufficiently answered the objections stated to it by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University. The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken, however, has put forward some principles from which I cannot forbear to express my dissent. He has put out of sight the original object of these measures. That object was out of the largo incomes of the Bishops in some cases, and out of the estates of Deans and Chapters in others, to make some provision for the augmentation of the smaller livings, and for the relief of the spiritual destitution of those populous districts which the ancient distribution of Church property left either insufficiently provided for, or not provided for at all. For that purpose it was necessary to consider in what manner this property was distributed, and how its distribution might be improved. For example, it was found that the Bishop of Durham had formerly £23,000 a year. The Ecclesiastical Commission thought that sum was excessive, and that £8,000 a year would suffice. The Commissioners also felt that as the Bishop was only to receive the reduced income of £8,000, it would be an absurd arrangement that he should have the management of the whole £23,000. Then you have the proposal of the Bill as it stands, with an alternative, which is this, that the £23,000—or rather the £21,000, for £2,000 a year was previously taken—should go to the Ecclesiastical Commission; that lands to the amount of £8,000 a year should be settled on the Bishop of Durham, and that the remaining estates should be at the disposal of the Commissioners. So, likewise, with regard to the Chapter estates. The hon. and learned Gentleman takes the case of Ely, in which four-fifths are to remain with the Chapter. But in the case of the Chapter of Durham, there being twelve canons, four only were to remain; eight parts were to be devoted to the increase of smaller livings, and to the relief of spiritual destitution. It would be absurd to leave the whole twelve parts at the disposal of the Dean and Chapter, when eight out of the twelve, or two-thirds of the whole, were to be paid over to the Ecclesiastical Commission. It was, therefore, a reasonable and practical proposal that the income of the Dean and Chapter should form four parts out of the twelve, and that the eight parts should be in the hands of the Commissioners. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, "But what an immense amount that makes in the hands of a centralized body." Now, you are to consider to what purposes these funds are to be applied. You find a clergyman with £75 or £80 a year, and you add £50 to his income. In another instance you create a new benefice, with £150 or, perhaps, £200 a year attached to it. It would be absurd to divide large Church estates, so as to assign small pieces of land to each benefice, with a view of raising these small incomes. It is, therefore, necessary that there should be a general management for this purpose.

Then the hon. and learned Gentleman comes to the great question of all, namely, whether it would be just to make an alteration with respect to the tenure of Church property; and instead of leases lasting for a certain number of lives, to change them into a fixed term not exceeding, for the present, the limit of twenty-two years. The hon. and learned Gentleman—I will not say misrepresents, but misapprehends the principle on which these estates rest. He says that the representatives of the Church, that is, the Bishops, Deans and Chapters, have no other right over this property except to receive fines on the renewal of leases. Formerly the case stood thus:—It was supposed in the time of Elizabeth that a life equalled twenty-one years, and Church estates were leased by ecclesiastical bodies for three lives. The lessees could not put in a new life when a previous one expired, and therefore the absolute right was not in the lessee but in the Church, and it depended on the merest accident whether or not a lessee had a property nearly equivalent to a freehold, or an interest of a very limited nature. For example, where an old Bishop died a Prime Minister might recommend a very young man, of twenty-five or thirty, to succeed him. The new Bishop, on succeeding to the see, finds a lease in which there are three old lives of seventy or seventy-five. He is asked to put in a new life; he refuses, preferring to take his chance of running his life against the three named in the lease. In the end, if he outlives, he has a most valuable lease, which he can give to his own family for three lives, actually enriching himself or his relatives. Or when the first two lives dropped he might set his life against the third, and refuse to renew except at an enormous fine, which he knew would not be given. This shows that the right is not in the lessee but the lessor, and the hon. and learned Gentleman must know that in several cases, by an abuse of this power, bishops in former days allowed old lives to expire, and gave a lease of three young lives to members of their own family. Having rendered Church property of very little value for the next sixty years, they next obtained an Act of Parliament by which, for a small sum, they transferred the estates from the Church to the lessee, defrauding the Church of its property. Does the hon. and learned Gentleman wish that system to be restored? He proposes that instead of the right being in the lessor, as it always has been, it should be transferred to the lessee, and instead of the lessee being entirely at the mercy of the Bishop, or of the Dean and Chapter, that he should have an absolute right secured to him, actually as good as a freehold. This is what I should call confiscation, for it would take away the right from that body in which it exists, and transfer it to another who has only a limited right which at a certain period must expire. The hon. and learned Gentleman's plan, therefore, is to confiscate the property of the Church for the benefit of the lessee. What was the case formerly with land the property of the Crown? A great many of the Crown estates were held in the same manner as those belonging to the Church. They brought little to the revenues of the Crown, because the leases were usually renewed, and the tenants favoured. In this state of things, what did Mr. Pitt do? Did he transfer the whole right in the property to the lessees? On the contrary, he claimed for the lessor the entire benefit, giving the lessee no more than his actual right. Thus by a beneficial Act the whole of the income derived from a rack-rent was received by the Crown. But in the case of the Church which, not being so powerful as the Crown, and having no such patron as Mr. Pitt who could thus deal with its property, the general arrangement has been this:—The Church offered the lessee his choice, either to sell to the Church the whole of his interest in the unexpired term, or to buy the property, and pay to the Church the value of the reversion. That was the proposal made in the Committee of the House of Lords—I need not enter into the precise terms as they have nothing to do with the Bill before us—and it was a perfectly fair one. A great deal of property was held during the whole of the last century under the disadvantage that, although a man held the property, and expected to renew the lease, he had no such security for building and planting, as if it had been freehold, and very often, besides interfering with building and planting, he was unable to dispose of it as he wished. A great portion of that property has become freehold, and is now held in fee by country gentlemen, yeomen, farmers, and other proprietors, and the property itself is improved to an extent which never would have been the case if it had been held under the old tenure. This is the general intention of the Bill, and, as I believe it to be a perfectly fair intention, I really think the House ought to read it a second time. With regard to particular clauses, into which I shall not enter now, it may be quite possible to propose improvements in Committee. I do not deny that the Bill may be susceptible of Amendment, but I believe that it is based on sound principles, and that it will effect improvements beyond those which have already taken place. For my own part, I have always thought it desirable in every way, that the Bishops and Deans and Chapters should hold landed property. I have no doubt that if the whole of their landed property were sold and the money paid into the funds the Bishops and Deans and Chapters would have a more certain income for the time, but they would not have such a thorough dependence on the landed property of the country, nor so fixed a status, and I should be very sorry to see that change. That a body managing £200,000 of landed property may commit many mistakes is possible, and that they do not see the property very often is no doubt an inconvenience, but I believe that to be inseparable from any great scheme. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Malins) has himself said he was concerned in a case in which a private gentleman had not seen a particular portion of his property for twenty-five years, having estates, I presume, in various counties; but no one will argue that private gentlemen should not possess large estates. The hon. Gentleman said it was an inconvenience to be regretted. I say the same thing with regard to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, that it is an inconvenience that they cannot visit each of their estates; but when a large scheme is proposed, if not for a final settlement, for a settlement of the general principles, I think the House should either assent to or dissent from the plan upon those general grounds.


said, the noble Lord who had just addressed the House had put the measure in as fair a light as possible; he had shown the House what could be said in favour of the Bill, and he had also made admissions and held out expectations which might succeed in modifying some points of objection. At the same time he was sorry that a measure of so much importance should have been accidentally, and in consequence of an unexpected alteration in the proceedings of the House for the evening, brought forward while many hon. Members who were interested in the question were absent. The importance of this Bill was great, whether they considered the amount of property involved, or the mode in which they were called on to deal with it—that was to say, contrary to the wishes of the reputed owner and occupier—or to the manner in which the estates were in future to be managed. They were not dealing with the whole of the property that belonged to the Church, and he should not raise the question with respect to that portion of property disposed of by previous arrangements. The real point for consideration was whether they should proceed in the same course as they had already proceeded in with respect to the estates of the Bishops—whether they would act in the same way with reference to the estates of the capitular bodies? It was obvious, however, that Bishops and Chapters did not stand on the same footing. The Ecclesiastical Commission comprised several Bishops, and they had a substantive voice in all the operations of that body; they enjoyed the opportunity of speaking their sentiments; but the House was called upon to deal with the estates of gentlemen who had never been consulted in the matter, and respecting whom he thought he might venture to say that their sole object, as it was declared to him when they waited upon the Government of the day, twelve months ago, was not to ask that Government to withdraw their hands, but merely to give them an opportunity of telling their own story. All that was asked, then, was that they might be put in communication with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. They said, "We have a story to tell, and we want an opportunity to tell it; hold the hands of Parliament till we have had that opportunity, which we promise we will not abuse." From that time, however, the opportunity, not unfairly asked, had never been afforded to them. One of the main grounds of objection he had to this Bill was that it proposed to make use of the machinery of the Ecclesiastical Commission, not merely for the sale, but actually for the future management and possession of these estates. It could not be disputed that they proposed to take powers within a certain time to sell the estates belonging to the capitular bodies, and out of those estates, or the money received from them, to re-endow at a subsequent time the Chapters with a certain portion of landed property. There was a great deal of force in what the noble Lord said as to landed property. There were good reasons why Chapters and Bishops should be in possession of landed estates. There was a greater stability in the possession of land than of money in the funds, and he did not like the idea of a Bishop or a Chapter being reduced to the position of mere salaried stipendiaries of the State. If it were proposed to deal with the property of any private individual as was now proposed in regard to the property of the capitular bodies, a cry of confiscation would at once be raised. What was the distinction between a lessee who held under a capitular body, and one who held under the corporation of a municipality or college? Yet municipal or college property had never been treated in the manner proposed in the Bill. The manner in which the estates belonging to the Church were formerly managed was far preferable to the modern system. He believed the holding of land by such a body as the Ecclesiastical Commission to be much more objectionable than the holding of land in mortmain by Bishops or Chapters, impolitic as that mode of possession had always been regarded. Since the time of Queen Elizabeth, whenever ecclesiastical corporations had had occasion to let out their property they had done so on easy terms, and the lessee had practically fulfilled the duties attached to ownership. But if these estates were now let out at rack-rent, the total annual value would, of course, be required from the persons who held them. How was hospitality to be exercised, charity administered, and schools or other benevolent institutions maintained, unless the lessees held the estates on easy terms? His right hon. Friend (Sir George Lewis) would say, no doubt, that the Commission were not to exercise the rights of ownership permanently, but only in transitu, and that they would have to sell a portion of the property and re-endow either the Bishops or the capitular bodies with so much land. But that was the great defect of the Bill. It did not state definitely the manner in which the change was to be effected. The question of Bishops' property had been dealt with, but not in such a manner as to inspire great confidence for the future. There never arose a discussion with respect to the Ecclesiastical Commission without fault being found with the administration of the funds arising from the Bishops' estates. He had no doubt the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, of whom he entertained the highest opinion, would endeavour to avoid future mistakes; but Parliament was called upon to grant them, not only a prolongation of, but an addition to, their powers. That was the third time they had had the Bill under discussion. He was of opinion that the House would think that those who had something further to say upon the subject, as was his own case, should postpone further observation till they got into Committee. Perhaps his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Selwyn) would permit him to suggest that it would be well not to press for a division at that time, but reserve his objections for a future stage in Committee, when those who objected to particular clauses would have the opportunity of calling them in question. He should reserve any further remarks till the next stage, though he could not express his approval of the second reading of the Bill.


said, the House had been taken by surprise by the Bill being proceeded with that evening, and he felt that under the circumstances it would be useless to press the Amendment. He would therefore withdraw it.

Amendment withdrawn; Main Question put and agreed to; Bill read 2° and committed for Friday.