HC Deb 17 April 1861 vol 162 cc668-86

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair."


said, he rose to move as an Amendment, that the Bill be committed on that day six months. The Bill appeared to him so objectionable in principle, so dangerous and unjust, that he felt it his duty to oppose it at every stage. He would not repeat the objections he had urged to the measure on the second reading, though, if he might say so without presumption, he thought that those objections had not been met by any sufficient and valid answer. He wished to call attention to two circumstances which had occurred since the debate on the second reading. One was the general expression of a wish made on several occasions and in different quarters of the House that on questions likely to involve the elements of religious controversy, an attempt should at least be made to carry into effect a policy of compromise and conciliation. Now he thought that those hon. Members who were in favour of such a policy should, considering the large measure of compromise and conciliation already passed in reference to endowed schools, show by their votes that they regarded that measure as at least worthy of a fair trial. But if it was to be treated, as it had been on a previous occasion, as an argument for further aggression, there would then be no encouragement for proceeding in a course of further concession. The second circumstance, to which he had alluded, was of a still more satisfactory nature, and proved the correctness of his assertion, that the present Bill, when properly understood, would be found to be as dangerous to the rights of the Dissenting communities, and as distasteful to them as to the members of the Church of England. More striking evidence of that could not be afforded than by the fact that the Wesleyan Conference, representing more than one-third of the whole body of Dissenters, had by the unanimous vote of their committee resolved on petitioning against the further progress of the present Bill; he could not doubt that a petition from such a body would be received with the respect which was due, not merely to their numbers, but to the exertions which they had made to relieve spiritual destitution at home, and to their numerous and successful missionary enterprises abroad; and the circumstance that their petition had been presented by him as one of the Members for the University of Cambridge was quite sufficient to show that he was right when he had stated that there were parts of the present measure which would rally upon one side all friends of religious education to whatever church, sect, or denomination they might belong. Upon the other side there were the political Dis- senters and their fitting organ, the Liberation Society. But he could not, with such allies and with such opponents, feel any doubt of the result, and he was confident that the small majority of seven for the second reading would be converted into a large majority against the Bill.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'this House will, upon this day six months, resolve itself into the said Committee,'" instead thereof.


rose to second the Motion. As the Bill before the House would in its operation be felt by several foundations in the borough which he had the honour to represent (Leeds), he had been desired by his constituents to oppose it. It might not, perhaps, be considered quite irrelevant to the important question now before the House if he ventured to allude in a very few words to two free schools in the neighbourhood of Leeds which would be seriously affected by this Bill. The first school to which he would refer was the free school at Bingley, in the West Riding. In 1838 was brought forward the question of the admissibility of Dissenters on the trust on the occasion of the trust having to be filled up. The question was brought before the Court, not on the ground of any doubt on the part of the Churchmen, but to satisfy the Dissenters by an authoritative declaration of the Court that they were not admissible. And what was the decree (after argument) of the Vice Chancellor? With the permission of the House he would read it from the Act which he held in his hand— And it was also declared that the trustees so to he elected, and all future trustees, of the said charity estates, ought to be members of the Church of England as by law established. The other school to which he begged to refer was the free school at Wortley, in the borough of Leeds. It was decided in November last by the Vice Chancellor that none but Churchmen were eligible as trustees of that school. Now, it so happened both these schools were founded by one who fought, and perhaps bled, for the cause of the King and Church, against the predecessors of those very persons to whom it was the object of the Bill to give control over his endowments. Might he ask the supporters of the Bill if such a person, could he now speak among us, could look with anything but disgust at such a perversion (as he would think it) of his charitable bequest? Nor were these soli- tary instances where this Bill would go against the clear intention of the founder. Would any one acquainted with the history and feelings of the times for a moment suppose that the foundations of Edward VI. or of Elizabeth had any view but one with regard to religious education? Would the proud noble of Henry VIII., the brilliant courtier of Elizabeth, or the loyal cavalier of the First Charles, look upon such a Bill as this as anything but a downright spoliation? He need not argue from such expressions in the founder's bcquests, as "fear of God," "Godly manner," "Godly and discreet persons." There never had been more than one opinion as to their meaning. Surely it would be but honest and fair to leave to our courts of law, conducted as they are on the strictest principles of equity, impartiality, and justice, to decide on the animus of the founder, and not by a rapacious and tyrannical act try and injure the Church even at all sacrifice of truth and justice. That could alone be the object (no matter how mistaken) of the Bill, and while he upheld the principles of religious toleration he was convinced that he should not aid that religious liberty which hon. Gentlemen opposite spoke much of, were he to support the Bill. He thought it his duty to oppose the measure, because he thought it was violently overturning the clear and expressed wishes of the founders in the reigns of Edward VI. and Elizabeth. He thought it most contemptuously reversed and set aside all known legal decisions for hundreds of years back. He thought it opposed to every known law of evidence, and he thought it in the majority of instances clearly subversive of everything short of a decisive negative on the part of the to under. But, more than all, he opposed it because of what he believed would be the miserable consequences which would result if it were made law. For he could see but two results. There would be introduced confusion worse confounded by the stirring up of jarring and discord, of jealousy and strife, in hundreds of foundations where hitherto there had been, if not entire unanimity, yet at any rate harmony and good feeling. But its ultimate result would be still worse; it would, if he mistook not, bring about an overthrow of all religious education, and would assimilate our schools to the common schools of America, which had been found to be full of evil, the reports of which, as they reach us, showing the truth of the saying of that great man, the Duke of Wellington, "Dissever religion from education, and you make men clever devils." This he (Mr. Beecroft), was sure would never be the wish of the Parliament of a Christian country, and, therefore, as long as this House wished to support the cause of religions education, it would refuse to receive the Bill before them.


said, he could not but express his astonishment at the tone of the observations made on the other side of the House. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University and his Seconder appeared to suppose that they and their supporters monopolized all the religion and all the respectability of the House. He (Mr. Mellor) hoped that he was influenced by feelings of attachment to religion as sincere as either of those Gentlemen in the support which he gave to this measure. The object of the Bill was simply to make eligible poisons who might be chosen trustees on account of their fitness, notwithstanding their religious opinions, but it did not force Dissenters into the management of the schools. A trustee so elected would be as much under the control of the Court of Chancery, even though he should be a Dissenter, as his colleagues who happened to be Churchmen, while the constant litigation which, under the present law, prevailed—litigation, owing to which £ 3,000 or £ 4,000 out of the funds in question had, in many instances been expended, would be avoided. The Bill arose altogether out of the Ilminster School case, of which Lord Chelmsford himself, in pronouncing judgment, said that he regretted that the friendly feelings which had so long existed should be disturbed, and that the Court should have been called upon to put a legal construction upon the deed. He certainly was surprised to hear such terms as audacious and tyrannical applied to so simple a measure. He did not suppose that the admirers of Henry VIII. or Charles I. would approve of the Bill, but he thought that was rather a mark of its excellence. Something had been said about toleration. He thought it was rather late in the day to use that word. He believed that now all persons were equal in the sight of the law, whatever might be their religious opinions; and by this Bill that principle was simply applied. Its object was to enable the best men to fill the offices to which they were chosen. What special virtue was there in a Churchman? What was a Churchman? He had been described as "the best Churchman who subscribed to the most, believing the least." And were they to insist upon the appointment of such a man as that in place of a conscientious Dissenter? The real test of the value of a man was his history and past conduct, and surely men who had a good character in that respect were the men who ought to be made eligible to be chosen to have supervision over schools. Then it had been said that the Bill would interfere with schools which had been Church schools for three centuries. That depended almost entirely upon an artificial presumption. Every school which was founded by a man who did not profess any particular religion, was supposed to be a Church school. This Bill did not really interfere with that presumption. He assured hon. Gentlemen opposite that they need not be alarmed that the Bill was brought forward in the interests of the Liberation Society. That was not the fact. But even if it were, would it not be judicious to put a stop to the scandals and litigation which were caused by the present state of the law? He urged the House to agree to the Bill which indicated no hostility whatever to religion; and, having had some communications with the Wesleyans with regard to it, he could affirm that they objected to the Bill because it did not include certain exceptional provisions on the subject of their Sunday schools and chapels, which he considered that it would be inconsistent with the scope of the Bill to introduce into it in their favour.


said, he did not for one moment seek to impute to the hon. Member for Swansea nor to the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken unworthy motives, but when he found them associated in dealing with the question before the House with the great advocates of the voluntary principle he could hardly avoid being reminded of the well-known saying, "Noscitur a sociis." The opponents of the Bill were, he might add, accused of want of toleration, because of the objections which they offered to its enactment, but his own experience went to prove that the only person who had never of late years received toleration in that House was the Churchman. No one on that side had ever insinuated that the religious belief of Dissenters was not a conscientious one; but how different was the language which the upholders of the Bill directed against Members of the Church. They were usually spoken of by some hon. Members as if they could be animated by no sincere faith in the creed which they professed. That the contrary was the case was, however, proved by the fact that religious instruction was the primary object of almost every school founded by them. Nor was this confined to schools founded by Churchmen, but the denominational principle was mainly acted upon throughout England. If that position were a good one it seemed to him to be absolutely essential, in order that the unity and efficient working of those institutions might be duly promoted, that they should be managed by persons holding the same religious tenets as the children for whose education they provided. It was all very well to say that a Dissenter better suited for that management by his general character and the estimation in which he was held by his fellow citizens than a Churchman whoso reputation was not so good, might be found, but it should be borne in mind that the religion of the former, if he were really the excellent man he appeared to be, must be presumed to be pervaded by sincerity and earnestness; that he must be supposed conscientiously to condemn the doctrines of the Church from which he dissented, and that his views and objects must be regarded as in entire antagonism to the religions teaching in those schools, with a share in the conduct of which some hon. Members seemed so solicitious that he should be intrusted. It was, of course, true to say that there were Churchmen whose lives were not in conformity with the creed which they professed—few men's lives were—but, then, so long as they were externally in communion with the Church, they must be looked upon as more interested in the maintenance of its doctrines than those who, upon principle, were opposed to their extension. It was rather curious that those who were the loudest in proclaiming the voluntary principle should be ever trying the hardest to get at endowments. It was, indeed, contended that the operation of the Bill could do no harm, Lady Hewley's case was an answer to that; but he should like to know what good it would effect? It was supported, on the one hand, on the ground that it would prevent litigation; while, on the other, it was argued in its favour that the trustees of schools—differing, be it borne in mind, in religious opinions, as in many instances must be the case—would be under the control of the Court of Chan- cery. Now, whence he should ask arose the necessity for the proposed change in the law? How far was it proposed to carry the doctrine which the Bill embodied? Was it intended to apply it to wills and instruments of that description; thus providing that the real intentions of testators might never he carried out at all? The arguments that had found weight with the Wesleyans ought to find weight with all other Dissenters. What said Mr. Perceval Bunting, in a correspondence with the hon. Member for Leeds on another subject, with respect to this Bill— I have just read a Bill, which if I read it rightly, in a single clause redolent of mischief and injustice, proposes to enact that unless the deeds declaring the trusts of your chapel or of that belonging to my denomination in Brunswick Street have been so carefully drawn as to declare the contrary, the profession of the Roman Catholic religion shall not for the future be a disqualification for the trusteeship of either chapel. Where are we to stop? If it was not expressly laid down in the deed relating to any proprietary chapel that the trustees were to be of a particular religion they would be liable, instead of orthodox Evangelical trustees, to have trustees whose religious opinions were ever changing. For his own part, he objected to the Bill very strongly in itself; but he was still more strongly opposed to it viewing it in connection with all those other measures of a similar class, the discussion of which rendered Wednesday the most disagreeable day in the proceedings of that House. He should beg the supporters of such measures to pause in their career, and not to attempt to strip the Church of that which lawfully belonged to it, and which it used for the best purposes. Having given them that advice, he should only add that he should cordially support the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridge.


deprecated the language which had in the course of the discussion been used by the opponents of the Bill, as not tending to foster that spirit of conciliation which they professed to he anxious to promote. Language almost offensive had been applied to the hon. Gentlemen supporting the Bill, and they were charged in a very broad manner with the most evil designs. No notice had been given to him of the opposition to his Motion for going into Committee on the Bill. The Bill having been fairly argued on the occasion of the second reading, after full notice, the day for it having been, indeed, fixed by arrangement with the opposition leaders, and having been then carried by a majority. He would put it, then, to hon. Gentlemen opposite, whether it was, consistent with the usual practice of the House, or likely to promote harmony amongst Members, practically to impose upon the supporters of the Bill the necessity of carrying the second reading over again, and, as in this case, by attempting to take members by surprise? It was not until the orders of the day had been circulated on the proceeding day that he learned that the Motion for going into Committee was to be opposed, notwithstanding that he had taken every means to ascertain the intentions of his opponents. He had not come down that day prepared to argue the question upon legal grounds, for he had regarded the principle of the Bill as recognised. Still he should have no difficulty in furnishing evidence as to the grievanco of the existing law. He, therefore, would express a hope that the House would not sanction the course taken by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University, but would at once pass to the consideration of the Bill in Committee. He denied that the Bill was one of spoliation, and asserted that its only object was to do an act of justice to Dissenters. In reply to the appeal which had been made to him to point out the grievances which existed under the law as it now stood, he would refer to two cases which had recently arisen, one in the city of Exeter, and the other in the town of Tenterden, and which showed that the Church had of late years assumed an aggressive attitude towards the rest of the community. In the Exeter case, the rector of the parish in which the foundation existed, although the trust deed expressly declared that the trustees should consist of "the chiefest of the inhabitants of the said parish," had secured the appointment of gentlemen who were not only not among the chiefest of the inhabitants of the parish, but who were actually not inhabitants of the parish at all, and had persuaded the Charity Commissioners to set aside the names of another set of gentlemen, on the ground that some of them were Dissenters, although they were all inhabitants of the parish, and although he had himself in the first instance concurred in their appointment as trustees. In the Tenterden case, although there was some reason for believing that the testator was himself a Dissenter, and although it was quite certain that one of the first set of trustees was a Dissenting minister, the clergyman of the parish had endeavoured to convert the foundation into a Church school, thereby giving rise to a vast deal of disturbance and litigation, and the matter had not yet been finally settled, though he believed a compromise more or less satisfactory was in course of being effected. He denied that he had ever joined in unprovoked attacks upon the Church, or that he had any wish to deprive her of the property which rightfully belonged to her. Since he had been in that House he had mixed himself up pretty constantly in these so-called attacks on the Church. But what were those attacks? The questions of church rates, of the burial of Dissenters in consecrated ground, and of endowed schools, were the three most important questions he could at that moment call to mind. In the case of church rates the attack began on the part of the Church, and the same might be said with respect to the other two subjects. So far as he had seen the Church had ever been the assailing party, and all those measures were those of defence and not aggression. He regretted that the Church had assumed an insolent tone of superiority over the rest of the community, and earnestly desired that she should amend her services, abandon all projects of aggression, and act in future with the humility and charity prescribed by her founders; as by so doing she would best vindicate her own position, and would, as he believed, soon find herself recovering the ground which he was sorry to think she was fast losing in public estimation. He had no reason to be ashamed of his connection with the Liberation of Religion Society, which he had always found to be fair, conciliatory, and trusted that the Church, instead of attributing the worst motives to others, would recognize the necessity of discarding a policy which was as injurious to herself as it was dangerous to the peace of the country.


said, he regretted that the debate had become rather a defence of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down than a vindication of the Bill before the House. The hon. Member, it appeared, regarded the Liberatian Society as fair, moderate, and conciliatory.


said, he thought he had not used the word "moderate."


said, he was sorry to say that his recollection differed from that of the hon. Gentleman; but he was glad to know that in his calmer moments the hon. Member acknowledged that the Liberation Society was the reverse of moderate.


said, he did not acknowledge anything of the sort.


said, he would take the liberty of advising the hon. Member, if he wished to carry either the present or any other Bill, not to give the House the impression that he was less moderate, less conciliatory, or less fair than the Liberation Society. The hon. Member had complained that sufficient notice was not given to him of the opposition to his Motion for going into Committee. Did the hon. Gentleman really suppose that any stage of a Bill which proposed to strip the Church of all her endowed schools, and the second reading of which was carried by a bare majority of seven, would be allowed to pass undisputed? He could not say that the hon. Member had been fortunate or happy in the selection of his cases of grievance under the existing law. In the Tenterden case a clergyman of the Church wanted to do precisely that which the present Bill, if passed, would enable every Dissenting minister in the country to do—namely, to change the character of a trust, and thereby to create no end of confusion and bad feeling. But the accusation which seemed to have given most offence to the hon. Gentleman was that of rapacity and irreligiousness in education. How far was that charge justified by facts? Dissenters constantly asserted that they would not take advantage of their position as trustees to propagate their faith; but he might ask whether that character of Dissenters was borne out by what was seen of them even in that House. He had no hesitation in saying that the Dissenting Members, as a rule, were restrained by no ordinary scruples, and left no stone unturned when they wished to effect a purpose, and that they never neglected an opportunity to assail the Church, to shorten her privileges, and to seize her property, and, directly or indirectly, to propagate their own tenets. That which the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) was ready to do in his place every Dissenting Minister in every part of the country would do whenever an occasion presented itself. Such a course, no doubt, would be honestly taken as being in accord with their principles, but still it was a course which would be detrimental to the Church. What, then, would be the consequence when Dissenters became trustees of schools? Why that if Dissenters were admitted they could no longer exclude Roman Catholics from the trusteeship of those schools. And yet those who knew the ardour with which, in and out of season, Roman Catholics propagated their faith would agree with him that no sincere and earnest Roman Catholic could be the trustee of a school without trying to colour with his peculiar doctrines the teaching of that school. Other Dissenters would do the same, because they were honest men, dissenting from the Church, not merely to spite their neighbours, or because it was an amusement to dissent, but because they believed there was some error or falsehood in the Church which they were bound to rectify if they could. What, again, would be the effect upon the designs and intentions of testators? Where the trust deed had left the matter in doubt—when nobody could say with absolute certainty what the testator meant, and still less what he would have meant if he had lived at the present day—it might be taken for granted that one object which the testator could not have had in view was the teaching of a divided, mutilated, emasculated religion, such as would follow the introduction of Dissenters into trusteeships. Dissenting trustees, by cutting off a little hero and paring away a little there, would convert the religion now taught in endowed schools into a sort of negative faith, presenting nothing plain to the eye or solid to the grasp, which to children would not be much better than no religion at all. He regarded the present Bill, therefore, as one of spoliation, not merely because it affected the property of the Church, but likewise because it applied endowments to purposes which the testators would have least desired—to the teaching of a kind of vague philosophy, most hostile to a definite faith, and most certainly ruinous to the interests of true religion. It had been said, indeed, that few changes would follow the proposed alteration of the law, but those who knew the practical character of the hon. Member for Swansea would admit that he would not push forward his Bill with so much earnestness and zeal if he believed it would have no result. The Bill would operate extensively, not only because Dissenters were honest men and anxious to propagate their faith, but also because there existed a society whose duty it would be to take care that it should not remain a dead letter. The Liberation Society took advantage of every loophole. Only a fortnight ago it put an advertisement in The Times exhorting every parish throughout the kingdom to oppose the imposition of churchrates to the utmost extent of its power. He was not going, of course, to discuss the churchrate question; but the fact he had mentioned proved the utter recklessness of the Liberation Society in the means which it used and the passions to which it appealed. It did not care how much harmony it might destroy, how much wholesome Christian worth it might interrupt, how much confusion and ill-feeling it might create, if it could only advance one inch nearer the attainment of its own political designs. What it had done in the case of churchrates it would do in the case of endowed schools. Let the House pass the present Bill legalizing the election of Dissenters to trusteeships, and it would throw a firebrand into every parish where there was an endowed school to be contested. The Liberation Society would issue its mandates, its professional agitators would be set in motion, no money would be spared, and every conceivable legal quirk and quibble would be employed in order to give the keenest possible edge to the weapon which Parliament was now asked to provide; and the result—the inevitable result—would be the destruction of pure religious teaching in every endowed school throughout the country.


said, he wished to ask where the attempt had been made by Dissenters to touch property not belonging to them? What was the rapacity alleged against them? In his opinion the question was far less one of property than of prestige. The Dissenters did not seek to lord it over Churchmen, as Churchmen lorded over Dissenters, but they did claim to enjoy the same rights. Why not abolish the profane Declaration Test Act and get another put on the Statute Book, requiring every Dissenter to take off his hat in the presence of a Church of England man? This would be better than profaning the name of the most High as was now done—and then they would know what to do. The supposition seemed to exist that Dissenters were a very peculiar people. The noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil) evidently thought that the term "Churchman" implied a honester and a better man than a Dissenter—that he was a superior and more moral man. A clergyman so stated before a Committee of the House of Lords, but he admitted, it might be, he was prejudiced. It was true that they wanted the church rates abolished. Was there any rapacity in that? Had there been no rapacity on the other side? Had distress warrants never been levied in the houses of Dissenters, and their furniture and even a sick man's Bible, sold to pay these rates? Had no rapacity been exhibited there? Did any one hear of Dissenters oppressing any class of Her Majesty's subjects in their religious worship? The noble Lord was very much displeased that Dissenters should be nominated trustees of a grammar school. Why, the Court of Chancery had nominated Dissenters. In the case of the Manchester Grammar School which had been founded by a Roman Catholic Bishop a complaint had been made of the bad management of the school by the trustees who were Churchmen, and a decree was obtained against them, and they were removed, and the Court appointed six Churchmen and six Dissenters as trustees—and the school was conducted in a business-like manner, and better than it bad been before. he reminded the House that Dissenters had existed in England ever since Protestantism had existed, and they had always relied on their own efforts to maintain their institutions. They neither cared for nor wanted any endowments. It was a fact worthy of consideration that out of the 25,000 places of worship that Dissenters had in Great Britain, only 100 or 200, and those were of old standing, had received an endowment, and even these were from private benevolence. In more modern times the Dissenters did not endow their places of worship, but trusted to the voluntary principle.


said, he must deny that there had been any understanding that no objections should be made to the Bill in its present stage. The hon. Member had introduced a Bill upon the same subject in 1859, when there was something like a real grievance to be dealt with; but that Bill, upon being referred to a Select Committee, was so changed—all the clauses and lastly the preamble being recast—that the hon. Member declined to proceed with it. In 1860 the hon. Member introduced another Bill, but failed to carry it; and, in the same Session, a Bill was passed by Lord Cranworth which removed the real grievance that did exist, and permitted the children of Dissenting parents to receive the benefits of endowed church schools withdraw- ing their children if they pleased from the religious instruction. But upon that very concession the hon. Member based his demand upon the present occasion, contending that, as the children of Dissenters were now to be admitted to the schools, Dissenting trustees should be admitted to look after their interests. The adoption of such a principle would not fail to eliminate all religious instruction from the schools. Upon a former occasion the hon. Member, when asked what was to be done when there was a difference among the heterogenous trustees as to the nature of the religious teaching to be imparted, had replied, "Let it be put to the vote." But was it intended that the religious doctrines taught should be ever varying—fluctuating according as the majority of trustees adopted one set of views or another? It was said that the foundations were in many cases originally Roman Catholic, and had been transferred to the Church of England; but that was no reason why the schools should be opened to every species of Dissenters. The religion of the country was at that time Roman Catholic, and when it ceased to he so the schools as Church of England schools ceased to be so also, just as they would to-morrow become Roman Catholic schools again if the national religion became again Roman Catholic. There was a more important principle involved in the Bill bearing on law rather than religion, and he appealed to the Government, and to the law officers of the Crown, to say what the effect of it would be. Is a whole class of questions in litigation to be deprived of the ordinary rules of evidence which are still to be used in all other cases? A petition, unanimously adopted by the Wesleyan Conference, had that morning been presented against the Bill, which that body had declared would endanger their own institutions. The right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), who was not then present, was the only member of the Government who had spoken upon the subject, and upon a former occasion that right hon. Gentleman had said that the Court of Chancery ought to be allowed to exercise a discretion as to the eligibility of trustees, and that, as the children of Dissenters were admitted to the schools, Dissenters should be allowed to become trustees. With such views he (Mr. Adderley) could not regard the right hon. Member as a safe Minister of Education, nor as one who ought to be charged as he was as the Parlia- mentary Charitable Trust Commissioners with the interests of all charitable trusts. The Bill itself was short, consisting only of one clause; but of all Bills one-clause Bills were the most suspicious. They have, however, the advantage of immediate contrast between the preamble and the Bill; and in this case the preamble referred to certain imaginary doubts for which the Bill enacted a certain legal violence. The hon. Member for Swansea had repudiated all connection with the Liberation Society; but he had unconsciously, perhaps, acted and spoken distinctly as their agent. To that society Churchmen were more indebted, than to any other body in the kingdom. It had rendered the abolition of church rates impossible, and caused every subject which it had taken up to be regarded with disgust by the country, as nothing was so hateful to the Englishman in general and to this House in particular as a body, in a large and central town, seeking by noise, money, and agitation to represent itself as the organ of public opinion.


said, his speech would probably be thought to tell one way, while his vote would be the other; but for that anomaly, if it existed, he could quote many precedents in that House. He must say he had been very much influenced by the representations of the Wesleyans—a very numerous and respectable body, always prominent in forwarding the religious welfare of the country. When that body intrusted their petition to the hon. Gentleman behind him it evinced a trust in him, notwithstanding the religious differences between them, which did them and him honour; and the statement of the Wesleyan body must have great weight in forming any opinion upon the subject, when they said that the measure was highly objectionable, and might admit trustees into their schools who were quite of a different persuasion to those who founded the endowment. He would not join in any disparaging remarks on the Dissenters. His impression was that if it bad not been for the Dissenters the Church would not have been in anything like its present state of efficiency. He thought, however, that the Bill having been read a second time, and a division having been taken, the hon. Member for Swansea was justified in asking the House to go into Committee, and he should support that Motion, though at the same time he admitted that he had some doubts as to the wisdom and pro- priety of the measure, because he was afraid that a hostile feeling might be created among trustees of charities, which he feared might drive many of those charities into the Court of Chancery.


said, the hon. Member who had just spoken had offered a signal example of a speech going one way and the vote another. A speech more condemnatory of the measure he had never heard. What had been stated quite justified the Amendment moved by the hon. and learned Member for the University of Cambridge. When an hon. Member said that between the second reading and the present stage of the Bill circumstances had come to his knowledge that induced him wholly to change his opinion of the measure, the same reasons might have acted on other hon. Members also. It was, therefore, quite legitimate to give those hon. Gentlemen an opportunity of expressing their changed opinions by their votes. The hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) had informed the House that he had received many communications since the Bill had passed its second reading, and he had referred to the case of the charities, one at Exeter, and the other in the county of Kent. The first case which the hon. Member had quoted did not bear much upon the Bill; but he (Mr. Henley) wished to refer to the one that had occurred in Kent. There a school had been built, partly by the aid of the National Society, but when it was completed, it was found that it was built upon land belonging to the Dissenters. Application was made to the Master of the Rolls, and his decision very properly was that the school could not be held to he a Church school. At the last meeting of the National Society, at which he (Mr. Henley) was present, the case was brought forward, and they concurred in thinking that the Master of the Rolls had acted rightly. Why then, he would ask, should the attempt be made to deprive the Court of Chancery of the power of dispensing justice? He thought the better way was to scotch evil at the head. He did not like to hear these cases argued in the interests of the Church or of dissent. He thought that such questions ought to be left to the ordinary Courts of Law for decision; they would interpret justly the documents laid before them. The House should not attempt to meet special cases by a partial Bill. There should be no special exemptions from the law. He was very glad the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge had given them another opportunity of voting on the Bill. The whole difficulty arose from the House having, by the "conscience clauses" of the Bill of last year, admitted the children of Dissenters to endowed schools. Now, Dissenting trustees were demanded for the endowments. That was a warning how they took the first steps in questions of this kind. He felt the difficulty, because the governing body of schools ought to be of the same religious principles that were to be taught in them. It was a modern fashion to proclaim that young people were to have no principles; but he hoped that theory would not spread. If children did not acquire religious principles when they were young they would never get them at all. He had no faith in the principles acquired in after life. The governing body of a school ought to be sound; if they mixed up principles as opposite as oil and vinegar the result would be the children would have no religious education at all. He should heartily support the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend against going into Committee on the Bill.


said, that he had intended to support the Bill, but the discussion had had the effect of compelling him to oppose it. He did not think the advocates of the measure had made out any ease. The greater part of the endowments were left to the Established Church, and Dissenters had no right to control them. It appeared to him that it would be a great evil to have the question of religious instruction in the schools decided by a majority of trustees. The only grievances of the Dissenters had been removed by the Bill of last year; they had nothing to complain of that made a sufficient ground for establishing a claim on these Church endowments.


said, he hoped that the example of the hon. Member who had just spoken would weigh with other Members who had acted upon mistaken views on this question. He rose, however, to complain that the Government bad not afforded the House the assistance of the advice of the law officers of the Crown on a measure that affected the institutions of the country and revolutionized the law of evidence. Suppose the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) wished to found a charity based on his hostility to the Chinch of England, but had not expressed his opinions in his will, when he was removed from the scene of his labours, what would he think if the Court of Chancery, in construing that will, did not in order to ascertain his intent take into account evidence of the hon. Member's opinions, life, and conduct? Why, it would be enough to make his ghost rise to rebuke it. If the language of an endowment was ambiguous, the courts of law interpreted it by reference to the usages of the time and the opinions of the testator. Now it was proposed that whenever nothing was distinctly said in the will or deed these rules of evidence should be overthrown, and principles of interpretation introduced that were contrary to reason and justice. He hoped the House would negative the Bill.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: —Ayes 171; Noes 200: Majority 29

List of the AYES
Adair, H. E. Crossley, F.
Agar-Ellis, hn. L. G. F. Dalglish, R.
Alcock, T. Davey, R.
Antrobus, E. Davie, Col. F.
Ayrton, A. S. Denman, hon. G.
Bagwell, J. Dent, J. G.
Bailey, C. Dodson, J. G.
Baines, E. Douglas, Sir C.
Ball, E. Duff, M. E. G.
Barnes, T. Duff, Maj. L. D. G.
Bass, M. T. Duke, Sir J.
Baxter, W. E. Dunbar, Sir W.
Bazley, T. Dundas, F.
Beaumont, S. A. Dundas, rt. hn. Sir D.
Bellow, R. M. Dunkellin, Lord
Biggs, J. Dunlop, A. M.
Black, A. Dunne, M.
Blake, J. Enfield, Visct.
Bouverie, rt. hn. E. P. Ennis, J.
Brady, J. Evans, Sir De L.
Brand, hon. H. Evans, T. W.
Bright, J. Ewart, J. C.
Briscoe, J. I. Fenwick, H.
Bristow, A. R. Fermoy, Lord
Brown, J. Finlay, A. S.
Browne, Lord J. T. Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W.
Bruce, H. A. Foley, H. W.
Buller, J. W. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Buller, Sir A. W. Forster, W. E.
Burke, Sir T. J. Fortescue, hon. F. D.
Butler, C. S. Fox, W. J.
Caird, J. Freeland, H. W.
Carnegie, hon. C. French, Col.
Cavendish, hon. W. Card, R. S.
Cavendish, Lord G. Gavin, Major
Cholmeley, Sir M. J. Gilpin, C.
Churchill, Lord A. S. Goldsmid, Sir F. H.
Clay, J. Gower, hon. F. L.
Clifford, C. C. Greene, J.
Clive, G. Gregory, W. H.
Cogan, W. H. F. Gregson, S.
Coke, hon. Col. Hadfield, G.
Coningham, W. Hanbury, R.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Hankey, T.
Hardcastle, J. A. Pollard-Urquhart, W.
Headlam, rt. hn. T. E. Ponsonby, hon. A.
Henley, Lord Powell, W. T. R.
Hodgson, K. D. Pryse, E. L.
Holland, E. Ramsden, Sir J. W.
Jackson, W. Raynham, Visct.
Jervoise, Sir J. C. Ricardo, O.
Kershaw, J. Robertson, D.
King, hon. P. J. L. Roupell, W.
Kinglake, A. W. Russell, A.
Kinglake, J. A. Russell, Sir W.
Knatchbull-Hugessen, E. St. Aubyn, J.
Salomons, Mr. Ald.
Langton, W. H. G. Scholefield, W.
Lawson, W. Seymour, Sir M.
Leatham, E. A. Shelley, Sir J. V.
Lee, W. Smith, J. B.
Locke, J. Stacpoole, W.
Lysley, W. J. Stansfeld, J.
M'Cann, J. Steel, J.
MacEvoy, E. Sykes, Col. W. H.
Mackie, J. Talbot, C. R. M.
M'Mahon, P. Thornhill, W. P.
Maguire, J. F. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Marjoribanks, D. C. Villiers, rt. hn. C. P.
Martin, J. Vivian, H. H.
Massey, W. N. Vyner, R. A.
Miller, W. Waldron, L.
Mills, T. Warner, E.
Milnes, R. M. Watkins, Col. L.
Mitchell, T. A. Wemyss, J. H. E.
Monson, hon. W. J. Westhead, J. P. B.
Morris, D. Whalley, G. H.
Norris, J. T. Whitbread, S.
North, F. White, J.
Onslow, G. Wickham, H. W.
Owen, Sir H. O. Willcox, B. M'Ghie
Padmore, R. Williams, W.
Paget, C. Wrightson, W. B.
Paxton, Sir J. Wyvill, M.
Pease, H.
Peto, Sir S. M. TELLERS
Pigott, Serjeant Dillwyn, Mr.
Pilkington, J. Mellor, Mr.
List of the NOES.
Adderley, rt. hn. C. B. Cecil, Lord R.
Ashley, Lord Clive, hon. G. W.
Astell, J. H. Close, M. C.
Baillie, H. J. Cobbold, J. C.
Baring, A. H. Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B
Barrow, W. H. Codrington, Sir W.
Barttelot, Major Cole, hon. H.
Bathurst, A. A. Collins, T.
Batburst, F. H. Copeland, Mr. Ald.
Beach, W. W. B. Corry, rt. hon. H. L.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Cubitt, G.
Bentinck, G. C. Curzon, Visct.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Dawson, R. P.
Bernard, T. T. Deedes, W.
Bond, J. W. Dickson, Col.
Botfield, B. Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Bovill, W. Du Cane, C.
Bramston, T. W. Duncombe, hon. A.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Du Pre, C. G.
Brooks, R. Dutton, hn. R. H.
Buckley, Gen. East, Sir J. B.
Bunbury, Capt. W. B. Edwards, Major
Buxton, C. Egerton Sir P. G.
Cartwright, Col. Egerton, hon. A. F.
Cave, S. Egerton, E. C.
Cayley, E. S. Egerton, hon. W.
Estcourt, rt. hn. T. H. S. Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.
Farquhar, Sir M. Miles, Sir W.
Farrer, J. Miller, T. J.
Fellowes, E. Mills, A.
Filmer, Sir E. Mitford, W. T.
FitzGerald, W. R. S. Montagu, Lord R.
Fordo, Col. Montgomery, Sir G.
Forester, rt. hon. Col. Morgan, O.
George, J. Morgan, hon. Major
Getty, S. G. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Gilpin, Col. Mundy, W.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Mure, D.
Goddard, A. L. Murray, W.
Gore, J. R. O. Naas, Lord
Gore, W. R. O. Nicol, W.
Greenall, G. Noel, hon. G. J.
Gray, Captain North, Col.
Griffith, C. D. Northcote, Sir S. H.
Grogan, Sir E. Packe, C. W.
Haliburton, T. C. Pakenham, Col.
Hamilton, Lord C. Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Hamilton, Major Palk, Sir L.
Hamilton, Visct. Palmer, R. W.
Hanbury, hon. Capt. Parker, Major W.
Hardy, G. Patten, Col. W.
Hardy, J. Pevensey, Visct.
Hartopp, E. B. Philipps, J. H.
Hassard, M. Phillips, G. L.
Heathcote, Sir W. Pritchard, J.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Puller, C. W. G.
Hennessy, J. P. Quinn, P.
Hervey, Lord A. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Heygate, Sir F. W. Rolt, J.
Heygate, W. U. Rowley, hon. R. T.
Hill, Lord E. Salt, T.
Holford, R. S. Sclater-Booth, G.
Hood, Sir A. A. Seymer, H. K.
Hope, G. W. Shirley, E. P.
Hopwood, J. T. Sidney, T.
Hotham, Lord Smith, M.
Howes, E. Smith, A.
Hubbard, J. G. Smith, S. G.
Hume, W. W. F. Smyth, Col.
Hunt, G. W. Smollett, P. B.
Ingestre, Visct. Somerset, Col.
Jermyn, Earl Somes, J.
Jervis, Capt. Spooner, R.
Johnstone, hon. H. B. Stanhope, J. B.
Jolliffe, rt. hn. Sir W. G. H. Stirling, W.
Kekewich, S. T. Stuart, Lieut. Col. W.
Kendall, N. Stracey, Sir H.
Kennard, R. W. Thynne, Lord E.
Kerrison, Sir E. C. Thynne, Lord H.
Knatchbull, W. F. Tollemache, J.
Lacon, Sir E. Torrens, R.
Leader, N. P. Tottenham, C.
Leeke, Sir H. Trefusis, H. C. H. R.
Legh, Major C. Upton, hon. Gen.
Legh, W. J. Valletort, Visct.
Leighton, Sir B. Vance, J.
Lennox, Lord G. G. Vansittart, W.
Leslie, W. Verner, Sir W.
Liddell, hon. H. G. Walcott, Adm.
Long, R. P. Walker, J. R.
Longfield, R. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Lovaine, Lord Walter, J.
Lyall, G. Watlington, J. W. P.
Lygon, hon. F. Whiteside, rt. hon. J.
Macaulay, K. Whitmore, H.
M'Cormick, W. Woodd, B. T.
Macdonogh, F. Wyndham, hon. H.
Mainwaring, T. Wyndham, hon. P.
Malcolm, J. W. Wynn, Col.
Wynn, Sir W. W. TELLERS.
Yorke, hon. E. T. Selwyn, Mr.
Beecroft, Mr.

Words added.

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

Committee put off for six n ths.