HC Deb 29 April 1863 vol 170 cc926-78

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he rose to move the second reading of the Bill. It was always a pleasant thing to have a vigorous opposition, because good arguments were sure, in such a case, to be appreciated; but, at the same time, he regretted he was not to be met, as he had heretofore been, by the right hon. Member for North Wilts (Mr. Sotheron Estcourt), who had generally opposed him in a kind and courteous manner. It was said, "Blessed are the peace-makers," and that right hon. Gentleman had invariably striven to bring about a settlement which would be satisfactory to both sides of the House. His (Sir John Trelawny's) position on that occasion was somewhat peculiar. Indeed, he hardly knew why he should speak at all; for both the present and the last House of Commons having concurred in Bills having for their object the total repeal of church rates, it seemed to him that he was called upon only to hear out the prior conclusions of two Parliaments, to be whose mouthpiece he felt himself unequal. But hon. Members might say that things had since changed, and that the Bill had, on two occasions, been defeated. No doubt the advocates of church rate abolition had been defeated in 1861 by a casting vote, but that was rather on a point of etiquette than on the substance or merit of the measure; but, certainly, on the next occasion they were defeated in a stand-up fight, but only by one vote. It must, however, be recollected that there had always been an understanding that some other measure would be introduced for a different mode of settling the question—a reason which had weighed with many hon. Members who had voted against his proposal. Now, however, hon. Members opposite seemed to have such a want of confidence in their measures, that none was to be brought forward in lieu of his own. He had, indeed, been in some degree the architect of his own ruin, because he was one of those who attended the meeting in the tea-room, the object of which was to effect some settlement which would be more satisfactory to hon. Members opposite. But those hon. Members, having no confidence in their own Bills, had thrown up the case in despair; and the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, who sincerely endeavoured to grapple with the question, had put off his Bill from day to day, and until he found his (Sir John Trelawny's) Bill had been disposed of. He must therefore infer that they concluded there was no alternative but the present Bill. They had totally abdicated their duty in the matter, and virtually given up the helm of the vessel, and he claimed their votes, unless they were prepared to declare on the hustings that they were incapable of dealing with the question, and were content to go on in the manner described by the phrase which had been applied to what took place before the Crimean war—the "process of drifting." They were drifting on a lee shore in a ship freighted, according to their own account, with the greatest possessions for future ages, and yet they left the helm. The ship was in distress, they knew what the consequences would be, but still they were not prepared to take any step to remedy the evil. The whole subject was completely exhausted. It was a question of remedy, and not of disease. He confessed that hon. Members opposite were no true friends to the avowed objects of their affection—the clergy of the Established Church. They acted towards them as if they wished them to go to bed in a warm climate without mosquito curtains. Church rates were the mosquitoes of the Established Church. It was hardly fair that hon. Gentlemen opposite should continue to keep these moral mosquitoes alive, to sting and inflame the clergy.

He could hardly think hon. Members opposite were sincere in their horror of the Liberation Society. That society, it was true, contemplated the separation of Church and State; but what was its power of effecting it? He was not a member of that society, but he had a high opinion of several of its members, as men of intelligence and good faith. The Liberation Society had at least not suppressed the opinions which they entertained; but when hon. Members objected that they took an extreme course, he would ask why they did not revert to the fact that Wesleyans were generally favourable to the Church? There was a large section of the Dissenting classes who were highly favourable to the Church of England, and in dealing with the subject they should be taken into account, and the opinions of one class be set against those of the other. Speaking for himself, he wished to say, once for all, that the views he held when he was a very much younger man had some time since materially altered, because he considered there was a great fallacy at the bottom of the notion he was disposed to entertain in early life, as to the connection between Church and State. That connection was generally supposed by Liberals to be one between two equal bodies, entered into a contract with one common end; but his view was, that the Church of England was in the nature of a corporation under the authority of the civil power, and he should be extremely sorry to relinquish the control they possessed and exercised over the very large body of persons who held the revenues of the Church, which revenues might be misused. If he were about to found a new colony, he would leave all religions in a perfectly equal position, but it would be a very different thing, in an old country like England, to relax the bonds by which the Church was held in subjection to the State. That opinion he had held for some time, although undoubtedly he did formerly entertain different views, which, however, as he had already intimated, he had retracted. Hon. Members should take into consideration the great wealth of the Church of England, and what she had been doing of late. The fifteenth general Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England showed what great sources of wealth the Establishment possessed, and what great results were being achieved for her benefit, ought to reconcile her friends to the abolition of church rates. In the course of the year to which that Report had reference, £200,000 in cash, and an amount of stock equivalent to £100,000, was transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by the Church Estates Commissioners, as the surplus upon their transactions under the Episcopal and Capitular Estates Management Act. They proposed to devote £100,000 to meet benefactions already offered under the published rules, to discharge local claims to the extent of £20,000 per annum, and to augment the incomes of all benefices in private patronage having a population of 10,000 to £300 per annum. The number of districts constituted under the New Parishes Act up to the 1st of the previous November was 293; the total number of benefices augmented was 1,438, and the total charge on the common fund amounted to £170,000 per annum. By the twelfth Report of the Church Estate Commissioners it appeared that in the year they had approved of 2,274 transactions, the fee simple of the property dealt with being equal to £8,840,000. A bill had also been introduced in another place, the object of which was to increase the livings of poorer clergy to £300 a year by the sale of the advowsons in the gift of the Lord Chancellor. He did not offer any direct opposition to that measure, but he thought its introduction presented a good opportunity for setting apart a portion of the capital obtained by such sales to be appropriated in lieu of the church rates. It was well worth the while of the Established Church to make some arrangement of that kind.

A great deal had been said about a compromise. He was not opposed to a substantial compromise; indeed, he had done everything he could, consistently with fidelity to those he represented, to bring about a compromise, but he had received very little support. One of the great opponents of the Established Church—Mr. Miall—was prepared to accept the com- promise of 1854 and 1856, and the hon. Member for Birmingham had made two suggestions, in which at the time he (Sir J. Trelawny) could not concur—namely, to pass a measure for the abolition of church rates in three or five years hence, or, on, the other hand, to adopt Lord Ebury's plan for doing away with the coercive measures by which those rates were levied and enforced. So far, therefore, as that side of the House was concerned, if they got the substance of their measure, they would be content with a compromise; but with nothing less than the substance would they be satisfied. A reduction of charge from, two pence to a penny would not he a satisfactory solution of the difficulty, nor would the exemption of parishes where church rates had not been paid for seven years. The first plan would not remove the gravamen of the evil, and would evince a desire to keep them under subjection, while the latter would create a feeling of jealousy between the exempted and non-exempted parishes. Then, if they transferred the charge to owners of property, the whole theory on which it was imposed would be altered, because it was assumed that occupiers paid church rates in respect of some advantage they derived from the church. Instead of that plan remedying the existing evil, it would create a new one, as owners might be Catholics or Jews. He conceived that to be a fatal objection to the plan of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire.

He hoped hon. Gentlemen opposite would not use this measure as a lever for a political ambition. But he did not confine that remark to them alone, but would apply it to Members on the Ministerial side of the House, who, he trusted, would not deal with the measure with a view to political aggrandisement. If they were to have a "bag fox" for secular sport, let them at least have a secular victim. Let them not treat that as a question for a mere debating society. People, seeing that this question had been so many years under discussion, naturally asked why it was not settled. Was this the right answer, "Because Parliament can't or won't settle it? If Parliament liked the subject, it was certainly more than he did; and if it was to be kept open to amuse them on Wednesdays, then he said there was no accounting for tastes. He confessed he could not understand the position held by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject, He had heard, or seen reported, some re- markable words as having fallen from the lips of that right hon. Gentleman, such as that danger to the Church did not arise so much from those outside as from those within the Establishment; he also spoke of civil and religious equality being now, or that it ought to be, the rule; and yet he had not seen the name of the right hon. Gentleman in any division in favour of the abolition of church rates. If there was one thing about the right hon. Gentleman more remarkable than another, it was his somewhat pedantic regard for being correct in point of logic, and quite consistent, with himself upon all occasions. He liked to take a symmetrical view of things; but he had not yet taken up that kind of position on that subject. He wanted, then, to know what he meant by the principle which he had put forth. Did he mean inaction, or contentment with the state of the law as it was; or did he feel himself incapable of dealing with it? There were other hon. Members who had taken rather an odd course on this question. Some voted for the second reading with the idea that they might thereby coerce the Government to act; but when the third reading came, they did not support him. He wished hon. Members would take one line or the other. If church rates were a valuable institution, let them be supported through thick and thin; if not, let them he abolished. He could enumerate ten or fifteen different compromises—there was the compromise of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, the compromise of the hon. Member for Devizes; there was the compromise of the hon. Member for Oxford, and numerous other places. It seemed as if they had been led of late years by a species of will-o'-the-wisp into bogs, quagmires, and all sorts of miseries, but no real step had been taken to settle this question. A good deal had been said of the restoration of churches. He was himself very much interested in the restoration of the old fabrics of the Church, and he agreed with the writer of a letter signed "Argus," which he had lately seen, that if they elected a better class of persons as churchwardens—men who took an interest in church architecture—those officers would have no difficulty in raising, by voluntary means, money sufficient to keep the parish church in a state of proper repair. He thought the law on this subject was not satisfactory. If they wished to get churches restored, there ought to be a commission of architects, who should examine the whole condition of those edifices, and then funds might be got, either through voluntary subscription or otherwise, for their proper restoration. In some of the churches erected in large towns—in Manchester, for instance —he observed by a Petition which had recently been presented considerable accommodation had been provided for the working classes, but by degrees a custom was adopted of letting those sittings, and the working classes were thus excluded. He had, for many years, objected to the pew system; but that was carrying that system to the very verge of illegality. The law which had been passed for the benefit of the labouring classes was thus turned against them —and, instead of having the advantage which the law secured to them, the people were saddled with new rates. Under some Church Building Acts there was a power to charge the parish, if the vestry consented, with very large sums for the restoration of churches. That would yet give rise to grave questions, and increase tenfold the opposition to church rates. He did not wish further to detain the House; but he could not help expressing his surprise that the hon. Member for Leominster had no intention to bring in any substantive measure. The Conservative party, it appeared, were prepared to nail their colours to the mast, and leave the country without the prospect of any amelioration on this question. Would not the true interests of the Church and the clergy have some influence with hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite? Were they to be left in hot water for all time? He begged to move the second reading of the Bill.


seconded the Motion.

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


said, he could assure the House that it was not without considerable reluctance that he found himself in the position of moving the rejection of this Bill; but he had been induced to take it up in consequence of the continued illness of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Sotheron Estcourt), which had rendered him unable to attend the House. He was quite sure that he should express the universal opinion of the House when he expressed deep regret for the cause of his absence, and said that the conduct of his right hon. Friend with regard to this and every other question had always been characterized by straightforwardness, candour, and good feeling, and he should endeavour in anything he had to say on the subject to take that conduct as his guide. Now, with respect to what had been said by his hon. Friend opposite, he could not see that the position in which his hon. Friend stood was of that supereminently prosperous character which he had described. His hon. Friend had told them that he represented the feelings of two Parliaments, and that the public were entirely with him; and that Parliament had pronounced against church rates. He (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) took issue with his hon. Friend on that question, seeing that the condition of things had materially altered since Parliament had thoroughly considered the question. He was not sure but that the case might have been different but for some of those allies with which his hon. Friend had of late years become associated, and that he might not have arrived at a more successful result. His hon. Friend asked the opponents of the measure not to make the question a lever of political ambition. Why, his hon. Friend had told them that they could not do so, because the constituencies of the country would be against them. It was therefore clear, if the statement of the hon. Baronet were correct, that the opponents of the Bill did not come to the consideration of the Bill in their own interests, but from attachment to, and consideration for that Church to which they belonged. The hon. Baronet had expressed his surprise that no compromise was then offered. But was there any inconsistency in that or any want of deference to the House. The position which he (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) and the party with which he acted took was a clear and intelligible one, for the Bill of his hon. Friend was a bar and impediment to any compromise on the subject of church rates. He passed by some of the inconsistencies charged by the hon. Baronet against his opponents. He left the Chancellor of the Exchequer to defend himself. It was not for him to say what were the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman on church rates, or what they would be next Session. The mind of the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be undergoing the most extraordinary transformation, and it was impossible to say whether he would retain from one Session to another his opinions on any subject. The hon. Baronet had endeavoured to associate church rates with church architecture, and said that churchwardens had shown great want of taste in the restoration of our ecclesiastical edifices; but, whether church rates were abolished or preserved, he had little doubt the taste generated in this country would yet be carried out with more full effect, and that the old churches would be improved and new churches built with due regard to the rules of good taste. When the bad taste of churchwardens prevailed, no better taste was found in the mansion of the squire than in the farm-house or shop of the churchwarden. That state of things was altered. The hon. Baronet called on them to rescue the clergy from the hot water in which the constant agitation of church rates kept them. Well, after all, the clergy seemed to like this hot water better than the remedy of the hon. Baronet. In nearly every parish throughout the kingdom the clergy, in company with their churchwardens, had petitioned against the abolition of church rates. The hon. Baronet, adopting the principle of Sangrado, wished to deplete them as well as keep them in hot water, or rather he would put them in water still hotter, and bleed them to an extent that would reduce their system materially. The question had been debated so often that the discussion was not tempting; yet, though he could say nothing on it that was new, he believed he could say many things that were true. In the present position of church rates it was necessary to consider what, was the principle on which church rates were maintained. Now, he wished to get rid of one point which had been much pressed on the country — namely, that the maintainers of church rates thought only of the pecuniary interests of the Church as an Establishment, and cared nothing for her position in regard to the doctrines which she taught. That, in fact, the Establishment was more considered than the Church. He was glad to think that they had not arrived at that period when the doctrines of the Church were to be argued in that House. If such a time came, Churchmen would not be afraid of maintaining the truth of the teaching of the Church of England. In the mean time, he was now speaking on behalf of the national Establishment of the country, and hoped that the question of the doctrines of the Church would be reserved for a very distant period. He started with this position, that in no sense were church rates unjust. Now, he had been struck with the authorities which existed with regard to the proposition that church rates were unjust. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had declared that church rates were "neither unjust nor intolerable;" and the noble Lord the present Secretary for Foreign Affairs—the champion, as was said, of civil and religious liberty—in 1859 told them that he considered church rates as neither unjust nor intolerable, but he voted against them on other grounds; the Duke of Newcastle, in the House of Lords, said church rates were not unjust, and no one was more justified in refusing their payment than a Quaker would be in refusing to contribute to the army and the navy. He (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) thought that in such company as that he might well maintain that church rates were neither unjust nor intolerable. The hon. Baronet had admitted the difference between a new country and an old one, and had confessed that his views as to the Establishment here had undergone a change. It was not necessary for him (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) to discuss the question whether church rates would be desirable in the Colonies. They were considering the Church of an old country, in which from the earliest times there had been an established Church. Church rates had been levied for a thousand years, and in the beginning they were devoted to their purpose by those who had possession of the land; and although afterwards levied on the occupier, yet it was in respect of the property originally liable, and with the same object, the maintenance of that Establishment which embodied the Christianity of the nation. When, therefore, after the Reformation there arose different sects in this country—all entitled, indeed, to the fullest amount of toleration, and the fullest equality with regard to religious profession—he could not see for his part, though it might seem vexatious to them to contribute to an Establishment with which they did not concur; yet, seeing that they had succeeded to an inheritance originally liable to the charge, the levy of church rates could not be accounted unjust. There were also civil advantages connected with national religious establishments, for which it was but fair and reasonable that everybody in the country should pay. They acted on the masses, who could not provide means of religion for themselves. He could not understand the justice or pro- priety of taking away a quarter of a million per annum from the support of the national Establishment now so easily obtained, and then to call on the supporters of the Church to raise the money by voluntary means, and deduct so much from their charitable contributions. He trusted he was not insensible to the claims of conscience; but every offer had been made to those who urged such claims which in justice they could require. Every such offer had been refused as an insult rather than a benefit. Let them, then, hear no more of conscience. The question had assumed such an aspect that he felt it necessary to look at the supporters of the hon. Baronet. There were two classes on whose aid the hon. Baronet relied. He relied mainly on those who were thoroughly in earnest about the rate. He (Mr. Hardy) did not mean to mention the Liberation Society further than to state that it was composed of persons who were the most active on the subject of church rates, and who were the instigators of everything done for the abolition of that charge. The hon. Baronet asked why the question was to be argued over and over again. But the opponents of the present measure did not moot it. The hon. Baronet was the person who mooted it; and while he most sincerely gave the hon. Baronet the credit of dealing with the subject in a fair spirit, and without the intentions professed by his warmest supporters, he could not but think that that society felt that they had got in the hon. Baronet an excellent instrument for the accomplishment of their object. That was what might be called the purely voluntary party, which might be considered to be directly represented in that House by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield). He believed they held that in no religious matter should the State interfere. But he wished to know how far that principle was to be carried? Was it to be applied in the case of a non-Christian country, or was it only to be applied in the case of a Christian country, and more especially a Christian country which owed its Christianity almost entirely to its Church establishment? Not that he was going to detract from the merits of the Dissenters. He willingly acknowledged that they had done a great deal; and he believed they might do much more without interfering with the Church. Let them rival the Church among those great masses whom neither of them at that time sufficiently touched. But he wished to probe their sentiments on the subject of voluntaryism. Was there to be no interference by the State in any religious matter, as it was contended by Mr. Morley, one of their witnesses before the Lords' Committee? Was it possible to carry out that principle? When voluntary missionaries connected with those communities which denounced State aid at home went into foreign lands—for instance the Polynesian Islands—was it not their great object to get hold of the kings, or other rulers of those islands, in order to obtain a more ready acceptance for their doctrines?


said, that those missionaries never interfered with the freedom of any people for the propagation of their faith.


said, he believed it was impossible for any one conversant with the subject, and who had read the narration of those missions, not to see that one great object of the missionaries was to get hold of those in authority, in order that they might direct the system of legislation in those islands, and more especially had this been done in reference to the observance of the Lord's Day. They might further test that principle by small occurrences. The Dissenters had agreed, in regard to the cemeteries of this country, that a rate should be levied, not merely for the decent burial of the dead, which was a purely sanatory regulation, but also for chapels for the celebration of Divine service. They had voted for such a rate in their vestries; and in doing so they had acted inconsistently, although justly and rightly, in his opinion, yet still inconsistently with their own professions of voluntaryism. His hon. Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines), in the exercise of his discretion, had voted the other night for the Prison Ministers Bill, and he believed that measure had also received the support of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield). By that Bill provision was made for paying chaplains other than those of the Established Church. Now, he did not understand that the voluntary principle, as it was called, was one for merely enforcing the doctrine of demand and supply, and for confining the supply to those who paid for it. He knew, from the efforts made by the Dissenters, that their voluntary principle was, that those willing to give should give not only for their own benefit, or for the benefit of those with whom they were specially associated, but that they should give for the benefit of those who had no means of providing for themselves. In what respect, then, did the prisoner differ from the poor man? In what respect did the case of men confined in a gaol differ from that of the helpless inhabitants of one of the great towns who were unable to provide for their own religious instruction? He said, then, that when the hon. Member for Leeds and the hon. Member for Sheffield, were ready to vote money for chaplains in gaols, they were infringing the voluntary principle—it might be rightly infringing on it—while they showed by their conduct, as distinguished from their profession, that the religious instinct in man rendered it impossible to carry out the doctrine of the non-interference of the State in matters of religion. The State not to interfere in matters of religion! Why, the table of the House was groaning with Petitions from Dissenters praying that the House might interfere for the better observance of Sunday. The adherents of the Church establishment might consistently pursue such a policy, but it could not be adopted by the advocates of the voluntary principle without a departure from their own doctrine of noninterference in religious matters; and if their principles were right, without injustice to others, who differed from them in opinion upon that subject. He maintained, then, that the voluntary principle could not be carried out; and, if not, there was no injustice in calling for contributions to that which was the State Establishment. But he had heard it stated— and the position had been maintained in the strongest and most honest manner by the hon. Member for Birmingham—that it was not a question of money—that it was not a question of a rate, but that it was a question of supremacy. Then he knew where the opponents of church rates were standing. They were standing on ground that was in every way utterly indefensible. That objection was not raised to the particular doctrines of the Church now established. It was a question as to whether it was right or wrong to have an establishment at all. He accepted that issue; and he said that any establishment they maintained must, in as far as it was an establishment, be supreme in the country. He considered that in a country in which there was no establishment it was inconsistent to take one chaplain to officiate on one day and another chaplain to officiate on another day, as was done in the United States of America, if the duty was not to be performed by the ministers of every sect, including the Mormons or any other equally objectionable denomination. Even then it might be said there was an infringement of the liberty of those who acknowledged no religion at all. He was speaking, of course, on the supposition that the principle that there was to be no establishment—no supremacy of one sect over another—was to be fully adopted, and that an instinct in men's minds did not forbid its application, The fact was, that the theory could not be carried into practical effect; and whenever arguments in favour of abstract dogmas of that description were put forward, he was reminded of the statement of Mr. Burke, that he should always decline to give an opinion upon abstract theories in questions of practical legislation, because they must vary in practice according to the circumstances upon which they were brought to bear. He believed the hon. Baronet the Member for Tavistock, when he stated that he really desired the preservation of the Church in this country. He had told them, that whatever might have been his opinions in early life, he felt, in the maturity of age and of experience, that an old country in which an Establishment had struck its roots in every direction would be materially injured by wholly uprooting, or even partially uprooting, such an institution. But he could not separate the hon. Baronet from his supporters upon that occasion. When he looked at the opposition to the maintenance of church rates in this country, he was not able to separate the real leaders of the movement from those who were content to follow in their wake. They were the second class who supported the hon. Baronet. He knew that he was addressing Members on the Ministerial side of the House who had done as much for the Church of England as any Members on the Opposition side. He knew that he was addressing Gentlemen who, in their own districts, were never weary of promoting the interests of the Church, whether spiritual or temporal. It was therefore that he felt astonished when he found those men in alliance with other persons who had openly proclaimed that their objection was to the existence of any Church establishment whatever; and he could only account for that fact by supposing that they had been led by hustings promises, and by the the pressure of popular assemblies, into a position which was not consistent with their calmer convictions or with the course which they actually pursued in the parishes in which their property was situated. They had drifted into that position, they had been led from one point to another, and they were therefore ready to vote for a Bill which would abolish church rates in districts in which they were cheerfully paid, and in which the inhabitants had petitioned that they might be continued. They themselves at home supported the system of church rates, and willingly paid them; yet in Parliament they voted for their abolition. In speaking of those supporters of the hon. Baronet he trusted he had said nothing which they could consider personally offensive. He had endeavoured to distinguish between their conduct at home and their conduct in Parliament upon that subject, which seemed to him inconsistent if their convictions were in accordance with their votes. He had no fear of their altering their practice at home in consequence of his observations. The hon. Baronet said that he had in his favour the decisions of two Parliaments, and that he stood in a position which made it almost unnecessary for him to say a word in support of his Motion. But what was the position of the House itself upon that question? Last Session the House, on the Motion of his right hon. Friend, which was brought forward with great temper, judgment, and good feeling, had adopted a Resolution to the effect— That it is unjust and inexpedient to abolish the ancient customary right, exercised from time immemorial by the ratepayers of every parish in England, to raise by rate among themselves the sums required for the repair of their churches, until some other provision shall be made by Parliament for the discharge of those obligations to which, by custom or statute, the churchwardens, on the part of the parishioners, are liable, That was a fact upon which there could be no dispute, and that decision of the House was entirely inconsistent with the Bill of the hon. Baronet. But then the hon. Baronet asked the opponents of the measure why they did not come forward with some solution of the question? Their reply was that Parliament had decided that his Bill ought not to be considered by the House until some provision was made for the repair of the churches. The hon. Baronet told them that the coin promise proposed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire was wholly un- acceptable, and that all the other settlements offered were impracticable and almost absurd, for he actually applied to them the word "frivolous," and expressed his surprise that such proposals should have been brought forward. But the supporters of church rates, seeing that their opponents would listen to nothing but unconditional abolition, felt it to be their duty to continue the law as it stood. He did not mean to contend that the existing law upon that subject was a perfect law. Indeed, he should be very foolish if he were to do so. But he did not think that its imperfection consisted in the fact that the rate was an universal rate and levied upon members of every religious persuasion. He believed that the imperfection of the law consisted mainly in the difficulty of enforcing it. And although he was willing to entertain what he should consider a reasonable offer on the part of those who objected to the rate, he maintained that the existing law was better than its unconditional abolition, because its unconditional abolition would strike at the root of that which he believed was an essential principle in the Constitution of this country— namely, that the Church should stand in the position of a State establishment. It was, then, for the opponents of church rates, who had refused and spurned every pro-proposal for compromise hitherto made, to propose some solution of a question which they themselves had raised; but he contended that in consistency with the Resolution upon the books of the House this Bill ought to be rejected. There was another reason why they should decline to part with this portion of the Church's income— as the Bishop of London had said, their own common sense would not allow them to give up what they possessed without getting something in its place. Decisions, too, had been recently given which, in his opinion, made the levying of the rates easier than it had been. The decision in the Sydenham case as to churches built under the Church Building Act, which showed also the purposes to which church rates might be applied, and also the decision that magistrates might consider the bona fides of an objector to a church rate, were important cases for future guidance. Besides, the utter impossibility of any compromise at present, except one so called to which he would refer presently, had been admitted by the hon. Member for Swansea, by Lord Russell, and by the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, who, having alluded to some possible substitute for church rates, upon being asked to what he referred, said he only meant voluntary contributions. That, however, was no compromise at all. The truth was, the whole difficulty arose with the earnest men by whom the hon. Baronet was backed, who had shown by their speeches and by their action that there was a determination to bring to an issue that great question which was behind church rates. They had told the House and the country that every one of their measures was intended to damage "the legal and political status of the Church of England;" and they rejoiced when any one of them passed, because they conceived the Church had lost some of her ground as a national Establishment. It was plain therefore why every proposal for a settlement which admitted the principle of a national Church establishment should be rejected by them, and everything that negatived the principle of an Establishment should be rejected by the supporters of church rates.

He would next advert to what had been called Lord Ebury's plan. That noble Lord had some years ago published a pamphlet called The Only Compromise Possible. That seemed to have succeeded as much as Milner's End to Controversy, which had rather stimulated than terminated controversy. The compromise proposed was, in his opinion, perfectly absurd, as it was to make legal that which already was legal, and to confer a power which they possessed already and a great deal more beside. The machinery was to be left, the power of working it taken away. If that so called compromise was accepted, what sacrifice would the abolitionists be making? They would take the oyster and offer the Church the shells, with permission to place within them another oyster, if they could get one. There was an old proverb in a Book which all venerated, "In vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird." In this case the net was easy to be seen, but yet a bird was found, in the shape of the noble Lord opposite, deliberately and with eyes open, to walk into it. That noble Lord had given notice of an Amendment in Committee, should this Bill ever reach that stage— To leave out all words after 'Act,' and insert words which should have the effect of preserving the duty as it at present exists of churchwardens and vestries to make provision for the repairs of the fabric and decent maintenance of public worship, and repeal all power of enforcing payment of any church rates to be made by them in any Ecclesiastical Court, or before any bench of magistrates, The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Alfred Churchill) not only voted last year that the question as to the Church Rate Repeal Bill should not be put, but also affirmatively for the Resolution of his right hon. Friend, that nothing should be done till some substitute was provided. Now, however, he proposed to preserve the church rates as they at present existed, for the decent maintenance of public worship; and, on the other hand, to take away all power of enforcing them in any courts whatever. A more ingenious method of imposing on the churchwardens a duty, and destroying the means of carrying out that duty, was never yet suggested to the House; and yet this was put forward in the name of charity, liberality, and fair dealing. The noble Lord had actually, after having pledged himself to that vote last year, come forward to tell them that they might collect their rates on voluntary principles—(they did not want the noble Lord to tell them that)—that they might assess themselves, and assess others if they chose to pay the money. If that was all the abolitionists intended to offer, it was mere mockery and insult. The members of the Church were not afraid of the voluntary principle; that principle had for years been acted on by the Church in the noblest manner, and he trusted it would be carried further than ever. Earl Russell had said, when accounting for his extraordinary recantation of strongly-expressed sentiments, that because the Church had made great voluntary efforts, therefore he had changed his opinion; and he, who had told them that "the National Church, an hereditary monarchy, and an hereditary aristocracy, must stand together," being connected by one indissoluble bond, became converted to the belief that her powers of usefulness would be improved if she were deprived of a quarter of a million annually, and left to supply that amount from the resources now devoted to voluntary charity. Now, he did not think that voluntary efforts alone could be relied upon for the support and repair of churches, because voluntary efforts were, in their nature, spasmodical They were unsuited to the incidence of repairs and other small matters connected with churches, as some stimulus was required to set them in motion. Most hon. Members, he had no doubt, were overwhelmed with applications to subscribe to charities of all descriptions. One was about to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary, another its jubilee of fifty years, another to make some vast increase in the benefits it bestowed upon the poor; and every mode of exciting the feelings was adopted which could stimulate people to support them. Voluntary efforts had not succeeded for such purposes, even in places much larger than most of those that would be affected by this Bill. At Birmingham they were told the clergy experienced very great difficulties, and were driven to a system of begging that was injurious to their proper work and position. The same was proved to be the case at Edgbaston and at Maidstone. In reference to the latter town, the evidence before the Lords' Committee showed clearly the incidence of the rate upon property; for when the rate was discontinued, Lord Romney placed an additional rent upon his land, equal to the amount of the rate, which he thus collected himself, with the consent of all his tenants. Yet even there great difficulty was experienced. There would be no difficulty perhaps hereafter, when churches fell into decay, and were in such a state of ruin as to appeal to the sympathies of those who took an interest in them; but the consequence would be, instead of a small annual payment to keep them in repair, appeals would have to be made from time to time for large amounts, to effect extensive restorations. The noble Lord (Lord Alfred Churchill) proposed to continue the duties of churchwardens, but to deprive them of the means of enforcing any rate. Already the office of churchwarden was no sinecure, and it was difficult to find men who were qualified to fill it. Every one knew how unpleasant it was to collect a rate; but if men were to be told by the Act that it was their duty to make provision for the proper administration of public worship and the maintenance of the Church, and if they had to go about begging from door to door, the House might depend upon it so strong would be the feeling of dislike to the office that it, would be accepted by no one. Well, then, was it to be expected that the clergy were to lessen their small incomes to support the fabric and services of the Church? It was proved that the clergy of the country were already heavily burdened by the charities to which they were in a manner compelled to contribute. In the great work of educational charities the clergy were making efforts which, were hardly known, and not sufficiently appreciated; and in many parishes, where the landlords were nonresident, the whole burden of education was cast upon them. Let the hon. Baronet opposite, and those who supported him, remember that the week-day education in England was mainly carried on by the Church clergy, and that those whom the promoters sought to deprive of the assistance derived from church rates were spending their often scanty means in educating the children of Dissenters. He fearlessly asserted that the week-day education of Dissenters was in the main provided by the ministers and members of the Church. A new burden would be cast upon the clergy which they ought not to be called to bear. The hon. Member for Birmingham had said that the clergy should refuse to do these things, and throw themselves upon the laity, and assured them that they would receive ample support; but the clergy would never bear to see the House of God disgraced, and would take from their scanty incomes to keep the sacred edifices in repair and the services in decent order. Much had been said of what the Dissenters had done upon the voluntary principle; much, no doubt, they had done, but more remained to be done, and that without interfering with the labours of the Established Church. The House was aware that the Dissenters had recently celebrated what was termed the Bicentenary Festival, to commemorate and do honour to the 2,000 Nonconformists who went out of the Church in 1662; but anyone, who had read the reports of the bicentenary meetings that were held, must have seen that where the speakers uttered one word in honour of the 2,000 they uttered ten for themselves; and it was evident that it was only for the sake of getting money, and stimulating the minds of the people with that object, that that bicentenary festival was held. That showed the excitement needed to obtain resources under the voluntary principle. He might speak of other cases in which the voluntary principle had been applied. In the metropolis it had been applied by the late Bishop of London on the largest possible scale, and a number of churches had been erected in the very poorest districts of London; ten alone he believed being built in Bethnal Green, where the poor could do nothing for themselves. All those efforts, however, which did so much on the large scale were found inefficient for smaller matters, for the present Bishop of London had told them that in Bethnal Green there had been found an infinite difficulty in keeping the churches in repair. He quoted from the example afforded by the efforts of the Bishop of London, because it showed, that although voluntary efforts under a great stimulus would do a great thing, they would not do small things where men's minds were not so readily excited. He was aware that some hon. Members thought that when the Church claimed to be the Church of the poor she claimed more than she had a right to arrogate. [Mr. HADFIELD: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member for Sheffield, who cheered that statement, belonged to a religious body which had done great works, but nearly always only in paying places. When poverty entered into a district, the chapels were sold, and its proprietors rebuilt in richer localities but a church placed in a district that became pauperized remained there, and had, from the necessity of the case, to look after the poor. It was, however, an indisputable fact that in every part of England there had been a migration of Dissenting chapels from districts where poverty had set in. He presumed, also, that if Dissenters advanced such a claim as that to which they said the Church had no right, they intended to take upon themselves the great work of instructing the poor; but the fact was that in very poor districts the voluntary principle, as generally acted on by them, could never be carried out; because the seat-holders in, poor districts could not afford to pay for the rent of the pews, which was the main source of the revenue in Dissenting chapels. The Church of England had always acknowledged its duty to the poor, and had done and was doing much for them. But it ought to be stirred to its depths by the accounts of the want of spiritual food and sustenance still felt by the very poor as, for instance, when they heard that in fifteen of the large towns of the country there was no less than 45 per cent the people living as heathens, untouched either by the Church or the Dissenters. Surely there was abundant room for the exertions of all. He admitted that where there was no room for the poor there ought to be no rates for the Church; but where there was abundance of room, where, if the poor knocked, they would find the door opened, in such parishes (and there were thousands of them) the rates were maintained in peace and quiet, and therefore the Abolitionists could not have the interest of those parishes at heart, but had in view a mere political object. It might, indeed, happen, that in some of those parishes a person, instigated from without, to gain a little celebrity for himself, and to render himself conspicuous, might choose to plunge both clergy and laity into hot water, and resist the laying of a rate; but the House might depend upon it that in such parishes the attachment to the Church was so strong, that although some might be led away for the time, yet the vast majority recognised the Church as that under the care of which they had grown up, and under the shadow of which they wished to rest; therefore in such parishes the rate would in general be quietly and easily raised. There were more than 9,000 parishes in which rates were levied quietly; and if hon. Gentlemen opposite would only let the Church alone to pursue the great work which it had in hand, and turn their attention to collecting the lost sheep in large towns, they might depend upon it they would pursue a much nobler course than by continuing a system of petty annoyance for the removal of what was, in point of fact, a benefit to the poor, and no injury to them at all. They were asked to give up all which for twenty-eight years they had maintained, and this in the face of majorities decreasing until those majorities had at last dwindled down to nothing—nay, had changed to a minority; but they could not yield, without dishonour to themselves and without abandoning those who had confided to them their cause, to the Motion of the hon. Baronet, much less to the mockery of a compromise which had been offered to them. They had bound themselves to accept the issue put before them, and would maintain their position. At the same time, when asked whether they would accept anything for peace' sake, the answer of the Dissenters was—"Nothing but absolute surrender will give us peace." When told that great statesmen in the Government had yielded to public opinion, they could not forget that it was in 1859, no long time from the celebrated meeting at Willis's Rooms, that the noble Viscount at the head of affairs and the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office suddenly forgot all the arguments they had used in favour of church rates, and told the House that the voice and opinion of Parliament and the public had decided the matter, that compromise was out of the question, and that it was better that church rates should be given up at once. It was remarkable that such a change should happen just then, because the noble Earl had spoken on the subject in words which went to the root of the whole matter. What did the noble Lord say when he explained to the House the way he wag going to vote in 1859? He could only excuse his change by the argument — if argument it can be called — "I find the Church is able to make great voluntary efforts therefore I am ready to say she should make more." The noble Viscount had told them in 1859 that Parliamentary and public opinion had denounced church rates; but what would he say now? He (Mr. Hardy) admitted that the balance was pretty even in Parliament, but the weight had gone down on their side, and, in fact, the voice of the present Parliament had expressed the opinion that it would be unjust and inexpedient that such a Bill as the hon. Baronet had introduced should be carried. Why, then, did not the hon. Baronet save them from the absurdity which would be conspicuous if they passed his Bill while there remained on the Journals of the House the Motion carried last year, which was perfectly inconsistent with the Bill. That Resolution should, at all events have, first been rescinded. Surely, it was for the hon. Baronet, not for them, to retire from the contest; for they stood upon the recorded decision of the House, that if church rates were to be abolished, there should be some proper provision made for the Church. So much for the voice of Parliament. Well, then, they were told by the noble Viscount that public opinion, which he was always so anxious to conciliate, had decided the question. No doubt in large towns it had been decided generally that rates should not be levied. He did not complain of that, as the rights of the vestries were maintained. But it was in the 95 per cent of parishes—an increasing number, for the records of six counties showed that one-third of the parishes which refused rates in 1856 levied them in 1861—in all those parishes the voice of public opinion was in their favour. The House had heard recently a good deal about local rights, and would probably soon hear more, and he should like to know how energetic Aldermen would vote upon the division that day, upon a question of local and vested rights. Surely, if there were any questions of legal or vested rights, the question of church rates was one, and the vestries were the proper places in which that question should be determined. At all events, if they would not come to reasonable terms in that House, they must leave it to be fought out in the local assemblies, to whom for ages it had belonged, and he believed they would then be able to carry out the principle of church rates without infringing the rights of conscience of anybody. He believed that such discussions could there be conducted with good temper and good feeling, and in the absence of all virulent hostility. So much had the question in all its bearings been before the public, that it was better understood, and could be viewed with coolness and judgment. The hon. Baronet, it was true, being constantly engaged in the discussion of one part of the case, had got to think that the case of the supporters of church rates was much worse than it really was. He had got to think that every parish in the country was agitated about Easter time with convulsions of a most violent character. The right hon. Baronet was, in effect, mistaken altogether. Discussions in the vestries were very rare, but when raised they were carried on in the best possible spirit; and though sometimes the clergyman who presided was unjustly subject to considerable obloquy, yet, as a general rule, he heard with patience the statement of any one who felt aggrieved, and it was his most anxious desire to do justice to all parties. He (Mr. Hurdy) would not say that the Church was in danger, for in truth he did not think that it was ever in less danger than it was at present; but he did think that all those subjects which the Dissenters were forcing upon their consideration—all the attacks they were making day by day—were calculated to create those feelings of exacerbation the existence of which he should much deplore, and which would never, in his opinion, arise unless fanned into a flame from without. There were now more than 9,000 parishes in which church rates were granted. Those parishes stood upon the justice of their cause; they appealed to their vestries, who had a right to determine the questions they placed before them, and were content to submit to the decision of the House of Lords, and to take their chance under that decision. He, and those who acted with him, would not refuse any reasonable offer, but they must reject unreasonable demands. No terms could, however, be acceded to so long as the Dissenters refused to admit the principle of an Establishment; no concessions would bring peace; and so long as they declined to do that, they must be content to stand in opposition; for while they continued to oppose the nationality of the Establishment, so long must the Church party defend it. The whole question was ripe for the issue: the Liberation Society represented those who held opinions like the hon. Baronet; and when they were told that that society would not rest until they had destroyed the principle of a national Establishment, he must call upon all lovers of the Church to support it. It was said that persons would be persuaded to oppose the levy of church rates after they had been duly laid, and litigation in every parish resorted to. He should much deplore attempts being made to resist the law, and people being persuaded to make martyrs of themselves. He trusted, on the contrary, that where the feeling of the parish was represented in the vestry, and where the vestry had come to a decision on the question, the good sense of the people would lead them to turn a deaf ear to any such persuasions. In conclusion, he had to thank the House for the patience and attention with which they had listened to him, and he trusted that he had said nothing that could give offence to any one. To the principle of the Established Church he attached the greatest importance, not only as a Churchman, but because he regarded it as essential that the State should be in connection with some religion; and being so, it was not statesmanlike to cramp and cripple her in her legitimate resources. He thought that the Established Church in this country was tolerant, free, open, and comprehensive; and that if not provoked and irritated by constant attacks, her members were desirous of living in peace and friendship with all the sects now arrayed against her. He believed that both the Church and Dissenters had their work to do in the great field before them, and he trusted, that in calling upon the House to protect the Established Church in her rights and resources, he might say that it was a question which affected that which was dear to them all; because, as Earl Russell had said, the National Church was intimately connected with hereditary monarchy and the aristocracy, and if one were destroyed, the others would be en- dangered; and he would conclude in words used by Mr. Burke upon a kindred subject, Communia altaria œque ac patriam diligite, colite, fovete. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.


said, he begged leave to second the Motion. Nothing could be further from the views of those who sat behind the prominent Opposition benches than to make use of the question as a lever for obtaining political advantages. It was with great sorrow that they saw the hon. Baronet stirring up bad feelings by introducing the question year after year, when he must feel convinced that he had not a chance of carrying it. Two years ago the hon. Baronet was perfectly justified in bringing the matter forward; for the House had in previous divisions taken his view of the question, and he felt it his duty to agitate, on the ground that every public question of late years had been carried by means of agitation. But, he would ask, was the good which the hon. Baronet thought he should do to his cause by agitation equal to the mischief which he had occasioned by agitation? This was a very different question from those which had been advanced by agitation. It was not a question of fiscal duties; how much revenue could be raised by Custom or Excise; whether hop or malt duties should be repealed; but it was one in which far higher interests were at stake. He admitted that the hon. Baronet had always introduced the question in a most temperate manner; but, unfortunately, the supporters of his Motion did not act with so much discretion; for in the vigour of the attack on one side, and the defence on the other, differences, and even animosities, sprang up among the various religious bodies in the country, which it was most desirable to put a stop to. He entreated the hon. Baronet, if his Bill were not successful, and if Parliament should be prolonged till next year, not to bring it forward next Session. Many persons who entertained the views of the hon. Baronet would not be at all sorry to abstain from agitation at that moment; and if the hon. Baronet brought the question forward in a future Parliament, when a general election might have altered the even balance of opinion, no one could complain of it; in addition to which, if his cause were a just one, he would then have a far better chance of carrying it than if he brought it forward for con- sideration in an atmosphere of prejudice and passion.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."


I lament, equally with my hon. Friend (Mr. Gathorne Hardy), the absence of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sotheron Estcourt). He has told the House he could say nothing new, and should say much that was true. Now, I think it was quite new to do as my hon. Friend has done—namely, say nothing on the principle of the Bill on the second reading, but only attack it on the ground that some of its supporters had ulterior intentions; and I am sure it is not true, as my hon. Friend has asserted, that this Bill is the Bill of the Liberation Society. It originated in the evidence of the Committee of 1851, of which I was a Member, and was brought in by my hon. Friend (Sir J. Trelawny) before, I believe, the Liberation Society had an existence. I shall, however, decline to discuss the supposed views of other persons, and will confine myself to the principle of this Bill and the various plans in reference to it. The principle of this Bill is that on which the Established Church itself depends — the right of private judgment in religious matters. Liberty of conscience, the voluntary principle, and the right of private judgment, are identical, if carried to their legitimate extent; and I am willing to meet opponents with every concession they may think necessary, consistently with the maintenance of the principle of this Bill. The same reasons of principle apply with equal force to the question of abolition in country as in town parishes. It is now admitted by the majority of those hitherto opposed to abolition, that church rates, as a tax, must be abandoned in town parishes. Surely, in connection with the support of religious worship, it can neither be expedient nor just to tax a man in one place and not in another. All arguments for or against church rates apply equally in all parts of the country. Local circumstances may render it more or less inconvenient to see the state of the case, but in reality there can be no difference whatever. The right of the few in the country parish is as plain as that of the many in a town parish. Many Churchmen in a country parish may be too poor to support by voluntary efforts all expenses of their church; but you say you will no longer force Dissenters to pay any church rate. With what justice, then, can you force a poor man, because he is a Churchman, to pay a tax which the very concession you grant to his Dissenting friend (who may hate your Church) makes him feel as a penalty inflicted by the State on him as the consequence of attachment to your Church, which he loves? Do you believe that religion in England depends on the Established Church being enabled by the State to tax the people? I believe the power of voluntary support is illimitable, is general, and not local; and I do not believe there is less religious conviction in the country parish than the town, nor less power of provision for the due performance of worship. Who now pay in reality rates in country parishes? Owners of land through their tenants. Abolish church rates—the change would, in effect, only be that the landowner would pay directly what he now does indirectly; for his voluntary support, if not prompted by religion, would be sufficiently stimulated by self-interest or shame. With regard to the voluntary principle, it is a mistake to suppose that there is a general opposition to its recognition by Churchmen, or that there is not a strong wish on the part of Churchmen for a settlement of the church rate question in conformity with that principle. [Sir Charles then quoted passages from a sermon before the University of Oxford, to show that Churchmen advocate the principle of this Bill. He proceeded to show from Lord R. Cecil's Return that in the last thirty years, out of 2,296 new consecrated churchyards, 655 only had been purchased by the parish, while 1,641 had been the result of voluntary effort.] The objection of Dissenters to church rates is, that the Church has no right, by any vested superiority over them in religion or in politics, to tax them against their will. They might give their money or not. They: say, "Leave it to ourselves: we will not acknowledge the right." By your schemes you uphold the right to which they object, for you demand a manifestation of their subsidiary position to the Church. In effect you say, "The Church has no right to tax you. She is generous, forgiving, and will let you off!" What can be more galling to those to whom you profess to give equality in the exercise of their religious convictions? It can only keep up and perpetuate the bitterness of spirit on either side. Better the open fights in vestry as now, than resort to such petty annoyance. Such has been the progress of the last fifty years, that Nonconformists of every shade are now recognised by law as religious communities equally with the Established Church. They have legal property in their schools, public registry of their chapels, public teaching and praying as they please, marry how and where they like, and baptize their children or not. Thus, neither in connection with birth, death, or marriage, are they any longer inseparable from the Established Church. But notwithstanding this progress, justice is still incomplete. The church rate by compulsion is yet a link in the chain of that system for the destruction of which the present century has done so much, and to perfect which Churchmen and Dissenters are equally interested. By law, a man may join or set up any creed or form of worship, however adverse to the Church, also established by law. By law his conscience is to be respected, and his right of judgment recognised. By various Acts the State has placed Dissenters on an equality with Churchmen — by that equality the Church must abide. How in justice can you by law coerce a Dissenter to pay to the Church, unless you compel the Churchman to contribute to expenses contingent to Dissent? Every one admits that church rates are a grievance. No one denies a remedy should be found. It can only be found in the full development of religious liberty—mere toleration is now a thing of the past—perfect equality will alone give peace and contentment. The difficulty of any settlement except on the principle of this Bill is now insuperable; all other schemes, about thirty-five in number, have failed. They may be included under four heads for convenience, namely—1. Registration of Dissenters; 2. Pew rents; 3. Commutation as a rent charge; 4. A transfer of obligations now on parishes to a general charge to be paid by the Government. The objections may be briefly stated: — 1. Branding Dissenters; 2. Destruction of the "Poor Man's Church" by buying and selling the opportunity of public worship; 3. A plausible idea in imitation of tithe commutation, but you cannot commute for a rent charge, which is certain and perpetual, that which depends on the voice of a majority, one year one way, the next another; 4. Religious toleration would be then violated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer instead of by a parochial squabble. The only remedy is a recourse to the voluntary principle, to disown legal interference, to give no cause of collision with Dissenters, and, instead of vain attempts to force a tax, to appeal, not as an Establishment, but as a Church to your own members. All schemes involving compromise of principle will fail; for while it may be wise to compromise in matters of expediency and detail, all attempts to compromise where religious feelings and principles are concerned, will only end in confusion. Such plans cannot satisfy those Churchmen who uphold church rates, imagining danger and loss of power to the Church without them; and those of the Church who advocate religious freedom, who prefer to rely on the first examples of Christianity for its support rather than to vestry squabbles and power of the law, cannot support them; while Dissenters, distrusting your professions and despising your toleration, can never in such plans acknowledge any settlement of their grievance. Has the question of abolition "gone back"? The way to ascertain that is to refer to the Petitions presented to the House on the subject. The last time that any exertion was made respecting Petitions the total number of signatures in support of church rates amounted to 197,000, and against church rates 610,000. I am quite aware, that may not be considered conclusive, and that it is alleged that the Petitions were got up by the Liberation Society; but if the Liberation Society do not interfere, as I am aware they have not for some time, then it is urged that public opinion has changed. I do not think it has changed, but that can only be tested at a general election. I think it would be found at a general election that public opinion does not coincide with the views of the hon. Gentleman opposite. In 1859, 242 Members voted in favour of the Bill; in 1860, 263 Members voted for it, showing an increase of 21. As long as the question was discussed without reference to party spirit, it progressed; but in 1861 a great exertion was made to get up a state of party feeling on the subject, and then for the first time the majority for the Bill was reduced; but even on that occasion 281 Members voted in favour of the Bill, showing an increase over the number that voted before. Though they were defeated last year, 286 Members voted for the Bill—five more than voted for it in the previous year, and 44 more than voted in favour of the Bill in 1859—clearly proving that whatever was the cause of Mr. S. Estcourt's majority of one, the determination to abolish was stronger than ever. How is it, then, that the minority of 74 in 1859 became a majority of 1 in 1862? The answer is in the fact, that so long as the question was an open one on both sides of the House, it was treated by both only on its merits; the force of reason alone prevailed, and large and increasing majorities were the consequence; but in 1860 that ceased to be the case on one side. The course taken by the leader of Gentlemen opposite, in and out of the House, made it a party question with, them, while it is still an open one with the Government. With a Cabinet divided on the question, how could Gentlemen be brought up by the influence of the Government to support the Bill?

Sir Charles then proceeded to notice the proposal of Lord A. Churchill, which he was prepared to say, on the part of many influential Dissenters, would be accepted if carried without alteration. He thought it had been unfairly described by the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Gathorne Hardy), and he begged, therefore, to describe its intention and effect in Lord Ebury's own words; namely— But I think I hear some one say, 'Why, this is, in fact, giving up church rates altogether.' To this I reply, that it is very far from being so. In the first place, insomuch as it is a relaxation of compulsory rating, it is identical in principle with every measure which has been brought forward for many years: the difference lies only in the manner in which it is carried out. In the second, by the retention of all the existing machinery, and the form of making the rate, abundant evidence is afforded of a Church Establishment in union with the State, whilst the voluntary principle, to relieve the conscience of the most scrupulous separatist, is maintained. He thought the Bill as it stood the best, but he was ready to accept the noble Lord's proposal as a settlement of the question. He had no other object, personal or political, than to see the question fairly and honourably settled; but there were unfortunately many hon. Gentlemen who did not desire to see any such settlement during the present Parliament. Wishing to preserve to the Church of England all the privileges which she could reasonably require, while at the same time he gave to Dissenters that full religious liberty and equality which ought to exist in this country—professing his attachment to that liberty which was the foundation of the Church, of England, and being anxious, therefore, to give the fullest and widest scope to the voluntary principle, he should give his cordial support to the Bill of his hon. Friend.


said, he was happy that it was in his power to compliment the hon. Baronet on the tone in which he had brought forward the question on that occasion. He gave the hon. Baronet every credit for sincerity, though he was wrong; and for persevering steadily and consistently in the erroneous views which he had adopted in reference to church rates. He thought the discussions on the question which had taken place in that House had been of considerable service, for they had cleared away many of the doubts and difficulties which had presented themselves to the minds of hon. Gentlemen. It appeared to him that there were two parties interested in abolishing church rates. One of those parties acted on principle; the other aimed at effecting a compromise. It was worth while to consider the question as it was viewed by each of those parties. The hon. Baronet who had last addressed the House had spoken in somewhat triumphant terms of the progress made of late years by those who were opposed to church rates. He had told them that the supporters of a measure for abolishing the present system had never been as influential and numerous as they were at that moment. He had argued the question satisfactorily, and proved that the abolitionists never held so many votes in that House as on the day they were defeated. If that was a subject of triumph to those gentlemen, he hoped they might always have to be congratulated on a similar position of prosperity. What was the true character of the church rate? It struck him that an attempt had been made to throw a good deal of confusion on a question which was a very simple one. Five hundred years ago, if a hole displayed it self in the roof of a church, the parishioners, like sensible and practical people as parishioners were in those days, met together and levied a moderate rate to enable them to stop it. When he heard that there was a grievance in such a course being adopted at the present day, he was at a loss to know in what the grievance consisted. The churchwarden, who was the representative not so much of the clergy as of the laity, was obliged to call a meeting of the ratepayers, and it was for the latter to decide whether they would have a rate or not. His hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Gathorne Hardy), in the excellent speech which he had addressed to the House, expressed his surprise that those who were in favour of the voluntary principle should object to such a system. But he (Mr. Whiteside) did not share that surprise, because he understood those Gentlemen to contend that a person favourable to the voluntary principle might do what he liked; and that it was only what he liked that should be done by every other person also. Well, if a ratepayer attended a vestry and heard a rate proposed which he had an objection to, he was at liberty to make his protest and walk away. When he did so, what right had he to complain of those who remained, because they chose to impose a rate? How was the rate, when levied, disposed of? It was not paid to the clergyman; it went towards maintaining the fabric of the church, which belonged to the parish, and which even every Dissenter ought to be ready to keep up; for if he did not attend it himself, his forefathers had done so, if they were sensible people, and his children certainly would attend it hereafter. Much had been said with respect to the object of those who advocated the abolition. The House was told that those Gentlemen had no wish to injure the Church. On that point he begged to refer to the opinion of a Gentleman who had argued the question very ably in that House. He alluded to Mr. Miall. That Gentleman was reported to have made use of these observations, at a soirée of the Liberation Society, held on the 24th of November 1858— Their object was not to get rid of church rates merely. They were going further than the church rate question, which was only as a grain of sand to a mountain. Church rates was a question that lay before them, but let it not be forgotten that a much wider and broader question remains behind. He respected the sincerity of gentlemen who spoke thus clearly. They were no hypocrites. They showed, in the most manly and decided manner, that their object was to separate the Church from the State; and the supporters of the Church declared, in an equally manly and decided way, that they would not suffer that separation, if they could help it. Again, at a meeting of the Liberation Society held on the 7th of June 1859, the Rev. W. Robinson had moved— That this Conference would express an earnest hope that the executive Committee will find it practicable to bring the great question of Church and State before the Legislature at an early day. On which Mr. Miall said— There is a difference of opinion between some members of the conference with respect to the wisest mode of accomplishing the great object of the society, namely, the separation of the Church from the State. Our friend (Rev. W. Robinson) wishes us to take a faggot bound up; we wish to take the faggot stick by stick. Again, one of the witnesses before the House of Lords declared, in reply to questions which had been addressed to him, that the gentlemen whose views he represented would not he satisfied with the abolition of church rates, but that the tithes, amounting to £2,000,000 a year, should "go the same way;" and when he was further asked what he would do with the fabrics of the churches, he answered that "the fabrics of the churches were to be turned to some purpose of utility." Very probably he would whitewash Westminster Abbey and turn it into a factory or a workhouse. Although he gave the hon. Baronet who had moved this Motion every credit for candour, he did not think that the theory of compromise put forward by the abolitionists was practicable. There was a Gentleman who sat below the gangway when this question was last under discussion, but who sat on the Treasury bench now. He was a gentleman of great metaphysical ability, and had expressed strong opinions with respect to church rates. Very likely he had been promoted to the Treasury bench for having avowed those opinions, and they might therefore expect that he would be present to give effect to them before a decision was pronounced on the Motion under discussion. The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) had thus expressed himself on the subject of a compromise— No scheme of compromise had been or could be submitted to the House which would not be objectionable to Dissenters, and which they would not consider as degrading. He believed, indeed, that all schemes of compromise were vain, mischievous, and dangerous. Compromise was impossible. He commended those words from an hon. Gentleman now in the Government to those who thought that the abolitionists were willing to settle the question by a compromise. With regard to the Amendment of which the noble Lord (Lord Alfred Churchill) had given notice, he did not think it was practicable. It imposed a duty on church wardens, but it gave them no means of performing that duty. He next came to another class of opinions with reference to church rates. He never could permit men of great experience, high character, and vast knowledge of the constitution of the country to avow in Parliament opinions on those questions and afterwards shrink from them when it suited their purpose to do so. The hon. Baronet who moved the Motion had asked a man of that kind why he opposed the Bill on principle. He answered in words never to be forgotten— We have heard to-day, as we have heard upon former occasions, that this is a question of principle; that it is a question between an Establishment and the voluntary principle, and that this is only one part of the proposal of those who wish us to exchange an Establishment for a voluntary principle. It is not my fault, therefore, if following the hon. Member for Southwark, and following the hon. Member (Mr. Bright), I say that this unqualified and unconditional repeal of the present law is a proposal intended to forward the scheme of those who are the enemies of an Establishment and are in favour of the voluntary principle. Now, be it observed, I do not make it a charge against them that such are their opinions. I only say that not holding these views—not partaking the opinion that the destruction of the Church establishment and the admission of all sects to an equality in respect of the voluntary collection of funds would be advantageous—they cannot expect me to consider it as any inducement to vote for this Bill; but it will lead us, step by step, to that total destruction of the Established Church which I deprecate. That was the language of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, not when a young man, making speeches on the hustings, which he would wish to get rid of as soon as possible; but when a writer on the Constitution, and a man who had filled the highest offices in the State. If the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) were present, he would remind him of a phrase which formerly certain persons were in the habit of using. Certain gentlemen used to employ the word "Americanize" in reference to designs to change the character of our institutions. Of course no one would now think of using that phrase; but when speaking on the 21st of June 1854, the noble Earl, in the same speech as that from which he had just read a quotation, said that a national church, an hereditary aristocracy, and an hereditary monarchy all stood together. He therefore argued that those who were in favour of universal suffrage and a republic might he for doing away with church rates, but that those who were in favour of a monarchy and of the British Constitution should take an exactly opposite course, and vote against a Bill, which would produce the consequences that he anticipated from a measure for the abolition of church rates. What had been said in favour of the abolition of church rates by the noble Lord at the head of the Government? Were the House aware of the date of the noble Lord's conversion? He was about to give them the day. It was on the 13th of July 1859 the noble Lord announced his conversion. He told the House that he had never before that time voted for doing away with church rates, but he should do so on that occasion. He did not enter historically into church rates, nor argue the question on the grounds of justice. The noble Lord had been too long a political Epicurean for that. He was a philosopher who saw all questions with an equal political eye; and, accordingly, he said that he should have preferred the old system if it had been possible to continue it, but that he could not set his individual opinion against the majority. Such was the reason assigned by the noble Lord the Prime Minister for having changed his views on that question. Pitt and Chatham were in the habit of resisting majorities when they believed them to be wrong; but was, he would ask, that kind of doctrine to be accepted by the country—that the Prime Minister was to alter his opinion in deference to a temporary majority? The Constitution would not be worth a farthing if it depended on a Prime Minister who considered that fundamental institutions were to be affected by the majority of the hour. In accordance with the noble Lord's doctrine, the supporters of church rates were entitled to ask for his vote that day. They would be in the majority, and they ought to have the noble Lord's support, if the vote of the Prime Minister was to depend, not on the merits of the case, but on the quarter from which the Parliamentary wind blew. The hon. Gentleman (Sir Charles Douglas) had observed, that as there was a divided Cabinet, it was not easy to bring up supporters of a Bill to abolish church rates. That was an interesting suggestion. Was there a divided Cabinet? It was true that in it was a right hon. Gentleman, whose name must be mentioned with respect, and whose inventive powers in taxation had never been equalled by any Minister of Finance. That right hon. Gentleman had been educated in one of the noblest institutions in the world, and he must be an admirer of the glorious literature of the Church of England. That right hon. Gentleman now sat on the same bench with the hon. Member for Halifax. It was of very little consequence that they sat on the same bench; but it was of very great consequence that men who held opinions so irreconcilably adverse should be combined in the same Government; and it was for them to explain how they could act together with honour to themselves and advantage to the country. If there was any question on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer should feel deeply interested, it was on one which affected the maintenance of the Established Church and the support of her fabrics. But whatever might be the course which the Government would take, those who held Conservative opinions regarded the Church as a great institution of the country, which was inseparably bound up with the State and the monarchy; and, whatever the form under which a proposition like that contained in the Bill might be brought before the House, it was their duty to meet it with a direct negative.


said, he remembered, that during the Government of Sir Robert Peel, when there was a great objection to the renewal of the income tax, and before that impost had been extended to Ireland, much amusement was excited in the House by an Irish Member who asserted that it was one of the best taxes that had ever been levied. It was on the same principle, he supposed, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Whiteside) had got up that day to maintain church rates, because, it was well known, that more than thirty years ago church cess, which was analogous to the church rates in this country, had ceased to be imposed in Ireland. [Mr. WHITESIDE: Another arrangement was entered into.] It was quite true that another arrangement had been entered into, one by which the funds to be expended in the maintenance of the fabrics were to be paid out of the monies in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Would the supporters of the present system of church rates agree to a similar arrangement for this country? He would remind the House that the arrangement to which be had just referred, as having been made thirty years ago in Ireland, was effected by a distinguished statesmen who now occupied a seat in another House. The son of that nobleman had been himself a Cabinet Minister, and was a distinguished ornament of the party opposite. He was a noble Lord whose opinions were always heard with deference in the House of Commons, and with consistency and ability he had always advocated the abolition of church rates. He thought, that if the right hon. and learned Gentleman had borne this in mind, he might have spared some of his taunts as to a divided Cabinet. He had listened with great attention to the speeches of the hon. Baronet the Member for Tavistock (Sir John Trelawny) and the hon. Gentleman the. Member for Leominster (Mr. Hardy). The speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Tavistock was characterized by good temper and moderation; and it was impossible to doubt his sincerity in promising, that if the principle of his Bill should receive the assent of the House, he should be willing in Committee to adopt any modifications which, while not rendering church rates compulsory, would allow of their being levied in parishes where there was a desire to levy and pay them as a means of supporting the fabrics of the Church. Though he could not agree with the hon. Member for Leominster, he was ready to bear testimony to the excellent tone as well as the ability with which that hon. Gentleman had opposed the second reading of the Bill. As to the question, it seemed to him that there had been an exaggerated importance attached to it both by those who advocated the abolition of church rates, and by those who were for the retention of the present system. He agreed with the hon. Member for Leominster as to the exaggerated statements made by some of the advocates of the Bill. He could not concur with those who went the length of saying that church rates were an intolerable grievance; and, on the other hand, he could not think that the principle of the Established Church was at all connected with the retention of church rates. Allusion had been made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin to a speech delivered by his noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He had always expressed his opinion that it was unwise in the friends of the Church to stake its existence on church rates. He thought that the great difference between the existence of the Church and the maintenance of church rates was shown by the fact that in very many parts of the country no church rates were levied. In many of the large and populous parishes church rates had practically been abolished, so that about one-half the population was exempted from the payment of those rates. They had been abolished in most of the populous towns of the kingdom. He asked whether the principle of the Established Church had been weakened in those places? Again, the district churches which had risen in such numbers within the last few years were maintained in an efficient state without church rates. Then he took the case of Ireland. He asked hon. Members who said that church rates and the Established Church must stand or full together, whether they were prepared to maintain that the Irish branch of the United Church stood now in a worse position than it did thirty-five years ago, before church cess was abolished? Having said so much on that point, he felt bound to confess that it was not without reluctance he was about to vote for a Bill for the total and unconditional abolition of church rates. He had always held that however desirable it might be to abolish church rates, in order to prevent the recurrence of those disputes and discussions which took place, yet in those parishes where for many years there had been, by general consent of the inhabitants, a small rate levied for the purpose of maintaining the Church, it would be a hard thing to say that no such rate should be levied in future. This brought him to the question of what was called a compromise. The hon. Member for Leominster seemed to think that a compromise was wholly inadmissible, and that it would be an insult to propose it. He would remind hon. Members that proposals for particular exemptions had come from both sides of the House at various periods. The difference was this:—The exemptions generally proposed on the opposite side of the House were exemptions to be granted on special application, after stating a conscientious objection, or that the person to be exempted was not a member of the Church of England; while, by the proposal now suggested by those who were opposed to the present system, no special case was to be made, but merely a simple refusal to pay by the parties wishing to be exempted. He wished to add, that he thought the discussions on the subject had been useful, for their result had been that persons of different opinions had been brought nearer together. He still hoped to see some arrangement made which would meet the necessity of country places, and he hoped that such a plan would yet meet with the consideration of the hon. Gentleman. He thought the discussion of that day had been con- ducted with better temper and more harmony than on former occasions. He confessed, however, that at that time he was not sanguine of a compromise being proposed which was likely to be adopted. Holding the views which he did on the subject, he should vote for the second reading of the Bill; but in doing so, he felt it right to say that he should hold himself at, liberty to abstain from voting for the third reading, should the Bill reach that stage, and if in the mean time no modification had been introduced which would reduce the measure to one for the abolition of compulsory payment of church rates.


said, he hoped that the clergy and laity of the Church of England would receive with satisfaction the clear explanation given, by the right hon. Gentleman of the motives which induced him to vote for the second reading of the Bill, and of the opposition which he intended to give to it hereafter! It could not, however, be very satisfactory to the hon. Baronet who had charge of the Bill, for in his temperate speech he had expressly repudiated the support of those who, while voting for the second reading, proposed to pare it down and fritter it away in Committee. From the concluding sentences of the right hon. Gentleman's speech it was clear that nothing was further from his wishes than that the Bill should pass through Committee and the third reading. He must remind the right hon. Gentleman who said that those who were against total abolition greatly exaggerated the importance of the question, that it, was not by that side of the House that great importance was first attached to this measure. It was from those who within the walls of Parliament had been the most energetic promoters of the measure that they had first heard of the magnitude and importance of the question. At that time of the day it would not do to attempt to fritter away the importance of the declarations which had been made on the other side, and which led irresistibly to the conviction that the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary was right and the right hon. Gentleman wrong in the interpretation, to be put on the measure now before them. The hon. Baronet repudiated for himself all attempts to dissociate the Church from the State; but it was impossible for him to dissociate himself from the language and acts of those of whom he was the organ on this occasion. The hon. Baronet had never shrunk from voting for every one of those measures which had been introduced by the party around him. [Sir JOHN TRELAWNY: I voted against the Burials Bill.] He was glad to hear that statement, and he sincerely hoped that the hon. Baronet's vote would always he found on the same side; but that isolated vote could nut dissociate him from the general tenour of those who were his supporters on the present occasion. Until he had heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, he could not believe that there would be a deliberate attempt made to lessen the importance of this measure. He rejoiced, however, that all those minor issues which used to be raised on this question had now disappeared; that the discussion of it was no longer mixed up with the grievances inflicted on the individual consciences of Mr. A and Mr. B; and the House had at last come to the clear, intelligible issue, which was, nothing less than this—was the Church of England to be the Established Church of the country? It was argued by some out, of doors, that the movement was simply one to set the Church free from the thraldom of the bonds of the State; but, in that instance, the question was not placed so nakedly before them. Yesterday, it was proposed that the churchyards of the Church should be open to the Dissenters; to-day it was a proposal to deprive the Church of her ancient and immemorial right to levy a church rate; to-morrow her endowed schools were to be sacrificed to the attacks of the Dissenters. Looking to all those proposals, how was it possible to come to any other conclusion than that the intention was to weaken the resources of the Church, to degrade her position, and to leave her present relations with the State in a materially altered and weakened condition. Why should that be done? Looking to the daily and hourly conflict with sin, sorrow, and crime which the Church was called on to carry on, could it be alleged that she was too powerful for her work? Could it he alleged that it was desirable to weaken any one of the spiritual or temporal influences which law or immemorial custom had placed at the service of the Church for these great purposes? He had no wish to say anything in disparagement of the voluntary principle; but whether he looked to the position of the unestablished church in America or in our Colonies, he saw no reason to believe that the voluntary principle could be safely left to deal with this great work, nor any argument for placing the Church of England in the same position. In arguing; the question in that House, he was disposed to argue it rather as a Statesman than as a Churchman. As a Churchman, he should be prepared to argue, that as far as the Church of England was concerned, if she were deprived of all the temporal rights and privileges, and if she were placed in the same position us she was two hundred years ago, when, for the sins and follies of the nation, the political ancestors of some hon. Gentlemen opposite were allowed to get the masters of her, she would still retain her hold over the hearts and affections of a devoted people; but who would measure the loss to popular rights, to education, to charity, nay, even to the civilization of the country, if the wishes of hon. Gentlemen opposite were carried out, and the Church were reduced to the position of a non-established Church. But, as he had said, he was ready to argue the question more as a Statesman than a Churchman; and he would ask the House to observe the effect which would be produced by this Bill on one of the most important elements of English social life—local self-government. In large towns, it was true that many other objects were to be found round which the energies of the community might cluster and be employed; but what would be the effect of the Bill on the countless rural parishes where the rate was now so beneficially levied? In those parishes the parish church was the one public building open to all, the inheritance of all, dear to all, and to all the symbol of parochial life and energy. There every year the rural village met in vestry to regulate the worldly affairs and fortunes of the parish church, and to that machinery the Bill before the House would at once put an end. A more effectual blow could not be struck at the principle of local self-government in 10,000 parishes of England than the passing of the Bill. Something had been said of the ill-feeling which was said to be generated by these discussions in the vestries. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman opposite that that ill-feeling had not only been greatly exaggerated, but that whatever there had been of it had been greatly diminished of late. But if free discussion were to be abolished in the vestries, on account of the ill-will there generated, then hon. Gentlemen opposite were bound to abstain from bringing forward, year after year, measures the discussion of which might raise acrimony and angry feelings in that House. At the same time, he felt bound to say that no great Parliamentary battles had been fought with less acrimony and with greater mutual self-respect than these church rate contests. The hon. Baronet opposite was the pink of Paladins, and that side of the House certainly, in its turn, had not been deficient in the amenities of political warfare. Notwithstanding all the misquotations and misrepresentations of history notwithstanding all the lavish expenditure of money, and still more of breath, to stir up the smouldering elements of sectarian animosity, which had had characterized the recent Bicentenary movement, never since the question had first been raised had the Easter vestries-passed over more tranquilty. The storm which was to have swept away the whole fabric, had burst without destroying a Crockett or a pinnacle of the Church; and the sole result, upon which he did not refuse to congratulate the Dissenters, was, that 300 additional chapels had been opened. Might he, however, be allowed to suggest, that it would be wiser, if instead of spending £3,000 or £4,000 a year in maintaining the objects of the Liberation Society, and thereby promoting endless malice and all uncharitableness, they had devoted that sum, or ten times the amount, to the endowment of their chapels, whereby they would have rendered their Ministers more independent? But had this peace been purchased by any unworthy concession on the part of the Church? Had the Church, during the last few years in which the question had been discussed, ceased to ask for the rates, or failed to levy them? Quite the reverse. Never since the question had been discussed had the rate been levied in more parishes than in the current year. The good sense and energy of Churchmen had contributed to bring about that result, and the general effect was that in the parishes of England church rate abolition was fast dying away. That, then, was the aspect of the question without those walls. The Parliamentary position of the question was still more unfavourable to hon. Gentlemen opposite. In 1855 the second reading of the Church Rates Abolition Bill was carried by a majority of 28; in 1856 that majority had risen to 43; in 1858 it was 53; in 1859—a year memorable by the conversion, or rather perversion of noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen opposite—it rose to 74. In spite, however, of their accession, it sank next year to 29; and in 1861 the Bill was thrown out on the second reading by the casting vote of the Speaker. In the last year things had again improved, and the revulsion of feeling in the House fairly represented what had taken place outside. He sympathized with the hon. Baronet's desire that the question should not be made a party question; but how could it be otherwise, when Cabinet Ministers espoused one side of the question, not because they approved it heartily, but because they thought there would be a majority on that side, or because they hoped to fritter the Bill away in Committee? In one sense he should be sorry not to see the Bill treated as a party question. Grieved should be be if the great constitutional party with which he acted should show any signs of paltering with the question; and he believed that of the 300 Gentlemen who sat on that side of the House, not three would be found to record their votes in favour of unconditional abolition. After the speech of the right hon. Baronet, it was useless to appeal to the advisers of the Crown, who were the persons who ought to stand by the ancient constitutions of the country; but he appealed to those who sat behind the Government — the representatives of the once great and powerful, and still most respectable party—the old Whig country party—to take this question out of the category of party and political questions, and to show, by their votes, that they were as much attached to the Established Church as those who sat opposite to them. If, in any considerable numbers, they would vote against the measure, they would at once and for ever lay the evil and factious spirit of the Liberation Society, and would remove the obstacles which prevented a peaceful and satisfactory settlement of the question. It was in that way alone that they could approach that safe and temperate improvement which all admitted the law of church rates required. No one in his senses could now believe that church rates were destined to fall by the hand of the hon. Baronet opposite, who himself had deprecated the longer continuance of the polemical struggle. Seeing, then, the revulsion of feeling which had taken place in the country, and which had found its counterpart in that House, the only way of terminating that struggle was by the rejection of the Bill; and he appealed to hon. Gentlemen opposite to join him and his friends in accomplishing an object which would preserve the existing relations between Church and State—which would enable the Church, no longer distracted by these assaults on her external walls, to devote her whole resources and energy to the increase of religion, the propagation of virtue, and the promotion of the best temporal and eternal interests of the country.


said, he intended to vote for the second reading of the Bill, with a view to inserting in Committee a clause which would completely save the rights of the Church, while at the same time no compulsory payment of the rate could be enforced. The present mode of levying and enforcing the rate was frequently most derogatory to the Church and injurious to her best interests. He hoped hon. Gentlemen opposite would therefore not close their eyes to the expediency of assenting to a compromise; for if they would not do that, they must prepare themselves for unconditional repeal. At the same time, he wished to say that he had no connection with the Liberation Society, of whose designs he did not approve. Nor was there any desire on the part of the Gentlemen among whom he sat to assent to the total abolition of the church rate, as a means to dissever the connection between Church and State. He, himself, wished to see that connection maintained in its integrity, and that was the feeling of many who meant to vote for the second reading. He believed that the time had arrived when the question ought to be finally settled.


said, that though the question had somewhat degenerated into an annual party conflict, and had so far lost somewhat of its intrinsic interest, yet the welfare of the Church was so deeply concerned in its being calmly and temperately argued that he could not refrain from making a few remarks on the speech of his noble Friend the Member for Leicestershire. The noble Lord said, that the question was one between the abolition and the retention of the principle of local self-government. He (Mr. Walter) had always understood the Church, of which he had the privilege of being a humble and sincere member, was a national establishment; but if he were to accept the noble Lord as its defender, he must at once give up that idea, and regard it only as an establishment which was to be supported or abolished at the good will of the majority of each rural parish vestry. He did not wish to be misunderstood on the matter. He had no sympathy or connection with the party from which the Bill emanated. He had never looked at the question from the Dissenters' point of view. He had never admitted that the Dissenters had a grievance—indeed, he had uniformly denied that in the abstract they had any grievance. If they had one, they certainly had had many opportunities of redress, but they had uniformly declined them. They had not only maintained their rights as Englishmen to the use of the parish church, but, while refusing to pay the impost, they wished to obtain peculiar privileges. He looked upon the church rate question from a Churchman's point of view. He asked himself whether the present position of the church rate question was a source of strength or weakness; and he believed it to be a source of great weakness. He had always understood that in military strategy the great object of the defenders of a besieged place was to destroy and remove out of sight every weak outpost, every position which the enemy could occupy, in which they could effect a lodgment, and from which they could perhaps endanger the safety of the defenders of the city. Such, he believed, was the condition of the church rate question. The Dissenters had effected a lodgment in it; they could annoy the Church from it, and they could not be dislodged. The duty of Churchmen, therefore, was to examine carefully whether the retention of that position was of essential consequence; and if, after careful and dispassionate inquiry, it was found that it was not, they ought to remove it out of sight at once. They ought to deprive the Dissenters of the grievance which gave them such an advantage, and then defy them to do their worst. It had been said that church rates were essential to the Church as a national establishment; but the whole course of the argument proved the contrary. His hon. Friend the Member for Leominster asked that things should be left as they were. "Why can't you leave us alone?" he said, "We don't wish to revive church rates in the large towns like Birmingham and Manchester, but let us keep them up in the rural districts." What became, then, of the Church of England as an establishment, if the mainte- nance of what the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University called a "national fabric" depended upon the condition of there being a majority in favour of the rate in each rural parish? He defied hon. Gentlemen opposite to escape the difficulty which their argument involved, of placing the Church of England upon the most humiliating and narrow basis. He, as a Churchman, could not conceive a worse position for the Church than to be reduced to appeal to a majority of this or that parish whether there should be a Church at all. It stood to reason, that if the Church of England was to be regarded as a national establishment, the maintenance of the fabric (if that were an essential condition, which he denied), must be preserved by some rules and regulations by which the Establishment would not be subject to the arbitrary and capricious vote of a majority. It should be a compulsory tax, and the church rate was originally a compulsory tax for the maintenance of the fabric. Such was supposed to be the old state of the law, until that law was reversed, not by the House of Commons, but by the highest legal tribunal of the country. To return to the old state of things, they must repeal the decision in the Braintree case; and unless they could reverse that decision, church rates were nothing more than voluntary taxes, levied in the most invidious manner possible, because nothing could be more invidious, especially on a question in which religion was involved, than to give the majority power to tax the minority. It was putting the Church of England upon the same footing as a gas or a water or any company of that kind. What would be the best substitute for church rates was the practical question, and it was better to consider the subject in that point of view. There were various opinions as to what would be the best substitute. He had one proposal which he knew was unpopular, but he thought it was founded in justice. He thought that the Church ought to be maintained chiefly by those who used it, and he saw no objection to a modified system of pew rents, whereby those who occupied the best seats should pay for them, leaving the greater number for the free use of the poor. He had no faith in the compromise of a voluntary rate, which was a contradiction in terms. But if things came to the worst, a system of voluntary subscriptions properly organized would afford an ample substitute for the aboli- tion of church rates. There was no organized machinery for collecting voluntary subscriptions: and when his hon. Friend spoke of the difference between collecting subscriptions for the maintenance of old churches and collecting subscriptions for the creation of new churches, it was be cause there was no organized machinery for the purpose. The difficulty would not exist if there were proper machinery for making the collection; and he believed that if church rates were abolished, diocesan boards would be established for the purpose, and would collect larger sums for the maintenance of the fabric than were then collected by church rates. Since he had been in the House he had noted down the number of churches within fifteen miles radius of the place in the country where he resided which had been either rebuilt or entirely restored during the last twenty years—more than half of the whole number being within the last ten years. Of thirty churches within a radius of fifteen miles twenty-six had been rebuilt or restored, half of them being either new or entirely rebuilt, and the lowest sum expended on those churches was £60,000. That had been done independent of church rates altogether. What was the case in parishes where the church rate was the only resource? Why, the clergymen of, such rural parishes could not keep the roof water-tight, the walls became green with damp, and appeals were constantly made to assist in staying the progress of dilapidation and decay. As a Churchman, he contended that it would be greatly to the advantage of the Church, and a great discomfiture for her enemies, to get rid of this grievance. He wished the House could banish from the consideration of the question all party feeling, and look upon it with the eyes of common sense, for he was confident every one would then see that the right course was to abolish church rates altogether.


said, he did not wish to detain the House; but as he had been alluded to in the debate, he wished to remind the House that on the following Wednesday he hoped to move the second reading of the Bill he had prepared on the subject, and he regretted that by the forms of the House he was precluded on that occasion from describing its provisions; but on Wednesday next he should be prepared to meet every argument that had been advanced by the hon. Member for Tavistock. He felt that it was time that the question should be settled, and the more so as it was degenerating into a party question, and no well-wisher of the Church desired to see her the church of a party, much less of a political party. He could not assent to the proposal made by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Alfred Churchill). It was substantially this—to continue to the churchwardens the duty of maintaining the fabric of the parish church, but to deprive them of the means of doing so. It was an Egyptian proposal to maintain the fabric without the means. With respect to the present Bill, his objection to it was as strong as ever; he considered it to be based upon the principle of spoliation, as one not only affecting the rights of the Church, but as depriving the parishes of the country of a right and privilege which they had exercised from time immemorial. To the violation of such a right he never would consent, and he should therefore give the Bill his firm and consistent opposition. It was painful to him to see hon. Members opposite, who were firmly attached to the Church of England, placed in the false position of voting for the second reading of the Bill. He hoped, however, by the measure he should submit on the following Wednesday to relieve them from such a difficulty. He did not wish to see the Church of England act in the intolerant and uncompromising spirit of the Church of Home, and he hoped the House would soon arrive at a satisfactory settlement of the question.


, in reply, said, he wished to understand whether the hon. Members opposite who were opposed to him were anxious to set up the cry of "Twopence, and no surrender." If so, he thought the country generally would decline to support their views. He trusted that the Conservative Members would well consider what they were about before they rejected the Bill. They might, by so doing, save their party; but they would inevitably lose the Church of England.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 275; Noes 285: Majority 10.

Words added.

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

Bill put off for six mouths.

Acton, Sir J. D. Dent, J. D.
Adair, H. E. Dering, Sir E. C.
Adeane, H. J. Dillwyn, L. L.
Agar-Ellis, hn. L. G. F. Divett, E.
Alcock, T. Dodson, J. G.
Angerstein, W. Douglas, Sir C.
Antrobus, A. Doulton, F.
Ashley, Lord Duff, M. E. G.
Atherton, Sir W. Duff, R. W.
Ayrton, A. S. Duke, Sir J.
Aytoun, R. S. Dunbar, Sir. W.
Bagwell, J. Dundas, F.
Baines, E. Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.
Baring, T. G. Dunkellin, Lord
Barnes, T. Dunlop, A. M.
Bass, M. T. Egerton, E. C.
Bazley, T. Ellice, rt. hn. E. (Cov.)
Beale, S. Ellice, E. (St. Ands.)
Beamish, F. B. Enfield, Viscount
Beaumont, W. B. Ennis, J.
Beaumont, S. A. Esmonde, J.
Bellew, R. M. Evans, Sir De L.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Evans, T. W.
Berkeley, Col. F. W. F. Ewart, W.
Biddulph, Colonel Ewart, J. C.
Black, A. Ewing, H. E. Crum-
Blencowe, J. G. Fenwick, H.
Bonham-Carter, J. Fermoy, Lord
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. Fitzroy, Lord F. J.
Bouverie, hon. P. P. Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W.
Brady, Dr.
Brand, hon. H. Foley, H. W.
Bright, J Foljambe, F. J. S.
Briscoe, J. I. Forster, C.
Brown, J. Forster, W. E.
Bruce, H. A. Foster, W. O.
Buchanan, W. Fortescue, hon. F. D.
Buckley, General Fortescue, C. S.
Buller, Sir A. W. French, Colonel
Bury, Viscount Gavin, Major
Butler, C. S. Gibson, rt. hon. T. M..
Buxton, C. Gilpin, C.
Caird, J. Glyn, G. C.
Calthorpe, hon. F. H. W. G. Glyn, G. G.
Goldsmid, Sir F. H.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Gower, hon. F. L,
Castlerosse, Viscount Gower, G. W. G. L.
Cavendish, hon. W. Greene, J.
Childers, H. C. E. Greenwood, J.
Cholmeley, Sir M. J. Gregory, W. H.
Churchill, Lord A. S. Gregson, S.
Clay, J. Grenfell, H. R.
Clifford, C. C. Greville, Colonel F.
Clifford, Colonel Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Clifton, Sir R. J. Grosvenor, Earl
Clive, G. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Cobbett, J. M. Gurney, S.
Cobden, R. Hadfield, G.
Cogan, W. H. F. Hanbury, R.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Handley, J.
Collier, R. P. Hankey, T.
Coningham, W. Hanmer, Sir J.
Cowper, rt. hon. W. F. Hartington, Marq. of
Cox, W. Hayter, rt. hon. Sir W. G.
Craufurd, E. H. J.
Crawford, R. W. Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.
Crossley, Sir F. Henley, Lord
Dalglish, R. Hervey, Lord A.
Davey, R. Hibbert, J. T.
Davie, Colonel F. Hodgkinson, G.
Denman, hon. G. Hodgson, K. D.
Holland, E. Pugh, D.
Horsman, rt. hon. E. Ramsden, Sir J. W.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Ricardo, O.
Hutt, rt. hon. W. Robartes, T. J. A,
Jackson, W. Robertson, D.
Jervoise, Sir J. C. Rothschild, Baron M. de
Johnstone, Sir J.
King, hon. P. J. L. Russell, A.
Kinglake, A. W. Russell, Sir W.
Kinglake, J. A. St. Aubyn, J.
Kingscote, Colonel Salomons, Mr. Ald.
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Scholefield, W.
Knatchbull-Hugessen, E. Scott, Sir W.
Scrope, G. P.
Layard, A. H. Seely, C.
Langston, J. H. Seymour, W. D.
Langton, W. H. G. Seymour, A.
Lawson, W. Shelley, Sir J. V.
Leatham, E. A. Sheridan, R. B.
Lee, W. Sheridan, H. B.
Lewis, H. Sidney, T.
Lindsay, W. S. Smith, J. B.
Locke, J. Smith, M. T.
Lowe, rt. hon. R. Smith, Augustus
Lysley, W. J. Smith, Sir F.
M'Cann, J. Smith J. A.
Mackie, J. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W. M.
Mackinnon, W. A. (Lymington)
Stacpoole, W.
Mackinnon, W. A (Rye) Staniland, M.
Majoribanks, D. C. Stanley, Lord
Martin, P. W. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Martin, J. Stansfeld, J.
Merry, J. Steel, J.
Mildmay, H. F. Stuart, Colonel
Miller, W. Sykes, Colonel W. H.
Mills, J. R. Talbot, C. R. M.
Milnes, R. M. Taylor, P. A.
Mitchell, T. A. Thompson, H. S.
Moffatt, G. Tite, W.
Moncreiff, rt. hon. J. Tomline, G.
Monsell, rt. hon. W. Traill, G.
Morris, D. Turner, J. A.
Morrison, W. Vane, Lord H.
North, F. Verney, Sir H.
O'Brien, Sir P. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
O'Connor Don, The Vivian, H. H.
O'Donoghue, The Vyner, R. A.
O'Ferrall, rt. hn. R. M. Waldron, L.
Ogilvy, Sir J. Walter, J.
Onslow, G. Warner, E.
O'Reilly, M. W. Watkins, Colonel L.
Osborne, R. B. Wcguelin, T. M.
Owen, Sir H. O. Wemyss, J. H. Erskine-
Padmore, R. Western, S.
Paget, C. Westhead, J. P. B.
Paget, Lord C. Whalley, G. H.
Paxton, Sir J. Whitbread, S.
Pease, H. White, J.
Pender, J. White, L.
Peto, Sir S. M. Wickham, H. W.
Pigott, Serjeant Williams, W.
Pilkington, J. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Pinney, Colonel Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Pollard-Urquhart, W. Woods, H.
Ponsonby, hon. A. Wyld, J.
Portman, hon. W. H. B. Wynne, C. G.
Potter, E. Wyvill, M.
Powell, W. T. R.
Powell, J. J. TELLERS.
Proby, Lord Sir J. Trelawny
Pryse, E. L. Mr. Hastings Russell
Adderley, rt. hon. C. B. Farrer, J.
Addington, hon. W. W. Fellowes, E.
Annesley, hon. Col. H. Fergusson, Sir J.
Anson, hon. Major Ferrand, W.
Arbuthnott, hon. Gen. Filmer, Sir E.
Astell, J. H. FitzGerald, W. R. S.
Baillie, H. J. Forester, rt. hon. Gen.
Baring, A. H. Forster, Sir G.
Baring, T. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Barttelot, Colonel Galway, Viscount
Bathurst, A. A. Gard, R. S.
Bathurst, F. H. George, J.
Beach, W. W. B. Getty, S. G.
Bective, Earl of Gilpin, Colonel
Beecroft, G. S. Gladstone, rt. hon, W.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Goddard, A. L.
Bentinck, G. C. Gordon, C. W.
Benyon, R. Gore, J. R. O.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Gore, W. R. O.
Beresford, D. W. P. Graham, Lord W.
Bernard, hon. Colonel Greenall, G.
Bernard, T. T. Gray, Captain
Booth, Sir R. G. Grey de Wilton, Visct.
Botfield, B. Griffith, C. D.
Bovill, W. Grogan, Sir E.
Bramley-Moore, J. Gurney, J. H.
Bramston, T. W. Haliburton, T. C..
Bridges, Sir B. W. Hamilton, Lord C.
Brooks, R. Hamilton, Major
Bruce, Major C. Hamilton, Viscount
Bruce, Sir H. H. Hamilton, I. T.
Bruen, H. Hardy, G.
Burghley, Lord Hardy, J.
Burrell, Sir P. Hartopp, E. B.
Butler-Johnstone, H. A. Hassard, M.
Cairns, Sir H. M'C. Hay, Sir J. C. D.
Cartwright, Colonel Heathcote, Sir W.
Cave, S. Heathcote, hon. G. H.
Cavendish, Lord G. Henley, rt. hon. J. W.
Cecil, Lord R. Hennessy, J. P.
Chapman, J. Henniker, Lord
Clive, Capt. hon. G. W. Hesketh, Sir T. G.
Close, M. C. Heygate, Sir F. W.
Cobbold, J. C. Heygate, W. U.
Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B. Hill, hon. R. C.
Codrington, Sir W. Holford, R. S.
Cole, hon. H. Holmesdale, Viscount
Cole, hon. J. L. Hood, Sir A. A.
Collins, T. Hope, G. W.
Copeland, Mr. Ald. Hopwood, J. T.
Cubitt, G. Hornby, W. H.
Cubitt, W. Horsfall, T. B.
Dalkeith, Earl of Hotham, Lord
Damer, S. D. Howes, E.
Dawson, R. P. Hubbard, J. G.
Dickson, Colonel Humberston, P. S.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Hume, W. W. F.
Du Cane, C. Hunt, G. W.
Duncombe, hon. A. Ingestre, Viscount
Duncombe, hon. W. E. Jermyn, Earl
Dunne, Colonel Jervis, Captain
Du Pre, C. G. Johnstone, J. J. H.
Dutton, hon. R. H. Jolliffe, rt. hon. Sir W. G. H.
East, Sir J. B.
Edwards, Colonel Jolliffe, H. H.
Egerton, Sir P. G. Jones, D.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Kekewich, S. T.
Egerton, hon. W. Kelly, Sir F.
Elcho, Lord Kendall, N.
Elmley, Viscount Kennard, R. W.
Fane, Colonel J. W. Kerrison, Sir E. C.
Farquhar, Sir M. King, J. K.
Knatchbull, W. F. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Knight, F. W. Peel, rt. hon. General
Knightley, R. Peel, rt. hon. F.
Knox, Colonel Pennant, hon. Col.
Knox, hon. Major S. Pevensey, Viscount
Lacon, Sir E. Phillips, G. L.
Laird, J. Potts, G.
Langton, W. G. Powell, F. S.
Leader, N. P. Powys-Lybbe, P. L.
Leeke, Sir H. Puller, C. W. G.
Lefroy, A. Quinn, P.
Legh, Major C. Raynham, Viscount
Legh, W. J. Repton, G. W. J.
Leighton, Sir B. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Lennox, Lord G. G. Rogers, J. J.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Rolt, J.
Lennox, C. S. B. H. K. Rose, W. A.
Leslie, C. P. Rowley, hon. R. T,
Leslie, W. Salt, T.
Liddell, hon. H. G. Sclater-Booth, G.
Lindsay, hon. General Scott, Lord H.
Long, R. P. Scourfield, J. H.
Long, W. Selwyn, C. J.
Longfield, R. Seymer, H. K.
Lopes, Sir M, Shirley, E. P.
Lovaine, Lord Smith, M.
Lowther, hon. Colonel Smith, Abel
Lowther, Captain Smith, S. G.
Lyall, G. Smyth, Colonel
Lygon hon. F. Smollett, P. B.
Lytton, rt. hon. Sir E. G. E. L. B. Somerset, Colonel
Somes, J.
M'Cormick, W. Spooner, R.
Macdonogh, F. Stanhope, J. B.
Mainwaring, T. Stanhope, Lord
Malcolm, J. W. Stirling, W.
Malins, R. Stewart, Sir M. R. S.
Manners, rt. hn. Lord J. Stuart, Lieut. Col. W.
Manners, Lord G. J. Stracey, Sir. H.
Maxwell, hon. Colonel Sturt, H. G.
Miles, Sir W. Sturt, Lieut. Col. N.
Miller, T. J. Talbot, hon. W. C.
Mills, A. Tempest, Lord A. V.
Mitford, W. T. Thornhill, W. P.
Montagu, Lord R. Thynne, Lord E,
Montgomery, Sir G. Tollemache, J.
Mordaunt, Sir C. Torrens, R.
Morgan, O. Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.
Morgan, hon. Major Trevor, Lord A. E. H.
Morritt, W. J. S. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R. Turner, C.
Mundy, W. Vance, J.
Mure, D. Vansittart, W.
Murray, W. Verner, Sir W.
Naas, Lord, Walcott, Admiral
Newdegate, C. N. Walker, J. R.
Newport, Viscount Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Nicol, W. Walsh, Sir J.
Noel, hon. G. J. Watlington, J. W. P.
North, Colonel Way, A. E.
Northcote, Sir S. H. Welby, W. E.
Packe, C. W. Whiteside, rt. hon. J.
Packe, Colonel Williams, Colonel
Pakenham, Colonel Woodd, B. T.
Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J. Wyndham, hon. H.
Palk, Sir L. Wyndham, hon. P.
Palmer, R. W. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Palmer, Sir R. Wynn, C. W. W.
Papillon, P. O. Wynne, W. W. E.
Parker, Major W. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Patten, Colonel W. TELLERS.
Paull, H. Colonel Taylor
Peacocke, G. M. W. Mr. Whitmore