HC Deb 10 March 1864 vol 173 c1784

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government, during the present Session, to introduce measures for the reform of the Ecclesiastical Courts and Registries in England, which were promised last Session? The subject had been brought before the public for some years, and the present state of things was a great hardship to the poor working clergy. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had not fulfilled his promise of last year, that he would bring in a Bill; but week after week had passed without any Bill being introduced, and it was said that there were great difficulties in the way, in consequence of the impossibility of getting the Prelates to agree to the provisions of any Bill. If they waited for that, they would have to wait a long time, and he hoped the Government would introduce measures at once on their own responsibility to remedy the evils which had long ago been proved to exist. He trusted that another Session would not be permitted to pass without the introduction of a measure to remedy these admitted evils.


said, he had not given any promise on the subject last Session, but he had said that the Lord Chancellor had a Bill in preparation, and, indeed, it was shortly afterwards prepared. He quite agreed that it would be wrong of the Government to abstain from bringing in a Bill until all the Prelates were agreed; but last year the Lord Chancellor had a meeting, at which several of the Prelates and other persons were present, to endeavour to ascertain what amount of support the Clergy Discipline Bill was likely to obtain. The Lord Chancellor was satisfied that there would be great difficulty in passing the Bill which he had then prepared, and he had abandoned the case as hopeless. Nor did he (Sir George Grey) entertain any sanguine hope that he should be able to pass a Bill this year. With regard to the Courts and Registries, about which there was not the same difference of opinion, he had communicated with the Lord Chancellor, and, without giving any positive promise, he might say that the Lord Chancellor hoped to be able to introduce a Bill this Session.

Motion agreed to.