HC Deb 30 June 1865 vol 180 cc984-9

said, he rose to call attention to the inadequate stipends of the Minor Canons and Non-Capitular Members of the Cathedral of Carlisle and of other Cathedrals of the New Foundation. He said the case was shortly this. The cathedrals of the new foundation were re-founded and established at the time of the Reformation, and the inferior members of them were not members of distinct corporations, as in the old cathedrals, but stipendiaries dependant for what they received on the general revenues of the chapter. Taking a prebendary as the general standard, these non-capitular members had stipends in proportion, the minor canons having one-half. During the last century all the payments fell into abeyance, and when the Act of 1840 was under consideration it was found that the deans and chapters were in receipt of the greater part of the revenue. When the Act of 1840 was passed the cathedrals were supposed to be of little utility, and therefore the claims of the non-capitular members were but little considered. Since then, however, it had been discovered that the cathedrals were of the greatest utility, and they had been restored to the position which they formerly held. Although the deans received large salaries, the non-capitular members, upon whom all the active duties of the cathedrals virtually devolved, were still in receipt of very small salaries. Under these circumstances, the subject had been discussed before the Cathedral Commission instituted by Lord Derby, in 1860, by that House during the passing of the Ecclesiastical Commission Bill, and since then by the Ecclesiastical Commission Committee, which sat during the Sessions of 1862 and 1863, when the evidence was very fully gone into, and both the Commission and Committee came to the conclusion that the position of the non-capitular members was unsatisfactory, and that some measures ought to be adopted for their relief. The law with regard to the non-capitular members of the cathedrals of the new foundation was in a very anomalous state. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners had no power whatever to deal with them, and, therefore, if an application was made by those gentlemen to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for relief, they were told to apply to the dean and chapter, while, if application was made to the latter, they were told that all the revenues derived from their estates were paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and that they had no power to interfere. It would be seen, therefore, that the law was in a very imperfect state, for the law which gave the Ecclesiastical Commissioners power to receive the surplus revenues gave them no power to apply them. The cathedral of Carlisle was a singular instance of what he meant. In 1850 the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle made over their estates to the Ecclesiastical Commission, in consideration of a commutation payment. That commutation payment was fixed at £5,680. By the scheme approved by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and made law by an Order in Council, the sum of £4,200 out of the sum of £5,680, was allotted to the dean and chapter, and £900 given to the non-capitular members. The cathedral duties of the dean and chapter, although they received so large a proportion of the revenues, were light, while the duties of the non-capitular members, particularly of the minor canons were exceedingly heavy, constant daily attendance being exacted from them. The number of minor canons in the cathedral had been reduced from five to two, but it must be obvious that two were quite insufficient to perform the duty. The Dean of Carlisle had written an able pamphlet on cathedral reform, in which he stated that three minor canons in his cathedral would be scarcely sufficient to perform the service. The Dean of Carlisle received an income of £1,400 a year and a house, the canons £700 a year and a house, while the two minor canons only received £150 a year less income tax, and had no house provided for them. Under the old system the five minor canons received £60 a year, yet each was allowed to hold a chapter living. By the new Act, however, a minor canon, although he received £150 a year, was not allowed to hold a living, unless within six miles, while a canon could hold a living not in the gift of the dean and chapter at any distance. It had been stated, that the Ecclesiastical Com- missioners were about to make a new arrangement relative to the revenues of the dean and chapter, whereupon Mr. Livingstone, one of the minor canons, applied to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to know whether they would recommend an annual payment to the minor canons more adequate to their wants and claims. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners replied, that they were unable to entertain the subject, and referred the writer to the dean and chapter. On making an application in that quarter he received a reply from the chapter clerk, stating, that the letter had been laid before the dean and chapter, and that he had been instructed to give no reply. It was only fair that the Government should see whether some remedy could not be applied. Another class of cases deserving attention was that of members of the foundation, such as grammar boys and choristers, who were all entitled to receive adequate allowances. By the statutes of Westminster Abbey the chorister boys were entitled to the same allowances as the Queen's scholars or boys on the foundation. They were to be educated under the college masters. They were to have a preference in the vacant scholarships on the foundation, and every inducement was held out to these boys to engage upon the choral service of the Abbey. Their present position was, however, miserable. The privilege of being educated in Westminster School had been withdrawn from them. They were now educated by one of the sacristans, and although no doubt the education they received was good of its kind, yet it appeared from a Return that the schoolmaster only received £100 a year, and the House would easily imagine that the education which they received was by no means in accordance with that to which they were entitled under the statutes. They received no allowances for board or lodging, and it appeared that only £138 was divided among sixteen scholars, being an average of less than £9 a year. It also appeared by a Return that the receipts of the Church amounted to not less than £60,000 a year. The dean was paid £2,000; some of the canons received over £2,000; others £1,600, and none less than £1,000. The dean and chapter had been compelled to raise the allowance to the Queen's scholars to £60, whilst these poor boys, who were entitled under the statutes to be placed in the same position as the Queen's scholars, had this wretched pittance of £9 a year doled out to them. In other cathedrals the chorister boys were much better treated. In St. Paul's, for instance, the sum paid to them in 1861 was £498, and in 1862 it was £567, and besides this gratuities were given to the amount of £125 for the purpose of placing them out in life. Under these circumstances he hoped the Government would undertake, in the course of the next Session, to introduce a Bill for the amendment of the law, or give an assurance that, if a measure on the subject should be originated by a private Member, the Government would keep the promise given by the late Sir George Lewis, and give the measure the best consideration. He wished to ask Her Majesty's Government, whether they intend next Session to introduce a measure to give power to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England to deal with and increase Non-Capitular Stipends in such cases as they may think fit?


said, that as the representative of a cathedral town, he could bear out the statements which had been made by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. The three minor canons at Peterborough received only £500 a year amongst them. They had no chance of preferment, and were expected to be in attendance at all times, whilst the canons were not required to be in residence more than three months. Surely it was discreditable to the Church of England that its revenues should be appropriated in such a way.


said, the House ought to know that the minor canons were in almost all cases a distinct corporation, and possessed distinct corporate property. By a Bill of last year, power was given to deal with the property belonging to certain minor canons, enabling them to commute their estates to the Commissioners, whereby they might be better administered, and the moneys of the minor canons might thus be increased. He knew no other property out of which provision could be made for the minor canons, than property transferred from the sinecure rectories and suspended canonries to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and property belonging to the capitular bodies. In many cases, he wa3 aware the minor canons were paid much less than their services merited. The difficulty was in knowing out of what fund you were to provide for their better payment. As an Ecclesiastical Commissioner he considered himself bound to take care that the additional payment should not come out of funds appropriated to give spiritual assistance where it was most required—that is to say, to make adequate provision for clergymen engaged in parochial duties. That was the trust imposed upon the fund administered by the Commissioners, and until it was discharged he should think it doubtful whether any portion of the property ought to be handed over to the minor canons. With regard to the property belonging to the different capitular bodies, it was not generally recollected that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had nothing to do with that property except by agreement with those bodies in cases where they might desire to commute fluctuating incomes for a fixed sum. At all events, if the capitular bodies were willing to charge their life interest in the capitular estates in order to provide a more adequate fund for the remuneration of the minor canons, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would raise no objection arising out of any interest which they might have in these estates. Some arrangement of this kind might be made for the benefit of the minor canons, but in the absence of any compulsory power to deal with the capitular bodies and their estates, he was afraid the Governments would find considerable difficulty in arranging the matter. If the Government, however, could see their way clear to the proposal of a measure next Session, providing a more adequate remuneration for minor canons in these cases, he should be glad to find that some satisfactory arrangement might be effected.


said, he was not acquainted with the facts of the case, nor accurately acquainted with the law, until the Motion of the hon. Gentleman was placed on the paper; but on communicating then with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, he found that in 1850 the number of minor canons connected with the Cathedral of Carlisle was fixed at two, and that their income was from £150 to £200 a year each. He was informed that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had no power to increase these incomes, but that it was in the power of the Dean and Chapter to do so. As his right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) had suggested, the difficulty was to know out of what fund the increase of these stipends was to come. In many cases the duties performed by the parochial clergy were more important than those performed by the minor canons, and the surplus funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were appropriated as they ought to be—namely, in providing spiritual instruction for the people at large. If, however, the object of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bentinck) was to enable the Dean and Chapter, out of the funds belonging to them, to make provision which now they have no power to make for the minor canons, he should be glad to consider a Bill on that subject. He quite agreed with his right hon. Friend that it would be objectional to divert any portion of the funds which were now applicable by law to the increase of small benefices, and apply it for the benefit of the minor canons. But if the capitular bodies were inclined to make such a provision out of the capitular estates, and were now prevented by the law from doing so, it would he only reasonable to remove any such obstacle.