HC Deb 30 April 1867 vol 186 cc1825-6

moved for leave to introduce a Bill to repeal the several Acts granting and regulating the appropriation of £20,300 from the Consolidated Fund for the Ecclesiastical Establishments in the West Indies, excepting so far as to continue their allowances to the present recipients until their promotion, resignation, or decease. As he understood that his Motion would not be opposed by the Government, he should confine himself on the present occasion by stating that it was not his intention in making the Motion to interfere in any way with existing rights, as his Bill would only carry out, in the case of the West Indies, the same rule that had been applied to other colonies, and by which, in the case of the British North American Colonies, the annual amount had been reduced from £12,000 to £3,000 by the falling in of lives. He trusted that when the Bill came on for discussion it would receive the sanction of the House.


on the part of the Government, said, he would not offer any opposition to the introduction of the Bill. It was a measure he had himself given notice of some years ago, but deferred for more considerate treatment. He was of opinion that the measure ought to be accompanied by considerable safeguards, for anything like a precipitate repeal of the Acts in question might lead to the production of great mischief, injustice to individuals, and injury to the Church, and even involve a breach of faith with our colonies in the West Indies. Moreover, anything like a precipitate repeal of the Acts would have a tendency to prevent the object which the hon. Member had in view. Not only the present but the last Government had had the subject under consideration, and had even taken steps in the direction of this measure, and both Governments had come to the conclusion that the Treasury ought to be relieved from the charge in question as opportunity occurred. He was of the opinion that this was desirable in the interests not only of the British taxpayer, but also of the Church itself in the West Indies; for both civil and religious institutions thrived best when extraneous support of this description was withdrawn from them, and when they rested on resources on the spot. But it was necessary that a certain amount of discretion should be left in the Executive or Legislature of this country to prevent the confusion which might arise from a sudden change. Not only must existing interests be saved, but a power of gradual reduction must somewhere be reserved; as also a power to anticipate vacancies, and so facilitate the new arrangement. He would go more fully into the question on a future occasion; but at present, while he assented to the introduction of the Bill, the Government reserved to themselves the power of dealing with it afterwards as they might think fit.

Motion agreed to. Bill to relieve the Consolidated Fund from the charge of the Salaries of future Bishops and other Ecclesiastical Dignitaries in the West Indies, ordered to be brought in by Mr. REMINGTON MILLS, Mr. BAZLEY, and Mr. LAMONT. Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 126.]