§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he had thought he should not be compelled to trouble the House at any length in respect to this Bill, because it had been fully considered by the House last Session, when it received a second reading. At that time the then Secretary for the Home Department recognised the principle on which it was based; but acquiescing in the second reading, reserved to himself the right of considering its details in Committee. Soon after the second reading the momentous vote occurred which transferred the then Secretary of State to the Opposition side of the House, and placed the right hon. Gentleman who now held the office in his stead. The progress of public business was for some time interrupted, owing to the delay which occurred in the formation of the new Government, and to other attendant circumstances. The second reading having taken place in the beginning of June, he (Mr. Ayrton) was unable to move for the Committee on the Bill until July. The right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of State then appealed to him to defer the Bill until this Session, giving him at the same time an assurance that nothing would be done by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to alter the position of this question. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners as a body had not done 302 anything in the matter certainly; but one of the Commissioners, their representative in that House, now declared his intention to oppose this Bill altogether, and not allow it even to reach a second reading, being the stage it occupied last Session. It appeared to him (Mr. Ayrton) that such a course on the part of the Commissioner in that House was in violation of the spirit of the arrangement entered into last Session. As the second reading of this Bill was to be opposed, it was necessary for him to enter more fully into the subject than he should otherwise have desired. This was by no means a now proposition, and there could be no doubt that if it had not been for the spoliation of the property of the Church at the time of the Reformation, into which it was not necessary for them to enter, the Church would have been in the possession of funds sufficient not only for the spiritual consolation, but also for the Christian education of the large and growing population of the metropolis. Unfortunately, in the evil times to which he referred, the funds of the Church were confiscated, and were bestowed on Court favourites, and formed the bases and the foundation of great fortunes. After those worst of times, as regarded the spoliation of ecclesiastical property, every one would admit that it might have been discontinued; but he was sorry to say that ever since the Reformation the Church had suffered worse spoliation of a different character. In the last century an estate which belonged to St. Paul's Cathedral became, by the instrumentality of the Duke of Grafton, the foundation of the property of the Southampton family, and was now known as the Southampton estate. Another great property in Paddington, known as "the Bishop of London's Estate," was at a still more recent period taken from the Church and devoted to the private profit of the descendants of one of the former Bishops of London. These were not the only transactions, however, with regard to Church property that had occurred within the limits of the metropolis. The property with which his Bill proposed to deal was a large one on the north side of London, originally of a poor character, and still recollected as the region of Moorfields, though now known as the "Finsbury Estate." It was an endowment in connection with one of the stalls at St. Paul's, and the endowment was called "the Finsbury Prebend." The corporation of the City of London had obtained leases of the 303 property from time to time; and, at last, became the lessees of a building lease, which eventually led to the estate being covered with houses mostly of a superior character. The corporation of London some years ago endeavoured to imitate the transactions of the Grafton family with reference to the Southampton property; but owing to a most fortunate interposition, which might be called providential, these intentions were frustrated. He had been informed that a day was fixed for the ratification of the transaction, which would have for ever deprived the Church of this valuable property; but the corporation officer, unfortunately for them, ate and drank so much overnight that he afterwards sickened and died of inanition, and thus the opportunity of the corporation of London being able to obtain this property passed away for ever. Instead, therefore, of the income from this estate going towards a fund for defraying the expenses of the eating and drinking of that distinguished body, the corporation of London, it was still available for the spiritual wants of the metropolis. Their lease of the property expired this year. The question, therefore, was what was to be done with this property, the income of which amounted to £48,000 a year, which would certainly increase in years to come. In consequence of the great amount of spiritual destitution which existed in the metropolis, a Committee of the House of Lords was appointed in 1858 to inquire into the subject, composed of the two Archbishops, several Bishops, and Peers. And if any Committee could speak with the weight of authority upon this question, that Committee was entitled to the distinction. The Committee, after taking a considerable amount of evidence, made a Report in which they set forth, in very clear and precise terms, the amount and extent of the spiritual destitution which prevailed in the metropolis. He would not, however, trouble the House with the details to which that Committee referred, because since then circumstances in connection with it had been somewhat modified; but if there had been an amelioration of the destitution then acknowledged to exist, there had been on the other hand a very large increase of population, carrying with it also a new condition of spiritual destitution. The Committee, after describing the deplorable state of the Church, its utter inefficiency to fulfil the duties expected of it, and the necessity there was of making 304 some change, proceeded to make several suggestions. In looking to the sources from which they might anticipate aid towards the relief of the spiritual destitution of the metropolis, the first that presented itself was the vested and expectant interests the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had in certain large estates which formerly belonged to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, some of which were of great value, particularly that of Finsbury, which was represented at £7,000 per annum, with the prospect of its being increased eight or nine times that amount when the lease expired in 1867. It could not be said that his proposal took the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by surprise, or that it was brought forward for the first time. The Committee advised an alteration in the law by which, as it now stands, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are not authorized to give preference, in the spiritual assistance given by them, to places where revenue is received, except where such revenue arises from tithes. That Committee thought that the principle applied to tithes ought to be extended to other property; that the wants of any community ought to have the first claim on any funds raised amongst them; and that this principle more especially held good with respect to the metropolis. The Committee went on to say—The whole metropolis constitutes one great community, which has given a high value to the houses and buildings now on such estates, and which also causes great spiritual destitution in the metropolitan parishes. Therefore, the existing law should be amended so as to direct the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to deal with the property in question on the principle proposed, so far as it could be done without interfering with the changes and obligations created by Parliament, or already incurred by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.It was proposed by those high in authority, with reference to the Report of 1858, that the powers of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to deal with these funds should be limited to the engagements they had then made, and not to any future ones. Therefore, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had full notice of what would be expected of Parliament in dealing with this subject. Since then the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had proceeded to deal with the funds at their disposal by increasing the endowments in parishes possessing a certain population, but they did not adopt any special rule to enable them to deal with particular cases, and the question, some time after the Report referred to, was 305 brought under the consideration of the House. On that occasion the inhabitants of the diocese of Durham showed to the House what injustice sprung from the narrow views of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and a few years ago an amendment was made in the law, in accordance with the Lords' Report, so as to authorize the Commissioners to deal with funds such as those arising from the Finsbury Estate, in giving a preference to the place from which the revenue to be disposed of arose. A difficulty had, however, arisen in reference to the definition of the word "place;" and upon that difficulty the Commissioners did not seem to have arrived at any conclusion, except as regarded the diocese of Durham, where they made "place" applicable to a mining district in which the people who created the property resided, and there the population had been provided for in preference to the general claims of the country at large. That principle, he contended, was easy of general extension. The word "place" was unsuited to the metropolis unless it meant the metropolis itself. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners, instead of taking the views laid down by the Lords' Committee, had adopted an arbitrary and capricious solution of the difficulty, and they had therefore, three years ago, adopted the scheme by which they proceeded to endow all parishes or ecclesiastical districts having a certain amount of population (first 8,000, then 7,000, and again 6,000) out of their funds to the extent of £300 per annum. That was obviously a rule of the most rigid character which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had laid down for the whole country, without regard to the special circumstances of the place. The consequence of that rule with regard to the metropolis had been to make the funds available for the benefit of the rich, and to deprive the poor of any participation in them; because what was easy for the rich to provide by way of endowment, in order to obtain a grant from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, was entirely out of the power of the poor, and, consequently, they could not obtain the required assistance from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, because they only gave in return for funds subscribed where the patronage was in the hands of private individuals. Suppose handsome houses were built upon the Grosvenor Estate. The rent of each might be £100 a year or upwards, and the inhabitants might claim the benefit of the 306 fund, because the rule was laid down that if they themselves subscribed a certain amount a grant would be made by the Commission. On the other hand, if a church were required in a poor district the Commissioners would give no assistance, as they only made grants in return for subscriptions raised among the residents. That was the rule established in regard to ecclesiastical patronage in private hands. Money was given to benefit private patronage, and yet the patron might dispose of his property by auction immediately afterwards. He maintained that such a method was most unfortunate for the interests of the poorest classes. Then, again, the system did not deal with one of the great difficulties of the metropolis; because, though the Commissioners said they would raise the income of a clergyman where the population exceeded 5,000 or 6,000 or more, there were many parishes in London where the population was 11,000 or 12,000 or upwards, and unless such parishes could immediately find money to build two or three new churches and divided themselves into districts, none of the additional population would be entitled to the benefit of the fund. Therefore, all the large parishes in the metropolis were excluded from the benefits given to less necessitous parishes which came within the rigid rule propounded by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. And what was the result of this? It was found in the endeavour of the Bishop of London to grapple with the residuum of spiritual destitution left in consequence of the arbitrary proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The Reports showed that there was a vast amount of spiritual destitution unprovided for, and the Bishop of London had invited the wealthier classes to make a large contribution with a view to its removal. In addition to the Bishop of London's Fund, there was another of a similar kind established on the other side of the Thames under the auspices of the Bishop of Winchester. But, however strenuously these appeals had been made to the generosity of the public, they had, in point of fact, failed, and he himself ventured to tell the Bishop of London before he embarked in his undertaking that it would prove a failure, because the public knew that there were large public funds already existing for the purpose, and that, consequently, every one who subscribed to the Bishop's fund would be keeping up these abuses in the Church. Unfortunately, his expecta- 307 tion had been fulfilled. The amount subscribed by the benevolent public was not sufficient even to deal with what he might call the subsidiary difficulties of the poorer classes in the metropolis. These attempts to provide for the spiritual destitution of the metropolis having failed, they were compelled to fall back upon the principle laid down by the Committee of the House of Lords for providing a real and substantial fund for the purpose of ministering to the spiritual wants of the poorer classes of the metropolis at large. He had adverted to the schemes of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and shown how illusory they were. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners would, however, have them to believe that they had done quite enough for the metropolis, and that they ought not to be asked to do more. Last Session, for instance, remarks had been made tending to impress that House with the notion that the Commissioners had expended an enormous sum on the metropolis, and that this demand was unnecessary. Now, the Commissioners had not expended in capital any very large sum for the building of churches, for it only amounted to £59,000 of capital; and that included several parishes not in the metropolis, so that it would perhaps be more accurate to fix the sum at £55,000. Their accounts showed that they had up to the middle of last year granted endowments to churches, &c., to the amount of £25,865. But they had received from the property in the metropolis—property created entirely by the growth of the metropolis—no less than £48,889 a year, so that, in effect, they had granted for some parts of the metropolis about half the sum which they had received. But the mode in which their grants had been made did not deal with the real and the growing evil. The proceedings of the Commissioners had been brought under the consideration of that House some time ago by the Report of a Select Committee, and he did not think that on that occasion they made out a very good case why they should enjoy the confidence of the House. In the Report of the Committee of that House in 1863 it was declared that the Ecclesiastical Commission, as at present constituted, was objectionable, and that it did not appear to have any established system for ascertaining the localities where spiritual destitution was most prevalent, nor any sufficient rules for determining the priority to be observed in affording relief to such districts. But now this Commission, the 308 conduct of which had been condemned by both Houses of Parliament, and had neglected entirely that which it was its first duty to perform, came forward to prevent the further consideration of this Bill. He trusted, however, that the House would not indulge the wishes of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in this respect. If the House wanted to know what faithful stewards they were of the public money, he would read a statement sent to him by a gentleman who was formerly a Member of the House of Commons (Mr. Alderman Copeland). This statement gave the result of the labours of the Commissioners for the benefit of the poor people of this country. It appeared, then, that in the year ending the 1st of November, 1865, they had expended on Ecclesiastical Commissioners themselves, and on clerks, secretaries, and other officers, attorneys, surveyors, architects, and agents of every kind, £71,418; while they had expended for the relief of spiritual destitution the sum of £219,000. Now, why should not a part of the first named sum—about one-third of the whole—which they squandered among themselves, be a fund reserved to meet the most necessitous cases among the large and, to a great extent, destitute population of the metropolis? In order to escape, if possible, from the slightest interference on the part of the House of Commons the Commissioners had adopted a most remarkable course of procedure. Pour years ago they drew up a Report, in which they said they thought they should do so and so in the next four years, but at the expiration of that period they spoke of their previously expressed intentions as arrangements or engagements they had made. In that way they endeavoured to prevent Parliament from taking into consideration any Bill like the present. He would, however, refer to what the House of Lords said ought to be done in 1866, and to the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons which sat three or four years ago. The present measure rested upon the simple principle that the whole value of this property had been created by the aggregation of the metropolitan population, and, though it was no doubt true that the houses built on this spot were houses in which poor people did not reside, yet the inhabitants of them were merchants who carried on business in London, and who dealt with the population generally, bringing about them retail traders and skilled working people, who in turn brought 309 about them the poorer and more dependent classes. Therefore, the value which had been created was, in point of fact, the value of the people, who now asked to have it applied somewhat for their benefit. They did not ask for all, but merely wished that one-half should be appropriated as a special fund for the poorer districts. That, instead of being an extravagant demand, was, in his opinion, a reasonable compromise. What he asked was that the House should affirm that the arbitrary principle of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, disregarding the special demands of the poorer classes, should no longer be acted upon as regards the poorer classes of the metropolis; but that special provision should be made in order to meet their spiritual destitution. He moved that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Ayrton.)
§ MR. HOWES
said, the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets had brought, as it appeared to him, a charge of want of good faith against the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to which body he had the honour to belong. He must, in the first place, disclaim the idea that he was there to represent a body like the Ecclesiastical Commission. He merely spoke as a member and not as the representative of that body. In its interest, but still more in the interest of the public at large, he opposed the Bill, He was not answerable for what the Secretary of State said last year in reference to it, but he understood that it passed under some misapprehension. He was not prepared on the present occasion for a general attack on the rules, regulations, and system of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but he must protest against the extreme and remarkable misrepresentations of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets respecting several of those rules. The hon. Gentleman had stated that the Commissioners gave, without discrimination, benefactions to private patrons of benefices, whereas it was well known that benefactions were only given to benefices in private patronage, where there was a large population which implied the spiritual destitution which it was the object of the Commission to relieve. Then, the hon. Gentleman alleged that parishes with a very large population did not receive any contribution for the surplus population; but it was well known that under the Act 310 brought in by Sir Robert Peel any district might be separated from a populous parish before the church was built. As to what had been said about the Committee of the House of Lords in 1858, he would admit that for many years after the establishment of the common fund the Ecclesiastical Commission, not having the funds at its disposal which had since accumulated, was not able to distribute largely throughout the country. But after the Report of the Committee was issued it was found that a more extended system of distribution might be commenced, and the operations of the Commission on a large scale really commenced in the beginning of the year 1864. It was proposed that in five years, from 1864 to the end of 1868, such a sum should be distributed as would raise all livings in public patronage with a population of 4,000 or upwards to the moderate income of £300 a year; and all livings in private patronage with the same population were to be raised to the same amount, provided one-half of the required funds were raised from other sources. Again, £100,000 a year was proposed to be distributed to meet benefactions which arose from various private sources, and such districts as the hon. Gentleman had referred to were to be endowed up to £200 a year. That scheme had been received by the country generally with great satisfaction, and no doubt it had relieved a vast amount of spiritual destitution. The object of the Bill was to abstract from the common fund a far larger amount than had been stated by the hon. Gentleman. He believed the whole Fins-bury Estate produced about £60,000 a year, and the hon. Gentleman proposed to deprive the common fund of £30,000 a year, or what would amount to nearly £1,000,000. The scheme of 1864 had been repeated in separate Reports since, and had been accepted by the House as an obligation which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had incurred, and he maintained that that obligation was a pledge upon their revenues. The whole scheme was founded on a calculation of the revenues of the Commission, of which the Finsbury Estate was a most important part. To abstract this would disable the Commission from fulfilling their pledge. But upon what ground did the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets rest his claim for the metropolitan districts? He would ask, whether the claims of the metropolis had been disregarded, or the rules of the 311 Commission violated? If the Commissioners had neglected their duty, it was for the Government to exert its power and control over that body, and redress the grievance, instead of leaving the matter to the chance efforts of a private Member. But supposing he was wrong in his interpretation of the duty of the Government, how did the facts stand? He would refer to the words of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London, who was a member of the Ecclesiastical Commission, and not one of the least zealous members of that body, while he certainly was not inactive in putting forward the claims of his diocese to the public at large. In his charge, delivered in December last, the right rev. Prelate stated that in the four preceding years the sum of £530,000 had been appropriated from the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commission for the relief of spiritual destitution in his diocese, which, it must be borne in mind, did not include all the metropolitan districts, for a large sum was also distributed in Southwark. This was nearly one-sixth of the sum total distributed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners during the period referred to, and the population of the metropolitan districts being 3,000,000, was about one-sixth of the whole population. The metropolis had therefore received its full share of the total fund distributed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The hon. Gentleman, however, proposed to abstract from the common fund £1,000,000, the effect of which would be to disable the Ecclesiastical Commission from carrying out the. system of rules established in 1864, and sanctioned by the House. He moved that the Bill be read a second tine that day six months.
§ MR. LEEMAN
said, that the locality with which he was connected had not at present derived any special benefit from the Ecclesiastical Commission; but he could not help thinking that they would have still greater reason to complain if the Commissioners had not resisted a measure so unjust as that which had been proposed by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets. The Bill was unjust to those other portions of the country from which came the emoluments which now formed the common fund of the Ecclesiastical Commission. He could see no difference between the prebend represented by the hon. Gentleman and other prebends in other parts of the country whose incomes had been absorbed in the common fund. In the cathedral church of York, for ex- 312 ample, a large number of prebends had been absorbed, and in what particular did they differ from the prebend of Finsbury? He regretted the interpretation put by the Commissioners upon the word "place." Its not being construed to include "parish" had had the effect of excluding the poorer parishes in the city of York from participation in the funds of the Commission. In that city there was at the present moment no fewer than ten livings, the emoluments arising from which did not amount to more than £100 per annum each. [Mr. AYRTON: "And what is the population?] He could not exactly say, but those parishes were in the poorest portions of the city, which had a population of nearly 50,000. Now, while they had but little reason to be grateful to the Commissioners in regard to the past, still they had been relying on the establishment of the common fund, and believed that the Commissioners were honestly endeavouring to distribute it. In due course, no doubt, they would receive their share along with the rest of the country. If this Bill were carried, what was there to prevent his asking the House to deal with the city of York on account of special circumstances, and to exempt it from the rule adopted by the Commissioners? As to the propriety of that rule he could not understand what other principle could have been adopted by the Commissioners, if their object was to augment livings in destitute parts of the country. The portions of the country which had contributed the least to the common fund were just the places which required the most augmentation. The diocese of Ripon, for instance, was carved out of the old diocese of York, and therefore contributed nothing to this common fund. The diocese of Ripon comprised the greater part of the West Riding, including Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, indeed most of its large manufacturing towns, and for the relief of its spiritual destitution it had received out of the common fund £750,000. If this measure were adopted, and its principle acted on, whence would the Commissioners obtain funds to distribute? For twenty years the diocese of York had received at the rate of £16,000 a year, the aggregate being no more than London was stated to have received in four years. In the adjoining diocese of Durham there were large emoluments, the surplus of which received by the Commissioners had been by them honestly applied to meet local claims; but other parts of Durham were unprovided for, 313 although the surplus revenues would have been ample for the purpose if they had not become absorbed in the common fund. But what were the Commissioners to do as to other places requiring grants if the money they had hitherto received were diverted from them? The Commissioners had looked at the wants of the clergy as a whole and had endeavoured to appropriate their funds fairly. Believing that the adoption of the principle of the Bill would have the effect of obstructing the Commissioners in the beneficial course they had been pursuing, he seconded the Amendment that the Bill be read a second time that clay six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Howes.)
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, it seemed to him that the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment had justified the course which they had taken on very different grounds. The hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Howes) said the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had acted well, and ought not to be interfered with; the hon. Member for York (Mr. Leeman) said they had behaved very ill to the city he represented; and so he was willing that they should be whipped across the back of London, not much minding whether some of the blows fell on that place. But the Commissioners were not on their trial, and he did not understand the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets to say that they were. The question before them was a matter of principle, raised by a grave and exceptional case. No doubt the Commissioners had proceeded, since their first institution, on a general rough-and-ready course of equalization; but things were so anomalous thirty-five years ago, that a rough-and-ready system of remedy was indispensable. So they went on doing a great deal of good by an infinite series of small injustices. But these injustices at length became so flagrant, that there was a cry raised in the different localities that their claims for first consideration were of such paramount character that they ought not to be disregarded as they had been theretofore, and hence had come that alteration of system which his hon. Friend appealed to. For the last few years the system of the Commissioners had been to consider local claims as they had not been previously considered. Now, just at the crisis of this change of 314 system came into the field that enormous windfall, the Finsbury Ecclesiastical Estate, which had been for years upon years a bye-word of reproach among those who wished ill to the Church, and of regret to those who wished to see her money distributed to the best advantage. The property had long been looked upon as money that might be utilized for the spiritual wants of the metropolis when it fell in. It had fallen in; and, individually, both as a member of the Bishop of London's Fund, and as a resident in the capital feeling a warm interest in the spiritual welfare of London, he felt bound to move. This windfall, according to the hon. Mover's authority, was £48,000 a year; according to that of his hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, of £60,000. If so, it stood to reason that the half which would be left to the Commission would be proportionately increased. The hon. Member for Norfolk said an attempt had been made to wrest this estate from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and convert it into a fund for the benefit of the City of London. He was astonished to hear that an ecclesiastical estate, an ancient prebend of the Cathedral of St. Paul, London, could be said to be diverted from its proper purposes because it was to be devoted to the spiritual destitution of the City itself. Here was this Finsbury property which had been from time immemorial property granted to the Church. For what? For the performance of the spiritual duties of one clergyman in the Cathedral of St. Paul. Well, in the flux of time the property had become so enormously enhanced in value that it could support scores of clergymen instead of the one original prebendary. And what, under the circumstances, was asked? Not that the Finsbury property should be devoted to London; but that one-half should be devoted to it, and the other half go to the common fund which had done so much good all over England. The hon. Member for Norfolk took exception to the statement that the property was worth £40,000 a year, and said the amount was nearer £60,000. If this were true, so much the better for the cause he advocated; for in that case it would be £30 which would go to all England. The residue would be reserved for London; but in so doing it would pro tanti free the common fund which would, in proportion, be exonerated from having to help London. It had been asked, why not be satisfied with money 315 out of the common fund? Why insist on marking the money "Finsbury money?" Well, there was a feeling, he thought a healthy feeling—certainly a strong one—common to all mankind, which liked to be able to identify one's property, as applied for one's own use. It was this feeling that made London like to know she was using her own money to meet her own religious wants, rather than be dependent on an. impassive Lady Bountiful in the shape of a general Commission. The Bill asked for only £24,000 a year. The whole money was raised in Finsbury, and it was proposed to spend a portion of it in London. A more reasonable proposition he could hardly imagine. At the same time, he desired not to pledge himself to the details of the measure as it stood. It was somewhat rough-hewn and restrictive in its provisions. Still, it had got hold of the right view in its main principle. The Church of England felt that men were necessary as well as churches, and what was wanted in the Church was an amount of elasticity she did not at present possess. The Church of England was moulded into her present shape ages ago when towns were few, and not populous, and so she became too exclusively parochial. He was glad that a wider and broader view had at length been taken, and that the necessity of men working in towns out of the mere parochical system, but if it might be in concert, had been recognised. So far from carping at and opposing this measure, he thought the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would only do justice to their office, and gain credit and confidence for themselves, by coming forward open-handed and welcoming heartily a scheme which would enable them to confer a boon on London which, God knew, was in want of the most earnest and self-denying exertions of those who loved God and wished to bring the population, particularly those at the East End, to a sense of virtue, wholesome learning, and the knowledge of their duty to God and to men.
§ MR. POWELL
said, he felt an earnest desire that the benefit of the common fund should not be diminished, but that the country at large should continue to derive advantage from it. It was with some astonishment that he heard the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Ayrton) remark that the wealthy districts had been favoured to the exclusion of the poor districts. In the course of the last Session he moved for Returns showing the conduct of the Eccle- 316 siastical Commissioners with reference to the augmentation of benefices and the creation of new parishes in the metropolis. It appeared that Bethnal Green received augmentations with regard to ten churches; Lambeth, seven; Southwark, four, and Charterhouse several. He was confident that those who would carefully peruse the list would arrive at the conclusion that ecclesiastical poverty had been greatly relieved by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. A remark had been made that the effect of the augmentation grants had been to increase the saleable value of the private patronage of livings. Such increase must necessarily be of a most trifling character. He would, nevertheless, meet the objection, slight as it was, by passing a short Act, somewhat analogous to that relating to the Lord Chancellor's livings, preventing any sale for a period of twenty years. This would be just, would inflict no hardship, and would entirely remove objection. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1864 made an elaborate reply to charges brought against them. He would not read its numerous details; but he would make one observation in reference to a financial statement of Mr. Alderman Copeland, and that was that the worthy Alderman had drawn up a balance-sheet, in which he had placed on one side a host of entirely exceptional charges; while on the other side there was only the ordinary annual receipt. With reference to a remark of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Beresford Hope), he would remark that the Finsbury Estate was no more to London than other estates were to the localities whence the funds proceeded. If London was populous it was also wealthy. Its ecclesiastical wealth was exceptionally large, and the sale of the City churches was producing a sum of money which he hoped would not be consumed by a wasteful expenditure. If London had her 3,000,000 of inhabitants, the rest of the country had 17,000,000. Liverpool had her 500,000; Leeds, Bradford, Birmingham, Manchester had large populations, but no large amounts of ecclesiastical property; and if his hon. Friend wished to abate crime and pauperism in London, he (Mr. Powell) said crime and pauperism were not confined to London, and he wished to abate crime and pauperism all over the country. If it were permitted to any Member to speak of his personal experience, he could say that he had witnessed the happiest results arising from the expenditure of the common fund 317 in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He had known many clergymen, whose livings would not amount in value to the incomes of domestic servants, become possessed, by the operations of the Commissioners, of an income of £300 and a parsonage. Since the adoption of the scheme of 1864, £3,500,000 would have been appropriated in three distinct classes of cases up to the end of 1868. Of this, £2,000,000 would have been applied in increasing endowments in populous places; £1,000,000 in satisfying local claims; and £500,000 in meeting sums contributed as private benefactions. During five years nearly 1,000 livings would have been raised unconditionally to £300 a year, and 800 more would have been augmented by the meeting of private benefactions, which had amounted to £1,300,000 or £1,400,000. The money proposed to be given in the case of Durham was to meet efforts made by Durham, and therefore did not form a precedent for this Bill. The proposal of the hon. Member did not contemplate the cases of benefactions, and would arrest their flow into the coffers of the Commissioners, thus depriving the Church of great benefits already curtailed by the want of funds to meet private munificence. The details of the Bill were open to objection, especially in that they would place curates and incumbents in the power of the Bishop, and so deprive them of the independence they had hitherto enjoyed, to the advantage of themselves and of the Church.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, that he had learnt for the first time that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had done as much for Southwark as the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Powell) had intimated. The Bishop of Winchester, who was the Bishop of the diocese, appeared to be equally in ignorance on the point, for his Lordship had found it necessary to start a Church Extension Fund for the purpose of alleviating the spiritual destitution in the Borough. Among the many illustrations that had been given of the necessity for this movement he might instance the case of St. Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey, with a population of 23,000, which had one church, with a rector and two curates, and school accommodation for 720 children; St. James's, with a population of 19,400, one church, one incumbent, no curate, and school accommodation for 550 children; St. George's, Southwark, population 26,300, one church, with a rector and 318 four curates; St. Mark's, Kennington, population 21,000, one church, an incumbent and two curates. He was not aware that anything had been done by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to meet these cases; indeed, the course they adopted was obviously a fallacious one, since aid was only given to those who were in a position to help themselves. The case of the Church of St. Stephen's, Kent Street, in the borough of Southwark, was notorious, and had been immortalized by Mr. Dickens as an instance of the assistance poor parishes received from the Commissioners. The whole population of this parish was merged in poverty. Application for aid had been made over and over again to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; but the answer invariably was—"You are so extremely poor that we can do nothing for you. You have really nobody to help you; you have no chance of being able to get up a fund to build a church; therefore, the funds at our command cannot be appropriated to you, because you are in greater want of them than anybody else." Who, he asked, had risen in that House to defend the Ecclesiastical Commissioners? His hon. Friend (Mr. Howes) said that he was himself an Ecclesiastical Commissioner, but that he came there without any authority to speak in the name of the body to which he belonged, though, speaking unauthoritatively, he repudiated whatever compact was, or was supposed to have been, entered into by the Commissioners last year. But who had said a word in favour of the body? His hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Beresford Hope) had, indeed, appeared to some extent as their advocate; but the best thing he could discover to say in their behalf was that they had collected their funds by the commission of a complete series of "small injustices" throughout the country. Not a very pleasing view of spiritual things. They now proposed to make a variation in the monotony of their usual course, by committing a great injustice. They wanted to put into their pockets £60,000 a year, without binding themselves in any way as to how they were to deal with it. They were to have this enormous addition to their resources without any guarantee that a single shilling of it would be spent in relieving the spiritual distress of the metropolis, although at this very moment the Bishops of London and Winchester were each actively engaged in raising a fund to meet the appalling re- 319 ligious destitution that prevailed in London. On the last occasion when this Bill was before them they were told to wait; that the fund had not yet fallen in; that they were too soon. The right hon. Gentleman who was then Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir George Grey) said, "Wait till next year. Read your Bill now a second time. The principle of it shall be admitted next year. The fund shall be disposed of for the benefit of the spiritual destitution of London." The time was now come, and they were met by an unauthorized member of the Ecclesiastical Commission who, while professing not to oppose the Bill on behalf of that body, did really oppose it, and spoke of what the Commissioners had done and not done elsewhere with money taken from other places. But was it not obvious to the plainest capacity that the argument that the money should be devoted to the spiritual necessities of the locality contributing the revenue applied most strongly of all to the case of London? The interests of all parts of London were inextricably interwoven with each other; the poverty of one district was created by the wealth of another district. Therefore, on the principles acknowledged and acted on throughout the country, £30,000 a year at least out of this annual income of £60,000 a year ought to be appropriated to relieve the spiritual wants of the metropolis. The hon. Member for York (Mr. Leeman) had argued that because the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had spent none of their resources in that ecclesiastical city (from which large sums had been derived), therefore no special claim could be sustained, on the part of the metropolis, to enjoy the benefit of any portion of this £60,000 a year. What analogy was there between the two instances? The reason why nothing was given to York was simply this—that York wanted nothing. It had its cathedral, with heaven only knew how many prebends, who perhaps might be supposed, without any very violent presumption, to do something, and not be mere shams, as a distinguished clergyman had once called them. Of course, there were many estimable and active men holding those positions. But it was said there were in York ten clergymen receiving only £100 a year, and yet nothing had been given to it. But the hon. Member did not state how many clergymen there were in York, besides these ten, who received ample stipends. Considering the population of that place—40,535—
320 how could it be urged that there was spiritual destitution there. The city was full of clergymen; you could not walk in the streets without stumbling on them; yet it was to be gravely argued that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners ought to have made grants to that city. Because the city of York was not allowed to have all the money derived from the cathedral of York, it was contended that the cases were analogous; and London, with its vast spiritual destitution, ought not to have any portion of this large ecclesiastical revenue. Four or five years ago the Commissioners dreamt a dream—were they to be allowed to realize their expensive visions at the cost of other people? The question really before the House was this—was there spiritual destitution in the metropolis? Were not the public being called upon to pay contributions towards this object? Had not the funds hitherto been found insufficient, and would it not be a robbery of the poor of London if this large sum of money were now to be taken away and distributed over the country at large?
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, that at a time when the public were being pressed by two Bishops to contribute money towards the relief of the spiritual distress of London they would naturally ask why this large sum of £60,000 a year, which would go far to meet the existing want, and which proceeded from local sources, should be withdrawn from its natural and proper object to be dissipated in isolated grants throughout the country. The supporters of the Bill had shown the utmost moderation and fairness in their proposals. They did not ask that any permanent increase in the livings of the metropolis should be made out of this fund; but only that it should go to the support of curates who would actually do the work that was required in districts in London where there was great spiritual distress. The fund would not even be withdrawn from the control of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; but they would merely be required to appropriate a certain portion of it, under the supervision of the Bishop, for the benefit of the metropolis. He trusted that any rate the Bill would be allowed to go to a second reading.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
said, that the Finsbury Estate had been held by the corporation about 500 years; but by some means it had fallen, or was about to fall, out of their hands. His constituents were of opinion that as they built the houses and contributed the money which 321 was now in question, a considerable portion of it ought to be spent at home. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners were a body created by Parliament, and were subject to the control of Parliament, and he hoped the House would direct them to expend the portion of the fund referred to in the Bill in the manner therein prescribed.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he thought that in dispensing capitular revenues the particular localities in which those revenues arose should have some consideration. He knew that this interference with the common fund was unpalatable to the Commissioners, who always insisted that the particular district must rely upon their generosity in administering the common fund. But in the Act of 1860, Parliament had evidently intended that the word "place" should be used in abroad sense, and had favoured the doctrine that consideration should be shown to localities whence the funds were drawn. The speech of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Leeman) really told for this Bill, because if York could show a local claim the principle of the Bill would apply there also. Of all the English counties none had suffered more from the action of the Ecclesiastical Commission than that in the midst of which his constituency were placed—namely, Cumberland. The local claims had often been represented to the Commissioners, but without effect; and it was on account of its regard for local claims that he supported the Bill. In London, St. Paul's Cathedral was an instance of the neglect of the Commissioners to fulfil their manifest duty. From a Return which he had obtained in 1865, showing the receipts and expenditure of the cathedrals and collegiate churches, it appeared that out of seventeen clergy attached to St. Paul's twelve received only a pittance of from £40 to £50 a year exclusive of fees. They were, therefore, driven to depend for their stipends upon these fees which were taken for showing the Cathedral—a system which was a scandal and disgrace to the Church of England. An end had been put to the two pences which used to be charged for admission; but a great part of the clergy and the vicars-choral divided the fees received from visitors for viewing the cupola and the funeral car of the late Duke of Wellington, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should apply a portion of the surplus Cathedral funds in doing away with these church exhibitions. The principle of the Bill before the House ought to commend 322 itself to every one on that side of the House; because it acted upon the principle that all the property which was for the benefit of the Church ought to be applied, as far as possible, in accordance with the intentions of the founders, and to carry into effect such of the trusts by them created as would prove of public benefit at the present time. He should therefore support the second reading.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, he wished to call attention to an article which appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette of yesterday, from the pen of the Rev. Isaac Rogers, respecting the state of the parish of St. Matthias, Bethnal Green. He had never read a more painful description than the account of the spiritual destitution prevailing in the district from which this income pertaining to the Finsbury property arose. It was not proposed to take away funds which had come into the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but simply to deal with a portion of the revenue which they might otherwise claim. It was a monstrous thing that the Church revenue should be carried away from that district to other places, at a time when there was such an awful amount of spiritual destitution which required relief.
§ MR. HENDERSON
said, he hoped the House would not sanction the exceptional appropriation of funds to local purposes which the Bill contemplated, the principle of such appropriation never having been acknowledged. If any district or diocese had a prior claim to such an appropriation from the common fund of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, it was the diocese of Durham, which contributed fully one-fifth of the total revenue of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, that large sum being mainly raised from the mineral and coal mining districts. If any appropriation were made, surely the mining districts of Durham would be entitled to some consideration; and with the view of obtaining such a provision a deputation waited upon Lord Palmerston, in 1860, to endeavour to have a certain sum appropriated from the money paid from Durham to the spiritual wants of that district. All, however, that they could get was an acknowledgment that the wants of their district should have more consideration than they had hitherto had. He thought the House would not sanction the exceptional legislation with regard to Finsbury which had been denied to Durham. The appeals of the Bishops of London and Winchester were cited; but Durham like- 323 wise was making efforts to raise a fund of £40,000 to meet local spiritual wants. It would not be an act of justice to the country at large to distribute the fund as proposed, while the country contributed so largely to the Ecclesiastical Fund, and he hoped the House would reject the Bill.
said, he must admit that the spiritual destitution of the metropolis could not be overstated, or the strong necessity of measures for supplying not only the religious but the sanitary and the educational wants of the London poor. That question was not one of interest merely, but of danger, for it was impossible that these masses of population, increasing from year to year, should continue in their present moral and social condition without danger to the State. But, then, the House must in fairness consider also the condition of the people in Yorkshire and Staffordshire, not forgetting the poor Welshman. Once make this inroad upon the principle hitherto adopted in dealing with these funds, and they could not stop there, for they would soon find equally strong claims urged from other places. It was for Parliament to consider whether the principle on which the Commissioners had hitherto distributed the funds was a wise principle; if it was, Parliament ought to maintain it; if it was not, they should deal with the question by some general measure. It would be impossible to pass the Bill without making an inroad on that principle. Up to this time the revenue from the metropolitan district was about one-fifth of the whole receipts of the Commission. Deducting a portion which was derived from the country, it might be broadly stated that the Commissioners had one-sixth of their revenue from the metropolis, and that exactly represented the amount spent by them upon the metropolis. During the last three years the exact amount capitalized, spent upon different parts of England, was £2,400,000; and during that time the amount spent in London alone was £400,000, or one-sixth. London, therefore, had not been less favoured in proportion to its population than other parts of the country. Then, again, the Finsbury Estate had been vested in the Commissioners for ten years, and during that time every farthing of the income, which varied from £7,000 to £9,000 a year, had been spent in endowing districts subsidiary to St. Leonard's and St. Luke's, and supporting clergy there. But next year this £9,000 would be increased by the large sum of 324 £60,000, and the hon. Member for Tower Hamlets proposed to apply £30,000 of that by this Bill to that district, in addition, he supposed—for there was no provision to the contrary—to what the district might derive from the fund in its ordinary course. In his own parish, which had increased during twenty years from a population of 4,000 to a population of nearly 40,000, there was a perpetual curacy with a fixed income of something under £200 a year, and it was clear that it must be from some other fund that the spiritual destitution of the district should be provided for. He doubted exceedingly the propriety of interfering with measures which had acted with so much advantage to the Church and the country during the last few years. It had been the object of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to increase the value of the livings where there was a large population. Last year they dealt with cases of districts containing 5,000 people, raising the value of such of those livings as were under public patronage to £300 a year. This year the Commission proposed to deal with all cases where the population numbered 4,500; next year they proposed to deal with livings where the population was 4,000; and if they were allowed to distribute the funds at their disposal to the best of their judgment for the benefit of the whole country, they would by-and-by give the same advantages to livings where the population was smaller. The fact was, it was impossible to consider this subject with reference to London alone. In considering the question, they should take the case of the manufacturing districts, of Manchester for instance, the centre of a population of nearly 1,000,000, but where the ecclesiastical revenue expended was smaller than almost in any part of the kingdom. One argument had been used in support of the Bill which must have made a great impression on the House. It was said, in the case of private patronage, that the assistance of the Commissioners was given only when it was met by benefactions on the part of the patrons; and, therefore, if from peculiar circumstances of patronage and property in London no such benefactions were forthcoming, no funds could be got from the Commissioners. What he would suggest, in order to meet that difficulty, was this. At present the Commissioners had power to make grants towards the support of curates in the mining districts. He did not recollect at that moment why the exception had been made 325 in the case of those districts, but it had been made, and he would suggest to extend the precedent so that the same principle might be applied to other populous places. He asked the hon. and learned Gentleman to suspend the second reading of the Bill for some time, and communicate with the Secretary of the Home Department (Mr. Walpole), who would not, he believed, from what he knew of the right hon. Gentleman, object to enter into negotiations with him on the subject.
said, it was impossible to approach this subject, which was full of difficulty, look at it in whatever way they would, without expressing a strong feeling with regard to the vast amount of spiritual destitution which existed not only in the metropolis, but, unfortunately, in many other parts of the country. But the question the House had to consider was whether, in dealing with a fund which, however large, was very limited, considering the great amount of destitution with which it had to deal, they were to yield to appeals made upon special grounds in favour of certain localities, or to support a system of distribution which should be just to the whole suffering community? He could not help feeling that the principle of the Bill of the hon. and learned Gentleman would be fatal to any general and just distribution; because if the measure once passed district after district would make special applications, and the floor of that House would become the battle-field of claims each of which, standing alone, would excite sympathy and deserve relief. Now, throughout the debate he had not heard it asserted that London had not received its fair share. Figures to the contrary had been given. But the fact appeared to be that, because a large sum was about to come into the hands of the Commissioners, a great rush was made to get relief from it. The hon. Member for the City had said it was not proposed to take anything from the Commissioners, but only to prevent something coming into their hands. Now that might be true in terms, but the argument was not a good one. For what had happened? The Commissioners a few years ago, knowing the valuable reversionary interests which were about to come in, drew up a scheme in which they pledged themselves to deal with all places through the length and breadth of the land that came within certain conditions which they laid down. But if by the present Bill the House took from them a sum which, ac- 326 cording to the hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Howes) was equivalent to £1,000,000, how were the Commissioners to carry out their scheme? There might be certain cases that the Commissioners should be enabled to deal with specially; but he could not support the second reading of this Bill, because if once the principle were admitted they could not stop short. It would, as the hon. Member for White-haven had shown, have the widest possible application, and would break down the common fund, which was now conferring benefits which were being felt by the whole country.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, this question was a most interesting one. The Church had £6,000,000 a year and upwards, and yet they heard of spiritual destitution of the most awful kind in all parts of the country. In speaking of destitution, it seemed that Nonconformists were included in the lists of the destitute. Why, the Nonconformists in England had 25,000 places of worship, but that was not recognised. The House never heard of the Nonconformists having any disputes about their internal affairs. The right hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Bruce) had referred to Wales; but would he tell the House that Wales was destitute of religious instruction. The Nonconformists there had spent £2,000,000 in the erection of places of worship, and had but one endowment of £25 a year. The fact was that three-fourths or seven-eighths of the Welsh were Nonconformists. But care was taken that the spiritual destitution of any district in Wales was properly looked after; and the same course ought to be followed by the Church of England, without appealing for extraneous aid. With regard to Scotland, twenty-three years ago there was a secession. The religious feeling of the country was outraged by an attempt at dictation. The Free Church was established, and that Free Church had raised since then £7,000,000 for its support. Its clergy were better paid than those of the Established Church in that country. What was the case with respect to Ireland? Was it not enough to rouse the feelings of any man that in Ireland there should be maintained, united with the Church of England, a State Church which had only one-eighth of the population adhering to it? What was the cause that the House never heard anything about the other denominations, but it was all about the Church of England? The 327 reason was because all their confidence was in endowments, and they paid no attention to what was done by voluntary effort.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
said, that the discursive character of the discussion was completed by the remarks of the hon. Member for Sheffield. By one Gentleman they had been invited to ascend the Whispering Gallery of St. Paul's; others had taken them from Cumberland to Wales; and to complete the round, the hon. Member (Mr. Hadfield) had given them a history of the Free Church in Scotland and the state of religious parties in Ireland. But none of them had anything whatsoever to do with the Bill. His first objection to the Bill was that, though discussed as if it were an Imperial question, it was in its scope, its object, and its title, a private and local Bill. If they were about to touch the common fund for the relief of spiritual destitution in the metropolis, let it be done by a general Act and not by a Private Bill—a mere Estate Bill. Allusion had been made to the Act of 1860, which recognised local claims and made special provision for the mining districts. But what did Parliament do on that occasion? It extended to property of all descriptions the provisions applicable to local claims, which had previously attached only to tithes. It also enabled the Commissioners to make grants to meet benefactions for the purpose of making temporary provision for the care of souls in mining districts. But this mining clause was not, as had been alleged, a Durham clause—it affected the whole country. It was equally applicable to Staffordshire and to Wales, to Cumberland and to Cornwall. But this Bill related to only one property in the whole metropolis. The right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Bruce) and Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had put forcibly before the House the great importance of not infringing on the common fund. What would become of the common fund if Session after Session Parliament was asked to give its sanction to a scheme like this? His right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire had shown that the income that was about to accrue had been anticipated. The fact was the Commission had been looking forward to receiving these sums. Owing to the vicious system of management of Church property before 1840 it was a long time before the Commissioners were able to realize the property 328 they had in their hands, and by the advice of the late Sir Robert Peel they contracted a large debt of £600,000 to the Queen Anne's Bounty Fund. The Commission ought to be judged, not by what it had done in the earlier part of its career, but what it had been enabled to do in the last two years. In 1864 a very comprehensive plan was laid down by the Commissioners, based upon the supposition that Parliament would allow the estates which were expected to come into their hands year after year to do so. It was proposed to secure for every clergyman who had charge of a population of 5,000 an income of £300 a year, and, in the course of a few years, to carry the same principle downwards, so as to make it applicable to parishes with a population of 4,500 and 4,000. But how could that be done if the money on which they relied was intercepted and prevented from coming into their hands? The hon. Member for South-wark (Mr. Locke) had talked as if the Commissioners could do what they liked with the money. But they were tied down to apply it to the relief of destitution in populous places, and what populous place had so good a claim as the metropolis? He had not heard any hon. Gentleman allege that the Commissioners had not given the metropolis a fair share. Two parishes in Bermondsey had received from them altogether grants to the amount of £16,640; and in eleven districts in Bethnal Green they had disposed of an aggregate sum of £71,662. If the Commissioners, during the last two years at all events, had been pursuing plans beneficial to the country, let not the House interfere with them. If the hon. Gentleman would wait he would see in a few days the Report of the present year, and what he would ask him to do was this—not to proceed with the present Bill—not to establish a bad precedent with reference to any particular property. Let him withdraw this Bill, or, if he objected to do that, let him postpone for a month or six weeks the second reading, and communicate in the meantime with the Commissioners and the Home Secretary, and see whether they could not give him a general measure applicable to the whole country, enacting that where there might be a large population the Commissioners would be bound to make special provision. They might thus be enabled to provide the most effectual remedy for the spiritual destitution which prevailed throughout the country, while 329 they would be acting in conformity with all their previous legislation upon that subject.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that the three Ecclesiastical Commissioners who had spoken in the debate had not come forward with a resolution by that body authorizing the Members in the House of Commons to oppose it. If the matter had been debated in that body they would have found it expedient not to oppose the Bill. As it was, they had only ventured to oppose it in their individual capacity, and not as Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The real question, from which the attention of the House was diverted by the Members of the Commission who had addressed it, was whether the metropolis did not stand in a peculiar position, different from the rest of the country. The House had over and over again laid down the principle that in many of the circumstances of legislation the metropolis must stand alone. When the estate in question would fall in, the metropolis would have contributed two-fifths of the entire fund at the disposal of the Commission to meet cases of spiritual destitution, and then two-thirds would be derived from the results of the efforts of the working classes of the metropolis. It was only last year that the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire came forward to introduce a special exception of the worst kind into the Bill of the Commissioners, and now the right hon. Gentleman cried out against exceptional legislation. He would prefer the practice to the preaching of the right hon. Gentleman on this occasion. There had been exceptional legislation in the case of Durham and in that of the Poor Knights of Windsor, as well as for Manchester and Rochdale, two troublesome places to the Government, the latter of which refused spiritual assistance and obtained temporal assistance in its stead. York had been referred to, but the place was suffering from a plethora of clergy who were poor because there were so many of them. The Commissioners had made special arrangements in all these instances, not one of which was half so strong as the present. The propriety of his proposal was, moreover, admitted several years ago by a Committee of the House of Lords, who said that in 1866 justice would be done. As to the grants made by the Commissioners to metropolitan districts, they were most inadequate. In one of the cases which had been adduced by the opponents of the Bill there were 19,000 parishioners, who, ac- 330 cording to the principle of giving £300 per annum to every population of 4,000, ought to have had nearly £1,500, whereas they had only received £120. Indeed, the real effect of the Commissioners' scheme was to augment livings the patronage of which was vested in private persons at the public expense. He did not desire to increase endowments unnecessarily, but he proposed to retain this fund for a particular want, and if that want should hereafter cease the money might then go to the general fund. He denied the right of the Commissioners, by putting forth a scheme five years in anticipation, to deprive Parliament of its jurisdiction when the proper time arrived. Moreover, that body had ample funds wherewith to carry out their intentions. As for the suggestion that he should defer the measure, he could not entertain it, the Bill having been read a second time last Session, with the sanction of the then Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir George Grey), whilst his successor promised that it should not be prejudiced through being postponed until this year. He trusted the House would not be led away by an appeal to selfish interests, but would listen to the dictates of justice.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 53; Noes 87: Majority 34.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Bill put off for six months.
§ House adjourned at a quarter after Four o'clock.