HC Deb 16 July 1867 vol 188 cc1637-53

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he rose to move the second reading of this Bill. The Bill had been introduced into the other House by Lord Lyttelton, and had received much consideration from their Lordships. The Preamble of the measure recited that in 1847 a Royal Commission issued directing inquiry into the state of several bishoprics. In conformity with the Report of that Commission the bishoprics of St. Asaph and Bangor had been united, and the see of Manchester had been established. The Commissioners also recommended the establishment of three additional sees. It was proposed by this Bill to carry that recommendation into effect by subdividing some of the larger dioceses and authorizing the creation of the three new sees, if the necessary endowments were provided by voluntary contributions. The scheme for the establishment of each see was to be settled by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. It was proposed that one of the sees should be created out of the county of Cornwall which should in that case be separated from the diocese of Exeter. That the second, Southwell, in Nottinghamshire, should be taken partly out of Lincoln, and partly out of Lichfield. That the third should be taken from Rochester and called the See of St. Albans. The consent of the existing Bishops of those dioceses would be necessary. It was also proposed by the Bill, as it had been sent down from the House of Lords, that the sees should be within the patronage of the Crown; that they should be so endowed that the new Bishops would, in point of income, be on an equality with the existing prelates; and that they should take their seats in the House of Peers according to seniority. In order that no increase might be made in the number of Bishops in the Upper House, there would under this arrangement be four junior Bishops instead of one as at present. In this the Bill followed the precedent made on the creation of the see of Manchester. None of the schemes for the creation of a new see authorized by this measure would be carried into effect until they had been laid before Parliament for six weeks and had not been objected to by either House. An Address to the Crown from either branch of the Legislature in opposition to any scheme for erecting a see under this Bill would be fatal to it. Exception had been taken to the last clause of the Bill, which, as it now stood, provided that it should not be lawful to apply for any of the purposes of the Bill any part of the common fund in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners until half the amount necessary for the endowment should be otherwise provided. That would seem to imply that if half the amount were voluntarily subscribed, the funds in the Lands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners might be resorted to for that purpose. That was no part of the original design, The point had raised much discussion in the House of Lords, and Lord Lyttelton, who had charge of the Bill, had opposed the addition to the clause of the words on which such an implication might be framed, and was not at all desirous of retaining it, as it at present stood. He did not propose to ask the House to pass the clause, and he should in Committee be prepared to consent to its omission from the Bill. After a careful examination of the existing Acts of Parliament he had come to the conclusion that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would not, unless some measure were specially passed on the subject, have any power to contribute money out of the common fund for any such purpose. He did not think the law ought to be altered in this respect, unless a general review of the state of that fund were first made by Parliament. What prospect there might be of obtaining large voluntary subscriptions was of course best known to the benevolent and zealous Churchmen who had promoted this measure. If no subscriptions were forthcoming, the Bill could not possibly do any harm. If, on the other hand, the liberality and zeal of Churchmen should take such a direction, the present measure would enable that liberality and zeal to be exercised for the benefit of the Church. He might express his belief that no hon. Members who were Nonconformists would, as long as their own rights were not interfered with, offer any objection to an extension of the Church of England which might be for the benefit of the members of that Church. The dioceses in this country were far too large, and many persons of high authority had been of opinion that if the means were forthcoming their number ought to be considerably increased. So far back as the reign of Henry VIII., it had been proposed to make a large increase in the number of sees; but the proposal was then only carried out to a limited extent. Since that time the population of the country, and the number of members of the Established Church, had enormously increased, and yet during that time the episcopate had only been increased by the addition of one Bishop — that of Manchester: the creation of the new See of Ripon being balanced by the union of the old See of Bristol with Gloucester. As to the particular dioceses out of which the new sees were proposed to be taken, the diocese of Exeter, out of which it was proposed to take Cornwall, was of vast extent, and contained a population of nearly 1,000,000 souls. It contained 2,225,728 acres. It was 150 miles in length. The nearest part of the county was forty miles from Exeter, and the farthest part 150 miles. The office of the episcopate could not be adequately performed in such a diocese. With regard to Lincoln, out of which it was proposed to take part of Southwell, the right rev. Prelate who now presided over that diocese had some years ago expressed his opinion that its subdivision was much to be desired. It contained 822 parishes or ecclesiastical districts, 612 of which were situate in Lincolnshire, and 210 in Nottinghamshire. In such an immense diocese it was impossible for the Bishop to exercise his functions in a satisfactory manner, and one result had been that in the diocese of Lincoln confirmations were much less frequent than they ought to be. The Bishop had stated that, if he were to attempt to preach on a single Sunday in each church of his diocese, it would take him no less than fifteen years to do so. The diocese of St. Albans was proposed to be taken from those of Rochester and London, the two latter having grown to a very large extent in consequence of the great increase of population. The diocese of Rochester had become one of the most populous in the country in consequence of the great increase of population that had taken place in those parts now added to it, which were situate in the metropolis. Experience had shown that wherever a new see had been founded pious and charitable donations had greatly augmented. This had been the result in Ripon and Manchester. Within sixteen years from the foundation of the first of those sees £500,000 sterling had been raised by voluntary subscription, and expended in the erection and endowment of churches, parsonages, and schools. In the see of Manchester similar results had followed its establishment. Many men of eminence had advocated an increase of the episcopate. Dr. Arnold wrote in 1833 that, in order to any efficient and comprehensive Church system, the first thing necessary was to divide the actual dioceses. In 1850, a debate arose respecting a Bill which related to the Ecclesiastical Commission, and his right hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) made a Motion with the object of enabling new bishoprics to be founded and endowed partly by voluntary subscriptions and partly out of the funds of the Commission. According to the proposal then made by his right had friend, the holders of such bishoprics were to have smaller stipends than the other Bishops, and were not to sit in the House of Lords. Lord John Russell then expressed himself adverse to the establishment of an inferior class of Bishops, as being likely to lead, in the result, to the reduction of the incomes of the existing Bishops, and to their exclusion also from the House of Lords, which he thought would go far to sever the connection between Church and State. The present Bill, in the shape in which it had come down from the other House, was in accordance with the views then expressed by Lord John Russell. In the year 1852 the Government of Lord Derby appointed a Commission to pursue the inquiry, left incomplete by the former Commissioners, into the state of the cathedrals. They made two Reports. The first strongly recommended the formation of a bishopric in Cornwall. An offer had, at that time, been made by Dr. Walker to endow the see, if established immediately, with an income of £1,600 a year: and the consequence of the neglect, at that time, of the recommendation of the Commissioners was, that the benefit of this munificent benefaction was lost to the Church. In their final Report the Commissioners recommended the formation of four new bishoprics, three of which coincided with the three new sees of the present Bill. The scheme had been supported by a great weight of argument, and that not from any special party in the Church. Bishop Villiers, and Bishop Sumner, Dr. Arnold, Lord John Russell, all supported this extension of the episcopate, as well as many others who entertained different views of Church matters. Seeing, then, that the measure proposed to deal with no public fund, and that nothing could be done if either House of Parliament objected, he trusted that the Bill might be allowed to pass. The clause relating to assistance from funds under the control of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, which was objected to by a large and influential minority in the Lords, he gave up. Another clause, moved by Earl Grey, for appointing coadjutor bishops in large dioceses, or where the bishops were incapacitated by age or infirmity, he did not propose to reintroduce, The measure was one so entirely permissive in its provisions that the House, he thought, could not deem it in any degree dangerous, or object to its adoption. In the House of Lords it had received in its main provisions, a very general concurrence and support from men of all opinions and all parties. The Bill simply asked the House to enable the liberality of private Churchmen in England, if so disposed, to accomplish that object of creating three new dioceses in those populous parts of the kingdom where they were earnestly asked for and most urgently needed. To the particular provisions of the Bill, as they now stood, on points as to which differences of opinion might fairly arise, he was not in any manner wedded; and, if any Amendments should be proposed, he should be perfectly prepared to give them the most candid consideration, and to accept them, if they recommended themselves to the general sense of the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Roundell Palmer.)


said, he was anxious to learn from Her Majesty's Government how far, if that Bill were read a second time, they would consent to the withdrawal of the 12th clause, to which he had a decided objection? In considering the measure the question naturally arose, had they not Bishops enough already? He was willing that the Church should judge for herself whether she had Bishops enough so long as, in the first place, no fund in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, or any other national fund was drawn upon for their support; and, in the second, that there was no re-affirming of the principle which assuredly in a new Parliament would be brought forward for settlement—namely, as to the right and the desirableness of Bishops having seats in the House of Lords. But had they not Bishops enough already? On that point he would give a few statistics. In Ireland they had twelve Bishops, in our colonies and dependencies forty-three, and in England and Wales twenty-seven. How, according to the last Census, was the population divided between the different religious denominations? In England and Wales in round numbers there belonged to the Established Church 10,000,000; to the various Protestant, Nonconformist, and Presbyterian bodies 9,000,000; and 1,000,000 of Roman Catholics. But, including Scotland and Ireland, they had a gross total for the United Kingdom of 10,738,000 persons belonging to the Established Episcopal Church; 12,345,000 Protestant Nonconformists and Presbyterians; and 5,740,000 Roman Catholics. The question of the Irish Church must be brought before the House at a very early day. If there were not Bishops enough, why give Bishops political duties to withdraw them from the religious duties for which they were originally appointed? He understood that it was proposed to raise something like £500,000 for the establishment of those three bishoprics. Heartrending appeals were frequently made to Dissenters as well as Churchmen on behalf of poor hardworked clergymen of the Established Church. He held in his hand a Circular issued by the friends of the Clergy Corporation, in which the cases of some of these poor clergymen was thus described— A curate twenty-four years in holy orders; total income £90 per annum. He writes, 'Upon this nine of us (myself, wife, and seven children) have to live. For the last fifteen months sickness (requiring medical aid) has not been out of my house.' …. 'For the last six weeks we have scarcely tasted animal food, our chief support being bread, and as for clothes my children will very soon not be able to enter the House of God for want of them.—A curate, with wife and six children; income £80 per annum, applies at a time of much sickness.—A curate, wife and three sick children; stipend £80 per annum.—A curate, married, with large family; income £70 per annum.—A clergyman, income £80 per annum, wife and eight children, five dependent. 'I am in great distress from the inadequacy of my income to support myself and family.'—A curate, wife and five children, all dependent; income £95 per annum. 'For weeks together we have not been able to procure more than bread for our little ones, and some days not even that; and had it not been for occasional little presents of meat, &c., hunger itself would have been frequently felt in our home.'—A curate, eighteen years in holy orders. 'I have a wife, and eight children to maintain and educate out of a salary of £90 a year, my stipend being far too small to procure us the commonest necessaries of life.' These harrowing accounts might be multiplied a hundredfold. He would not say that these clergymen of the Church were asking for bread and that the Bill proposed to give them a stone; still, here was an appeal for charity; and could they reply, "We admit all this distress; take half a million and spend it in Bishops?" But the £500,000 spoken of was for Bishops pure and simple. But if they had Bishops there must be palaces, and cathedrals, and registrars, and other officers. His hon. and learned Friend said he was willing to withdraw the 12th clause empowering the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to give the second half of the cost of a bishopric when the first half had been supplied by voluntary contributions. It was well, for the House would never have agreed to such a clause. As to the question of reaffirming the propriety of the Bishops sitting in the other House of Parliament, it was proposed by this Bill not that the number of Bishops having seats there should be increased, but that the newly-created Bishops should enjoy the privilege in turn. The words of a Dissenter on the subject would probably be considered entitled to small weight, but in a pamphlet which had been published in 1836, Lord Henley, the father of his noble Colleague, who was a really earnest and conscientious Churchman, had laid it down as his opinion that the real influence of the Church in the councils of the nation and the security of her endowments did not depend on the votes or the speeches of a small number of representatives in the Upper House, but upon the affections of the people and her faithfulness in the discharge of her great trust; and that, so far from being rendered weaker, she would be strengthened by the severance of the unnatural alliance which a Parliamentary peerage implied in the case of her Bishops between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of this world. His Lordship said— The removal of the Bishops from the House of Lords would do more to advance the interests of true religion, than any measure which had been adopted since the period of the Reformation. And this was no new question. In February, 1837, a direct Motion was made in the House of Commons that the sitting of Bishops in Parliament was unfavourable to the Christian religion of this country, and tended to alienate the affections of the people from the Established Church. That Motion was moved by a Churchman, seconded by a Churchman, and supported to a large extent by Churchmen. In a House of 190 Members 90 voted for it, and in the minority he found recorded the names of C. Lushington, H. A. Aglionby, E. Baines, J. Brotherton, Charles Buller, William Clay, William Ewart, Daniel O'Connell, Benjamin Hall, Joseph Hume, Sir William Molesworth, Mark Phillips, J. Scholefield, Colonel Thompson, and C. P. Villiers. There was a great mass of ignorance and impiety and wickedness which it should be the object of all religious men to lessen, and if possible to put an end to; in such a work he should be ready to help his hon. and learned Friend. But he must respectfully submit to the House that the £500,000 which it was proposed to expend in the creation of new bishoprics might be more usefully employed in relieving the distress which so largely prevailed among the hard-working clergy, and promoting in that way the interests of Christianity. He begged to move that the Bill be read a second time that day three months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Gilpin.)


said, that the salaries of the new bishops were not to exceed the minimum salary of the existing Bench. But the House had not been informed what that minimum was. The Bishop of Sodor and Man was badly off at £2,000. Other bishops received £4,000, while the majority received £5,000 or more per annum as income. How was the proposed income to be raised, and what was the amount they were to give the new bishops? Was it to be £5,000, or £10,000, or £15,000 a year? One most reverend Prelate, on a salary of £15,000 a year, had thought fit to vote that the great proportion of the proposed income should arise from properties that belonged to the working clergy of the country. It was said that curates were hard to be found now-a-days; and who could wonder that it should be so? How were they to suppose that men of piety, and learning, and high character would enter the Church when such miserable stipends were offered them? A noble Lord had said that it ought to make the cheeks of the higher clergy blush when they remembered that some of the best men in the land—men of eminent talent, piety, education, and everything that could give dignity to the human character—were receiving, as curates of the Church of England, salaries smaller than what the grandees were in the habit of paying to their butlers and hired servants. And now they were asked to increase the number of bishops. Why did they not call the Irish Bishops into their service? In that country they had two Archbishops and ten Bishops to minister to the wants of 678,661 persons in that country—less than one-eighth of the whole population. What was the characteristic of the English Bishops? It was this—that they completely ignored every denomination except their own. There was another established Church — that of Scotland. But what communication was there between the Church of England and that of Scotland? If they worshipped different deities they could not be more widely cut off from each other. On a late occasion he met the chaplain of Her Majesty when she was in Scotland — Dr. M'Leod—a divine of the first character. What was his position in England? He was an alien, and was not admitted into any of the pulpits of the Established Church. Dr. M'Leod expressed his displeasure at this in his hearing; and declared that if he could not go into the pulpits of the Established Church he would go into those of other denominations that were open to him. He accepted the offers of the pulpits of Nonconformists, which were opened to him willingly, When the Bishop of London crossed the Tweed he had to leave his mitre behind him, for he never dared to enter the pulpit of a Presbyterian church. These were anomalies which a Reformed Parliament would put an end to. He also objected to the Bill that it proposed to perpetuate the system of allowing prelates to sit in the House of Lords, a system which the people, he believed, would unite before long to put an end to, and would compel the most reverend and right reverend Gentlemen to leave the Upper House. He therefore should second the Amendment.


said, that as the hon. Member for Northampton had called on the Government to state what course they intended to take with regard to the present Bill, he had no hesitation in replying that he could not understand how it was possible for the Government to oppose the proposal to allow people to subscribe their money for purposes connected with the Church to which they belonged. He could not imagine why the hon. Member should think that the voluntary principle so entirely belonged to the Nonconformists that the Church of England must not be indulged with the exercise of the least portion of it. The hon. Member for Sheffield had given one of the most extraordinary lectures ever uttered on religious liberty, and had intimated that the next Parliament would force a clergyman of one denomination into the pulpit of a clergy- man belonging to another denomination. No doubt Dr. M'Leod was a most learned and pious man; but it would be better to leave each denomination its own clergymen, and Dr. M'Leod would never fail to have many pulpits to discourse from, and large congregations to listen to him. He was sure that the denomination to which Dr. M'Leod belonged would be greatly surprised if the hon. Member for Sheffield, by any sort of process, were to force a prelate of any other church into the pulpit occupied by Dr. M'Leod. It had been said by the hon. Gentleman that in a future Parliament the question of the Bishops sitting in the House of Lords would have to be debated. It was not his intention to enter into that question now, but there was no evidence of the fulfilment of the predictions which were uttered when the subject was under discussion thirty years ago, when it was said that the consequence of such a system must be the decay of the Church and the destruction of her influence. On the contrary, it had been clearly shown, by the documents read by his hon. and learned Friend opposite, that in the dioceses of Ripon, Manchester, London, and elsewhere, the Church had been making wide and rapid progress. The documents which had been read showed that voluntary efforts on the part of the Church had enabled her to strengthen her position, and to spread the truth abroad more widely. When the hon. Member for Northampton read those accounts of the distress of clergymen, he must observe that such statements were not confined to the Established Church. They were true of many ministers among Nonconformists themselves. But, because some persons were in destitute circumstances, was that to prevent those who thought fit from applying their money in this direction, especially when they believed that, by this very process—by establishing these bishoprics and forming new centres, around which the clergy might gather themselves, they might diminish the poverty of those very curates who were represented as so distressed? A movement had been going on, which had already met with large success, for increasing the stipends of curates by voluntary efforts. But because destitution and distress existed in parts of the metropolis, were hon. Members and other gentlemen not to subscribe their money for any other purpose than for its relief? His hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield gave largely of his means on many occasions; but, because he had subscribed for the erection of a great building for the benefit of the community in which he was interested, was that a reason why anyone should turn round and say because he had contributed largely for that purpose he would be induced to contribute to no other object? This Bill did not trench on the rights of any one. It did no wrong to Nonconformists. It only showed the way that Churchmen might contribute their money for a particular purpose. So far, therefore, as he was concerned, and he also spoke for the Government, he should give it his most hearty support.


said, he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that he had not answered the question which had been asked by the hon. Member for Northampton, whether the Government would assent to the omission of the particular clause referred to?


said, he was prepared to assent to the exclusion of that clause.


said, he was a warm supporter of the Church of England, so far as rendering its ministrations as efficient as possible among the great mass of the people. But he was afraid a great mistake was often made on this subject by confounding the interests of the parson with those of religion. The former excited eager interest; the latter too often were treated with lukewarmness, if not with coolness and indifference. When there was so much and such severe spiritual destitution throughout the country, it was a great misfortune that large subscriptions should be raised for the endowment of Bishops and dignified clergy. He objected to this Bill because it was premature and unnecessary. The Bill had been drawn with consummate art. It must have proceeded from the hands, not of a layman, but of an astute ecclesiastic. Had it proceeded from the bauds of a layman who seriously and heartily intended that the Bill should take effect on the voluntary system it would have said, "When and so soon as a certain sum should have been collected for the endowment of three bishoprics"—stating, probably, the amount necessary—"then, and not till then, should the authority invoked set them up." Instead of that, the Bill proceeded at once and absolutely to invest the Ecclesiastical Commissioners with power to erect these bishoprics. The real intention was to establish the bishoprics in the first instance, and then see how they were to be dealt with after. The power to erect the bishoprics was absolute. When they had the Bishops then would come the endowment; and with the Bishop would come his accessories. There was no provision for endowing the accessories of a bishopric. The Bishop was only the beginning of the expense. He must have his dean and chapter, his dignified clergy, and the expenses attendant on the cathedral services. Undoubtedly, in the result, the funds for these expenses would be provided by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners—not, perhaps, directly, but by that system of ecclesiastical circumvention which attains the end as effectually. In this way a large portion of the funds of the Church would be perverted from other pressing demands. The Bishop of London, the very best Bishop on the Bench, was only able to defend these arrangements by saying that such situations were necessary to attract men of learning to the Church, who would otherwise engage in secular professions. But was the Church to enter the lists in this manner with the other professions, and compete with the law and with physic for the favour of mercenary men? What security could they have that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would not misappropriate, as he should call it, the funds for the purposes contemplated by the Bill? At least it should be provided that no bishopric should be established until enough had been subscribed, not only to endow it, but also to meet the expenses of all the dignities with which the Bishops loved to surround themselves at the cost of their religious position. For he contended that whatever came in the train of that temporal dignity with which the Bishops of the Church of England surrounded themselves was at the expense of their religious position. Before any action was taken to establish these bishoprics, the full endowment for Bishops, deans, chapters, and the whole administration of the cathedrals should be subscribed. It had been said that Bishops should not sit in the House of Lords. He thought it a great misfortune that so many of them should sit there—so many more than were necessary for the purpose of instructing the other House in the doctrines of religion and morality. A fair allowance ought, undoubtedly, to be made to the other House for this object; but he was satisfied that the great majority of the Episcopal Bench would be far better occupied in their dioceses than in attending the deliberations of the other House. It was a misfortune for the Church, and a misfortune to the cause of religion, that the Bishops should be temporal peers. The result of the pomp and dignities that surrounded them was expressed in the proverbial saying, that a man or a woman full of pride was as proud as a Bishop, or as proud as a Bishop's wife. If they had more confidence in their religions position and influence, and depended less upon the temporal dignities of their office, the people of England would be more ready to submit to their authority and attend to their instruction. In other countries Bishops were remarkable for their humility and unostentation, and exercised an enormous influence. He recollected that when the Roman Catholic Bishop of Bombay was asked by the Government what allowance he required, he replied that he could live on 2s. or 4s. a day, and that he did not ask for more. He protested against the notion expressed in this Bill that it was indispensable for an English Bishop, no matter what the purity of his life or the holiness of his teaching, that he should be a temporal peer and should live in a palace on £4,000 a year. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that episcopacy was bound up with the British Constitution, because when that Constitution was subverted Bishops fell with it. But the fact was that Bishops sat in the House of Lords not qua Bishops, but by tenure of the lands with which they were endowed by the Sovereign. It would be infringing the Constitution, therefore, for Bishops endowed by public subscription to sit in Parliament. Having no tenure they had no right to sit in the Upper House. The object of legislation should be to make the Church of England useful and efficient—the Church of the people, and to provide for those who could not otherwise obtain religious instruction. It was to be regretted that it was so largely the Church of the upper classes, who used it for their own profit. He objected to this Bill as a flagrant attempt to encourage the expenditure of money in a wrong direction.


said, he had no doubt that there was a great want of spiritual supervision in some of the dioceses, but there were certain matters connected with the Bill to which he wished to direct the attention of the House. He acknowledged the value of the voluntary principle recommended by the Bill, but thought some allusion ought to have been made on the present occasion to that very remarkable case in regard to voluntary contributions which last year attracted so much attention. A lady devoted a very large sum of money to the establishment of three Colonial bishoprics in connection with the Church of England. The officers of the Crown who drew up the Letters Patent, when sitting as Judges of Appeal, condemned the course they themselves had taken, and declared that the Government had not the power to carry out the proposal. The money would consequently be expended for a totally different object. Such a misapplication of funds would certainly make people hesitate to subscribe for the three proposed bishoprics unless they were assured that a like miserable failure was guarded against. As to the presence of Bishops in the House of Lords, he differed from the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton), for he thought it very important that there should be some means of getting at the authorities of the Church when there was any subject of complaint. He thought that their presence there formed a very useful safeguard against abuses by the clergy, because their presence afforded an easy means of bringing to their notice any cases of misconduct on the part of the inferior clergy. He was of opinion that the indiscriminate appointment of suffragan Bishops would be a great evil, because it might tend to render the episcopal order so large as to be exceedingly inconvenient. He supported the second reading of the Bill because it provided a more efficient system of ecclesiastical superintendence, which was absolutely necessary. He approved particularly the division of the diocese of Exeter, which was absolutely indispensable for the religious interests of that district.


said, that although two hon. Members who had spoken against the Bill were Nonconformists, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) was mistaken in saying that all parties in the Church were in favour of it. He belonged to the Church of England, and there was a large party in it who doubted the desirability of extending the episcopate. The Episcopal Bench was on its trial. At a time when the equanimity of the Church was disturbed people naturally looked to the Bishops to exercise some power and restore peace. But they had been entirely wanting in this respect, so that this was not a happy moment at which to propose additional Bishops. Moreover, facilities of locomotion now enabled Prelates to visit every part of their dioceses. If, instead of attending the Upper House, they resided more in them, the difficulties as to confirmations to which the right hon. Gentleman had adverted would be materially lessened.


said, he was glad that the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to withdraw the 12th clause, which, if retained, would have made the Bill extremely objectionable. The Bill was very queerly drawn, and the Title and Preamble seemed to express more than its enacting clauses. He did not see what objection any one could have to the creation of the Bishops specified, who were to be provided for by subscription. With regard to that part of the Bill which had been omitted in its passage through the other House, and which related to suffragan Bishops, it was a matter of grave consideration whether they ought not to restore it. Hon. Members would recollect a curious Act of Parliament, which he confessed was the only thing which made him have any doubts with respect to Bills of this sort. The Act to which he referred, called the Episcopal Functions Act, provided that under certain circumstances one Bishop might do the work of two dioceses. He did what he could to make Parliament draw the teeth of the Bill on that subject, and the noble Lord below him and himself succeeded in drawing one of the teeth applying to cases of mental incapacity. In all the researches which he had made he did not find that a single word was said on the subject in "another place." If it was true that one Bishop could do the work of two dioceses, it was very difficult to understand what was said in the other direction. He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman, when they went into Committee, would see how far the old statute of Henry VIII., providing for the creation of suffragan Bishops, might not be brought into play, so as to save people from coming to Parliament for such Bills as this. He did not see why a Bishop might not have a suffragan to assist him just as one clergyman might avail himself of the aid of another.


said, he objected to any measure which increased the power of the Church of England. As a Protestant Dissenter, and one of a body who maintained their own ministry by their voluntary contributions, he saw no reason why when the Church wanted anything it should come to Parliament for an Act. He objected to anything which increased the predominance of the Church. He had no objection to Churchmen applying their funds to the support of the Church, but contended that they ought to do so without seeking the aid of Parliament to increase its power, especially when they found that the Bishops were powerless to compel the clergymen to abandon practices which many of them, in common with a large portion of the laity, condemned. He trusted that the Bill would be withdrawn.


said, that the difficulty pointed out by the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. J. A. Smith), of a misappropriation of funds contributed, arising from a defect in the law, was a very grave discouragement. He should vote for the second reading of the Bill in the hope that the larger questions of ecclesiastical jurisdiction and ecclesiastical law generally might be revised, and that the regulations of the Church of England might be so improved as to prevent the possibility of any misappropriation of funds.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 45; Noes 34: Majority 11.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday.