§ [BILL 241.] COMMITTEE.
§ Order for Committee read.
This Bill relates to a subject of so much importance, that I should not be justified in moving that you, Sir, do now leave the Chair without explaining, in a few sentences, why such a Bill has been introduced and pressed on at the present period of the Session, although the occasion for such a measure is sufficiently notorious to dispense with any long explanation or defence of its provisions. In the early part of the Session representations were made to me respecting the unfortunate position in which some of the dioceses of the South of England were placed in consequence of the great age or infirmity of 1298 the Bishops charged with the care of those dioceses. I stated that the evil was undeniable, and required a remedy; but that it was very desirable that a matter of this kind should be considered in the first instance by the episcopal heads of the Church, and that the result of those counsels should be awaited by the Government. In harmony with that announcement, the Archbishop of Canterbury took measures to ascertain the sentiments of his episcopal brethren, and they came to the conclusion that it was necessary to pass, without delay, a general measure by which such cases might be met. The question then arose, what should be the scope and purport of that measure? In the framing of this Bill we had to take into consideration—for the Archbishop acted in concurrence with the Government—the very great difficulty of originating a comprehensive measure on this subject—a measure providing legislative enactments, under which, in every case where a Bishop was incapacitated either from mental or bodily infirmity, and quite independent of his will or choice, the appointment of an efficient episcopal superintendent might be secured. That, evidently, is the aim which Members both of this House and of the other House of Parliament have had in view. In the 3rd clause words have been introduced which, as the Bill now stands, would make it practicable to appoint a coadjutor, whether with the will or against the will of a Bishop who is incapacitated. And an hon. Member (Mr. Dickinson) has given notice of an Amendment going even further than that, and providing for a system of what may be called compulsory resignation. With respect to a Bill of so wide a scope as a Bill upon either of these bases would be, I would wish to point out that it is in our judgment wholly beyond the power of Parliament to grapple with it under present circumstances. Nor do I speak merely of the date which we have now reached —the first week in August; there has been no part of the present Session, crowded as it has been with most important business, when we could have undertaken in this House to go through the provisions of an Act involving a matter of such extreme delicacy as the power of removing against his will a great public officer — to call him nothing else—like the Bishop of a dio- 1299 cese, who is supposed to have fallen into a state of incapacity for the discharge of his duties. To pass such a measure would be a most arduous undertaking, since we have not taken the same course in the case of other functionaries enjoying great public emoluments. I am not saying that a time may not come when we might find it necessary to take some step of the kind; but I think it better that we should apply a remedy to present inconveniences and should stop short of questions so difficult and thorny as those we should have to encounter if we attempted to pass a law to enact, in certain cases, compulsory episcopal resignation. The leading provisions in the measure as introduced by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the other House of Parliament—and as I should propose that this House should agree to them— are two. It is proposed that any Archbishop or Bishop in England, being incapacitated by age or by some mental or physical infirmity — it may be well, perhaps, to insert the word "permanent" —so as to imply that he shall be really and permanently incapacitated from the discharge of episcopal duties — shall have adjusted for him certain terms on which he may resign; and, subject to the responsibility of the Ministry of the day, who will be bound to be satisfied that this is a legitimate transaction, and who will be accountable for it as well as for all their other acts, a certain pension may be assigned to him. And not only a pension, but if Her Majesty should see fit, under certain circumstances, particularly of great age, the episcopal residence which he has hitherto enjoyed may be likewise assigned to him. It is it not necessary now to enter into the precise pecuniary terms on which these resignations are arranged; but we endeavoured in framing the Bill to make as fair a division as we could of the income between the incoming and the outgoing Bishop, with reference to the respective needs of each. There is a proviso in a clause which relates to the case of a Bishop appointed before the year 1832. I was not aware of that proviso till the Bill reached this House. I presume it was to meet one particular case; and though there is much to be said in its favour, still an amendment in the proviso will be requisite, the reasons for which I shall state when we come to the clause in Committee. There is also a 1300 series of clauses, beginning with the third, which refers to the appointment of coadjutor Bishops. As far as the Government are concerned, I must beg the Committee, forming a judgment upon these clauses, to suppose that the Amendment which I have placed upon the Paper has been carried. The clause, as amended, would then run to this effect. When a Bishop is incapacitated by permanent mental infirmity, a coadjutor Bishop, with right of succession, may be appointed, and, subject to the conditions of the Act, may assume episcopal jurisdiction in the diocese. The clause as to resignation may be called wholly new; no such provision exists in our law at present. In 1856 an Act was passed to enable two particular Bishops to resign upon specified terms; but it was extensively felt that it was objectionable to appear to make such retirements a subject of pecuniary bargains with individuals, and that the proper method would be to lay down a general law applicable equally to all. With respect to the subject of the 3rd clause, the appointment of a substitute for a Bishop mentally incapacitated, this legislation is not altogether new; and I hope hon. Members will be good enough to consider this clause in conjunction with the provisions at present upon the statute book. Under an Act passed by the Government of Sir Robert Peel, if a Bishop is mentally incapacitated two things may be done. In the first place, an episcopal person—that is to say, a person who has received episcopal consecration, may be appointed to perform episcopal acts in his diocese, and in the second place, a non-episcopal person may be appointed to perform those acts of jurisdiction which do not require the episcopal character. What I would submit is, that this is a very unsatisfactory method of making provision for the oversight of a diocese, and that the 3rd clause makes a great practical improvement in the law. It is not the mere perfunctory discharge of certain duties, such as the institution to benefices or the correction of clerks, nor yet the more strictly episcopal acts of confirmation or the consecration of churches; it is not the mere mechanical performance of duties that you want, but the living influence of the man whose work it is to promote the work of the Church in the diocese standing in the public eye, subject to obser- 1301 vation, to criticism, and to all the sense of responsibility attaching to a duly appointed Bishop. And our proposal is that, instead of these merely makeshift provisions, we should adopt a plan under which, speaking generally, the patronage of the Crown that would accrue in the see should be anticipated, and a man appointed at once, with restricted emoluments, and subject to a variety of conditions set out in the Act, but who, except as regards these conditions and restrictions as to emoluments, should be devoted to the diocese and bound to carry on his work, exactly as if he were a Bishop in full possession. These are the two leading propositions of the Bill, and it is on the basis of these two propositions that I trust the House will be disposed to entertain the measure. For certainly the practical evil that it aims to redress is a very serious one, and is felt by the inhabitants of no very inconsiderable portion of England. The right Hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) the other night, in the course of the few words which he uttered, said it would be desirable to restrict the operation of this measure to a limited period of time; to that I cheerfully accede. I think it very desirable for two reasons. In the first place, it is sufficiently plain that this principle of resignation, although the need of it be more urgent in the case of Bishops, yet applies equally to parochial incumbents and to cathedral officers, subject to proper guards and checks, which will have to be carefully considered, remembering how large a proportion of clerical patronage is in private hands, and that some of it, as in the case of advowsons, may be classed as a marketable commodity. That is a reason why we shall do well not only to contemplate, but to secure a return of the attention of Parliament to this subject, in order, after the short experience which this Bill will give us,—after a couple of years,—that we may be in a position to judge how far its provisions are capable of extension to other members of the Church. It is also obvious that the remedy which we are now providing may not be altogether sufficient—it may not be the best which the particular circumstances of the case admit of, and in this view, accordingly, it will be very desirable that the matter should be further considered by Parliament. I hope I have sufficiently 1302 explained and vindicated the provisions of the third clause as they are proposed by the Government; but I would just say one word in justification of the view taken by the Government and the Archbishop of Canterbury when the Bill was introduced. The words at present in the clause enable a coadjutor to be appointed, not only in the case of mental but physical infirmity. We have, therefore, to contemplate, as a consequence of that provision, inteference in a diocese where the Bishop, being or being supposed to be, physically incapacitated from the discharge of his duties, is unwilling to resign. Consequently, this is to be a coercive process. And if it is to be coercive it is evident that it will require a set of provisions most carefully framed and most elaborately guarded to prevent the process being put into operation where it is not fully justified, or without, due consideration of private rights. These provisions, which are supposed to refer merely to cases of mental incapacity, would not be adequate in any manner such as justice would demand if we were to contemplate, not the actual removal of the Bishop by coercion, but the virtual supplanting of the Bishop by placing all his ecclesiastical powers in the hands of a coadjutor Bishop. Another objection of a practical character that has been taken is this. I think it is conclusive. By the 3rd clause the power given in the case of a Bishop being physically incapacitated is not to be put in force unless he shall have failed adequately to provide for the performance of his duties. Everyone will see what would happen under this clause. It is not merely what the Bishop would do, but what the family of the Bishop would do. We should have a number of what are called stop-gap Bishops, makeshift Bishops, stray Bishops returned from the colonies or elsewhere, and we should have again that perfunctory and mechanical performance of the duties set up before the world which would be a blind and a delusion, but which at the same time would totally prevent the Archbishop from declaring that adequate provision had not been made for the discharge of the duties of the incapacitated Bishop. I think that the House will be satisfied that the attempt to extend this clause is unwise, and that if we are to seek to introduce coercive powers at all we must do so at 1303 a period when we have more time at our disposal in which to consider with care what safeguards shall be adopted in incorporating such a provision into our law. I think that is all I need now say, and therefore I beg to conclude by moving that you, Sir, do now leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair"—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)
§ MR. DICKINSON
said, he rose on this occasion with considerable reluctance, because this measure had come down from the other House with the authority of the Bishops and of the Government, and therefore it could not be said to be an ill - considered Bill. The Bill had been carefully considered during the early part of the Session, and the circumstances which had given rise to it had been long notorious. It was therefore to be expected that it would have at once commended itself to the good sense of the House, but he was sorry to say that it failed to do so. He did not think the measure took a proper view of episcopal duties and episcopal responsibilities. The Bill provided in a general way for filling up a bishopric when the existing Bishop was incapable of performing its duties. No doubt such a state of things as was contemplated by the Bill was a great evil and scandal, for which some remedy must be found, but while the evil was simple the remedy was equally simple. A Bishop should be treated in the same way as any other public functionary. A Bishop was a public functionary who received public pay for the performance of public duties, and when he was incapable of discharging those duties other provision should be made for their proper discharge, and the emoluments of the office should go to the person who discharged them. He admitted that there was a difficulty in dealing with freehold offices when they were called on to abolish them, because they were open to the argument that the incumbent was ready to go on performing his duties, but that was not the case here. The holder of every public office held it on the condition that he was at all times ready to perform its duties, and he had no right to take the pay of the State when he could no Longer perform them. It was for the House to consider whether they 1304 would sanction a system of buying out incompetent officials. The question was a serious one as to whether they would extend the principle of giving large retiring allowances to people who, from age or other circumstances, were no longer able to perform their duties. No public officer who became incapacitated should be entitled to more than a fair superannuation allowance, and he approved of the principle that such allowance should be provided for out of the emoluments of the successor. In parts of this Bill there was a looseness to be condemned or a casuistry which was very suspicious. In one clause it provided for the resignation of a Bishop or Archbishop, who was in capacited by age, or mental or physical infirmity from the due performance of his duty; but, in the next or coercive clause, incapacity from age was entirely left out, so that a man who could not leave Ms bed might still continue to be a Bishop. His (Mr. Dickinson's) view was that when a Bishop was incapable he should cease to be a Bishop, and instead of having a coadjutor appointed to do his work, they should have the real article in the shape of another Bishop appointed in his place. An incapacitated Bishop ought not to retain his seat in the House of Lords, or they might have a lunatic Bishop sitting and voting on great questions of State policy. The 3rd clause of the Bill provided that there should be no power to turn a Bishop out of his office if he himself had made arrangements for the due performance of his duties. The 1lth clause related to Archbishops, but it did not remove them for mere bodily infirmity, but only for mental infirmity; so that there was one law for a Bishop and another for an Archbishop. Instead of having a clear and simple cure for a clear and simple evil, there was to be this complicated state of affairs. And then the Bill, instead of being permanent, was only to be a temporary measure, which made it a great deal more objectionable. When the present cause of scandal was removed, probably nothing more would be heard of the subject until the next scandal arose. If a good and effectual reform could not be introduced, it would be better that the scandal should remain until a sound and complete measure could be framed. This was not a case in which tentative measures were necessary, because the nature of the evil 1305 for which a remedy ought to be applied was perfectly well known. Then, as to the question of resignation or deprivation, he was astonished at the mode in which the incomes of the Bishops were disposed of by the Bill. When a Bishop who was permanently incapacitated from the discharge of his duties retired into private clerical life, he should have only such an allowance as was sufficient for him in his altered position. The Archbishop of Canterbury had, he believed, £ 15,000 a year, and the Archbishop of York also had a very large annual income; but, in each of these cases, as in that of all the other Bishops, the income was given because of the dignity and responsibilities of the office, and not because the office was filled by a particular individual. Great demands were made upon them; and when a new Bishop took the place of one who retired from incapacity, he should surely have the means of performing all the accessories of the office in the shape of subscriptions to works of charity and usefulness. Now this Bill provided that if a Bishop resigned voluntarily he should receive one-third of his income, or £2,000 a year, whichever sum happened to be the larger; but the incapacitated Bishop who refused to resign was to be left in possession of Ms palace, and to receive the whole of his income, with the exception of the sum paid to the coadjutor who was appointed, and which, in the case of a Bishop, was £2,000 a year; in the case of the Archbishop of York, £3,000 a year; and in the case of the Archbishop of Canterbury, £4,000 a year. An incapacitated Archbishop of Canterbury, therefore, might receive £ 11,000 a year, while the person who did all the work would get only £4,000. If this had been a Motion for the second reading of the Bill, he should have moved its rejection; but, as it was, he hoped the House would be able to remedy its defects in Committee, and with that view he had given notice of several Amendments, to the effect that the person appointed to fill up a see, under the provisions of this Bill, should not be a Bishop coadjutor but a real Bishop, receiving the chief emoluments of the office.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, that the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Dickinson) had answered his whole speech by the first two or three words of it. In his first sentences the hon. and 1306 learned Gentleman said he could not see the difference between a Bishop and any other public functionary, and therefore he thought that a Bishop should have his pay only as long as he could perform his work. The civil office which was most analogous to the office of Bishop was that of Judge. A Judge had a nominal salary of £ 5,000 a year but an actual one of £ 4,500, as about £500 a year of his salary wont in circuit expenses. A Judge after fifteen years' service might retire of his own free will on a retiring allowance of £3,500, though he might be in the full vigour of his mind, and quite as capable, if not more so, of performing his judicial functions as he was at the time of his elevation to the Bench. This retiring allowance of £3,500 was saddled on the Consolidated Fund; but under this Bill the Bishop who had to retire from mental incapacity, and who was in all probability very old, would have to share his pittance with the Bishop appointed to discharge the diocesan duties. The country was not saddled with any burden in the matter. The freehold office had to keep the new Bishop and the poor old retired clergyman. He believed that Bishops were something more than mere stipendiaries of the State, and he was anxious to see that view enforced, even though it might, as in this case, touch the pockets of the Bishops themselves; but assuming with the hon. and learned Gentleman that they were no more than episcopal servants of the State, ought they not to be treated as well as its judicial servants? He thought his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government was adopting a judicious course in confining legislation on the subject at present to the immediate wants of the case, and in leaving the general question of parochial as well as diocesan provision for another time. He hoped that the House would be allowed to go into Committee on the Bill.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he rose to move that the House resolve itself into Committee on the Bill this day three months. Parliament had passed a Bill this Session depriving, after a certain time, the Irish Bishops of the right to sit in the House of Lords. That had been done for the purpose of establishing religious equality in Ireland; but he contended that the principle of religious equality was not fully established in this 1307 part of the United Kingdom so long as the English Prelates had seats in the Upper House, while at the same time the Nonconformists of England had no representatives, and indeed desired to have none, in the House of Lords, and Scotland had long dispensed with episcopal representation. The Churchmen in this country formed only half the population, and he had reason to believe that a majority of their body were desirous that Bishops should be removed from the House of Lords. That sentiment was constantly growing, and very shortly it would prevail. In the interest of the Church of England it was desirable that her Bishops should be relieved from the political services in which they were engaged, and should bestow their exclusive attention on the affairs of their dioceses. Had the Bishops, during the present Session, been faithful to Protestantism? Nine of them, forgetful of their professions of loyalty to Protestantism, for supporting which they received their pay, voted in favour of endowing the Catholic Church, to the indignation and grief of the members of the Church of England—they were, in fact, in favour of giving £2,000,000 as hush-money out of the funds of the Irish Church, if the members of that Church, on its disestablishment, were allowed to go off with £10,000,000. All Catholic Peers, in the House of Lords, on the part of their Catholic brethren, indignantly refused to accept hush-money from their natural foes. During the last thirty years an opinion had been growing in this country that the Bishops must leave the House of Lords. He should like to know what the First Minister thought of the conduct of the Bishops in the House of Lords. They had attacked the character of that right hon. Gentleman, whose name would go down to posterity as that of a man who had achieved probably the greatest work on record. He (Mr. Hadfield) would not be satisfied if this Bill were allowed to proceed. It was an unseasonable measure, and he hoped the First Minister would postpone it till another Session. Last year twenty-one Prelates voted against the Suspensory Bill, and this year all the Prelates voted against the Irish Church Bill, except one, who voted for it, but that Bishop having voted for it once, never did so again. There was an interest in another place inimical to the interests 1308 of the United Kingdom. A Notice was given in this House that the state of the Church in Wales should be considered next Session; and an hon. Member had intimated that he would try the question next Session whether Bishops should or should not retain their seats in the House of Lords. The noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) was alarmed at the progress of Ritualism, and was resolved to bring forward the question, and had given notice of his intention to do so. All these things showed that there would be no rest for the Prime Minister until he eased the public mind as to the presence of those Gentlemen (the Bishops) in the other House. He should like to call attention at a future period to the history of the Bishops since the Revolution. ["Question."] He would say no more on that subject at present; his opinions on removing the Bishops from the House of Lords would be heard throughout the length and breadth of the country, and he would now move, as he had intimated, that the House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee.
§ MR. D. DALRYMPLE, in seconding the Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield, said, he had no sympathy with that hon. Member's anti-episcopal view. The question of what was to be done with incapacitated Bishops and clergy generally was one of the most difficult and intricate subjects with which the Church and the country had to deal, and it had been repeatedly discussed at Church Congresses and elsewhere. This Bill was very imperfect in its character; it was very little known, and it had been very little discussed. It was brought forward at the fag-end of a fatiguing Session, and he objected to its being passed lest it should be taken as a precedent in determining the basis of future arrangements in reference to the clergy. Such a Bill ought to have more consideration than could possibly be given to this. The hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), who drew an analogy between Bishops and Judges of the land, forgot that the arrangement with respect to the Judges had been made by a House of Commons containing a good many lawyers; and he feared that this Bill was not the less objectionable that it 1309 had clearly on it the stamp of a House containing a good many Bishops.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"— (Mr. Hadfield,)
— instead thereof.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
I am very sorry, Sir, to say, after the best consideration I can give to this important Bill, in the very limited time allowed for the consideration of it, I shall feel it my duty to vote with the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) if he goes to a division. As a permanent measure the Bill is admitted to be thoroughly defective; and that admission is made by the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government for limiting the operation of the Bill to two years. The Bill deals with only one corner of a great subject. Perhaps the House is not aware that there is a prohibitory statute which renders it penal for the inferior clergy to resign under the circumstances in which this Bill will sanction the resignation of Bishops. That being the state of the law, I ask—Is it right that we should pass an Act of Parliament expressly providing for that step being taken by incapacitated Bishops which we have made it penal for the inferior clergy to take? I think that neither the Bishops who framed this Bill nor the Government can have given any attention to the state of the law upon the subject. In this respect alone, then, the Bill is most thoroughly deficient and incomplete, and as a permanent measure it cannot be defended for a moment. Therefore the First Minister is right in proposing to limit its operation to two years, and the ground is taken from under all argument based on the permanent advantages to be derived from the Bill. Regarding it, then, as a temporary measure, we know that it is de- signed to meet two or three particular cases referred to by the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Dickinson). One is that of the see of Winchester and another that of the see of Exeter. A more munificent Prelate than the Bishop of Winchester never adorned the Episcopal Bench; the generosity of spirit he has displayed on the Ecclesiastical Commission, and which I have had the opportunity of knowing, has been most exemplary. He has not 1310 been placed under the restrictive system established by the Church Commission Act; he holds the estates of the see under arrangements which come down from the time of the Reformation; and, if rumour speaks truly, the income derived from them in modern times is something like £16,000 or £18,000 a year. No one appreciates more highly than I do the eminent character of the right rev. Prelate; but are we really about to provide that he shall have a retiring pension of something like £6,000 a year? In point of wealth the bishopric of Exeter is far below that of Winchester. The see of Exeter, which is also held upon the old tenure and not under the Church Commission Act, is one of the poorest; and I believe the income is something less than £2,000 a year. For years the Bishop has been totally incapacitated for discharging the duties of the see, and it is proposed to pension him with £2,000 a year, a sum equivalent to the whole income of the bishopric. Of course, no one would wish to see a Prelate of such distinction and ability left to starve because he is incapable of discharging his duties; but what is the fact? It is well known that the Bishop enjoys one of the prebends of Durham Cathedral; his income from this source is supposed to be £5,000 or £6,000 a year, and the office is a sinecure, the only duty attaching to it being that of residence for a certain time in a beautiful cathedral town. Ought not that income to be sufficient for the Bishop of Exeter? Ought not he to feel that the duties of his episcopate are, as far as he is concerned, entirely neglected because he is unable to discharge them? The comparatively humble revenues of the Bishop of Exeter might surely be surrendered for the appointment of a Bishop to discharge those duties. As far as I know the facts of those two cases, I must say I think we are hardly justified in making the special arrangements provided by this Bill in order to meet them. I cannot help urging on the Government the propriety of dealing with the whole subject of the retirement of Bishops and clergy in a more general way. I admit that provision should be made for retiring allowances, but I contend that in these two particular instances about as little of a case has been made out as possibly could be made. I shall therefore vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
said, he had come down to the House to give his humble assistance to the Government in carrying through this measure, which was of a strictly remedial character. He thought they had some reason to complain of the manner in which opposition was offered to the Bill at its present stage. The second reading had been agreed to without cavil or debate on Monday night. ["No, no!"] He repeated that the Bill had been read a second time without any opposition having been offered to it, and he submitted that it was contrary to all the usage and practice of that House that an Amendment of this kind should be moved on going into Committee without notice being given. His observations did not apply to the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Dickinson) because he seemed to feel there was an obligation laid on him not to respond to the invitation made to him to move the rejection of the Bill. His observations applied to the Members for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie), Bath (Mr. Dalrymple), and Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield). Perhaps the course taken by the hon. Member for Sheffield, with his well-known anti-episcopal views, should not excite much surprise, though even from him they had a right to expect some notice. But something different was to have been expected from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock. That right hon. Gentleman was an Ecclesiastical Commissioner, and was intimately conversant with questions such as that under discussion. He was, moreover, the greatest stickler for the observance of the minutest rules and forms of the House, and was ever ready to call those to Order who transgressed them. For him, therefore, to put himself forward to lead the Opposition against the Bill at that stage was certainly a most extraordinary thing. The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock, possessing as he did a full knowledge of the ecclesiastical revenues, might, at least, in going into the case have given the House a statement more consistent with the real facts than the one he had submitted. He led the House to believe that the Bishop of Exeter had an income of between £5,000 and £6,000 a year from his prebendal stall at Durham.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
I have no knowledge of the fact myself, but it is generally understood that such is the case.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
said, he wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman meant to insinuate by that that he adopted the general understanding? Did he not from his position as an Ecclesiastical Commissioner know that the income of the Bishop referred to was only something between £3,000 and £4,000? [Ironical cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen might cheer, but he submitted that there was a great deal of difference between £ 3,000 and £5,000, and £4,000 and £6,000. When such a statement as that made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock was made ad invidium against a right rev. Prelate, the House had a right to demand a precise knowledge of the facts. In what way did. the right hon. Gentleman regard the question? First of all he started with a most extraordinary proposition. He urged the House not to pass this Bill as regarded the Bishops, because they would hereafter have to do something for the inferior clergy, That might or might not have been a good argument previous to the year 1856; but in that year Parliament passed Bills allowing the Bishop of London (Bishop Blomfield) and the Bishop of Durham (Bishop Maltby) to resign. It was, therefore, too late now to tell them that there was anything penal in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman further said that this was not a permanent Bill but a temporary one, and that it only applied to two Bishops. He (Mr. Mowbray) submitted that that was not a fair way of putting the case. The right hon. Gentleman exaggerated the incomes of the Bishops in order to create a prejudice against the Bill. Looked at properly it would be found that the Bill was general in its provisions, and it could be made applicable during the two years it was to remain in force to other cases besides those of the two right rev. Prelates. He did not at that period of the Session wish to detain the House with anything like a speech. He wished merely to give his support to Her Majesty's Government in a measure which he considered both timely and seasonable. It was quite true that it had come up at rather a late period of the Session; but the Prime Minister had told them early in the Session that the subject was likely to become matter of legislation. The hon. Member for Sheffield was naturally triumphant that Parliament had dis- 1313 established one branch of the Church of England, and he grudged that Church even the small remedial measure under discussion. But if they remembered that the Church of England was identified with the State and was of course subject to legislation, this small remedy ought not to be withheld. He considered that the Bill was a practical remedy for a practical grievance, and that it had been brought forward at the proper time. Both the hon. Members for Bath and Stroud, while objecting to the Bill, admitted that some system of resignation for Bishops was absolutely necessary. With respect to the second portion of the Bill, he thought that the slightest consideration of the arguments urged by the Premier must prove that whatever questions might arise as to coadjutor Bishops, the Bill was an improvement upon the law as it at present existed under the Act of 1843. He would not follow the hon. Member for Sheffield through all his references to profane history and the voluntary system. But he must protest against one of his remarks. The hon. Member claimed that the Nonconformists constituted a majority of the people of England; but how far that was the case might be judged of by the fact that in 1861 the Dissenters in the House opposed Lord Palmerston and Sir George Cornewall Lewis and prevented a religious Census of the people of the kingdom being taken. The hon. Member, therefore, had no right to appeal to imaginary numbers.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, the right hon. Gentleman was quite wrong. The hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) proposed that an enumeration should be made throughout the kingdom.
§ MR. ACLAND
said, he felt bound to bear his humble testimony to the urgent necessity in the South part of England for some practical measure of this kind being passed without delay. It was not necessary to go into details in answer to his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie). He would not discuss the question of the precise income of these two Bishops; but his right hon. Friend knew very well the constant inconvenience in the Ecclesiastical Commission of not being able to refer to a responsible Bishop, or to bring his personal and moral influence to bear on any part of his diocese. He urged the Government to lose no time in pas- 1314 sing this measure as a practical remedy for a great and admitted evil. There was wisdom, he thought, in placing Parliament under the necessity of re-considering this matter in all its bearings, after a short experience in the working of this measure. He hoped the Government would not give way.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, he had been most anxious the other night that this Bill should be explained, and it was only in consequence of the state of his right hon. Friend the First Minister's health that a full statement on the subject had not been given. He must say that the arguments used by his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) had convinced him that it would not be desirable to proceed with the Bill. This was a very wide question, and he thought it unfair to legislate for the heads of the Church, who had very large incomes, while they provided no retirement for the humbler clergy, with far smaller incomes.
§ MR. M'LAREN
wished to say a word respecting the conduct of the Dissenters at the last Census. He ventured to say that the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mowbray) was a very in accurate statement indeed. The Dissenters merely objected to the Census being taken in a particular way. The Census of 1851 took an account of all who attended places of worship, and the results arrived at were most important; but under the Census of 1861 the Government proposed to ask each person to what denomination he belonged, and the great mass of inhabitants in large towns, who attended no place of worship at all, would have returned themselves as members of the Church of England. This led to statements which for statistical purposes were perfectly useless. If the present Bill had proposed to increase the number of Bishops in the House of Lords, he should have opposed it; but as it was only proposed for the purpose of re-placing in the diocesan work inefficient persons by efficient ones, he should support it.
§ MR. BOWRING
said, that his constituents took great interest in this subject, in consequence of the unsatisfactory state of the diocese of Exeter for many years past. He should oppose the Amendment.
Sir, I am desirous of saying a few words in reference 1315 to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird). It was undoubtedly perfectly competent for any or all the Members of this House to oppose the principle of this Bill upon the Motion for your leaving the Chair. There can be no question about that. For myself, I took it as a great courtesy and kindness on the part of the House to allow, as it did, the second reading of the Bill to pass without discussion. I am bound to say that I conceive it quite possible the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) may have waived putting any Amendment on the Paper when he saw the Notice of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Collins) to move that the order for the second reading be discharged. With regard to the question itself, I think that the speeches we have heard from Gentlemen connected with the diocese of Exeter will weigh very greatly with this House, as well as the speeches made by Gentlemen opposite. It must be borne in mind that the Church of England is an Episcopal Church, and that it is presumed, whether rightly or wrongly, that a Bishop is of some use. But there happen, unfortunately, to be four or five dioceses of which it may almost be said that they have no Bishops, and all that we propose is to provide Bishops for them, provided the present holders of the sees are willing to cooperate with us. The hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Dickinson) says there is great difficulty connected with this question of retirement. I myself began by stating that if you are to frame an universal and compulsory system of retirement the matter would be most difficult. I, for one, should hesitate to set myself to such a work. But, as far as voluntary resignation goes, I venture to say that the difficulty is small. The resignation of Bishops is admitted by the ecclesiastical law; and so strongly did the House feel upon this matter of resignation in the year 1856, that it passed a Bill to enable two particular Bishops to retire. The real question is, whether or not we are prepared to apply a practical remedy to a very serious practical evil, and on that question I will now take the judgment of the House.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 112; Noes 26: Majority 86.1316
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2 (Resignation of Bishop).
said, he thought it would be better to retain these words, as they set forth that the Bill was to proceed merely upon the principle of voluntary resignation. He was not sure whether that system would prove to be altogether sufficient; but if it did not, they might then proceed in the direction suggested by the Amendment. He had no objection to the insertion of the word "permanent" before "physical infirmity," as their desire was not only to encourage resignation where it was necessary, but to discourage it where it was not.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. DICKINSON
said, the next Amendment of which he had given notice raised the question as to the amount of retiring allowances to Bishops and Archbishops. He could not admit the justice of the parallel sought to be established by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Beresford Hope). Judges came from a class in large and lucrative practice, and frequently sacrificed a large portion of their income on taking office. Bishops, on the contrary, came from a class not remarkable for large incomes; and the justification for the very high incomes which they received as Bishops was said to be that the emoluments were necessary for the office, not for the individual. A retired Bishop would have no social or public demands upon him calling for a large income; and during a long episcopacy he had many opportunities of providing for his family. The clause proposed that his allowance should amount to one-third of the income of the diocese, which he (Mr. Dickinson) thought was excessive. A larger portion of the revenues ought to remain with his suc- 1317 cessor, by whom the duties of the office were to be discharged. He further contended that there ought not to be different grades of retiring allowances for Bishops, but that they ought to be placed in the same category; they ought to have enough to maintain them in comfort, but not more. He should, therefore, move in line 27, to leave out from "such" to "pounds," in line 30, and insert "to the retiring Archbishop two thousand five hundred pounds, and to the retiring Bishop one thousand five hundred pounds." He first begged to move, in line 24, to leave out from "to" to "Bishop" in line 25.
said, that to give to this subject the full discussion which it might require would necessitate the introduction of a good deal of matter; but he would state shortly the view which the Government took, and he hoped it would commend itself to the Committee. Nothing was easier than to say that the Bishops, like the Apostles, ought to live according to evangelical poverty. Burke, however, had a very pregnant remark on that subject. He said, that undoubtedly all Bishops and clergy ought to have the mind of evangelical poverty, and to live in that spirit; but he added, although they might not be aware of it, that was equally the duty of the laity. And, certainly, throughout the New Testament, where the spirit of evangelical poverty was so strongly insisted upon, no clear distinction, that he had ever been able to find, was drawn between its application to the clergy and the laity. That, however, was one extreme view; the other was, that the Bishops should be treated as great Officers of State, the nearest analogy that could be found being that of a Judge. To the Judge, considering the relief which he gained from certain expenses, substantially three-fourths of his salary were given as a retiring allowance. According to the spirit of evangelical poverty, the Bishop, he supposed, ought to get no retiring allowance at all. But the line which the Government had drawn was one-third of his episcopal income. In framing a Bill of this kind it was absurd to leave out of sight all regard to the existing conditions of society. Parliament thought it desirable that there should be an Established Church, and also that very close relation should exist between the clergy and the 1318 rest of the community, with some relation also to rank. Further, it was justly thought of importance that there should be a married clergy, and hence the influence of the family upon the Bishop; and considerations of social status could not be excluded. The Government, accordingly, had taken the sum of £ 2,000 as that which would pretty fairly represent the minimum that would enable a person who had sat in the House of Lords to maintain his status with tolerable respectability; and they had introduced the provision as to one-third of the episcopal income as the general rule to which they wished this Bill to conform, being a very small allowance compared with that which was given to Judges. It might be perfectly true that the Archbishop of Canterbury, considered as a man, or considered as a gentleman, would be able to live upon the sum named in the Amendment. It must be remembered, however, that the Archbishop of Canterbury was the first subject after the Blood Royal, and that the Archbishop of York was the third. Under all the circumstances, he did not think the provision contemplated by the Bill for the members of the hierarchy could be regarded as extravagant, bearing in mind that many private gentlemen were in the enjoyment of fortunes of £20,000, £30,000, £40,000, £50,000, £60,000, and he knew not how many more thousands a year.
§ MR. WHITWELL
asked whether the retiring allowance in the case of the Bishop of Winchester was to be calculated on the scale named in the Bill, or upon one-third of his former income, which amounted, he believed, to £15,000?
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) had stated that under the scale proposed the Bishop of Winchester would have a retiring allowance of £6,000 a year. He could not say he thought that an allowance of £6,000 a year was necessary for a gentleman who had occupied the position of a Bishop, but then it was not for the sake of individuals that this Bill had been brought forward. Its object was to get a see clear, in order that an efficient man might be put into it. Considering the subject from a pecuniary point of view, he might remark that he had not ascertained, as a fact, that the 1319 income of the Bishop of Winchester amounted to £18,000 a year; but, whatever it might be, he had no doubt that that excellent Prelate made a good use of it. Supposing the Bishop's income to be £ 18,000 a year, it was obvious that annual sum would become part of his private property as long as he lived and did not resign his see. Under this Bill, however, he would receive his pension of £ 6,000 a year. At the same time his successor would be paid the Parliamentary income of £ 7,000 a year, so that there would be an addition of £ 5,000 a year to the general funds of the Church applicable for incumbents. He trusted that this explanation would be satisfactory.
§ MR. DICKINSON
said, he was of opinion that the superannuation allowance ought not to be deducted from the income of the incoming Bishop.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, that hon. Members should bear in mind that this was a measure to promote resignations; and, however anxious a Bishop might be to promote the welfare of his diocese, he could hardly be expected to reduce himself and his family to beggary. He knew that the Bishops, as a body of men, were torn to pieces by subscriptions. As the Prime Minister had truly remarked, the Church of England desired to have a married clergy; and how then was a Bishop or other clergyman who desired to devote a great portion of his income to charitable objects to make due provision for his family unless he insured his life? Probably, however, if his retiring allowance was made too small, he might be induced to let the insurance fall in, and thus his own family would be defrauded of their reasonable expectations. In a matter of this kind the highest generosity was the highest wisdom, and he trusted, therefore, that the Amendment would not be carried.
asked whether it was intended that the outgoing Bishop should retain his seat in the House of Peers?
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
explained that the Bill consisted of two parts. The first part had reference to the case of an absolute resignation, in which event the incoming Bishop would have full possession of the see, except that his revenues would be charged with the payment of his predecessor's pension. Of course, therefore, the retired 1320 Prelate would not continue to sit in the House of Lords. The second part related to the appointment of a coadjutor Bishop. In that case there would be two Bishops in the same see—one incapacitated, and the other doing the duty of the diocese. This was wholly different to the former case, because the coadjutor would not succeed to the see until the decease of the incapacitated Prelate.
§ Amendment negatived.
said, he had now to propose an Amendment which would, he believed, meet the views of his hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Dickinson). If it were true that the Bishop of Winchester would, on resigning, be entitled to a pension of £ 6,000 a year, while the income of his successor would be only £ 7,000 a year, it would almost be an absurdity to make the pension payable out of the new Bishop's income. The House of Lords had accordingly provided that the £ 6,000 should be paid out of the common fund. But if the proviso became law the new Bishop of Winchester would, in the event of the present Bishop resigning, obtain his full salary without any charge upon it; whereas any person subsequently becoming Bishop of Winchester, would have his income charged with the payment of his predecessor's income. He, therefore, proposed that the proviso should be amended so as to run thus—Provided that if in the case of the retirement of any Bishop appointed before the year 1832, such retiring allowance should exceed the sum of £2,000, the excess shall be paid by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners out of their common fund.The result would be that in the event of the retirement of the Bishop of Winchester £ 7,000 would be saved to the Church.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. DICKINSON
said, he desired to see sub-section 2, relating to episcopal residences, expunged from the clause. Every Bishop who resigned ceased to be a Bishop. ["No, no!"] It might not be so canonically, but, under this Bill, a Bishop who resigned was defunct as a Bishop. When a Bishop resigned, and a new Bishop was appointed, he maintained that the episcopal residence ought to go to the real Bishop, and not to be retained by the practically defunct one. Let them not seek to keep 1321 up the "sham" of having unreal as well as real Bishops. When a Bishop re-signed he should retire into private life; and the episcopal residence attached to the see should pass to the actual Bishop who did the work of the diocese. He would, therefore, propose the omission of sub-section 2 from the clause.
said, he hoped the Amendment would not be pressed. It was not intended by that portion of the Bill to lay down as a general rule that the retiring Bishop was to keep the episcopal residence. What was asked was that confidence should be given to the Advisers of the Crown up to this point, that if in a particular case they thought it expedient to assign an episcopal residence they should have power to do so. They would be responsible for that exercise of discretion, and if they exercised it wrongly they would be called to account as in regard to other matters where they had discretionary powers. If it were said— "Why should there be such confidence given to the Advisers of the Crown?" it was sufficient to reply that there might be some cases where it was desirable. He would take the case of the late Bishop Blomfield, who had been far gone in paralysis as the result of his almost superhuman and certainly his most indefatigable and untiring labours through a long and honourable episcopate. To have removed him in that condition from Fulham would have been cruel; and, at the same time, the term of his natural life could not, in all human probability, have been prolonged for more than a year or two. It was in view of such a case as that that this power was now asked for.
§ MR. WHITWELL
said, he hoped the Amendment would be accepted. It might be very difficult for the incoming Bishop to obtain a residence as convenient as the episcopal residence attached to the see; and the new Prelate would hardly be deemed to be a true and properly appointed Bishop, if he were not invested with the residence hitherto appertaining to the bishopric.
§ MR. ACLAND
said, he regarded that as partly a question of social feeling and personal convenience, and partly a question of practical efficiency. It might be a hardship to ask an aged Prelate, who was suffering from nervous debility, to clear out of his private study. On the 1322 other hand, he could not see what great hardship it would be to the incoming Bishop if he were asked temporarily to provide himself with a plain unostentatious town residence in a hired house in. the scene of his labours until a more comfortable residence could be prepared for him.
MR. O. MORGAN
said, that the case of the Bishop of Exeter, which had been repeatedly referred to, was not in point, as the Bishop did not reside at the episcopal palace in the City of Exeter, but in a splendid palace which had been built out of his funds at Torbay.
§ MR. MONK
said, he thought that if they were dealing with deans, canons, or incumbents they would not insert a provision allowing a retiring dean to retain the deanery close to the cathedral, or a retiring incumbent to retain the rectory house, and he did not see why a different rule should be applied to a retiring Bishop.
§ MR. DICKINSON
said, he hoped they would not have any more cases in future of Bishops sticking to their bishoprics until they could not remove from their episcopal residences. At all events, if such a case occurred again, that matter should be left to the good feeling of the incoming Bishop. They ought not to make a rule for exceptional cases, and why were Bishops to be treated differently from other men?
suggested to insert after "Her Majesty may" the words "upon special grounds," as likely to meet the difficulties of the case.
§ Words inserted.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 3 (Proceedings to prove the incapacity of a Bishop).
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. DICKINSON
said, the clause read now "by reason of permanent mental infirmity." He proposed to introduce after "mental" the words "or physical," and to add after "infirmity" "or age." The Bill as it came down. from the House of Lords provided for physical or mental infirmity, and, looking to what had occurred in certain dio- 1323 ceses, the House of Commons ought to proceed on that principle.
said, that a great many Members had waived their objection to the Bill on the understanding that it should be limited to mental infirmity. His hon. Friend was asking the Government to undertake one of the most difficult tasks of legislation— namely, while maintaining that regard for existing interests, which was always observed in this country, to arrange and adjust a machinery for ejecting a number of distinguished persons who held freeholds from offices with incomes of from £ 4,000 to £15,000 a year. That would be wholly beyond the means of the Government, and would be fatal to any enactment of the kind at the present period.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. DICKINSON
moved, at the end of the clause, to add "and such certificate shall be deemed to be a representation within the second section." His object was that in a case of mental infirmity there should be appointed a real instead of a coadjutor Bishop.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 4 agreed to.
§ Clause 5 (Relative positions of Bishop and Bishop coadjutor).
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
proposed, in line 6, after "privilege," to insert, "with the exception of a title to a seat in the House of Lords." If a Bishop was unfit for his episcopal duties, it was quite clear he was unfit for his legislative duties.
said, he would not dispute that primâ facie the Amendment appeared reasonable and proper. But if the retiring Bishop was not to retain his seat in the House of Lords, was the seat to pass to the coadjutor Bishop? ["No."] Well then, the hon. Baronet was opening a very large constitutional question, and he (Mr. Gladstone) should prefer its being raised broadly and directly. It was certainly an inconvenience and an anomaly that a person not in his right mind should have a seat in the House of Lords. But if Prelates afflicted with mental infirmity were to be turned out of the House of Lords, what was to be done with lay Peers similarly situated? Moreover, if 1324 this strict rule was adopted, a little legislation would be necessary for the House of Commons too, for upon one occasion an hon. Gentleman walked quietly out of a lunatic asylum, came down to the House, and gave his vote upon a question which involved the life and death of a Ministry, as the hon. Baronet would doubtless remember, for he was in the House at the time.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, he was sorry the recording of this vote against the right hon. Gentleman should affect his view of the question before the Committee.
said, he remembered another case in which a Gentleman was brought in on the Liberal side of the House in 1841, and voted on a question of vital importance, having no mind at all.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clauses 6 to 10, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 11 (Application of the Act to Archbishops).
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
asked whether it was intended that in the case of an Archbishop the coadjutor would simply exercise the episcopal duty of the see attached to the archbishopric.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, to be considered To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 263.]