HC Deb 06 May 1869 vol 196 cc261-2

said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, upon the Bill for the disestablishment of the Irish Church becoming Law, the Prelates of that Church will come under the operation of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act?


In answer, Sir, to the Question of the hon. Member, I have to state, in the first place, that as regards those who are now, or who will be, the Bishops or other dignitaries of the Established Church in Ireland, before the day appointed for the final act of disestablishment, the intention of the Bill, as it was originally introduced into the House of Commons, was that all persons becoming Archbishops, Bishops, or deans of that Church should continue to hold their title with the same rights as they possessed before the disestab- lishment of the Irish Church. In Committee on the Bill, however, an Amendment was introduced on the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) on the 13th clause, which was willingly acceded to by us, because it did nothing more than express more fully the intention of the Bill. That is to say, the intention of the Bill had been to leave the titles of the Bishops and the other dignitaries of the Church where they were—the Bill saying nothing further than that, after that day, the Archbishops or Bishops should be disqualified from sitting in the House of Lords. But, on looking back to the effect of that Amendment, I find that it says that the present Archbishops, Bishops, and deans of the Irish Church shall be entitled to retain their titles and precedence for life, and, therefore, whereas under the effect of the Bill any persons appointed to those offices before the 1st of January, 1871, will have, as we think, their titles quite safe; those who are appointed after that date, as the Bill now stands, would stand in the same category as those who may come in after the disestablishment. Now, in answer to the other part of my hon. Friend's Question, I have to state that, as regards those who may hereafter be appointed dignitaries in the Disestablished Church, or after the passing of the Act, the enactments of the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill will render it illegal for them to assume the title of Bishop or Archbishop, or other dignitary of the Disestablished Church. That, I am told, is the effect of that Act. It will be remembered that, when that Act was in Parliament, a special exception was introduced into it in favour of the Bishops of the Episcopal communion in Scotland, which exception clearly indicated the feeling of Parliament that, but for that exception, those dignitaries would have come within its provisions. I must say that this is a state of things that ought not to be allowed to continue.