HC Deb 15 June 1871 vol 207 cc103-20

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


, in rising to move that the Chairman do now leave the Chair, said, he could not help thinking that everything connected with the Bill was unsatisfactory and inconvenient. The time when the measure had been previously brought before the House was inconvenient, and the usual practice of making a statement with regard to a Bill had not been followed by its promoters. A Committee upstairs would be a much better place to discuss Amendments on a religious question like this than a Committee of the Whole House. It was said that the Bill ought to pass because it had come from a Royal Commission. Well, a great deal was expected from that Commission, but it had done very little, and that little very badly. Alterations had been proposed which caused surprise, and others omitted where decision was necessary—for instance, the Rubric on ornaments, by the misinterpretation of which so many innovations had been introduced, and for removal of which the Commission had been appointed, was left untouched. Moreover, this Bill was a mere fragment of what had been recommended. The Commission showed all the weakness of compromise, and that House, also, was expected to show its weakness by accepting the compromise. That the Government should undertake a small Bill like this was by no means satisfactory. If they passed this Bill they would soon have another disturbance with regard to the Prayer Book, and then another Commission. It was said the trade was disturbed, and for that reason this Bill must pass. Whose fault was that? It rested with one or two Prelates, who assured the trade the Bill would pass last year, and, in consequence, the new Prayer Books were printed. If trade complained, the people would complain if that alteration was made. There was a great deal of sentiment connected with the Prayer Book. People were attached to their own Prayer Book—they did not like to change it. It was more than 200 years since it had been disturbed in any way, and if they were now to make any alterations, let it be done in such a way that those alterations would last at least for two or three generations. No one could say if this Bill passed that it would not be necessary that considerable alterations should be made in the Prayer Book at no distant day. Many of the clergy were themselves opposed to the Bill. The Archbishop of Canterbury said that other important recommendations of the Commission should be embodied in it, or it might be said we had been treated deceitfully; and Canon Trevor also objected to it. The Guardian, Church Times, and The Record recommended the postponement of the measure; and he had a letter from a clergyman, who objected that the Lessons provided by the Bill were not, on the whole, an improvement on the old Lessons; that a large portion of the Proverbs now read were omitted, and that neither the clergy nor the laity had been practically consulted upon the matter. The principle was admitted that a portion of the Apocrypha should be excluded, and he would ask why the whole of it should not be excluded, as it was uninspired? Another objection was, that either the Old or the New Prayer Book could be used, so that people would have to take both "Church Services" to Church, because they could not know beforehand which one would be used. Added to all those objections, there was a general feeling among Churchmen that the Bill was unnecessary; and for all those reasons combined, he would now move that the Chairman do leave the Chair.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Locke King.)


said, he thought the objections ought to have been taken at an earlier stage, because they amounted to an absolute objection to the measure. The Government felt that had they attempted more than was contained in the Bill, it would have been impossible to carry any measure, certainly during the present, and, perhaps, in any future Session. There was such a diversity of opinion on other points referred to the Commission that it was impossible to say that the views of the Church outside this House had been clearly pronounced respecting them. Under those circumstances the Government had to consider whether they would act upon this portion of the Report of the Commission containing the Lectionary, or abandon altogether the hope of legislation; and they believed that though, among 20,000 clergymen, it was impossible to expect unanimity, the Bill represented the general feeling of the clergy. The Commission was carefully selected; it was fairly representative, consisting of both clergy and laity; they selected from their body a committee of men best qualified to consider the alterations in the Table of Lessons; the committee made a unanimous Report to the Commission, who adopted it as unanimously. These proposed changes were referred to the Universities and to various persons of authority in the Church. Finally, they were considered and adopted by Convocation, although a difference of opinion occurred there; and while Convocation was, perhaps, an imperfect re- presentation of the Church, it was the best we possessed, and he did not know what other steps could be taken to ascertain the opinion of the Church. The Government, therefore, felt it their duty to introduce a measure founded on this part of the Report of the Commission, and for that reason, he felt himself compelled to resist the Motion. They had accepted certain Amendments which would allow time for persona to become accustomed to these alterations; but the details of the measure were such as could not properly be considered either in that House or in a Select Committee. He, however, trusted his hon. Friend would withdraw the Motion.


said, he should support the Motion of the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King). He would not say whether the change was a good or a bad one, nor had he one word to say against the composition of the Commission who recommended it; but who asked for it? What Petitions had been presented in its favour, except from printers who would profit by it? Look at the tens of thousands of people whose minds, by this change, would be disturbed. God knew they were disturbed enough already in going into churches. Constant novelties there hindered them from knowing whether they stood on their heads or their heels. But that Bill would make confusion worse confounded, for by one of its provisions the minister was to be allowed to decide in the morning whether he would read one Lesson or two. The humbler classes among them stuck to tradition, and the existing Lessons had long prescription in their favour. Unless a great advantage could be shown as resulting from the change, why make it? Highly-educated persons might understand why it was made, but not humbler folk. Nor did this matter stand alone. The Convocation of one of the Provinces, of their own hook, had chosen to set to work upon the Bible, so far as he knew, without authority from anybody. Who could tell at the end of seven years how much of the Bible would be left? He believed such a change as that would be injurious not only to the Church, but to the faith which in different forms most of them professed, and he thought it was entirely uncalled for.


said, that having served upon the Commission, though not on the Committee, he thought it was impossible that anybody could be appointed more entitled to the respect and confidence of the country. The Committee showed clearly that the proposed changes were improvements; the work of selection had been admirably done; and he believed it would tend not to disturb but to satisfy public feeling, when the feeling occasioned by its novelty had worn off.


said, he had nothing to say against the composition of the Committee, the fairness of which he did not dispute; but the great questions submitted to the Royal Commissioners remained entirety unsolved by this Bill, which only dealt with the Lectionary and the arrangement of the Calendar; and in that respect he thought they were somewhat unfairly dealt with, after reading the Bill a second time without discussion, in being told they must either accept or reject it as a whole. In some respects he did not think the new Lectionary an improvement on the old one. Many of the Lessons were seriously curtailed, and in some cases six or eight verses were substituted instead of a whole chapter—a change that he could not approve of. As to the alleged assent of Convocation, did that body really represent the Church, of England—laity as well as clergy? Let Convocation first of all reform itself, and then the House would be able to leave the consideration of these matters to it. If the Bill passed, a serious tax, amounting it was calculated to £30,000 or £40,000, would be imposed upon 13,000 or 14,000 parishes, which were now bound to provide Prayer Books of a large size for use there, and how was this money to be raised, now that church rates were abolished? He should support the Motion.


said, it was to be regretted that such a tribunal as that House should be called upon, by way of appeal, to determine questions in which a large number of hon. Members took no interest whatever. The House of Commons consisted largely of Nonconformists, Catholics, and Jews, yet they were called upon to decide as to the form of prayer which the Church of England should adopt. He did not think that House was a proper tribunal to decide whether or not certain portions of the Apocrypha, and certain books of Moses, were to be read; and the Church of England would have acted more wisely by submitting the matter to some domestic tribunal of its own, than by throwing this obstacle in the way of disposing of the great mass of public measures before the House, and which were more to the public interest.


If my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the King's County (Mr. Serjeant Sherlock) had had more acquaintance with the circumstances of the case, and the history of legislation in this country, he would have found that there was some answer to his observations. As long as there is in the country a Church which has the character of a national Church, it would be a great anomaly—in fact, it would be intolerable—that changes should be introduced into its fundamental arrangements, and into its service, which were compulsory by law, and enforceable under penalties, without consent of the Legislature. My hon. and learned Friend feels that there is an incongruity in submitting to the Legislature such details. No doubt there is incongruity; but if he had referred to the history of the country he would have found that such incongruities had, on former occasions, been cured by the good sense of Englishmen, and especially by the good sense of the House of Commons. This is not the first time that a Bill of this character has been submitted to the House of Commons, but on every occasion on which there has been such a Bill the House of Commons has felt that it was essentially ill-constituted for the purposes of an ecclesiastical synod, and has been content to take a broad view of the measures submitted to it, and either to accept or reject them as a whole. I hope the House will not adopt the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King). I am certain it would be far better for us to decline to deal with the Bill altogether than to set about patching it in Committee, according to the individual fancy of this or that Member who thinks that he, by the strength, of his own will, could affect this or that particular improvement, and that he could amend it, independent of the great authority which stood arrayed on behalf of this Bill. Let us look whether it is or is not wise to reject this Bill. Individually, I am, like the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), very thankful for the Table of Lessons we have in the Prayer Book, and I should have been perfectly well content to leave to other generations the consideration of its improvement. But when he says—"Who have asked for improvement?" I am bound to say that many considerable persons have asked for it. Great authorities have asked for it. Reference has been made to Convocation. Convocation, though not strictly a representative body, yet is an important body, and represents a large mass of the opinion of the class which of all others is most interested in the question. Convocation in both Provinces has given its assent to this change; the Louse of Lords has given its assent to the change; and these three bodies—the Commission, Convocation, and the House of Lords—are not bodies of which it can be said that they are of too radical or too reforming a character. The right hon. Gentleman asked—"Why shake the minds of the people?" I feel with him about shaking the minds of the people; but I think it would be an exaggeration for me to say we are confronted by changes. There is no change here in the customs and belief of the Church, and the sound of the ancient English Scriptures; they still sound as before in the ears of the English people; and though the people are attached to the services of the Church, yet I do not think they are so acquainted with the Calendar and the chapter, and verses of the chapter which are to be read on each Sunday, as to detect the change which is to be made. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the choice between one Calendar and the other; but it is only fair to say that Government, in venturing to introduce that Amendment into the Bill, did not intend to act on any principle of giving effect to their own individual will. It never entered into the head of anyone that congregations would go backwards and forwards capriciously from one Calendar to another. The consideration which weighed was that in many parishes it would be a hardship to purchase Prayer Books with new Calendars, and in any case it would be undesirable to provoke opposition by proposing the necessity of a sudden change. That was a matter for which—though we have introduced such a change—we certainly had no strong opinion of our own to urge if we should be proved to be wrong. But though there is no general discontent with the general Table of Lessons, I think, upon the whole, this new Calendar has been favourably received by the country, and it is with that belief that it is now proposed, and not from any impatience to change the existing form of service, which years of use have endeared to so many persons. Nevertheless, after all those bodies I have referred to, possessed of great authority in the matter, have assented to the contents of the Bill, I think that no sufficient reason has been shown why this House, though modified in its constitution in recent years, should decline to accept a measure of this kind; for the House has, on several occasions, dealt with measures affecting the temporal and spiritual arrangements of the Church. I admit the great unfitness of the House to discuss and modify in detail a Bill of this character, but that does not constitute a reason why, as a legislative and deliberative Assembly, it should withhold its general assent to a measure which has undergone great consideration, and has received the assent and approval of a large body of the community interested in the subject. I trust, therefore, the House will not agree to the Motion.


said, he wished to ask the Prime Minister, whether, by accepting the legislation that was proposed by the Royal Commissioners on this point, the Committee would be precluded from subsequently dealing with their other recommendations? The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) had cast some aspersions on the conduct of the Royal Commissioners, but if he took the trouble to read the résumé of their Report that had been prepared by one of their number, he would feel that their recommendations were worthy of the consideration of all thoughtful men. In the first instance, he was of opinion that it would be well to leave this matter alone; but having since had the opportunity of very carefully considering the subject, he had come to see the immense superiority of the new Table of Lessons over the old one, and he should be lath to stand in the way of the adoption of so great an improvement. The Government had already made a concession as to the liberty to be granted to clergymen with respect to the use of the new Lessons, in proposing that no one should be obliged, to read them until 1879; but it would be more in accordance with the present state of public feeling if that liberty were extended for an indefinite period, and clergymen had the alternative of using either the old Lessons or the now ones. The opinion of Churchmen would soon decide the matter in one way or the other, and on their decision, based upon the experience of a few years, there could be legislation hereafter. With regard to the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for the King's County (Mr. Serjeant Sherlock), he could only say that hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House had been careful not to run counter to the religious feelings of those who sat on the other benches, and he appealed to those who entertained the same opinions as the hon. and learned Member not to use such language as he had uttered on so sacred a matter. He could not consent to the doctrine that the representatives of the United Kingdom were not interested in the settlement of matters concerning the Church of this country; whether hon. Members belonged to the Church of England or not, the condition of the Church must be a matter of the greatest importance to them and to the nation generally, and as in all professions it was of great service to get an outside opinion, so it was of great advantage to the Church to elicit the opinions of Nonconformists, since by that means light would be thrown on some of its difficulties, which everyone who wished well to the country, whether he belonged to her communion or not, would desire, for the sake of the public welfare, to see overcome.


said, that the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) did not apply, and that he could assure the House that this matter had not been slurred over by the Royal Commissioners. The revision of the Table of Lessons was one of the objects committed to them, and it was not for them to inquire whether there was a public demand for it. When the Commissioners met, they were of opinion that the work of revision had better, in the first instance, be intrusted to a sub-Committee, and such a body was appointed as was truly representative of the larger Commission. The Table of Lessons which they prepared was circulated among the whole body, and by them it was maturely considered. It did not pass without certain alterations being made, and in its revised form it had been adopted by the Convocation of both Provinces and by the other House of Parliament. This House ought not to criticize those details to which some of the Amendments pointed, but should adopt the Bill with the long period that had been granted by the Government for the adoption of the now Table. If it approved itself to the common sense of religious people, the new Table would gradually and peaceably take its place, without the parishes being put to the expense supposed by the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk), since any parish could for a penny buy a copy of the Act which would contain the Table of Lessons. At the end of seven years, if it should not be approved of, and the old Table should be preferred, the present Bill might be repealed by a very short Act. He trusted the Bill would be passed through Committee, and that the new Table would give peace and contentment to the Church.


said, as no Dissenter had yet spoken on the question, he wished to say a few words upon it. Since the Prime Minister had deprecated discussion on the details of this Bill, on the ground that the House was unfit to deal with them, it was fair to presume he was really opposed to it. But how were Dissenters to vote upon the question. [An hon. MEMBER: Not at all.] Dissenters believed that civil government had nothing to do with the internal affairs of a Christian church; how, then, could they do otherwise than vote with the hon. Member for Surrey? The Prime Minister knew that the feeling for disestablishment was growing rapidly. ["No, no!] He knew that 91 Members had voted for disestablishment, and that should not be lost sight of. ["Question!] It was the question; because, as he believed, the civil power had nothing to do with the inside of a church, it was his duty to vote for the Amendment. The Prime Minister must know disestablishment was near at hand, and that when the Church was disestablished it would be able to deal with the Prayer Book as it pleased.


said, he intended to support the Government, but he must protest against the doctrine that the House should take the Bill as the Government had chosen to alter it. The Commission which had dealt with, the matter was appointed by the late Lord Derby, and was composed of men of all shades of opinion, lay and clerical; the Lectionary recommended by them was adopted unanimously, and although he was not altogether satisfied with it, he was not prepared to raise his individual opinion against the unanimous conclusions of so eminent a body as that Commission. He did not, for instance, approve the change by which the New Testament was to be read only twice a-year instead of thrice; there were many who never heard the sound of the Gospel except in church, and it was unadvisable that the opportunities now afforded to such persons of becoming acquainted with the foundation of our faith should be curtailed. He also objected to allowing two Lectionaries to exist up to the year 1879. In the old Lectionary, 106 Lessons were taken from the Apocrypha; in the new only 40, and numerous other changes were made. If the two Lectionaries were allowed to be in force for the next seven years not only would the people be at a loss to know which Lectionary would be used, but the very existence of two Lectionaries would become a standard of disagreement. He objected to giving parties in the Church an opportunity of setting up that or any other Shibboleth. It would also be a great inconvenience to members of the Church if it were in the power of the minister to choose which Lectionary he would use; as one clergyman would adopt the new one, whilst another minister might use the old one, and thereby great confusion would arise. This proposal was a pure invention of the Government, unsupported by the House of Lords, Convocation, or the Commission. The Prime Minister had said he wished to ascertain the opinion of the people upon the subject; but no steps had been taken to do so, and it was most impolitic to allow the opinion of the people upon such a subject to be developed in the midst of schismatic contentions. He maintained that the Bill ought not to be confined simply to the Lectionary; for, as he reminded the House, the Commission appointed by the late Lord Derby was not selected for that purpose only, but with especial reference to the growth and increase of Ritualism, in England. That was not the only unanimous recommendation of the Commissioners, for there were a great many of the numerous recommendations which were made unanimously, and which were not included in in the Bill before the House. He should ill-discharge his duty if he did not say that he thought the Bill inadequate; but he had derived considerable consolation from the statement of the Prime Minister—that the Government in passing this Bill must not be taken as opposing the other recommendations of the Commission, which would be open to future consideration.


said, he thought these questions ought to be settled between the members of the Church of England, and that they could never be so settled until the constitution of the Governing Body of that Church was revised and remodelled more in accordance with the feelings of the people of this country. These matters would then be arranged within Convocation, and when they came to Parliament to sanction their arrangement they would meet with that respect to which they were entitled. Were matters in the position he had described, that House need not have incurred the well-merited reproof, which he hoped they would take to heart, of the hon. and learned Member for the King's County (Mr. Serjeant Sherlock). He would support the Amendment. He was a Conservative, and detested change merely as such. Unless change was shown to be necessary, he invariably opposed it. He was not aware that public opinion was in favour of the proposed change, and he believed it would create doubt and difficulty in the minds of the laity.


said, he believed it was not the duty of hon. Members who did not belong to the Church of England to walk out of the House, but to vote on this question according to their conscientious opinion. The Prime Minister had said that the Bill must be accepted in its entirety upon the authority simply of Convocation and the Ritualistic Commission. As a Presbyterian, he (Mr. Graham) could not admit that any such bodies had any right to dictate the formula according to which the people of that country were to worship God. No more unchristian principle could be asserted than that these formulas should be imposed upon the people by the votes of political parties. He could not support this Bill, especially as it provided that matter should be read in the public services of our churches as God's Word which he did not believe to be so.


said, he was unable to follow the argument of his hon. Friend (Mr. Graham), to the effect that they had no right to impose the reading of particular Lessons. The existing Lessons rested on the authority of Parliament, and the object of this Bill was partly to reduce the number. As regarded the questions of the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon), and the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Dr. Ball), as to the intentions of the Government, he would observe that there were a great many other recommendations upon which the Commissioners were agreed; but, on the other hand, there were a large number upon which they were not unanimous, and as these comprised some of the most interesting and important questions, in dealing with the others it would have been impossible to pass them by. The Government had to consider whether the time was come for proposing legislation with regard to points on which there was such difference of opinion, and they thought it was not come. But those questions were under the consideration of the Church—possibly at no distant period they might be dealt with; and whenever there was a reasonable prospect of their being satisfactorily and harmoniously decided, that Government, or any succeeding one would, he was sure, be happy to take up the matter.


said, he entirely agreed with the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Graham), that neither he nor any hon. Member of that House should walk out on this or any other occasion. With reference to the observations of the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish), he wished to remind that hon. Gentleman that 26 years ago the Dissenters' Chapel Bill was brought into the House at the instigation of the Nonconformists, that it had to meet a narrow sectarian opposition, but that the majority of Churchmen in the House supported the Dissenters on that occasion; and he thought the Dissenters would do well to support on this occasion a question which had been thoroughly sifted by the Church authorities.


, who spoke amid considerable interruption, said, he had taken great pains in examining the new Lectionary, and unhesitatingly declared that the old one was the better of the two. The present Bill gave a chance of two Lectionaries, and he was convinced that this would be certain to introduce into parishes new elements of discord.


said, the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish) only desired to extend to the Church the same liberty which Parliament conferred upon the Dissenters 26 years ago. It had been said that the duty of Parliament in regard to this question was to confirm the decision of Convocation; but to this he strongly objected, for this, if for no other reason—that, so far as he had been able to ascertain, Convocation could not be said in any adequate way to represent the opinions of the great mass of the lay members of the Church of England.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 39; Noes 204: Majority 165.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (Substitution of Tables of Lessons in schedule for old Tables).


rose to propose one of a series of Amendments, the first being in page 2, line 3, after "read," to insert the word "and," which would have the effect of introducing into the Prayer Book the old and new Tables of Lessons. He tendered his best thanks to the Government for the consideration they had given to his Amendments, and their endeavour by the alterations they had made in the Bill to introduce them to some extent. The Bill was opposed last Session, and it was hoped that delay would result in the introduction of a more comprehensive measure this Session dealing with the Rubric as well as the Table of Lessons. The Government who issued that Commission, and the present Government, who renewed it, were of opinion that the most important question to deal with was the Rubric, that of the Table of Lessons being secondary and subordinate to it. There were, therefore, abundant reasons last year to show that the Bill was prematurely introduced, because the Commissioners had not then reported on the chief subject submitted for their consideration; and the experience of last Session showed that the Bill must fail unless its scope was enlarged. This was the opinion of the Archbishop of Canterbury, expressed in his letter to the Bishop of London last January. He was therefore surprised and disappointed to find the Bill had been introduced in its present form. It was, however, thought better not to oppose the measure, but to offer such Amendments for the consideration of the Committee as might render it less objectionable. If this Amendment was not adopted, he admitted that most of the others must fall to the ground. His objection to the Government scheme was that it would destroy after some years the use of the old Table of Lessons, and he desired the Committee to take such a course as would leave the clergy free still to use the old Table of Lessons, and by making the action of the Bill permissive, not compulsory, would also prepare the way for the final settlement of the question.


said, he approved of the Amendment. He had reluctantly voted with the minority in the last division, because he feared that this Bill, if carried in its present form, would produce anxiety and indignation in the minds of many worthy people.


said, the object of the proposition of the hon. Member for North-east Lancashire was to render the use of the old or new Table of Lessons optional; but the hon. Member seemed to intend that the effect of his Amendment should be only temporary, and he failed to see the practical difference between it and the proposition of the Government. He therefore hoped the hon. Member would not press his Amendment.


said, he thought the new Lectionary superior to the old one, but was in favour of giving a large discretion to the clergy as to the reading of the Holy Scriptures in churches. The Government, after rejecting an Amendment which he had suggested, to enable a clergyman to substitute a passage from the Scriptures for a Lesson from the Apocrypha, had postponed the operation of this minute reform for seven years. He did not think this reasonable, and should support the Amendment.


said, he thought the Government had adopted a wise and prudent course in giving an option to the clergy in this matter, because many clergymen would have felt conscientious scruples as to using the new Lectionary at once. But in the course of seven years he believed that public opinion would be formed in favour of the new Table, and that it would be accepted by the whole Church. He hoped the House would support the Government.


, who spoke amid considerable interruption, protested against the practice of requiring the House to legislate on subjects with regard to which it was assumed that some hon. Members had no right to express opinions, and deprecated going into details on this measure.


said, he would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

DR. BALL moved an Amendment, fixing the period giving the optional power of reading the Lessons at "1873" instead of "1879," the former being the date agreed to by the House of Lords. He wanted to know the reason why the Bill was altered after it came down from the Lords?


said, that the Government adopted the latter period, in conformity with the unanimous assent of the Prelates in the House of Lords.


said, he would vote for the Amendment, if pressed to a division.


hoped his right hon. and learned Friend would not persevere with his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.


MR. HOLT moved in line 25, to omit "the second time," and to insert "one of the two services," leaving it optional to the clergyman to use the particular form laid down at one of these two services.


urged that this part of the Schedule should be left as it stood.

Amendment negatived.

MR. LOCKE KING moved, as an Amendment, in page 5, line 6, after "minister," to insert— Except that when any Lesson from the Apocrypha is appointed for the holyday the proper Lessons for the Sunday shall always be read.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment proposed, In line 6, after the word "minister," to insert the words "but whensoever a lesson is appointed taken from the Apocrypha, the minister may, at his discretion, substitute a chapter taken from the canonical books of the Old Testament."—(Mr. Holt.)

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 71; Noes 81: Majority 10.

Schedule agreed to.

On Question, "That the Preamble be agreed to,"

Amendment proposed, In line 19, after the word "Prayer," to insert the words "and such revised Tables of Lessons have been considered and approved by the Convocations of Canterbury and York."—(Mr. Gathorne Hardy.)

MR. MACFIE moved that the Chairman report Progress.


hoped the hon. Gentleman would not press that Motion, which, at this stage of the Bill, would be very unfair. He opposed the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. G. Hardy's) Amendment, remarking that there had been a technical informality in connection with the meeting of Convocation at which the subject was considered. The words had been deliberately struck out in the House of Lords, with the assent of all the temporal and spiritual Peers.


said, he would support the Amendment, and would state that nothing would have induced him to vote for the Bill had it not been for the fact that Convocation, which, however imperfect in its constitution, was actually the representative of the Church, had approved the measure.


said, he could not admit that Convocation was the legal representative of the Church of England while Parliament existed and the Sovereign remained the Head of the Church. Convocation represented the clergy.


recommended the adjournment of the debate, as the decision come to by the House of Lords was far too important a matter to be disposed of in a cursory manner at the close of a long Sitting.


said, he wished to know from the Government, whether the House knew as a fact of that which it was asked to introduce into the Preamble officially.


said, he had official cognizance of it, but that it had not been communicated officially to Parliament.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 94: Majority 39.

Preamble agreed to.

Bill to be reported.

The Clerk at the Table informed the House, That Mr. Speaker was unable to resume the Chair this Evening.

Whereupon Mr. Dodson, the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, took the Chair as Deputy Speaker, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Bill reported, with an Amendment; as amended, to be considered To-morrow, at Two of the clock.