HC Deb 28 June 1871 vol 207 cc700-16

Order for Second Reading read.


, in rising to move that the Bill be now read the second time, said, that was not in any sense a Church question exclusively. If it affected the Church it affected Nonconformists also. The object of the Bill was to prevent for the future Bishops from granting faculties for pews in parish churches. There was also a provision in the Bill conferring upon churchwardens the right from time to time of controlling the arrangements in parish churches, so as to make them more convenient to the parishioners at large who wished to attend the services of the Church of England. The system of granting faculties for permanently appropriating pews was a great evil, which few would deny. Previous to the Reformation, no such thing as the appropriation of pews existed in that country, and it was not recognized by the common law of the land. But after the Reformation there were several causes which led to the pew system. The enforcement of Calvinistic doctrines had something to do with it, for Calvinistic teaching was more generally enforced by sermons than by the union of the parishioners in prayer. There were very few people except the Roman Catholics who were not members of the Church of England, but the population was scattered. Churches were numerous, and there were more sittings in the parish churches than the inhabitants of the whole country could occupy. The system of appropriating pews accordingly grow up, and it was not very extraordinary that landowners and farmers should have sittings appropriated to them at a time when there were hardly any independent workmen, for the labourers connected with the great houses were regarded as domestic servants, and were supplied with seats in the pews of their masters. After a time great coldness came over the whole worship of the Church of England, and in many parish churches there was only one service, in others there were but two. When there was but one service the evil did not appear so prominently. Then, unfortunately, the archdeacons had neglected the duty imposed on them by the law of the country, and winked at the encroachments made by the upper and middle classes upon the common law rights of the parishioners. He might congratulate the House that neither cathedrals nor collegiate churches had ever come under this system, and, therefore, he was surprised that his hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Cawley), who was connected with a place which possessed a collegiate church—he meant Manchester—should have given Notice that he would move the rejection of the Bill. It might be said that the grievance intended to be remedied by that Bill was an imaginary grievance; but that was not so, for he had been informed of a case where, in a parish of 200 inhabitants, there was a church containing 10 pews, each of which would accommodate six persons. Eight of those pews had, however, been appropriated, and only two were left for the accommodation of the parishioners generally. There were many services now held in our churches, and it was a great hardship that a person who only went to one service should be able to exclude other persons from his pew at the other services. It should also be remembered that the populations were increasing, and that there was no longer a sufficiency of room. The object of the present Bill had been approved of by a Royal Commission in 1832, and by a Committee in the House of Lords in 1858; and he believed that all that had recently happened in the Church of England tended to show the necessity for such a measure, for the very bitterness of religious controversies in the Church showed that they had arisen from a renewed intellectual life. It was that recommendation of the Committee of the House of Lords that he wished to embody in a law. He hoped the House would extend the comforts and the blessings of the Church of England services to a class of persons who were now excluded from them by the present system of keeping the pews closed. In conclusion, he begged to move that the Bill be now read the second time.


, in seconding the Motion, said, they were all familiar with cases in which churches were blocked up with pews, and only a very small section of the area of the church left for the congregation at large, who had to seat themselves under the galleries, near the doors, and in the least comfortable places. School children were to be found in many churches sitting on the steps of the altar, simply because the area of the church was filled with large pews, many of them unoccupied or occupied by a few individuals only. Besides that, many churches had of late years been re-appropriated after the old pews had been taken away. To his own knowledge the seats in a considerable parish church had been rendered absolutely free according to law within the last 20 years, and afterwards allotted, he believed contrary to law, by the churchwardens. The consequence was, that the seats were now as much appropriated as they had ever been under the old pew system. In a case which came under his own personal knowledge, about eight seats were allotted to the head of one family when he had six sons and daughters, and only two seats to a person lately married. The six sons and daughters had left the parish, having married and settled elsewhere, and the person to whom the eight seats were allotted still sat in the large pew, but the person who had only two seats assigned to him, and had now six or seven children, could not find a place to put them in. If such a practice affected the middle classes, how much more must it affect the poorer portion of the population, He did not wish in any way to prevent by this Bill the churchwardens from having full powers to make such regulations as might be necessary for the decent and proper conduct of divine worship. That power was especially needful in towns where the churchwardens could not award seats, and where the parishioners were often crowded out by strangers when a popular preacher performed the service. The Bill provided amply for a case of that kind. What he wished to secure was the undoubted right of the parishioners to go to their parish churches and share in the services conducted therein. To secure that end, he thought the}' ought to sacrifice any prejudices they might feel on the subject.

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


, in moving that the Bill be read a second time that day three months, said, that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. West) had described the Bill as relating to ancient parish churches. [Mr. WEST: I did not use the word "ancient."] Well, if his hon. and learned Friend did not use the word, he argued only from abuses in ancient parish churches, and expressed his astonishment that he (Mr. Cawley) should be found opposing the Bill when the church in his own parish was free in the body for the use of the parishioners at large. But it was his experience in the parish of that collegiate church which led him to take so decided an opinion in regard to that Bill, which would affect that ancient parish church not as regarded the body merely, for which there was no necessity existing, but in regard to galleries erected by subscription, the proceeds from which would be lost if that Bill passed into law. [Mr. BERESFORD HOPE: No, no; see the saving clause.] There was really nothing of the kind in it. The Bill professed to be declaratory and enacting. What was the meaning of declaratory? A declaratory Act was appropriate when a previous Act had been interpreted by the Courts of Law in a sense different from the intention of the Legislature. But if an Act was misunderstood by those whose duty it was to enforce it, then the Courts were the proper places to go to. But even supposing the law required to be altered in some respects, that Bill went entirely beyond the object. According to the interpretation clause, the word "parish" was not to mean simply the mother or ancient parish, but any separate, legally constituted ecclesiastical district. The Bill would, therefore, apply to the 70 or 80 parishes into which, for ecclesiastical purposes, the ancient parish of Manchester had been divided. And what did the Bill propose to enact in the case of the churches in those parishes, and in every ecclesiastical district throughout England and Wales? Why, that the entire area of the church, inclusive of the galleries, should be devoted to the free and equal use of all the parishioners of a parish. Now, the effect of such an enactment in the case of a large number of churches would be to leave the incumbent or the rector without any income, except such as might be voluntarily subscribed for him. Where sufficient provision was made for the clergyman he had not the slightest objection to the abolition of pew-rents; but so long as such provision was not made, and the clergyman was left dependent on the congregation, he was not prepared for their abolition. Although many believed that more would be obtained for the support of the minister in that way than there was at present, yet he had no wish to see a state of things which had been described by a Nonconformist clergyman, who spoke of himself as the dependent minister of an independent congregation. Why, he should like to know, should not parishioners who attended the parish church undertake to pay a certain sum for the support of the clergyman, just as they undertook other payments which were not enforced by law? It was a mistake to suppose that the Bill would not affect existing pew-rents, and if his hon. and learned Friend meant that it should only apply to future churches, he should withdraw it and introduce another Bill in its stead, with its object stated plainly on the face of it. His hon. and learned Friend, he might add, ought to know that in every church which was made a parish church it was not only the right, but the duty of the churchwardens to seat people in the pews, and that although there were instances in which some ill-conditioned people prevented their seats from being occupied by others, although they only partially occupied them themselves, such instances were the exception and not the rule, and churchwardens could guard against them, except where, by a faculty, the occupier of the pew had the right to lock the door. Indeed, a remedy for the state of things complained of was, he thought, to be provided lather by the effect of public opinion and the good feeling of the congregation than by any legislative measure. How, he should like to know, in parishes or large towns were the churchwardens to tell who was a parishioner and who was not? If an attractive preacher drew considerable numbers to a particular church, was the churchwarden to take his stand at the door and keep everyone out until the parishioners were all seated, or until he had ascertained that they were not coming to church? It was quite clear that unless some right were given to prevent the occupation of seats until a certain time, the real parishioners would, in the majority of cases, be excluded from their own pews. He was aware that it was said the experiment had been tried, and had been found successful. But those cases were very few. In one instance in Manchester which had been referred to, proving the success of the experiment in a pecuniary point of view, he ventured to assert that the congregation was not composed of parishioners belonging to the church, but of persons holding particular views who supported it, coming to it from surrounding parishes. His hon. and learned Friend would recollect one case which had been spoken of as a success, in which the clergyman found himself driven to such straits that he was obliged to take up his residence in the tower of his church in order that he might have no rent to pay; but, unfortunately, certain officials who were wide awake assessed the church and the tower as a dwelling-house, so that the clergyman discovered that he was in a worse position than if he had occupied a house. He now came to the 5th clause of the Bill, which provided for the equal distribution of the seats to rich and poor throughout the church. If by that it was meant that the churchwarden was to take care that rich and poor should be interspersed, was it, he would ask, so long as social distinctions continued to exist, desirable that the poor man should be reminded of them by the greater proximity in which he would be placed to his rich neighbour in the church? His hon. and learned Friend would, he thought, find that the religious poor would much prefer being able to have their own seats, where they could worship by the sides of their wives and children. He admitted nothing could be worse than placing the free seats in the worst part of the church; but he was happy to say that the practice was being discontinued. The Bill as it was brought forward, by absolutely prohibiting the taking of pew-rents in any existing church of a parish or ecclesiastical district, was totally different from the measure which his hon. and learned Friend had first advocated. It would produce a complete revolution in the state of our ecclesiastical relations, and create great confusion. When provision was made for the endowment of all churches in the land, then they might do away with pew-rents; but until then they ought not, by a violent measure such as this, to introduce a change contrary to the general feeling and the all but universal practice of the various churches of the land. Entertaining these views with respect to the Bill, he should move that it be read a second time that day three months.


seconded the Amendment, on the ground that the Bill would create an amount of disturbance and inconvenience in parishes which would far exceed any benefits which it was likely to confer. The object which his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. West) had in view — that of filling their churches with all classes of people who might wish to go there to worship—was one which must, of course, commend itself to every man; but under the operations of the 5th clause, earnest, regular church-going people would not like to find the seats which they had been accustomed to occupy every Sunday morning when they went to church taken up by others, and the books of devotion which they might have left there removed elsewhere. Not desiring to encounter such a state of things once a-week, they would be put to the inconvenience of going to church a-half or a-quarter of an hour sooner in order to get their seats. He quite concurred, also, in the opinion expressed by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Cawley), that the poor would prefer worshipping among themselves to being mixed up indiscriminately with persons who happened to be in a higher social position; and it should be borne in mind that high and low were equally worshippers wherever the seats which they occupied might be situated. Not only that, but great confusion would arise, especially in country parishes, from an alteration of the law; and, consequently, the churches would be less filled. If they desired to fill the churches, clergymen should have more regard to the character of their congregations, and not preach over the heads of the greater portion of the number.

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

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


said, he felt some difficulty with regard to the Bill, in the form in which it was presented to the House. With the principles of the Bill he had almost entire sympathy; but with its machinery he had many faults to find. The course he should adopt would depend upon whether the hon. Mover would be content, upon that stage, either to leave the Bill for the consideration of the country during the Recess, or refer it to a Select Committee; or whether he would claim to make further progress. If the hon. Mover pursued either plan, the Bill might be read a second time without the House being committed to its details, although he confessed to an aversion for purposeless second readings. A declaratory Bill such as that was generally had the effect of weakening the old common law, which it was intended to strengthen, and, therefore, he doubted whether the Bill was necessary; but as he could not vote that the principle contained in the Bill was unsound, he could not support the Amendment. He welcomed the introduction of that Bill as a proof of the growth of public opinion in the right direction. He was proud to own that he had in his youth come forward as one of the earliest opponents of the pew system, and while still an undergraduate at Cambridge had become a member of the Camden Society, which, in consequence of preaching a crusade against the abuse by word of mouth, by pamphlet, and by hand-bill, was regarded as revolutionary and dangerous. The cause which then they advocated had, in the intervening years, become so far triumphant that the statutable recognition of open seats in churches had on that afternoon become the subject of Parliamentary debate. Still, he must ask whether it would not be far better to have left the question to work itself out, with the aid of increased good feeling throughout the country? The congregational principle, in the working of town parishes, was, no doubt, absolutely necessary in the existing conditions of the Church, but it was nevertheless a now principle, and the Bill failed in adequately recognizing that novel and important clement in the Church polity. Before considering the clauses of the Bill, he must say something about the objections which had been urged against its principles. He did not think much of the plea that churchwardens could not know all the parishioners, and still less of the argument rough-hewn by the hon. and learned Member for Salford (Mr. Cawley), and elaborated by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. D. Dalrymplc), with details which astonished him as proceeding from the mouth of a Gentleman of advanced Liberal opinions—that the best method of promoting humbleness of mind was to put the gentle portion of the congregation by themselves, without their being irritated by the spectacle of their poorer brethren, who, as the hon. Gentleman said, might go to the free seats and be contented. He remembered having many years ago to seek a church where his household could I worship. He went to the individual who let the pews in a chapel of case near his residence, and he said he wished to take a pew. The man produced a plan, and he selected the one nearest the pulpit and the reading desk. But, unluckily, he dropped the observation that the pew was for his servants; whereupon the man said—"You don't mean that you are taking the pew for your livery servants?" On his saying—"Yes, I am," he received the reply—"Then I cannot let it you, for if livery servants were to come to the pew, all the ladies and gentlemen in the neighbouring pews would cease to attend." He need hardly add that his most prominent feeling was regret at his unseasonable frankness. Now to come to the question, was that Bill, as it stood, one which ought to be, or which could become the law of the land? He thought it showed signs of haste in the way it had been framed—and in various places its language was ambiguous. He took exception to the 5th clause—indeed, it baffled his power of comprehension. The first portion of the clause recited that it should not be lawful for any Bishop or churchwarden to allot, assign, or appropriate any seat in parish churches, and provided that all parishioners should equally enjoy the use of the church. The first part of the clause forbade churchwardens to appropriate seats; but the latter part allowed churchwardens to direct and order the appropriation of seats by parishioners and others, so that due order and decorum should be observed. In treating that subject it was necessary to take account of that Congregationalism which had, fortunately as he thought, become a portion of the Church system in our towns, in relief of that strict parochialism which was no longer applicable to their case. It must not be forgotten that, as between town and country, these were totally distinct questions. In towns the feeling of liberty in the use of the seats grew with the growth of the parish and with the development of congregationalism; but in the country there was a traditional clinging to the certain corner of the church where each person was accustomed to worship; while the necessary respect which existed between the different classes of society induced the congregation to like to see the landed proprietor in one part of the church, the doctor in another part, and so on. A clause so ambiguous as this 5th one, with its hazy distinction between appropriating and ordering, ought not to stand part of any Bill. At the same time, he must say that the hon. and learned Member for Salford ran off on a siding when he declaimed against that arrangement which placed men on one side of a church and women on the other. He (Mr. Beresford Hope) wished to point out that that division of the sexes was not a modern innovation. It was the custom in many of the old parish churches in England, and had been the custom from time immemorial, and it had only been re-adopted in new churches because it was found consonant with the feelings of worship. It was, however, foolish of any clergyman to try to force on the custom where it was not liked. There were two churches in different counties with which he was connected—in one the division of the sexes was observed, and in the other it was not, in each case with the goodwill of the parish; and he followed the rule as it was laid down at both churches. As to Clause 8— That nothing contained in this Act shall prevent the chancel of any church from being used by the officiating ministers and others assisting in the conduct of Divine service "— he agreed with that; but he pointed out that all through this provision there was no recognition of what he believed to be undoubtedly the common law of the land—namely, that while the nave of the church belonged to the parishioners, I the chancel belonged to the rector. In saying that the chancel belonged to the rector, what the law meant to say was that the chancel should be the part of the church in which the rector and those who assisted him in Divine worship should carry on that worship; and as regarded that point, he thought the Bill, by its silence, was likely to be disturbing. Before, however, he sat down, he must revert to the vagueness of the description of "parish church" in Clause 2—namely, "the consecrated places of worship of the parish." That would include, he believed, any consecrated chapel without cure of souls, which ought not to be put under the compulsory provisions of such an Act. As a proof of the way in which such consecrated chapels—of which there were many—might be worked, he would state that the late Bishop of London, Bishop Blomfield, recommended the consecration of a church—which had since become a parish church—without the cure of souls, because it was a church in which a musical and ornate service was proposed to be carried out, and, in consequence, he advised that it should not be a parish church, so that it would not be brought in contact with parisbioners having legal rights. On these grounds he (Mr. Beresford Hope) could not accept the Bill, which, if his hon. and learned Friend would excuse him for saying so, was not a workmanlike production, and which, if passed in its present form, would, he believed, produce confusion. Whilst he said that, however, he was as little disposed to accept the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Salford. If the House adopted the Motion, they would be stereotyping one of the greatest abuses in the practical working of the Church—an abuse which had done more to alienate people from the Church, and which had gone further in checking the spiritual growth of the Church, than anything else—namely, the detestable system of pew-rents. It was impossible to suppose that that Bill could become the law of the land. Some might vote for it, though they disliked the details of the Bill; others, who did not like pew-rents, might be compelled to go into the lobby with the hon. and learned Member for Salford. In his (Mr. Beresford Hope's) opinion, however, the cause of open churches, which he had advocated, would be better served by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ipswich (Mr. West) withdrawing the Bill, after the friendly and ample discussion which he hoped it would receive.


said, he thought that the effect of the Bill, even if carried, would be infinitely small, and would not be productive of the results expected from it. The most important clause was the 4th, which took away the power that existed of granting faculties with respect to pews. He did not think there were any faculties of that description in existence, at least none were presented at the present day. Sometimes a person had a legal right to a seat in a church, and when the church was repewed he stipulated that he should have some seat in the place of the one he had before. He did not know any other case in which faculties were granted, and, therefore, the effect of the clause was so small that it was not worth while introducing a Bill to deal with it. With respect to pew-rents, if the hon. and learned Member who introduced the Bill (Mr. West) wished to legislate on them, it should be done by more precise language than had been employed in the Bill. On the whole, he could not see any real good from the measure, and he hoped it would not be pressed on the House, especially as there was no chance of its becoming law that Session.


said, it was impossible to exaggerate the evils of the present system of the appropriation of pews. He approved, therefore, the motives of the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. West) in introducing that measure. But the Bill as drawn contained defects which could not be cured in Committee, and it would, therefore, be his duty to support the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Salford (Mr. Cawley.) The object of those who supported the measure was described as being the restoration to the parishioners of their ancient rights in the parish church. Now, the ancient law was, that it was the duty of the churchwardens to seat the parishioners according to their quality and degree. There was no wish to restore such a state of things, but to throw open the parish church to parishioners without respect of persons. It should be remembered, however, that the class feeling in this matter was not altogether on the side of the rich, for those in humble stations felt just as great reluctance to associate with those above them, and he had no doubt that in "free and open" churches many of the humbler parishioners were deterred from attending, because they would find themselves by the side of those who came in gay clothing. The enforced separation of families was also a point for consideration. Regard must be had to the domestic feeling—the wish of families to worship together; and it was to be feared that sometimes the separation of families would rather conduce to flirtation than to edification among the young people. What was wanted was a place for everybody and everybody in his place. In churches which were free and open a custom had arisen under which families took their accustomed seats, and, legislate as they would, a custom of that kind would always grow up. He would always, however, desire to maintain the rights of the poorer parishioners, giving them an easy opportunity of obtaining at least as good seats us any occupied by the wealthier parishioners.


said, he heartily approved of the principle of the Bill, but he entertained great objections to the mode in which the system of pew-rents was to be dealt with. He opposed the system in which large spaces in a church were allotted to great families, and large square pews kept for no object whatever. He desired to see churches retained for the free use of the public, and he also desired to see that they were maintained, which they would not be if that Bill were passed. Some small sum should be taken for a portion of the sittings, in order that the structure of the church might be maintained, now that church rates had been abolished. He should be sorry to see the Bill passed, because it would practically preclude church wardens from adopting that system.


said, he did not mean to say that he did not sympathize with the principle of the Bill, but he knew that several experiments of a similar plan to that proposed by the Bill had been abandoned after trial, and he thought it would be unfair towards the founders of churches in new ecclesiastical districts to compel them to throw themselves on the voluntary principle.


said, he was not prepared to agree with the proposition that the existing law was open to the objection that had been brought against it. On the contrary, he was of opinion that if the present law was properly administered it would be found adequate to meet the case for which this Bill had been introduced. There were two separate matters for consideration. First, the power of granting the permanent ownership or right in pews; and, secondly, the allocation or distribution of the seating of the parishioners for a permanent or temporary purpose. Any faculty which enabled a nonresident to hold a pew in a parish church was void. For that reason a faculty to a man and his heirs was void, and the only legal faculty was that which granted a pew to a man and his family so long as they were resident in the parish, or that which made a particular pew appurtenant to a particular messuage. It was now proposed to take away the power of granting faculties, though not to abolish the right of prescription. He believed that title by prescription was of the most limited character, as it was not easy to assort a right founded upon that title. It must be done by something besides occupation, such as repairing a pew. Putting cushions in a pew was no proof of an original prescriptive right, because it was equally consistent with permissive and temporary enjoyment. With these prescriptive titles the Bill did not interfere; but it proposed to deal with the future authority of the Bishops, and to deprive them entirely of their right to grant faculties. It was a right that was exercised most sparingly by them, and there was no pressing demand for taking the power from them. There was a wide difference between universal prohibition and regulating the occasional and proper exercise of a right, and all he contended for was, that they should give the ordinary power to deal with exceptional cases; and he was the more strongly disposed that it should be so, in consequence of the alterations that were about to be made in the mode of procedure in the Ecclesiastical Courts, which would place the jurisdiction more in the hands of the chancellors who, being lawyers, would be guided by legal views and principles. Then, as to seating the parishioners, every parishioner had a right to a seat, and the distribution of seats was now subject to the control of the ordinary, and he desired to see that retained. The existing law properly administered would meet the evils complained of, and ensure a seat to every parishioner. The Bill proposed a total change in the law, and his reason for addressing the House was to show that by administering and working out the present law, they might accomplish much which the Bill proposed to deal with. He was not disposed to throw their own churches entirely open like the Continental churches. He thought there was something to be said in favour of a family all worshipping together in the same pew. He would therefore have, in each church, both pews and free seats: and that every Bishop could, if he chose, under the existing law enforce; his discretion being the rule, except where prescriptive titles—which, as already explained, were not numerous—obstructed.


said, that while thanking the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich, he regretted that his Bill did not deal with past as well as future faculties. He did not want to have faculties abolished; but that the Bishop, upon cause being shown, should have the power to annul any particular one. At present faculties were very rarely granted by Bishops; but there were no means, except by Act of Parliament, of getting rid of the difficulty that at present existed. The granting of faculties was an encroachment on the rights of the parishioners generally, and it was a practical and not a theoretical grievance. He knew of a church where every person except one who had a faculty had surrendered them in order that the church might be re-seated. The floor of the church had been lowered two feet from its original level, and the result was that this one stood like a four-poster in the church high above the rest of the seats. He should like to see all the seats of the churches of the country clear and unappropriated, and thought there should be some power of getting rid of faculty pews, for it was monstrous to suppose that an Act of Parliament must be got before they could reseat a parish church. It would have been better if the Bill had been confined to the old parish church, because the question of pew-rents would not then have arisen. He hoped that next year, when it was brought in, it would be so confined, and that those other defects that had been pointed out would be amended. It would be better to withdraw the Bill than take a division on it, which would not be a fair expression of the opinion of Parliament.


said, that being churchwarden in his own parish, he knew the great difficulty there was of preserving seats for the poor in those churches which had free sitting's, if there happened to be a popular preacher attached to them. He looked upon the Bill as an ingenious scheme for depriving the poorer parishioners of seats in their parish churches, and as such he was determined to oppose it.


said, he thought it was unfortunate that that Bill should have been brought in just at that particular time. In half the parish churches in the rural districts there was plenty of room for everybody without necessitating any of those changes, and therefore to commence such a disturbance of established customs would cause much ill-feeling and mischief. The people were exceedingly sensitive and tender about their seats in the parish church, and to cause any disturbance in the enjoyment of them would be to put an end to all voluntary church rates. The hon. and learned Member for Boston (Mr. Collins) had evidently got a very troublesome case to deal with, but changes in the law must not rest on individual cases. Galleries in churches had been built under faculties, and the seats se- cured in them; but the hon. and learned Gentleman, who no doubt thought them a nuisance, would have them swept away. It showed how difficult it was to deal with those private arrangements. The ordinary, on the requisition of the inhabitants and the churchwardens, had a perfect right to deal as he thought right with respect to the general accomodation of the parishioners. This Bill would unsettle everything and settle nothing, and he doubted if anything could be devised better than the existing law. They should bear this in mind—that the churches had to be maintained not by public law or authority, but by voluntary aid. He did not believe that the humbler classes themselves desired to see the parish churches managed in such a way as to allow the costermonger a seat beside that of a duchess. It reminded him of the couplet which says that— Something the devil delights to see Is the pride that apes humility. He would, for those reasons, appeal to the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. West) to withdraw the Bill.


said, that the clause which dealt with the authority of churchwardens was a somewhat mischievous one. They were all, no doubt, anxious to see the parish churches in the condition of what was called free; but it was the business of churchwardens to make such changes in the area of their churches as from time to time might better suit the convenience of all classes of the congregation. The 5th clause, however, would interfere with those unties of the churchwardens, and against that clause he would offer every opposition.


, in reply, said, he would take the whole responsibility of the Bill upon himself. Considering, however, the difficulties of passing it in the present Session, he should adopt the advice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) and withdraw the measure, in the hope that he, or some one more competent to deal with it, might be enabled to introduce and carry a measure on the subject next Session. The discussion which had occurred would not be without use, if the speech made by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) were made generally known and acted upon.

Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn. Bill withdrawn.