HC Deb 02 July 1872 vol 212 cc527-81

, in rising to move— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty that by means of a Royal Commission full and accurate particulars may be procured of the origin, nature, amount, and application of any property and revenues appropriated to the use of the Church of England, said: Sir, last Session when, by the courtesy and forbearance of the House, I was permitted to put before it a Motion in favour of the disestablishment of the Church of England——

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present, House counted, and 40 Members being found present,


resumed. When I was interrupted by the attempt to count out the House I was about to refer to the advice given me by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government, who closed his speech in opposition to my Motion by telling me that before I could expect the House of Commons to accept my proposition, I must persuade a majority of the constituencies to give their sanction to it. The right hon. Gentleman, in pointing out to me the only constitutional path to my object, backed his advice by referring to a Petition against the Motion which the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. G. Hardy) had presented with a rather theatrical air of triumph before I rose—a Petition supposed to be from a greater number of the ratepayers of Bradford than the whole borough contains. This more than unanimity, as it seemed, of my own constituents in condemnation of my pro- posed policy, justified the right hon. Gentleman, who could not have been imagined to suspect its semi-fictitious character, in recommending me to a preliminary sphere of action, and, in good faith, those with whom I have been accustomed to act, readily agreed with me in accepting that advice. Sir, I may speak for them, I think, as confidently as for myself, that the right hon. Gentleman's counsel was taken chiefly because we had all along been of the same mind with him in this respect. We never deemed it possible to anticipate public opinion or to surprise the House of Commons on a question of this magnitude and importance. We never desired it. For myself I can aver—and in doing so I believe I do but faithfully interpret the sentiments and feelings of the bulk of those who go with me—that if I could give legislative effect to the policy of disestablishment and disendowment to-morrow, I should decline the responsibility of doing so, unless I were backed by unmistakable and sufficient evidence that I should be thereby giving expression to the deliberate and settled will of the nation. Sir, I desire that whatever is done in Parliament in this matter, should be done as the outcome of calm, dispassionate judgment, and in full view of all those elements of the case which ought to receive their due proportion of consideration. I am not only willing, I am anxious, that light from all quarters should be shed upon the subject; that nothing should be hidden with regard to it; that no information bearing upon it should be suppressed; and that whenever the people of this country come to a determination of the problem it involves, they should come to it with minds fully informed of all the facts which can serve to guide them to a wise decision. Well, Sir, the information which I wish to be laid before the country, and which I hope a Royal Commission will be able to collect and to stamp with authenticity, is unquestionably requisite to a complete and statesmanlike view of the whole case. I wish it were otherwise. I wish that the conditions of the problem were such as would admit of an entire separation of the question of disestablishment from that of disendowment. In thought, nothing is more easy. In action, nothing could be more impolitic or dangerous. An elaborately-organized institution, whose sole object is to shape the religious faith, and guide the devotions of a community like ours, cannot safely be invested with a large amount of national property, and at the same time be freed from national control in its application of it. It is one of those instances in which, self-support and self-government must go hand-in-hand. No wisely-ordered State can countenance an imperium in imperio. No enlightened subject of the State can sanction the appropriation of national resources to the irresponsible use of any organization of men which seeks to dominate over the spiritual part of man's nature, without taking care to set legal bounds to that domination. I am told, Sir—and indeed I know—that some hon. Friends of the object I have in view are disappointed and aggrieved that I did not ask for a Commission of Inquiry on the whole case, and that I have limited my proposition to that feature of it which is the least worthy of searching investigation. The pecuniary phase of the question in dispute, they say—and they say justly—is, of all others, the least important and the most sordid. In one sense that is so—for the material possessions of a church cannot be held in comparison with the spiritual results it achieves. But, Sir, no Commission of Inquiry could ascertain spiritual results except by means of a definite and recognised spiritual standard, and this is precluded by the many differences of religious faith and practice in this country. The national judgment as to these results will be governed by opinion, and opinion can best declare itself in the deliberations and determinations of this House. I confine my Motion for Inquiry to the Property and Revenues of the Church of England, not because I believe them to present the most interesting or important phase of the controversy, but because the facts respecting them can be accurately ascertained; because a knowledge of them is necessary to a fair judgment of the whole case; and because, should the country hereafter see reason to adopt the policy of disestablishment, it will need full and minute information of this kind, to enable it to carry this policy into effect. Sir, I hold myself entitled to ask for this information on the ground that the Church of England, regarded as an Establishment, is a national institution. It is largely—I may say mainly—sustained by national resources. It derives its special status and privileges from national authority. It is governed by the national will, constitutionally expressed. It exists for a professedly national object. All the subjects of the realm have an equal right, within certain conditions, to claim the benefit of its offices. In its connection with the State it belongs to the whole people of the State in the same way as the Army, the Navy, the Civil Services, or the two Universities. The State, therefore, represented by the Crown, has a full right to inquire into the nature, amount, and application of the property and revenues which it enjoys. More than a generation has passed since any inquiry of this nature has been made. The Royal Commission of 1832, no doubt, stated the aggregate value of church property at that time with general correctness—but they gave as little detailed information as possible, particularly with regard to the parochial revenues of the Establishment. Since then, a vast change has taken place both in the circumstances and the sentiments of the people of this country. Of one-half of them it may be said that they receive no direct benefit from this ecclesiastical institution. A very large number of them disapprove of the political basis on which it rests. They observe the clerical officers of it practically breaking away, day by day, from the bonds of legal discipline. They have a right to demand thorough investigation into that side of the question which falls most directly within the purview of the State—namely, the material resources by which it is upheld. There are many who think—I do not say whether rightly or wrongly—that it is not doing what might fairly be expected of it considering the means within its reach. That question is a fair one to raise, and I think the results of the inquiry for which I ask will be useful to show the means which have been placed at the disposal of this institution. Sir, the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Cubitt) has a Notice on the Paper for a Commission to inquire into the property and revenues of the religious bodies "not" included in the Established Church. That Notice looks very much as if it were meant to be a parody on mine—and hence to claim only such consideration as may be due to a practical joke. I hope, however, I do the hon. Member no injustice in coming to the conclusion that the purpose he had in view in giving his Notice must have been a serious one. I form that judgment of it, because, as a jest, it is a very sorry one. I take for granted, moreover, that the hon. Member's taste is too correct to admit of his subjecting the House to anything in the shape of practical joking, and perhaps, I should add, that his Notice of Motion, assuming it to have been given in earnest, exhibits precisely that ignorance or avoidance of the real points at issue—that begging of the question in dispute, and that confusion of ideas in relation to the difference between public and private rights—which the hon. Gentleman has again and again displayed in this House. But, Sir, although the hon. Member for West Surrey shuts his eyes, with the strongest will imaginable, against the essential difference between endowments and other means of income held from the whole people of England and Wales, for the use of the whole people of England and Wales, and those given by private individuals to private religious communities, he cannot either annihilate or lessen that difference. What I apprehend him to mean is that the endowments and other means placed at the disposal of the Church of England, are placed at the disposal of an independent religious community, and that the State has the same right to inquire into the means of sustaining the spiritual instructions of the Independents or the Baptists, or the Methodists, as it has to investigate the pecuniary resources of the Protestant Episcopalians at present in connection with the State—a position in which I do not think he will be confirmed by any authoritative expositor of constitutional law. But, Sir, I take this opportunity of assuring the hon. Member that—always assuming the question of right to be held in reserve—I, for one, would willingly assist in acquiring for the State any information respecting the "ways and means" of non-established religious communities which the State may deem it necessary to collect for public purposes. Assuredly they have no reason to shrink from the fullest disclosure of the origin, nature, amount, or application of the property or revenues appropriated to their use. Whether it would be consistent with general and recognized principles of public policy to ask the Crown to make this inquiry into private affairs—it will be for Parliament to judge. As to the information for which I ask, it strikes me, Sir, that even the stoutest defenders of the State-Church system should not hesitate to put the country in possession of it. They have the most unwavering confidence in the superiority of the existing over all other systems of providing for the religious instruction of the whole community. They profess—and, no doubt, in perfect sincerity—to believe in the religious attachment of a majority of all classes to the National Church. They are fully aware of, and naturally regard with disapproval, the efforts which are being made to change the relations in which the Chuch stands to the State. Both the parties in this controversy—perhaps the greatest in modern times—may well desire to enjoy the advantage of a complete and accurate knowledge of the actual facts of the case. Anything savouring of mystery or of studied concealment in a matter of this kind, is sure to stimulate imagination, to breed exaggerated and sometimes extravagant notions, and to favour a semblance of argument which might possibly disappear in this light of truth. Not only is the country "entitled" to know, but all classes of the kingdom are "interested" in knowing, all that can be known, in contradistinction from whatever can be only guessed, respecting a national institution which takes charge of their highest interests. I trust this view of the Motion will present itself to those hon. Members who, at first glance, are opposed to it. They really can gain nothing by concealment. They are likely only to give fictitious strength to misconceptions, to excite popular prejudice, and probably to foster false notions, which, for the sake of the Church to which they are attached, they had much better dispel. Sir, I will even venture to urge upon them a much higher consideration. It will not be denied, I apprehend, on either side of the House that the vis vitæ, the moral power of Christian truth—of that truth which Parliament is so intent upon having taught daily in its elementary schools—may be, and usually is, very seriously impaired by being associated with any determination of the rulers and guardians of the Church, to withdraw or to withhold from public inspection all authentic information on the subject of ecclesias- tical finances. It would be a misfortune, not merely to the Church of England, but to religion, if this House, by refusing to inquire, should encourage large numbers of our working men in their suspicion that national religious organizations are chiefly held together by the vast extent of their endowments, and that these endowments—believed to be extravagant because accurate information of them is never given to the public—constitute the principal end of the State Church, rather than the necessary means to an end. Such a stumbling-block as this might be promptly and effectually removed by the work of a thoroughly honest Commission, and by the publication, in an authentic form, of the information they will be able to collect. I trust, therefore, that no serious opposition will be made to the Motion with which it is my intention to conclude. Now, Sir, if the House will kindly give me its attention for a few minutes—for I do not mean to detain it long—I will explain, as cursorily as possible, the kinds of information which a Royal Commission might elicit and authenticate for the use of the public. I will speak first of the financial provision made in the parishes for the conduct of Divine worship and the spiritual instruction of parishioners—in other words, of the various kinds and sources of income which singly or in the aggregate constitute a benefice. Well, Sir, I believe I am justified in saying that, in regard to these, no complete and thoroughly trustworthy account of their financial value is available to the public. True, it does not lack information on some points; but then on other items no public means of accurately ascertaining the truth exist. It is a fact, I believe, that since the Report of the Commission of 1832 was published, the number of benefices has been increased by nearly 4,000; and it is also beyond question that considerable additions are being made, year by year, to the incomes of the poorer rectories and vicarages. But in regard to none of these benefices is there access to any common source of information which gives an authoritative detailed statement of the parochial revenues. There is, to be sure, The Clerical Directory. There is also The Clergy List, and there are several diocesan calendars. But, unfortunately, the estimates of value given in these works in respect of each benefice frequently disagree one with another, and when compared with the schedules attached to the Reports of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, they all exhibit discrepancies which deprive them of all value for statistical and public purposes. Well, Sir, parochial benefices may be roughly ranged into two classes—those more ancient ones deriving the chief part of their annual revenue from tithes and glebe lands, and those more modern ones which, formed, as they have been, for the most part, to overtake the wants of rapidly expanding towns and populous places, have been otherwise endowed. It would largely conduce to clear views on the question of disestablishment, and still more of disendowment, that the two categories should be kept distinct. They stand respectively in a very different relation to what is equitably due to them from the State. They each belong, it is true, to the same ecclesiastical system; but it can hardly be maintained that each comes under the same conditions in reference to the question of a continuance or discontinuance of a National Establishment. Now, Sir, I am anxious, first of all, to obtain authentic information respecting the origin of the more ancient parochial endowments. Whence did they come? From what sources were they derived?—private or public, individual or national? Take, for example, the old tithe system of rent-charge. Did that originate in private beneficence or in public law? The people of this country are being incessantly told that the State did not confer her ancient parochial endowments on the Church, and that what the State did not give, the State has no right to take away. But is it historically correct to say that the State did not, as the effect of civil authority and positive legislation, bring into existence the great bulk of the tithe property of this kingdom? I may be told that this is a purely archæological question, about which wide differences of opinion have been held by the best informed, and that no Commission can authoritatively settle it. Sir, I dispute that allegation. My contention is that not only can the problem be finally solved, but, in my humble opinion, it can be best and most satisfactorily solved by the investigation of a Royal Commission. I shall be asked, cui bono? Well, Sir, a thoroughly substantiated knowledge of the origin of our parochial rent-charges may materially influence the judgment of a vast number of persons as to their moral right to approach the consideration of the main question at all. It is not fair to them, it is not fair to the country, that they should be left under easily removable erroneous impressions by which their view of the whole controversy is greatly prejudiced. They are told over and over again with unfaltering assurance that the property of the Church rests upon precisely the same foundations as the territorial property of every landowner in the country—that to meddle with the one would be to shake the basis of the other; and that, inasmuch as it was given to the use of the Church of England by our pious forefathers out of their own possessions, any alienation of it from that use, even by the authority of Parliament, can only be effected by "confiscation and sacrilege." These, Sir, are ugly words, and are freely resorted to by those who wish to scare moderate men away from fair and intelligent conclusions on the subject. Either they are true or they are untrue. If true, let them be confirmed by evidence—if untrue, let them wither beneath the light. Of course, the House will not expect me to go into any discussion of this branch of the subject. Even if I could lay down the truth in regard to this matter with the most perfect exactitude, it would need the stamp of some unquestionable authority to give it general currency. Now, Sir, a Royal Commission—unless, indeed, I am wholly mistaken in the views I entertain—could demonstrate by a chain of indisputable facts, that the old tithe system could not have originated in private liberality, and that, as to the bulk of this kind of property, it necessarily grew out of the operation of public law. It will not be disputed, I imagine, that unenclosed, uncultivated, or, as the Act 2 & 3 Edward VI., c. 13 has it, "barren or waste ground" paid no tithe until it was "improved and converted into arable or meadow land." Well, it was surely by the force of common law, and not by the private beneficence or piety of our Anglo-Saxon forefathers, that waste land, when brought under culture, or, in other words, when redeemed from waste and barrenness, became chargeable with tithe, and it was by statute law—namely, the 2 & 3 Edward VI., c. 13, that the land thus taken into cultivation was exempted, expressly, too, for the encouragement of agriculture, from payment of tithes during the first seven years. Well, Sir, between the years 1760 and 1849, Parliament passed not fewer than 3,867 Inclosure Bills, bringing under cultivation 7,350,577 acres, and purely by this process and no other adding them to the legally titheable area of the country. Now the latest agricultural statistics show that the total acreage of land under tillage or pasture in Great Britain amounted in 1871 to somewhat upwards of 26,000,000 acres. If we allot 24,000,000 of these to England and Wales, and set down the number of acres redeemed from waste during the last 100 years at 8,000,000, which is probably much within the mark, it will appear—since 8 is just one-third of 24—that at least a third of the tithe property of the kingdom was brought into existence within the last century. Well, Sir, a Royal Commission could bring out the truth of all this in dates and figures—it could carry the process back to Edward VI.'s reign, when the whole extent of land under the plough and depastured could not have exceeded above 6,000,000 acres, or about a fourth of what it is now. Nay, it might safely run back to the time of King John, when lords of manors first ceased to appropriate their tithes wherever they pleased, and might show by incontestable facts and figures that of eight-ninths at least of the tithe property of this kingdom, since commuted into rent-charge—that is, of 21,500,000 acres out of 24,000,000, on the annual produce of which rent-charges are now held due to the Church—the tithes could not, by any possibility, have originated in private munificence, and could only have come into being by the creation of public law. But it will hardly be necessary for me to remind the House that tithe rent-charge is not by any means the only kind of ancient ecclesiastical endowment devoted to religious purposes in parishes which I have classed in the first category. Sir, I wish we had as much trustworthy information respecting glebe lands as we have in the case of tithe rent-charges. But, Sir, so far as my researches have gone, we have none whatever. It is, let me suggest in passing, a matter in which full and accurate knowledge is highly to be desired on other besides ecclesiastical grounds. The amount of landed estate held by corporations sole in a country of large population and limited area like this island, cannot be justly looked upon as a question of no importance. A knowledge of all the facts relating to it is even now of great moment in determining the expediency of the national policy in respect of the tenure of land. Yet the country is in the most helpless and hopeless ignorance respecting it. The public can ascertain from no authority that I am aware of, what is the proportion in the number of parishes in which glebe lands constitute part of the ecclesiastical endowment, nor the average value of the land held in each case, nor the annual revenue derived from it, or likely to be derived from it in the changing condition of the future, nor how much has been given by individual liberality, nor how much has been added from public ecclesiastical funds. I should be sorry even to give a guess at either a minimum or a maximum total of the revenue derived to the Established Church from this source. I should even shrink from characterizing it as either relatively small or great. There are no authentic data on which to form an estimate. I, therefore, deem myself entitled to ask for authentic information. I turn now, Sir, to the other class of parishes to which I have referred—namely, the more recently formed, the less amply endowed, and, for the most part, the densely populated parishes which do so much of the work of the Church of England in large towns. Sir, there will be no difficulty or dispute here as to the origin of the endowments, although a precise statement of their nature and amount may serve a useful purpose. My own impression is that these parishes, their financial arrangements, and the work that is being done in them, will present one of the most instructive chapters in any Report of any Commission on the subject of ecclesiastical finance—in one view of it most creditable to and commendatory of the Church of England as a spiritual institution. Sir, I believe they have a tale of their own to tell—a very impressive one, and one which none of her children need blush to hear—a tale which will command admiration and respect even where no allegiance is paid to her ecclesiastical or theological authority—but a tale which will not illustrate very vividly the aptitude of the State-Church system to deal fitly and promptly with the varying cir- cumstances and wants of successive generations. However, Sir, our desire is that all the facts relating to every aspect of the case should be known, whether they tell for or against our politico-ecclesiastical theories. The number of Church edifices and of parsonage houses in both the kinds of parishes I have named—their origin and estimated value—the funds by means of which they are kept in repair—the working of the voluntary church-rate system—the average annual amount of clerical fees, and, where they are obtained, of Easter dues—what amount is paid, under various Church Building Acts, in the shape of pew-rents—and what is obtained in the metropolis by rates on householders in lieu of tithes—these are topics which the Commission might elucidate. Well, Sir, I promised the House that I would not detain it long—and for the sake of my own Motion, for the discussion of which an evening's sitting is not likely to give more ample time than is necessary, I shall resolutely keep my word. I leave the Cathedral property, that in the hands of the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and in the possession of the Bishops—though some of these are tempting themes—to be dealt with by others, as far as time and occasion may serve. Of course, they would all be included in the inquiry I propose. Well, now, Sir, I am truly at a loss to conceive what are the real objections to the inquiry I propose. I have some ground for thinking that it is not the inquiry itself which provokes opposition so much as the circumstances under which, and the quarter from which, the Motion for it proceeds. It is a first step leading up towards disestablishment, I am told. It is urged upon the adoption of the House with an ultimate view to that legislative consummation. It is a sequel to the Motion of last year. It is brought forward by the same political and Parliamentary party. Sir, I am not disposed to deny that these allegations are substantially true—but I certainly fail to see in them any sufficient reason for locking up in reserve the information requisite to let the country look at the facts as they stand. Is it apprehended that if the people are allowed to inspect the financial mechanism of the Church Establishment, the modes in which it works, and the results which it achieves, they will forthwith repudiate the connection between Church and State? Of course no such consequence is thought to be likely by those who intend to resist this investigation. Nay, ought not the friends of the State-Church system to show such confidence in the wisdom, the purity, the regularity, and the economy which characterize the working of its financial arrangements, as to take pride in welcoming the closest and most scrutinising inspection, and the more so by misinformed opponents of that system? On the other hand, is it believed that a bonâ fide Commission of Inquiry will be sure to bring to the light a certain proportion of financial abuses and ecclesiastical jobbing? Why, even so, it will be better to lance unsound places than to let them fester beneath an unbroken skin. You will not weaken the Disestablishment party by refusing the inquiry I propose. You will not strengthen their immediate influence by granting it. In a great controversy like that which is seeking to settle the true relations of the State to the religious institutions of the community—a controversy, be it borne in mind, that no human will can stay, which is exciting thought and is stirring action in every country in Europe, and which, whether with or without our assent will be a matter of small importance, is everywhere advancing with irresistible momentum to its clearly foreseen issue—in such a practical controversy, I repeat, the cleverest stratagems of party go for little, and do but resemble the sand castles which children build upon the beach and see speedily engulfed by the incoming tide. We are sure—or, if we are not, we might be—that the days are not very far off which will witness the solution of this greatest problem of the age in a form, it is to be hoped, most in harmony with social, civil, and political justice on the one hand, and with the freedom and independence of organised spiritual life on the other. Sir, I will not pretend to hide from the House that I am intensely interested in looking forward to, and working for, so eminently a desirable result. It is as a contribution towards a wise and truthful, and I may add considerate, decision by the people of this country of the question at issue, and towards a fair adjustment of the numberless and complicated details it involves, that I ask for the assistance of a Royal Commission of In- quiry. There are not a few who think that I am asking for what will greatly obstruct and possibly ruin my own object. There are many more who fancy I am seeking knowledge with a view merely to destructive ends. Sir, I do but ask an increase of light, fully content to leave to the determination of the future whether, and to what extent, its effect will be favourable or unfavourable to the views I entertain, and fully convinced that the widest knowledge of facts can do no harm to what is true in itself.


In rising, Sir, to second the Motion of my hon. Friend, it seems to me that it is quite premature to go at any length into the arguments by which a State Church is defended or assailed, because the terms of my hon. Friend's Motion include no reference to this question. And if it be contended that my hon. Friend has not concealed his object in asking for this Commission, I would reply that even if my hon. Friend's Motion be carried, and this Commission appointed, the relations between the Church and the State will remain unchanged. All that we shall have gained will be information which will be equally at the service of both the assailants and the defenders of a State Church—and surely it will argue great want of confidence in the position of the Church and the defensibility of that position if hon. Members should oppose a Motion which does not bind the House in the least degree, and only prays for more light. I rise, therefore, Sir, less with the view of combating by anticipation speeches like those which possibly we may hear to-night from that side of the House, than of endeavouring still further to illustrate and enforce the demand of my hon. Friend by a reference to the nature, amount, and application of a certain description of Church property to which my hon. Friend has scarcely referred, but the barest mention of which is calculated to suggest good primâ facie grounds for this inquiry—I mean, Sir, what is called cathedral property. Now, ever since the Reformation, the management of capitular estates has been more or less scandalously wasteful, the exercise of Cathedral patronage more or less impure, and the amount of work done in return for immense disbursements more or less absurdly inadequate. But, Sir, it is no part of my intention to dwell upon the abuses and scandals of the past. I shall have quite enough to do during the course of the few remarks to which I may reasonably hope that the House will extend its indulgence, in sketching those of the present; for, Sir, it is a lamentable fact, that in spite of all our cry for cathedral reform, in spite of Acts of Parliament innumerable, in spite of Commissions sitting for two years and a-half at a time, what is called the cathedral question is as urgent and as ugly as ever it was. And in making this remark, I wish myself clearly to be understood not to say that the abuses and scandals are in themselves as flagrant as once they were; but that viewed in relation to a higher tone of public morality, a deeper sense of the claims of religion upon presumably religious corporations, and a sterner condemnation of ecclesiastical nepotism, idleness, and avarice, the present aspect of our cathedral system is as full of humiliation for the Church as in those days when every vice which flourished under it was veiled and obscured by a denser if not fouler atmosphere of public opinion. Now, before I go further, let me remind the House what the value of this property really is. The last published Returns to which I have had access of the revenue of capitular corporations are contained in the Report and Appendix of the Cathedral Commission. They amounted in 1852 to upwards of £300,000 a-year, and the fee-simple of this property is valued at £16,000,000 sterling. A considerable portion of these revenues is derived from what are called the appropriate rectories. The annual value of the appropriations of 23 chapters in 1852 was £266,000; the value of the vicarages and perpetual curacies was £130,000, so that the final appropriations of the chapters amounted to £136,000. The result of this system in many cases is to produce great hardship to the working clergy. Thus the tithes of Caddington amount to £1,036, and the value of the living to £233; the tithes of Willesden to £1,281, and the endowment of the living to £168; while the tithes of Kingsbury are £681, and the living is endowed with only £89. But to return to the gross income of the chapters, which, in 1852, amounted to more than £300,000. More than half of it—namely, £160,000—went in a lump as stipends to Deans and Canons; £40,000 more to other officers and members, and for pensions; and bear in mind that, in addition to their stipends, Deans and Canons are in possession of some of the richest preferments of the Church. The chapter patronage in 1852 amounted to £169,000 per annum, and when the Cathedral Commission put this query to the chapters—"What is the practice of the chapters with respect to the nomination or appointment to benefices in the patronage of the chapters?"—in the vast majority of instances the reply was—"Members recommend and appoint in fixed rotation either to themselves or their nominees." Now, what do we get in return for all these disbursements? What does the Dean do for his £1,000 to £3,000 a-year? and what do the Canons do for their £500 to £1,000, amply supplemented by other preferments? I will not take external evidence. It shall be all drawn from the bosom of the Church—indeed, from the bosom of the chapters. What does Dean Alford say? Speaking of the office of Dean, in his reply to the circular of the Archbishops, to which I shall presently refer, he says— That office is in many of our cathedrals practically useless. The Dean, while nominally the head of the cathedral body, is almost without employment. His power even to preach above his statutable three or more times in the year is called in question. The Bishop of St. David's, when examined before the Commission, said— The time seems to me not far distant when it will be difficult to discover any function proper to a Dean which might not be as conveniently exercised by a Bishop residing close to a cathedral. And when the then Bishop of Carlisle was asked what objection there was to throwing the duties of the Deans upon the Bishops, all the reply which he should make was, "If the office of Bishop and Dean should be united it would be a confession that one of them was unnecessary." Now for the Canons. The usual number of Canons attached to a cathedral is four—four men to do the work of one. Suppose any hon. Gentleman was to arrange for the management of his estate on this principle, and was to appoint four stewards, each to reside on the estate for three months out of the 12. The whole system is preposterous and indefensible. Why, the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. B. Hope), in a speech at the Church Congress at Liverpool in 1869, speaks of the Canons as "Canons with no definite duties." And in a speech immediately preceding that of the hon. Gentleman, Canon Trevor, of York, thus described the Canon residentiary— This poor Canon in residence has lately been described by an eminent dignitary of the Church as a man who receives £1,000 a-year fordoing nothing but eating white soup. Now, in the first place, there are very few Canons in England who get £1,000 a-year; and, in the next place, I take it upon myself to say that a great deal more than white soup is eaten by all the Canons in England. It is possible, indeed," he goes on to say, "that the Archdeacon was speaking figuratively, and meant to describe the quality of the spiritual food which Canons in residence imbibe or distribute to the people around them, and, if that is the case, I am afraid I cannot correct him, because, as far as my impression goes, Canons in residence have no spiritual duties at all. In the Cathedral of York there was one sermon in the year to be preached by the four residentiaries among them; but Her Majesty, with a gracious and singular consideration for the burthens of the clergy, has abolished the anniversary on which that sermon was preached, and that duty no longer exists. But, Sir, I may be told that, although the Canons have no spiritual duties and the Dean is a sinecurist, yet, that these offices are useful, however expensive, because they afford a calm and dignified retreat for men actively engaged in theological studies, and preparing works beneficial to the Church and to the world. Again, I go to a Dean for the reply— Take a circuit," replies Dean Close, "through the whole canonical bodies, and how many Canons will you find thus occupied? or where can you find one whose patron selected him for such a purpose? No, the truth must be told: as long as canonries are practically sinecures, tenable with the richest rectories and other preferments, the temptation is, and will be, too strong for the virtue of patrons, who will prefer kindred and friends and interest to all the claims of men of learning, whether old or young. Talk of learning, science, scholarship, contemplation, and a hundred other imaginary qualifications for deaneries and canonries. The one only qualification in past times has been a name, and that the name of the Bishop of the diocese. But we were paying Deans and Canons £160,000 a-year in order that we might present a working model always going of what public worship ought to be—which is open to inspection at all times so that our parish churches may form their services upon it— You have," said the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University—"you have the stated, ever-recurring worship of Almighty God unstimulated by any extraordinary spasmodic incident. But Dr. Sebastian Wesley, of Winchester Cathedral, an eminent composer and organist, in the evidence which he gave before the Commission, stated that— He had often heard cathedral service so performed as to suggest the idea that it were better to abolish music than to continue the abuse of so beautiful an art on occasion of any direct appeal to the Deity. But we are told that the cathedral is the musical school of the diocese. He goes on to say— The fact, I think, of music in all its importance at cathedrals being essentially under the guidance of capitular bodies is enough to account for the deficiency for which the cathedral service is remarkable. And I maintain that the working model of Divine worship is not attractive—and that you cannot get the public to inspect it. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Horsman) brought forward his Motion on cathedrals many years ago, he took the pains to ascertain the average attendance at morning and evening service on weekdays in our cathedrals. He found that at Durham the congregation numbered 18, and the officials 33; at Peterborough 7, and the officials 12; at Lincoln 8, and the officials 24, and so forth. Nor have we any reason to suppose that things are much better now, when the Dean of Manchester in his reply to the Arch-bishops seems to think it matter for encouragement and congratulation that out of a population of 500,000 you have achieved the marvellous feat of collecting some 15 or 20 persons at morning and evening prayer to attend "the stated ever-recurring worship of Almighty God, unstimulated by any extraordinary spasmodic effort." But, having failed to draw the people, you tell us now that these services are held less for the "edification of man" than for "the glory of God." Is God glorified by a beggarly array of empty benches? And, if this be the spectacle in our huge cities, what must it be where the cathedral is situated either in a wilderness, like St. David's, or in a paltry little town like Ely or Lichfield, with the population of a secondrate Yorkshire village?— Unfortunately," says the Dean of Ely, "population is locomotive and cathedrals are not. If I could, by the help of the Great Eastern steamship or Great Eastern Railway, set down Ely Cathedral in the midst of Liverpool, no doubt I could answer certain questions concerning the usefulness of that noble building in a more complete manner than I can now, but," he adds pathetically, "cathedrals will not march. Quite right, Mr. Dean, "cathedrals will not march." They never have marched, and inarch they never will, to the end of the chapter. If any hon. Member doubts that, let him peruse a correspondence lately presented to the House—Copy of Suggestions drawn up by Cathedral Bodies for the improvement of Cathedral Establishments. Alarmed, no doubt, by the cry for cathedral reform, and the fact that, although the Cathedral Commission, after sitting two years and a-half, reported—now 19 years ago—and not a single one of the suggestions which they made has been adopted, the Archbishops addressed a circular letter to the Deans, asking for the suggestion of any change which they might consider important. And what were the replies? Half the Deans appear to have returned no reply whatever, or, at all events, these replies were deemed wholly unfit for publication, for they find no place in this Return. But let us loot to the replies which were vouchsafed. Canterbury recommends the abolition of the present capitular system. Whereupon the Canons, in a great fright, feel bound to inform the Archbishop that the Dean's views "are not to be regarded as the views of the Deans' brethren." Then comes the Dean of Carlisle, recommending that the number of Canons should be reduced, and the Dean of Chester, explaining why he thinks "some decisive handling of the subject by authority is urgently required." Then we come to the Dean of Durham, who says quite cheerfully— We have held our chapter, and in direct reply to your Grace's inquiries, I beg leave to say that I cannot suggest any change which I consider as of great importance to the cathedral over which I preside; and that all my brethren of the chapter, except one whom I have not been able to consult, regard the subject in the same light. I have no doubt they do. In 1852 the revenues of the chapter were £57,800, and in 1857 they had increased to £81,000. The Dean receives £3,000, and the Canons £1,000 a-piece. Durham exhibits a fine illustration of a cathedral establishment full-blown. In 1852 it consisted of the Dean, 9 Canons, 1 sub-Dean, 6 minor Canons, 10 singing-men, 2 masters of the choristers, 10 choristers, 5 supernumeraries, 4 teachers of boys in the grammar school, 18 scholars in the same school, 8 poor men (not Canons), 30 poor women called Church widows, 2 vergers, 8 bell-ringers, 8 sub-vergers, 1 porter, 1 cook, a receiver, a deputy receiver, a treasurer, a deputy-treasurer, a precentor, a sacrist, an organist, a librarian, a clerk of the works, a bailiff, a land agent, a colliery agent, an agent for special estates, a constable, a gardener, a woodman; in all, 149. Durham is perfectly contented, and has no change to suggest to the Archbishops. Then comes Gloucester. Gloucester is bold; he says— No injury would result to the Church or city if three out of the four Canons were suspended. I pass on to Ely, Sir. Ely says that he— Should exceedingly deprecate any further cutting down of our cathedral establishments. Now, Ely consists of two parishes, one of 2,000 and the other of 4,000 inhabitants. Ely, we may remember, "does not march," and the revenues of Ely are £16,214. Those of Exeter are £11,431, and Exeter is for no change. Llandaff informs us— There is no record of any residence having been kept by the Canons until 1857, and there had been for the last 100 years and more no organ in the cathedral, and no attempt at choral services, while half the building had been for more than a century in utter ruin. Manchester is all for more Canons. When we get to Norwich we are confronted by an extract from Il Penseroso, and a homily on the value of monastic institutions, a recommendation to leave things pretty much as they are, and that every Dean and Cannon should emit once in five years some contribution to theological literature—I pity theological literature. St. Asaph advises a reduction in the number of Canons. Peterborough and St. Paul's deprecate earnestly any such thing. York recommends permanent residence; and at Rochester the Dean is too old to recommend anything. Now, I will ask any can did Churchman in the House whether he hopes anything from this correspondence—or whether it is not manifest that the cathedrals will not march? In fact, the Rev. Mr. Ryle says—representing as he does one of that bundle of sects which collectively we call the Church of England— Cathedral establishments are like a ship which has run aground at high water in a springtide. The tide has left her. She will never float again. Their theory has clean broken down; the public has lost faith in them. The facts of three centuries of working are dead against them. Their occupation is gone. They are past mending and patching up. But they swallow up the proceeds of a huge mass of public property, and if I had not addressed the House at such length, I should have liked to have said a few words with reference to the incredible avarice of these corporations. Through their system of fines and leasing, it is calculated that they have sacrificed three-fourths of the value of the estates under their charge. Now, Sir, we maintain that all this calls aloud for inquiry. You have enormous revenues—and revenues which but for the avarice of those who have enjoyed them would have been more enormous still—diverted from the purposes for which they were intended into the pockets of sinecurists and pluralists. You have no adequate return whatever for these immense disbursements. I will defy anyone to put his finger on any one of our cathedrals since the time of St. Augustine that has contributed largely to evangelization. These are not my words, but Lord Harrowby's. "What is the use of a cathedral?" says the Bishop of Peterborough. "Principally to cultivate Canons and to grow vergers." Now all this property, as the present Attorney General says— Has been given and taken subject to State control, on State terms, upon conditions laid down from time to time by the State, and liable to be altered by the power which has laid it down. All this property—every penny of it—we claim as national property. It was all acquired by the Church as a national institution. The Church was then, and is now, "the nation ecclesiastically considered." Lord Eldon said— I know no difference as to the persons of whom they are composed between the Church and the State. The Church is the State and the State is the Church. The State, therefore, has a perfect right to inquire into the application of these, and all other revenues of the Church, and if need be to resume them. My hon. Friend has a perfect right to initiate, if he can, that inquiry. He has stated the grounds upon which he desires to do so. In dealing with one branch alone of this question, I have endeavoured still further to strengthen his primâ facie case. The evidence which I have adduced has been brought from Church sources alone. Not a word have I quoted from the lips of those enemies of all that is good—the political Dissenters. But it is as a political Dissenter that I speak. I am not ashamed of the title. I would give little for the politics of the man whose religion was not at the bottom of them. I think I should be ashamed if I belonged to a religious community in which scandals like those to which I have referred were permitted quietly to continue. I think I should be still more ashamed if belonging to that religious community, and with these scandals before my eyes, I could resist this inquiry on the ground that it would prove damaging and dangerous to my Church. Sir, if the Church of England is to retain her position of supremacy, she must be prepared to meet fearlessly and cheerfully all such inquiries as this. I will go a step further and say, if in a country in which all men are presumed to be equal before the law, one form of religious belief and one system of Church government are to be exalted in perpetuity at the expense and to the disparagement of all the rest, the Church must be prepared to prove that these scandals are but accidents—accidents to be deplored, but still accidents—and not, as we contend, the necessary offspring of that embrace of the Church by the State, the disastrous character of which it will be our object and our duty hereafter to expose.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty that by means of a Royal Commission full and accurate particulars may be procured of the origin, nature, amount, and application of any property and revenues appropriated to the use of the Church of England."—(Mr. Miall.)

MR. T. HUGHES moved, as an Amendment, to leave out the words "the use of the Church of England," and insert— Any ecclesiastical purposes, and that such Commission may be instructed to consider what re-arrangements in the system of parochial benefices may be needed for the better adjustment of parishes and incomes in the Church of England, and what amendments may be made in the Laws relating to the patronage of benefices. The hon. Gentleman said, he felt the truth of much that had been stated by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall); but took issue as to his object. The hon. Member wanted the inquiry as a step to disestablishment, while he (Mr. Hughes) wanted it as a step to reform. Now, if the Amendment which he (Mr. Hughes) proposed were adopted, so far from thinking that it would lead to the disestablishment of the Church, he was sure that it would operate in the opposite direction. He must congratulate the hon. Member for Bradford on the tone in which he had made his Motion, but he could not say the same of the manner in which the hon. Member who seconded it (Mr. Leatham) had addressed himself to this subject; for while the Motion was for an inquiry into the property and revenues of the Church of England, the Seconder of it had simply abused the Deans and Canons of the Church. ["No, no!"] He had attacked the cathedral establishments as though nothing had ever been done to reform them, whereas, so far as episcopal and capitular estates were concerned, the information asked for by the hon. Member was already at his disposal. ["No, no!"] Then the hon. Member had never studied the Reports of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, in which he could obtain all he asked for. But the fact remained that the real question intended to be put in issue by this Motion was, whether the severance of the Church from the State would be an advantage to the nation; and what he had to submit was that, if the House was of opinion that such a union was for the good of the nation, then the House ought to agree to the Amendment he proposed. The ground upon which the demand for the severance of the Church from the State was based was that the sole duty of the State was the preservation of body and goods. But that was a theory which would not hold water. Most of them had accepted it at one time, but practical public life soon proved it to be a mere theory which would not work. He asked the House to consider the number of subjects with which in every Session they had to deal which made it quite out of the question to hold the doctrine that the State had nothing to do except to preserve bodies and goods. Were they going to give up the question of education, and the dealing with the marriage laws, or any laws which had for their object the improvement of the morals of the people? Unless they were prepared to do so, it was clear that the State must go beyond the mere protection of bodies and goods. How could it be contended that the entire separation of the Church from the State could be for the good of the nation? He held that the real duty of the State was to build up a wise and understanding nation, leaving voluntary action to do all it could, but stepping in whenever something was necessary for the good of the people which voluntaryism could not do for them. It was surely for the good of the nation that the ordinances and ministrations of religion should be brought home to every citizen. The Established Church did this: it gave free worship to everyone who wanted it, in every parish in the kingdom, while those who did not want it need not take it. Voluntaryism could not do this. For 30 years past voluntaryism had been going backwards, while the Church had been going forward. ["Question!"] The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) cried "Question!" The hon. Gentleman had availed himself of the opportunity of making a bitter attack on the dignitaries of cathedrals; and surely he would allow an hon. Member to criticize the denominations in no unfriendly spirit, and to say that voluntaryism was inadequate to the demand which it sought to supply. According to the Census of 1851, there were, between the years 1841–50,5,810 chapels licensed to different denominations in this country. Of these, 1,413, or 25 per cent, had actually disappeared in 1851. By a Return moved for in this House on the 12th May, 1870, he found that between 1851–70, no fewer than 2,401 more Dissenters' licensed chapels had disappeared. [A laugh.] An hon. Gentleman laughed, though the fact was a strong one, because it showed that such a system could not well bring the ordinary ministrations of religion to the door of every citizen. In The Baptist Year Book for 1872, he found it stated that one-fourth of the existing Baptist chapels were without ministers, while in another fourth the services, which were held only on Sundays, were conducted by persons who on other days were engaged in business. On the showing, therefore, of the community itself, in one-half the existing Baptist chapels there were not the ordinary and proper ministrations of religion, and the congregations had to depend on the casual services of some of their own members. The reason for this state of things was that voluntaryism must follow the purse, and could not do work in the poor quarters of great cities, as was admitted by Mr. Spurgeon in 1861, when he said it was of no use to try to establish chapels in certain places, because they were poor. But if voluntaryism could not provide the ministrations of religion in the poorest quarters—by far the most important work which churches had to perform—he asked whether the Church did not do that? He not only maintained that it did, but he also asserted that there was no agency which could do so except a body which was in some way connected with the State, and independent of chance support. If the State connection were so great a disadvantage to the Church, as the hon. Member for Bradford contended, how was it that the sects had not overtaken the Church in this work? If, on the other hand, it were an advantage, why should they remove that which must be admitted to be good for this country? Those who advocated disestablishment said that their wish was to bring about equality and freedom. As to freedom, they had that surely already. There was no Nonconformist body in the country of which the members could not hold and preach any opinions they pleased; and as to equality, it seemed to him that they had perfect equality for all purposes, except for those wretched purposes connected with precedence in which he was sure they would be the last persons to feel strongly. They should have his help always in obtaining perfect equality in the Universities, or in asserting their right to bury their dead in the national churchyards, but not in merely pulling down an institution as old as the monarchy from mere motives of jealousy. The real difference between the Established Church and the Nonconformists was that the sects must necessarily be narrow, while the Church must be broad. The last illustration of this might be seen in the comments which were made at the recent Baptist general meeting respecting the judgment of the Privy Council in the case of Mr. Bennett, when it was resolved by that body that—"They dare not suffer themselves to be comprehended in a Church which saps the spiritual life by receiving maintenance from the State." For his part, he was at a loss to conceive how the spiritual life could be sapped by receiving State maintenance, as the endowments of the Church of England were called, any more than by receiving maintenance, as most voluntary bodies did, from John Smith, the great grocer, or other rich persons belonging to a particular congregation. The General Baptists went on to observe that the mechanical connection of the Church with the State was rendered all the more unbearable by a judgment which declared that the English Church was Romanist as well as Rationalist. [Cheers.] He was prepared for that cheer. According to the views of those who supported the hon. Member for Bradford. (Mr. Miall), it was desirable that a religious body should have some particular Shibboleth, and that a man should have to exercise an act of volition and make a profession of faith to get into that body; but what most commended the Church of England to him was, that an Englishman had to exercise the act of volition to get out of it. While the Church of England did much for the poor classes, it did quite as much for the intellectual. He put it to hon. Members, how many of them could have obtained admission to any Nonconformist body after they had come to years of discretion. For himself, he could certainly say that, if he did not belong to the Church of England, there was not any other religious body in this country that would admit him as one of its members. That the Church of England contained everything—from a Romanist to a Rationalist—was precisely the great argument for a National Church, the only test for membership in which should be a common worship. His hon. Friend thought it a great thing to belong to a small sect, a separate body; but he considered it a greater thing to belong to a body which could admit men of different opinions within its fold. The best thing to which an Established Church could be likened was a wood, where all the trees were allowed to belong to the wood; but his hon. Friend, he supposed, would think it better that the trees should be all separated into oak trees, elm trees, and birch trees, and the like. But, to take another argument, had his hon. Friend the Member for Bradford considered the importance of the tremendous step he was wishing to take in cutting such a body as the Church of England free from State control. By the last Report of the Ecclesiastical Commission the revenues of the capitular estates—which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had to deal with at present—in 1872 amounted to £1,255,000. Now, of that sum it was proposed in the present year to apply no less than £300,000 in permanent augmentation of poor livings, to meet equal sums subscribed from non-ecclesiastical sources. And it was not only in the present year that the sum of £300,000 was to be so applied. For years past sums of like amount had been applied to like purposes. This represented by itself a power in the country which ought not to be taken from under the control of Parliament. Besides the sums subscribed in this way and applied to these purposes, there were funds amounting in the whole to £1,250,000 yearly, which, simply out of the episcopal incomes of this country, were available for the religious work of the country. But in addition to that, the other revenues of the Church from all sources amounted to more than £10,000,000 a-year, according to an estimate given in detail by one of the Church Unions, and apparently founded on careful inquiry. Now, was his hon. Friend prepared to say that he was willing to allow an independent corporation, dealing with such income and resources as these, which was connected in all manner of ways with the life and institutions of this country, with almost every family in the country, to be cut entirely free from the control of this House, and put—as it would very soon be—under the power of ecclesiastically-minded persons in this country? He could not conceive any greater misfortune. Such a body would be far too powerful. His hon. Friend would, no doubt, say that he proposed to take away a great part of this property—at any rate, all endowments which were given before the Toleration Act. But taking out the glebe and tithes and other property which belonged to the Church before the Toleration Act, it would be found that that portion of it which arose before the Act of Toleration amounted to scarcely £2,000,000. This question was now agitating all the nations of Europe, and he believed that if in Germany, Italy, or Spain there existed a body like the Church of England, able, with proper reforms, to meet all the spiritual destitution of the country, and yet so completely under the control of the State as the Church of England was at present, such a solution would be eagerly accepted as an escape from the evils which were distracting European statesmen. Despairing of their finding anything like so good a solution, he asked the House to accede to the proposed inquiry, but to do so as a step, not to disestablishment, but to reform. While the Ecclesiastical Commissioners gave full details as to episcopal and capitular revenues, it was impossible to get similar information as to parochial estates and other property. In the Church of England there were many benefices in which there was work and no pay; more than 2,000 in which there was pay and no work; and a very considerable number—1,200 or 1,400—in which there was neither pay nor work. Upon these points his hon. Friend who seconded his Amendment would dwell in detail. It was perfectly clear that some such inquiry as that now asked for ought to issue, and a Royal Commission was the proper way in which such an inquiry should be taken. The object of his Amendment was to clear up the present anomalies as to patronage in the Church, and to strengthen the foundations of the Establishment.


, in seconding the Amendment, said, he would confine himself strictly to the subject-matter of it, and only remind the House, with regard to the Motion of the hon. Member for Bradford, that it stood for weeks upon the Notice Paper with the words "Disestablishment and Disendowment" at the end of it. However vaguely and cautiously it was worded now, it had been admitted in the debate that those were still its real aims, and he felt confident that the House would reject a Motion which was purely destructive, and the more emphatically because it was no longer, as at first, a fair and straightforward attack on the Church of England. With regard to the Amendment, it was in no hostile spirit, with no view of what is called carrying the war into the enemy's country, or of depriving any denomination of one shilling of endowment that now belonged to them, but simply with a view to completeness, that he (Mr. Welby) asked for an inquiry to be extended to other bodies. He held it to be the bounden duty of Churchmen to defend their Church against attack, and should always be ready to assist in so doing; but he did not think that she should return blow for blow, or act in a hostile or aggressive spirit towards anyone. If he had thought the Amendment conceived in such a spirit, he should not be seconding it. His only desire was to strengthen and improve the Church of England, leaving others alone to compete with her after their own fashion if they could; and he hoped that what he and the hon. and learned Member for Frome (Mr. T. Hughes) had said would prove that it was with that object alone that they asked for an attempt to be made to discover some means whereby, consistently with justice to all parties, and full regard for the rights of property, some at least of the anomalies and abuses which admittedly exist in connection with the temporalities of the Church might be rectified, and the incomes of the parochial clergy be to some extent more closely adjusted to their labour and the social position they had to maintain. To both the reforms specially indicated in the Amendment—re-arrangements in the parochial system, and amendments of the law of patronage—the difficulty of dealing with livings in private gift always had been and would be the chief obstacle. Public livings could be more easily and effectually dealt with, and were not so liable to abuse; but with private ones the variety and magnitude of the interests involved might seem to offer an insuperable bar to legislation, while to some minds the very notion of tampering with them might appear dangerous and revolutionary. Yet no good Churchman would deny that, with the limitation he had mentioned, some reform was desirable. Speaking first of re-arrangement, he (Mr. Welby) was far from holding out the curtailment of wealthy benefices as a thing in itself to be wished for. Very few of the clergy were really overpaid, and their profession, like others, ought to have prizes apart from the dignities of the Church, if only for the sake of avoiding increased pressure and competition for those dignities. Nor did he wish to separate the clergy from the land, or place them in the position of State annuitants. Therefore he considered any general process of equalization of benefices inexpedient and imprac- ticable. But supposing we were at liberty to do what we liked, unfettered by private interests, great good might be effected by simple and easy re-arrangements, especially in the rural districts. We had already means of sub-dividing large and populous parishes, and in the metropolis of consolidating small ones, and transferring the superfluity of their incomes, if any; but in the country we constantly saw large parishes with small endowments lying close to small parishes with large ones, and groups of little villages on each of which a clergyman was compelled to reside with poor pay and little to do, while two or three of them might perfectly be served by one incumbent, more so than ever now that we are to have shortened services, and the united incomes would then be adequate without being excessive. This suggestion, no doubt, was rather contrary to the spirit of the Pluralities Acts, but, valuable and important as those Acts had been, he thought that, in this respect, they had done their work almost too well, and might advantageously be relaxed in some of their provisions; that, for instance, which required that when two benefices were held together one of them must be worth less than £100 a-year. He wished, too, to see some impetus given to the consolidation of benefices in such cases beyond the metropolis. The Commissioners of 1835 had recommended more precise and definite legislation on this subject. The Pluralities Acts had done something, but were too purely permissive. He would not venture to suggest how, but he thought there ought to be some direction to the Bishop to take the initiative in cases where he thought union desirable, but found the patrons disinclined to move in the matter. Such action by a third party was frequently all that was required. The other great road by which some approach to equalization might be attained was to leave geographical boundaries intact, and to tax the wealthier benefices for the benefit of the poorer. This idea was at least as old as Queen Anne; the principle was already in operation in the City of London, and Convocation had from time to time recommended its more general adoption. Although, as he had said, very few clergymen were really overpaid, there were, no doubt, a certain number of livings which, apart from all considera- tions of private property, might very well be called upon to contribute something to the augmentation of the poorer ones, of which there were a very large number indeed. Strange as it might seem, there were no trustworthy general returns of later date than 1835, and this, he thought, was in itself a strong argument for inquiry. But in that year the Church Commissioners reported that out of 10,478 benefices, 6,861, nearly equal to two-thirds, were worth less than £300 per annum, while only 1,461, or one-seventh, were worth £500 or upwards, and 507, or one-twentieth, £750 or more. He (Mr. Welby) did not give the numbers between £300 and £500, because he did not agree in the notion that £300 per annum was wealth to a clergyman. The popution returns of 1835 were now valueless; and no doubt since then much change had been effected in incomes by tithe commutation, sub-divisions and charges on larger benefices, and grants by Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and from private sources, which two last alone amounted to between £400,000 to £500,000 per annum. But The Times of September 4, 1867, stated that there were then 12,888 benefices; 6,403 being in private patronage and saleable; 6,485, including most of the populous parishes, public and unsaleable; and some tables with which he had been favoured, carefully compiled from The Clergy List, gave 2,550 as having less than 300 population, while 4,441 were under £200 annual value. In the diocese of Lincoln it appeared from The Diocesan Calendar, that there were now, out of 807 benefices, 60 worth £750 or more, and 166 worth £500 or more. Among these were several of the principal towns where large deductions must be made for curates, charities, and so on. But there were 440, or more than half the whole, not over £300 a-year, about 230 not over £200, and 70 or 80 not over £100; while 287 were under 300 population, 176 under 200, and 52 under 100, these being, in many cases, not identical with the poorly endowed ones. If the figures given were at all accurate, and Lincoln a fair sample of other dioceses—which, as it comprised one purely agricultural, and one partly agricultural, partly manufacturing county, it probably would be—it seemed to follow that things were not really much better now than in 1835, that the revenues of the Church of Eng- land were not so well distributed as they might be; and that, however well distributed, they were really insufficient to make permanent provision even for her present wants, which were rapidly increasing. Much of the failure of the Church to reach the masses in our large towns was attributable, not to want of will or of funds to build new churches, but to the difficulty of securing a permanent maintenance for the clergy. The history of the Welsh Church at Cardiff gave an instance in point the other day. These facts showed the necessity of an attempt to remedy the evil. We now insisted on the clergy doing their work, and we were therefore bound to provide them with adequate means, so far as we could. No doubt there were Acts now in existence by which much might be done. Lay impropriations of tithes might be restored, poor benefices might be united or augmented within certain limits, and even a portion of the endowments of one living transferred to another in the gift of the same patron, with his consent; but what between ignorance, apathy, disinclination, and the clash of conflicting interests, these Acts remain to a great extent a dead letter, and fail to exercise any appreciable influence on the great mass of clerical poverty. Even Queen Anne's Bounty, which was granted for the express relief of the poorer livings, was often a burden to them, owing to the First Fruits and Tenths being levied on the obsolete valuation of the King's Book, under which livings now worth a mere trifle paid £30 or £40 First Fruits, and £3 or £4 a-year tenths, while others worth £1,500 a-year got off for a few shillings. That valuation had been condemned 35 years ago by a Committee of the House, which had also recommended a "moderate and graduated impost" on the richer livings, so that there was high Parliamentary authority for the present proposal. On the subject of patronage, he (Mr. Welby) would only say that he believed lay patronage to be one of the greatest bulwarks of the Church of England, and that the abuses in the exercise of it had passed their climax, and were rapidly declining, because patrons recognized more and more every year that the appointment to the cure of souls was a sacred and honourable trust, to be exercised for the benefit of the parishioners; but he con- sidered that any well-devised scheme for accelerating this diminution, and perhaps eventually putting an end to the abuses altogether, would confer an essential benefit on the Church. These were grounds on which he thought the proposal for a Commission might be defended. He would not go into the possible objections, except two. He had been told that such an inquiry would be dangerous to the Church, as it would tabulate and show up her weak places. To that he replied that he did not fear the light of day for the Church of England, but courted it. There was plenty of information available already in Clergy Lists, Directories, Diocesan Calendars, and the like, from which sensational statements could be compiled; and it was far better to have the whole truth set forth in a complete and authoritative form than a portion of it drawn from incorrect sources, and then perhaps exaggerated and distorted. The result of inquiry would be to show that the Church of England, instead of being in possession of property to which she had no right, had been deprived of very much to which she had a right; and that, instead of her having a superabundance of wealth, the cases of individual superfluity among her clergy, taking the present value of money into consideration, were extremely rare, and that, taken as a whole, there was no superfluity in her revenues whatever. The other objection was the impossibility of interfering with private property without injustice. That might be insuperable, but to raise it now was to beg the whole question, the object of inquiry being to ascertain the possibility of thus acting. If, in conclusion, he had advocated a course which might seem rash and unwise to some, he had not done so without consideration. He held the maintenance of the State Establishment to be not merely a question of comparative advantage and expediency, but one of vital importance to the nation; because disestablishment meant, not the substitution of some other system or expression of national religion for the present one, but the severance of religion altogether from the national life. He felt that it would be impossible, even if it were prudent, to go on much longer, simply letting things alone, and the Church had far better deal with these matters herself, than leave them to ruder and hostile hands; and it was with a strong conviction that an amendment of the laws of patronage and a better distribution of the revenues of the Church, would extend her just influence, and promote the interests of true religion, to which consideration all others ought to be subordinated, that he seconded the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Frome.

Amendment proposed, To leave out the words "the use of the Church of England," in order to add the words "any ecclesiastical purposes, and that such Commission may be instructed to consider what re-arrangements in the system of parochial benefices may be needed for the better adjustment of parishes and incomes in the Church of England, and what amendments may be made in the Laws relating to the patronage of benefices,"—(Mr. Thomas Hughes,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


Sir, in rising to say a few words in support of the original Resolution before the House, I would begin by remarking that it is admitted on all hands that the National Church of this country is under the control of the State. ["No, no!"] That, at any rate, has been the assumption to-night, and it has been generally held that this Parliament is supreme in everything connected with the Church, so far as the management of its property is concerned, and the arrangement of its ritual, its dogmas, and doctrines; with respect to all these matters this House must be appealed to. I need only refer to the numerous Ecclesiastical Bills which are continually coming up in this and the other House of Parliament to prove that a great obligation is thrown upon our Legislature in dealing with the State-Church and her interests. I wish, before proceeding further, to answer a question put by the hon. and learned Member for Frome (Mr. T. Hughes), as to whether it would be prudent to allow an organization immensely rich—in possession of revenues, as he says, of over £10,000,000 a-year—to become free from State control? Now, Sir, this House has a great respect for precedent, and my hon. and learned Friend must surely have forgotten the precedent established in the case of the Irish Church. Does anybody suppose that the disestablished Episcopal Church in Ireland is a danger to the State in its new position? I venture to tell my hon. and learned Friend that that Church is relatively richer today than the Church of England would be if disestablished to-day. I would wish to point out to him another consideration—namely, that a Church is not powerful, is not influential in proportion to its wealth, but almost in spite of pecuniary power. If it has thorough confidence in the justness of its own position, and in the truthfulness of its foundation, in that way, and by that means, it will make headway in the world. Wealth, Sir, in itself is rather an encumbrance to a religious institution than an advantage. I would ask my hon. and learned Friend to look at the very first century of the Christian era. Was the Church in possession of wealth then? Yet when was it so powerful? Where is the authority for supposing that the English Church without these immense revenues would not be capable of doing much more work, and better, than at the present time? Now, Sir, reference has been made to the parochial system in this country, and my hon. and learned Friend has stated that without the Established Church it would be impossible to provide for the religious wants of the people; but so far as the large towns are concerned, my hon. and learned Friend must admit the parochial system has utterly broken down. ["No, no!"] Take any town that has a church or churches beyond the parish church, and I ask how have these new churches been established? In this House there are many Gentlemen of whom it may be said that they themselves have built and endowed churches. The hon. Member for the West Riding, the hon. Member for Halifax, and the right hon. Member for Oxford University, whom I might also claim as a Yorkshireman, have by their action in this direction shown the utter unfitness and inefficiency of the parochial system. They have themselves adopted the voluntary system in subscribing money out of their own pockets in building and endowing these churches. We are told the Church Establishment must rest its case upon the agricultural districts. Now, in the face of facts which may be easily adduced, I think it is dangerous to rest the case of the Established Church upon this narrow ground. I might illustrate my position for a moment by referring to the case of Wales. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Richard) has stated facts again and again, showing that the Principality of Wales is completely provided with places of worship—provided as fully as any other part of the United Kingdom; and that those places have been provided by the voluntary principle. This no one will deny, and it is a most significant fact that it is out of the poverty of the Welsh people that this creation has come. But I need not confine myself to Wales, for that was even the case with Scotland. Will anyone say that at this moment the force and vitality of Christianity in Scotland is exhibited in the Church Establishment there? There are, we know, national endowments in Scotland; but I assert fearlessly that the zeal and energy of modern Christianity in dealing with the religious wants of the Scotch people have come from the Dissenting branches of the Presbyterian body. I go further and ask the patience of the House whilst for a few moments I refer to America. We are told, upon authority which cannot be questioned, that so far as the places of worship are concerned, the United States are amply provided with sittings for all who are able to enter those places of worship, let them be what they may. I do say, then, it cannot be said with truth that the voluntary principle has failed either in this country or in the United States of America, where it has been fully tried. When my hon. and learned Friend refers to the Baptists and other Dissenting bodies, and asks whether they alone in their poverty have been able to meet the religious wants of this country, I reply at once—"No, they have not," nor is it to be expected that they should; but to that reply I will add this—that if the Episcopalian body which possesses nine-tenths of the religious wealth of the country, did anything like what the Dissentingbodies—in their poverty and in the face of all kinds of difficulties—have done, there would not be a hamlet in the country, however small it may be, where their Church would not be in active operation. I deny that we want to destroy the Episcopalian Church. We are all in the eye of the law members of the Church of England, and I would venture to suggest to the professed members of that Church that they are altogether in error in supposing, or saying, that the Church belongs to any one portion of the community. Besides being by law a member of the Church of England, I am a Dissenter. I am one of those Baptists to whom my hon. and learned Friend the mover of the Amendment, has referred. I may therefore claim to know something of the facts respecting that denomination. I wish at once to assert that to the Episcopal Church in the country I have not the slightest objection; on the contrary, I would wish it unbounded success. My objection rests to the union of one branch of the Christian Church with the State of this country—to its enjoying public property, to its occupying unceasingly the time of this House—to its inability to manage its own affairs. Of this the Reformed House of Commons is no doubt more thoroughly representative of the people of this country than any former House has been; but will anyone say it is a better body for the settlement of Church questions than the unreformed Houses were? We do not see here to-night any of the representatives of the Sister Island. I do not wonder at their absenting themselves when these questions affecting the Church of England come up in this House. This should be an Imperial Legislature. But we have been told over and over again in bygone debates, that it is a fitting thing for Dissenting and Roman Catholic Members either to absent themselves from the House, or be silent, when questions come up affecting the State-Church. Nothing, however, will induce me to believe that it is not wrong for us thus to be engaged upon questions of this kind. These questions as to the relations of Church and State, Sir, are only now coming to the front. Many of the changes which we in this country have been advocating have been realized, and I believe at no very distant date the proper relations of the State to the Episcopal body of this country will occupy general attention. Let me for a moment give the House a quotation showing the opinion entertained by Dr. Döllinger, as it appears in The Guardian of February 28, in a report of the Doctor's third lecture. He says— And as regards the State Church itself in England, there must, if she will deal seriously with the attempts at union, first be accomplished a deeply based alteration in the situation of the Church. She must, as I think, lose her present position by which she is the ruling State-Church, since, through this position, she is at once too narrow and broad, too loose, and too confined, too free on the one side and too dependent on the other. This, Sir, is the opinion of a man who looks at this question from a different stand-point to our own, and his words are surely worthy of our consideration. I venture, Sir, to urge that this Motion is extremely appropriate as regards the time when my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall) brings it forward, and so far as the debate has gone there seems to be no real difference as to the desirableness of granting that for which he asks. If there be in the possession of the National Church a revenue of something like £10,000,000, as it is admitted there is, it is nothing but right as a matter of practical common sense that it should be brought under the purview of the Legislature. There are no funds of a like character in which there has been so much jobbery, in the distribution of which there has been so much inequality, and in the use of which so much unfairness as these; and I venture, Sir, to think the people of this country will insist upon a searching inquiry, not only into the revenues of the Church, but into the manner in which they are dispensed.


said, it had been assumed by the hon. Member for Bradford that the Motion standing in his name was intended as a joke, but he had far too great a regard for the dignity of the House to think of treating its votes as the medium for making a joke. He also hoped he had too deep a sense of the gravity of this subject to attempt to make a practical joke with reference to it. This, however, was not the first time he had heard the idea of a joke attributed to his Motion. That idea originated in the columns of The Nonconformist newspaper, accompanied by a statement that if the Motion were not a joke the Dissenters would enter with clean hands into the inquiry. He did not accuse them of having dirty hands, but he thought he could show that they would not enter into it with empty hands. Without discussing the general question at so late an hour, he should oppose both the Motion and the Amendment, on the ground that the inquiry asked for by the hon. Members opposite would be only a partial one. It was impossible that religious bodies should exist for a number of years in a country like this without accumulating property, and it was equally impossible that that property should not come in some degree under the direction and the protection of the State. To begin with, the Roman Catholics possessed a great deal of property, but as that subject had been so often brought under the notice of the House by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), he would not dwell further upon it. He might also say that the Wesleyans had never concealed the fact that they possessed considerable property. The Jews, again, were also in possession of property devoted to religious purposes, and so were other sects. He wished, however, to confine his remarks chiefly to those religious bodies which used to be called "the three denominations," but which were sometimes spoken of now as "the Free Churches." The hon. Member for Bradford had made an admission tonight which went further than any he had made before. He divided Church property into two classes—the older and the more recent. Now, he was ready to place the property of the Nonconformist body in the latter category, although he contended that both classes of property were private property protected by the State. They had heard so much from the Independents against endowments that it was believed that they altogether repudiated them. He would quote some examples of their opinions on this point. In the Congregational Year Book for the present year, the Rev. J. Baldwin Brown said— Of all the curses with which a spiritual community can be visited the worst is property—that is, property that can be laid up in treasuries and administered by authorities. Again, the Rev. Dr. Rees, in a paper contributed to the same annual, expressed himself as follows:— The excellent Lady Barham built seven small chapels at her own expense in the Gower district, but through her mistaken benevolence in endowing most of them, they are to this day weak and dependent on those miserable crutches, and only now beginning to learn the healthy exercise of their own wings. He might add, also, a statement made by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) in a debate in that House some years ago on the Trustees of Charities Bill. The hon. Member said— They (the Dissenters) neither cared for nor wanted any endowments. It was a fact worthy of consideration that out of 25,000 places of worship that Dissenters had in Great Britain only 100 or 200—and those were of old standing—had received an endowment, and even these were from private benevolence. In more modern times the Dissenters did not endow their places of worship, but trusted to the voluntary principle. [3 Hansard, clxii. 681.] He could not agree with the hon. Member's figures nor with his facts. But compare these statements with the practice of modern Nonconformists with regard to endowments. Mr. Remington Mills, formerly a member of that House, built a Congregational church at Egham, and endowed it with £70 a-year in house property when he left the neighbourhood. In one of those houses the minister lived, while the rent of the other was devoted to purposes connected with the church. The late Sir Francis Crossley was also, he believed, a strong supporter of endowments. On the 7th of June last his will was quoted in The Times, and it appeared that among the bequests was one of £1,000 to the Congregational Pastor's Retiring Fund, which was an endowed society with a capital of £88,000. Sir Francis Crossley also left £1,000 to Airedale College, Bradford, an endowed institution, besides making certain provisions with respect to the endowment of the almshouses erected by him at Halifax, and for the completion of any unfulfilled arrangements in connection with the Crossley Orphan Home and School, the majority of the governors of which institution were elected by the pastors and deacons of certain Independent Churches. Again, the chairman of the anniversary meeting at Cheshunt College in 1869, mentioned in his speech, in terms of commendation, the endeavour of the Calvinistic Methodist body to raise an endowment of £20,000 for their College at Trevecca, and of the success of the Rev. Edward Matthews in raising £18,000 of this sum; and the Report said that this College would be for Wales "an inestimable and everlasting blessing." That speech was delivered by Mr. Henry Richard, whom he believed he might identify with the hon. Member for Merthyr-Tydvil. Leaving this matter, he would next consider what information we possess as to Nonconformist endowments. The Reports of the Charity Commissioners show that endowments connected with Dis- senting places of worship exist in nearly every county; but the Commissioners do not profess that these returns are complete, as they have no power of obtaining information about them except from the parish officers, who are often unable, and it may be, unwilling to supply it; and if any hon. Member will make private inquiries in his own neighbourhood he will probably find there endowments much more numerous than he imagines. Now, it is a singular fact that the Congregational Year Book, the Baptist Hand Book, the Presbyterian Almanack, and the Unitarian Almanack, although they give lists of these places of worship, make no mention whatever of any endowments belonging to them, but they do notice certain societies with large invested capital for the benefit of Dissenting ministers and their families. The influence which the trustees of these societies must acquire would seem to outsiders to clash with the congregational theory of separate Churches. He would, however, give the House, from other sources, some particulars affecting well-known charities. In 1704 Lady Hewley left property to seven trustees for various Dissenting objects, and in the year 1842, after great litigation, a suit was decided in favour of the retention of these endowments by the orthodox Dissenters. The old Charity Commissioners reported the income of these trustees to be nearly £3,000 a-year; but according to the latest Returns of the Charity Commissioners, the rents received by the trustees amounted to £6,000 or £7,000 a-year, in addition to which they had invested in stock upwards of £40,000, and £1,600 recently in the London and Westminster Bank, and taking advantage of recent legislation, they are now able to compete for landed investments with the landowners of Yorkshire. The trustees in that case were not only careful, but saving trustees. As to another charity—Coward's Trust—he had only arrived at a knowledge of the facts by accident; but this charity would be interesting to the House from the fact that Dr. Isaac Watts was one of the executors, from which circumstance the date of the commencement of the charity was fixed at the early part of the 18th century. Various objects were specified in the original bequest, which concluded thus— And for such other charitable and useful purposes as they, or the major part of them, judge to be most condusive to the interests of true religion among Protestant Dissenters. The trustees in the present day were Dr. Stoughton, the Rev. Mr. Binney, and two other gentlemen. Their whole income in the year 1871 was £3,442, and of this they granted for the education of students £1,100, and for the building of chapels and paying off debts £1,305. Here, therefore, were the funds of a charity appropriated to the building of chapels, which were constantly paraded as the great triumphs of the voluntary system. He did not wish to weary the House with details, but he would refer any hon. Members, who might wish to follow up the subject, to Chamberlain's Charity, Hollis' Charity, Davis' Charity, Creed's and Hanson's Charities for the education of ministers—which the hon. Member for Brighton might possibly think could be better appropriated to undenominational teaching at Cambridge—the Williams Fund, and many other charities and funds of a similar nature. While the hon. Member for Bradford had all the materials which he required ready to his hand, he himself had been compelled to prosecute an active search, like a miner in Australia digging for gold, sometimes finding a few grains and sometimes lighting on a considerable nugget. But he had reason to believe that the vein was by no means exhausted, and that he had only arrived at the beginning of it. He wished to add a word on the subject of endowed colleges in the possession of the Nonconformist bodies. Dr. Allon, in a paper read by him on the subject of the amalgamation of colleges, said— We possess 16 collegiate institutions, having 38 professors, 368 students, and an aggregate income of about £25,000 a-year. How much of this was derived from endowments he was unable to say, but there was some evidence that the proportion must be very considerable. There are also at least seven Baptist colleges, two Unitarian, and possibly many others. Passing by the other colleges, he would direct attention to the case of New College, which might be regarded as a model institution. Dr. Pye Smith, in laying the first stone of this College in 1850, said that it would unite three old colleges—Homerton, Torrington Square, and Highbury—of which the earliest was founded soon after the time of William III. He also stated that the pious men of that day did not seem to think it necessary to ascertain that their sons had the qualification for the ministry, and it was not until the institutions now united were founded— That the satisfactory evidence of conversion to God in encouraging any young man to devote himself to the ministry was thoroughly understood to be of imperative and absolute necessity. In the language of the present day, that would mean that "tests" were not at first in vogue, but afterwards were found to be necessary— The candidate is required to be a member of some Congregational Church and 16 years old, to be able to adduce testimony of one or more Congregational ministers and of the church with which he is in fellowship to his consistent piety, mental ability, and general fitness for ministerial work. After all these an application in writing has to be sent in, and the Council decide whether they will admit the candidate to an interview. The House, doubtless, would concur with him that the tests thus imposed were much more strict than those in vogue in Oxford or Cambridge in what hon. Members opposite would call their worst days. The balance-sheet of this College for the year 1868–9, of which Mr. J. R. Mills is the treasurer, shows an income of £4,393. Of this sum upwards of £2,600 appears to come from trusts and dividends, including £1,100 from Coward's Trustees. In the Report for 1871 of the Countess of Huntingdon's College at Cheshunt, out of a total income of £2,672, £864 comes from rents and dividends, and it has received legacies amounting to nearly £29,000 since 1794. To this College peculiar importance was attached because it professed to be an undenominational college. But Dr. Allon, in his address at the opening of the new buildings, said— Any student, when his education is finished, is at perfect liberty to exercise his ministry in whatever section of the Church of Christ he may prefer. The fact that so many of its alumni now enter the Congregational ministry is owing solely to changes in Church parties and popular sympathies. In other words, this undenominational College was gradually becoming absorbed by the Congregational body. At this College the series of questions submitted to candidates for admission was exceedingly searching. One of these he might, perhaps, be permitted to read— What reason have you for believing that you have experienced a saving work of grace upon your heart, at what period of your life, and by what means do you consider the change to have taken place? (To be answered very fully.) Another question was—"Can you cordially subscribe the 15 Articles subjoined to these questions?" In a case submitted to the hon. and learned Member for Richmond and the present Vice Chancellor Wickens, the President, Dr. Reynolds, says— These Articles, taken principally from the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, are skilfully interwoven with some of the more important clauses of the Confession of Faith of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, and while they carefully preserve the evangelical fervour of the originals, they avoid some of their crudities and are studiously comprehensive in all matters affecting Church policy, As to the protection which the law afforded to these endowments, he would first observe that the Courts of the country were freely employed in reference to them, and that not merely with reference to the property of the various Dissenting bodies, but, as the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) stated last year, on points connected with their peculiar doctrine. In this respect, Nonconformists appeared to be as completely "under Egyptian bondage" as members of the Established Church were popularly supposed to be. One of the cases which had come before the Law Courts many years ago, was that relating to the Hewley Charity, which gave rise to a vast amount of litigation, and which was the principal cause of the legislation which was subsequently effected on the subject of the property held by Dissenting bodies. Many hon. Members would recollect the passing of the Dissenters' Chapels Act, in 1844, by Sir Robert Peel, the first clause of which made lawful the tenure, and confirmed persons in possession of property appropriated to Dissenting purposes which were unlawful prior to the passing of certain recited enabling Acts, and enacted that all the deeds and documents relating to them be construed as if such Acts had been in force at the time of the foundation of such meeting-houses. Clause 2 enacted that— Religious doctrines or opinions for the preaching or promotion of which the meeting-house may be held, is to be collected from 25 years' usage, when not expressly stated in the trust deed. Under this Act, then, Nonconformists held property by a limited Parliamentary title. In Skeat's History of the Free Churches, published in 1839, by Mr. A. Miall, it was stated that— The Act, so far as it limited inquiry into the right to property, was in harmony with previous laws, and so far as it was calculated to prevent litigation was in harmony with the best civil and religious interests of society. On the morality of the following statement he would not comment, but it illustrated the importance of the Act. The Rev. J. Baldwin Brown, in his address on the principles of trust deeds, said— Many of the most eminent of our ministers are preaching under trust deeds containing statements of doctrine which nothing would induce them to utter from the pulpits. Again, of late years the following Acts had been passed affecting the property of Dissenting bodies—the 13 & 14 Vict., c. 28—called Sir Morton Peto's Act—for rendering more simple and effectual the law by which societies for religious worship hold property; the 31 & 32 Vict., c. 44, facilitating the acquisition of sites for religious purposes; the 32 & 33 Vict., c. 26, extending this Act to burial grounds—possibly a crumb of comfort to the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan)—as showing that Nonconformists possess them; and the 33 & 34 Vict., c. 34, the Charitable Funds Investment Act, enabling trustees for public and charitable purposes to invest the funds intrusted to them in real securities, called on Congregational authority "brief but important," and specially valuable to Lady Hewley's trustees. Another instance of the interference of the Legislature with property held by Dissenting bodies was furnished by the Charity Commission. On the 21st of May last, the Poultry Chapel was sold for the sum of £50,200, with the consent and under the authority of the Charity Commissioners, and this sum must be re-invested with their sanction. He understood, also, that they received three or four applications a-week for the appointment, under their powers, of new trustees to Dissenting chapels. On a moderate computation, he calculated this caused a saving to the chapel trustees of £10,000 a-year, and as the expenses of the Commission were paid out of the Consolidated Fund, the additional expense incurred from the work belonging to these trusts, whatever that may be, was an actual grant to the Dissenters from the taxation of the country. He thought that the people at large had a right to complain that such a large sum was annually abstracted from their pockets for the exclusive benefit of Dissenters, and he commended this fact to the consideration of the hon. Member for Birmingham and those who complained of the operation of the 25th clause of the Education Act. He trusted that he had said sufficient to show that there were endowments possessed by the Dissenters; that that property was to a certain extent protected by law, and that therefore the proposals of the hon. Members for Bradford and Frome were open to the objection that they were partial and did not embrace the whole question. In the improbable event of either of those proposals being carried, he should take the sense of the House upon the Resolution of which he had given Notice; and he gave the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall) fair warning that such was the way in which his joke would end. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), in seconding the Motion, had stood forth as a political Dissenter. He begged to remind the hon. Member that a century ago we had had political Churchmen in this country—men who had done a great deal of harm to the Church, and he wished to know whether it had never crossed the hon. Member's mind that political Dissenters might do a great deal of harm to the free churches of Great Britain. The political Dissenters, by their attempts, might prevent the Church of England from giving her undivided attention to that internal work which she was now engaged upon, and they might succeed in capturing some of her outworks; but even if they were to succeed in overthrowing her altogether, he did not believe that the free churches of this country would be then in existence to enjoy their triumph over her, and their acts would remain to prove to students of history that as great mistakes had been committed by ecclesiastical bodies in the 19th century as had been committed in any of the previous centuries.


Although I do not doubt that the House is quite prepared to arrive at a decision upon the Motion and the Amendment upon it which is now before them, still I do not think it would be respectful to the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall), and those with whom he acts, were the Government to give a silent vote upon this question. While fully admitting the ability with which this question has been brought forward, we must all have felt that there is a certain want of definite purpose and reality in the proposal to which we are asked to accede, and that not because we have not a sufficient subject of debate before us, but because we are labouring under the difficulty of having too much put before us at one time. The hon. Member for Bradford, having on his hands the gigantic question of the disestablishment of the Established Church, has found it expedient not to simplify but to further complicate and enlarge his task by mixing up with the main question an inquiry which involved matters of fact which are entirely distinct from the question of principle he has already raised. Then the hon. and learned Member for Frome (Mr. T. Hughes) gave greater scope to the debate by rejecting the purpose of the Motion, and addressing himself to a new subject, itself gigantic, perfectly distinct, and not less complicated—the re-distribution of the property of the Established Church. The hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Cubitt) has also just now asked us to still further extend this inquiry to the property possessed by other ecclesiastical bodies in the kingdom besides the Established Church, as if the original subject was not quite sufficient to occupy us for three or four hours on a summer evening in July. There is one argument against the Motion of the hon. Member for Bradford which its opponents appear to have overlooked, which is, that if this Commission is appointed we should get rid of the hon. Member and his Motion for several years to come while this inquiry was pending. The hon. Member has cast his net very widely. He proposes to inquire not only into the amount but the nature and origin of ecclesiastical property now appropriated to the use of the Establishment. I did not gather from his speech at what point in the chronology of the human race he proposes to commence this inquiry. Perhaps he would be satisfied with Melchisedec, one of the highest authorities from whom the history of such may be traced not with an absolute freedom from an error, but with sufficient his- torical and archæological acumen. Undoubtedly I am struck by the fact that my hon. Friend has departed from the direct issue he raised in former years, not abandoning any of the principles on which he proceeded, but unquestionably altering essentially the practical form of his proposal, because he invites us, instead of going straight to the root of the matter, to interpose a preliminary, but his sense of Parliamentary propriety must convince him that it would be impossible to revert to the subject until it had reached its absolute issue. The Government are in no degree reconciled to the object of my hon. Friend by this change which he has made. I confess that I do not see that any case—I mean any sufficient case—has been made out for any of the proposals which have been brought before us to-night. With respect to capitular property and the Cathedral system of this country, I hardly think that my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham)—who always addresses the House with great ability—can believe that the impartiality of his speech and its historical fairness were as conspicuous as the talent which he invariably brings to bear on any argument he puts forward. My hon. Friend, in justice to many of the eminent persons connected with these establishments, ought really to have referred to the great and successful efforts made within the last 10 or 15 years by the Deans and Chapters of many cathedrals, and not least of the two in this metropolis, for the purpose of making them powerful, living centres of religious activity—efforts which have met with a response from the inhabitants of this capital which will be ever memorable in our annals. With reference to the redistribution of the property of the Church, pray let it be recollected that that is a matter which 30 or 35 years ago occupied much of the attention of statesmen and of Parliament, and that much has been done to remove the greater anomalies which formerly struck the eye. The extremes of wealth in the high places of the Church have been retrenched—not to the extent, perhaps, which my hon. Friends might desire, but still with the effect of greatly cutting down the emoluments of those who held some of the highest and most responsible positions. On the other hand, that which did amount to a scandal—the beggarly cha- racter of the stipends, I do not say enjoyed—but received by many of the most laborious of the clergy—has been in a very considerable degree mitigated, if not removed, by the application of a very large portion of that cathedral property to which my hon. Friend in that part of his speech, I must say, so obscurely referred. It is all very well to talk of a further re-distribution of the property of the Church of England—of its parochial property, which constitutes the great mass of the property that it possesses. But when we pass from general, brief, and superficial discussion of this kind to grapple with details, everyone knows that you are met by peculiarities of the system, the growth of many generations of men, in one point of view impeding you by the extraordinary closeness of the intermixture of social and proprietary interests connected with the arrangement of the property of the Church; and, on the other hand, exhibiting an intimate union between the Church of England and the families of this country such as I venture to tell my hon. Friend (Mr. Miall), whenever his question of disestablishment, instead of being a debating question, becomes a practical question, will offer to him and to those who are associated with him very serious and very difficult matters to deal with. I do not think, in regard to an inquiry, that my hon. Friend can suppose that there is any reason why any great machinery should be put in motion to elicit facts with the general character of which Parliament and the country are acquainted, and with the minute character of which there is no reason why we should seek an acquaintance, except, perhaps, with a view of resuming at a future and distant year his Motion for disestablishment if we should accede to his present proposal. But if this Motion cannot be supported as a Motion directed to the substantive aims and ends of inquiry, neither are we prepared to support it as a Motion intended for the attainment of ulterior purposes. Sir, it is not at this time of the night that I shall endeavour to make a speech on the enormous—the almost unmeasured questions that are involved in the subject of the disestablishment of the Church of England. My hon. Friend has referred to the challenge which he says he received from me when I endeavoured to point out to him that if he wished to procure the accept- ance of the opinions that he holds by the Parliament and the country he must begin by making a progress which he never yet has achieved—by converting to those opinions the people of this country. He refers—and. he may refer with some justice—to the general progress of opinion and of affairs on the Continent of Europe. There is no doubt that circumstances have occurred in connection with the organization of the Church of Rome in particular which have given an impulse more or less in other countries to the cause which my hon. Friend has in hand. I am very doubtful whether they have had a similar effect in this country. I am very doubtful whether they may not have produced a reaction in the minds of the people of this country, who rather shrink from the contemplation of what they have been witnessing as a whole abroad, and who may be supposed to attach an additional value to what they possess with all its drawbacks, owing to the experience through which they see other nations passing in matters of religion. At any rate, I do not think my hon. Friend has reached a point at which he is entitled to present this question to the House of Commons as one to be debated in a practical sense and with a view to a practical decision. I almost feel—I hope he will not think me disrespectful to him in saying this—that we are called on tonight to discharge the functions of a debating society rather than the ordinary duties of the British Parliament. His object seems to be so remote—so remote from the wishes of the people of England—the estimate which has been formed of the work which has to be done in order to bring about a different state of things appears to me, I confess, to be so inadequate that, notwithstanding the undoubted ability, earnestness, and sincerity of my hon. Friend—and no one possesses more earnestness or sincerity than he does—notwithstanding those qualities, I cannot but feel that a theoretical aspect and character seems to be spread over this discussion, which deprives it of much of that interest and reality which we recognize when we are dealing with questions that have relation to results and are within our power and faculty of calculation. Therefore, even if the time were more convenient than it is, there could be no necessity for me to lead the House into a lengthened dis- cussion on the great subject which my hon. Friend has to-night more indistinctly indicated. I do not wish to be understood as altogether putting aside, on the part of the Government, proposals made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Frome (Mr. T. Hughes) and others, with regard to the reforms which may be found practicable in the distribution of the property of the Church. What I do think is, that we are not prepared to enter wholesale upon those reforms. It is idle to suppose that they can be dealt with, unless Parliament is prepared to give to them much of its time and attention—much more of its time and attention than the other calls upon it are likely to permit of its bestowing. And I must say that even my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Welby), who seconded the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Frome, must himself have been sensible, when he had made all the deductions and all the qualifications that he felt to be necessary with regard to the rights of property, with regard to the respect due to vested interests, with regard to the necessity or expediency of preserving prizes in the Church, that the field for action in the province which he marked out for himself was really much more narrow than he might at first have supposed. But whatever is to be said upon this subject should be said as distinct from the Motion before us. The connection of the two matters can only lead to confusion. I look, therefore, for a moment to the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford as entirely apart from these propositions of internal reform; and, so looking at it, I am bound to say that while I can see no reason why we should enter upon this lengthened and elaborate inquiry into matters of fact, when we are already possessed of abundant information for all practical purposes, we are still less disposed to give countenance to this Motion if we are to consider the ulterior purposes which my hon. Friend has alluded to. He has distinctly, and by a process perfectly legitimate from his point of view, given us to understand that he wishes to collect the facts, and to be in possession of them in the most complete and accurate form, in order that he may afterwards found upon them proposals of extended constitutional change. To those proposals we are not friendly; we are not prepared to give them a present welcome; we are not prepared to look upon them as proposals which can be taken up by the Administration that now exists in any future year. That being so, we think it best that we should at once decline to take shelter under the modified character of the demand my hon. Friend makes upon us for the moment; we will not look at it, though I must at once admit that no fundamental objection can be taken in principle to the inquiry when treated simply as an inquiry. It is fair to him, as well as to the House, that we should take into our view the purpose for which that inquiry is to be directed, and as that purpose is one which we are not prepared to entertain, we must ask the House to join with us in voting against the Motion.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 94; Noes 295: Majority 201.

Adair, H. E. Holland, S.
Anderson, G. Holms, J.
Armitstead, G. Howard, J.
Baines, E. Illingworth, A.
Barry, A. H. S. Johnston, A.
Bazley, Sir T. Kensington, Lord
Bentall, E. H. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Blennerhassett, R. (Kry. Lawrence, Sir J. C.
Brewer, Dr. Lawrence, W.
Bright, J. (Manchester) Lawson, Sir W.
Brogden, A. Lush, Dr.
Brown, A. H. Lusk, A.
Buckley, N. Macfie, R. A.
Callan, P. Mackintosh, E. W.
Candlish, J. M'Arthur, W.
Carnegie, hon. C. M'Clure, T.
Carter, R. M. Maguire, J. F.
Chadwick, D. Marling, S. S.
Clifford, C. C. Melly, G.
Colman, J. J. Miller, J.
Cowen, Sir J. Morgan, G. Osborne
Craufurd, E. H. J. Morley, S.
Davies, R. Morrison, W.
Delahunty, J. Mundella, A. J.
Digby, K. T. Muntz, P. H.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Palmer, J. H.
Dillwyn, L. L. Parry, L. Jones-
Dixon, G. Philips, R. N.
Fawcett, H. Plimsoll, S.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Potter, E.
Fothergill, R. Price, W. P.
Gilpin, C. Rathbone, W.
Gourley, E. T. Reed, C.
Graham, W. Richard, H.
Grieve, J. J. Richards, E. M.
Hadfield, G. Russell, Lord A.
Harris, J. D. Rylands, P.
Herbert, hon. A. E. W. Samuelson, H. B.
Hoare, Sir H. A. Sartoris, E. J.
Seely, C. (Lincoln) Whalley, G. H.
Shaw, R. White, J.
Sheridan, H. B. Williams, W.
Smyth, P. J. Willyams, E. W. B.
Stepney, Sir J. Wingfield, Sir C.
Taylor, P. A. Young, A. W.
Torrens, R. R.
Trevelyan, G. O. TELLERS.
Villiers, rt. hon. C. P. Miall, E.
Weguelin, T. M. Leatham, E. A.
Adderley, rt. hon. Sir C. Child, Sir S.
Akroyd, E. Clive, Col. hon. G. W.
Amcotts, Colonel W. C. Clowes, S. W.
Antrobus, Sir E. Cochrane, A. D. W. R. B.
Arbuthnot, Major G. Cole, Col. hon. H. A.
Arkwright, A. P. Coleridge, Sir J. D.
Arkwright, R. Colthurst, Sir G. C.
Ayrton, rt. hon. A. S. Conolly, T.
Baggallay, Sir R. Corbett, Colonel
Bagge, Sir W. Corrance, F. S.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Corry, rt. hon. H. T. L.
Ball, rt. hon. J. T. Cowper, hon. H. F.
Barnett, H. Cowper-Temple, right hon. W.
Barrington, Viscount
Barttelot, Colonel Crawford, R. W.
Bass, A. Crichton, Viscount
Bates, E. Croft, Sir H. G. D.
Bateson, Sir T. Cross, R. A.
Bathurst, A. A. Cubitt, G.
Beach, Sir M. Hicks- Dalrymple, C.
Beach, W. W. B. Dalrymple, D.
Bective, Earl of Damer, Capt. Dawson-
Bentinck, G. C. Denison, C. B.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Denman, hon. G.
Beresford, Lt.-Col. M. Dent, J. D.
Bingham, Lord Dick, F.
Birley, H. Dickson, Major A. G.
Bonham-Carter, J. Dimsdale, R.
Booth, Sir R. G. Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Bourne, Colonel Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. Dowdeswell, W. E.
Bowmont, Marquess of Dowse, rt. hon. R.
Bowring, E. A. Duff, M. E. G.
Brand, H. R. Duncombe, hon. Col.
Brassey, H. A. Du Pre, C. G.
Brassey, T. Dyke, W. H.
Brise, Colonel R. Dyott, Colonel R.
Bristowe, S. B. Edwards, H.
Broadley, W. H. H. Egerton, hon. A. F.
Brooks, W. C. Egerton, Capt. hon. F.
Bruce, Lord C. Egerton, Sir P. G.
Bruce, rt. hon. H. A. Egerton, hon. W.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Elcho, Lord
Bruen, H. Elliot, G.
Buckley, Sir E. Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H.
Buller, Sir E. M. Enfield, Viscount
Burrell, Sir P. Ewing, A. Orr-
Butler-Johnstone, H. A. Feilden, H. M.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Fellowes, E.
Cameron, D. Fielden, J.
Campbell, H. Figgins, J.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Finch, G. H.
Carington, hn. Capt. W. FitzGerald, right hon. Lord O. A.
Cave, rt. hon. S.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W.
Cavendish, Lord G. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Cawley, C. E. Forde, Colonel
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Charley, W. T. Foster, W. H.
Fortescue, rt. hon. C. P. Legh, Lieut.-Col. G. C.
Fortescue, hon. D. F. Lennox, Lord G. G.
Fowler, R. N. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Leslie, J.
Galway, Viscount Liddell, hon. H. G.
Gilpin, Colonel Lindsay, hon. Col. C.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Lindsay, Colonel R. L.
Gladstone, W. H. Lloyd, Sir T. D.
Goldney, G. Locke, J.
Gordon, E. S. Lopes, Sir M.
Gore, J. R. O. Lorne, Marquess of
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Gower, hon. E. F. L. Lowther, hon. W.
Grant, Col. hon. J. Lyttelton, hon. C. G.
Graves, S. R. M'Lagan, P.
Gregory, G. B. Mahon, Viscount
Greville, hon. Capt. Malcolm, J. W.
Grosvenor, hon. N. Martin, P. W.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Maxwell, W. H.
Guest, M. J. Mellor, T. W.
Gurney, rt. hon. R. Milles, hon. G. W.
Hambro, C. Mills, C. H.
Hamilton, Lord C. Mitchell, T. A.
Hamilton, Lord C. J. Monckton, F.
Hamilton, Lord G. Monckton, hon. G.
Hamilton, I. T. Monk, C. J.
Hamilton, Marquess of Montgomery, Sir G. G.
Hanbury, R. W. Morgan, C. O.
Harcourt, W. G. G. V. V. Morgan, hon. Major
Hardcastle, J. A. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Hardy, rt. hon. G. Muncaster, Lord
Hardy, J. Neville-Grenville, R.
Hardy, J. S. Newdegate, C. N.
Hay, Sir J. C. D. Newport, Viscount
Headlam, rt. hon. T. E. Nicholson, W.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. North, Colonel
Henley, Lord Northcote, rt. hn. Sir S. H.
Henry, M. O'Neill, hon. E.
Hermon, E. Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Hesketh, Sir T. G. Palmer, Sir R.
Heygate, W. U. Parker, Lt.-Colonel W.
Hibbert, J. T. Patten, rt. hon. Col. W.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Peel, A. W.
Hill, A. S. Pell, A.
Hoare, P. M. Pemberton, E. L.
Hodgson, K. D. Pim, J.
Hogg, J. M. Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Holford, J. P. G. Powell, F. S.
Holt, J. M. Powell, W.
Hood, Cap. hn. A. W. A. N. Raikes, H. C.
Hope, A. J. B. B. Read, C. S.
Hornby, E. K. Ridley, M. W.
Hughes, T. Round, J.
Hunt, rt. hon. G. W. Russell, Sir W.
Hurst, R. H. Salt, T.
Jackson, R. W. Sandon, Viscount
Jardine, R. Sclater-Booth, G.
Jessel, Sir G. Scourfield, J. H.
Johnstone, Sir H. Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Jones, J.
Kavanagh, A. Mac. M. Shirley, S. E.
Kay-Shuttleworth, U. J. Simonds, W. B.
Kekewich, S. T. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
Kennaway, J. H. Smith, A.
Kingscote, Colonel Smith, F. C.
Knightley, Sir R. Smith, R.
Lacon, Sir E. H. K. Smith, S. G.
Langton, W. G. Smith, W. H.
Laslett, W. Somerset, Lord H. R. C.
Learmonth, A. Stanley, hon. F.
Lefevre, G. J. S. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Legh, W. J. Stapleton, J.
Starkie, J. P. C. Waterhouse, S.
Steere, L. Watney, J.
Straight, D. Welby, W. E.
Stuart, Colonel West, H. W.
Sturt, Lt.-Colonel N. Wethered, T. O.
Sykes, C. Whatman, J.
Talbot, C. R. M. Whitbread, S.
Talbot, J. G. Whitwell, J.
Taylor, rt. hon. Col. Williams, Sir F. M.
Tipping, W. Williamson, Sir H.
Tollemache, hon. F. J. Wilmot, Sir H.
Tollemache, Major W. F. Winn, R.
Torrens, W. T. M'C. Wise, H. C.
Trench, Capt. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill. Yarmouth, Earl of
Turnor, E. Yorke, J. R.
Vance, J.
Walpole, hon. F. TELLERS.
Walpole, rt. hon. S. H. Adam, W. P.
Walsh, hon. A. Glyn, hon. G. G.

Question put, "That the words 'any ecclesiastical purposes, and that such Commission may be instructed to consider what re-arrangements in the system of parochial benefices may be needed for the better adjustment of parishes and incomes in the Church of England, and what amendments may be made in the Laws relating to the patronage of benefices,' be added, instead thereof."

The House divided:—Ayes 41; Noes 270: Majority 229.

Main Question, as amended, put, and negatived.