§ Order for Second Reading, read.
§ MR. MONK
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, explained its object to be to provide facilities for the admission of Churchwardens into Office. It enabled a Churchwarden to make the declaration required by law before the rural dean or incumbent of his parish, instead of waiting for the Archdeacon's or Bishop's visitation to be admitted. Until admission the title was not complete, and the outgoing churchwardens remained in office, when the Bishop's visitation took place in the autumn, for six months after their successors had been appointed. Great inconvenience arose there from in places where the churchwardens were ex officio guardians of the poor, and had statutory duties to perform; as, for instance, signing the lists of burgesses. The Bill did not interfere with the rights of the ordinary to require the attendance of churchwardens at the visitations. Last Session a Bill having, so far, a similar object in view was introduced in "another place," by a most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of York), and if it had been confined to that object there was every reason to believe that it would have become law. But the Bill of the most rev. Prelate also proposed to increase the stipends of certain ecclesiastical officers, and in consequence of that provision it eventually failed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Monk.)
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, he thought that it was desirable that churchwardens should attend Archdeacons' visitations as frequently as possible, to consult with other officers of the church on practical matters. Churchwardens were, doubtless, very respectable men in their way, but they were not all alike. There was considerable difference 707 in their qualifications. They were not Archbishops, nor even Bishops, and looking at this late period of the Session, he considered it advisable that the House should not proceed with the Bill now, and he therefore moved that it be read a second time that day six months.
§ MR. SALT
, in seconding the Amendment, said, that as the Bill only touched the fringe of a difficult question the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) should postpone it until the whole subject had been fully considered. He hoped the hon. Member would comply with that suggestion, and not put the House to the trouble of dividing.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day sis months."—(Mr. Beresford Hope.)
§ MR. GOLDNEY
supported the Bill, on the ground that it afforded the churchwardens an easy method of qualifying themselves by going before the vicar or chairman of the vestry and taking the necessary oath.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
said, he hoped the hon. Member for Gloucester would postpone the measure, which was but a tinkering and piecemeal mode of legislating upon a much wider subject than that which the measure professed to deal with.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he thought that the best way would be to allow the matter to stand over till it could be dealt with by a more comprehensive measure. He strongly objected to having a series of small measures upon ecclesiastical subjects. He found, as the result of a correspondence on the subject, that the vast majority of Bishops over the country were opposed to the Bill.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, he was not disposed to withdraw his Amendment. He would suggest that the Bill should be simply negatived.
§ Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Bill put off for six months.