HC Deb 04 May 1874 vol 218 cc1664-6

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


, in moving, that the Chairman be directed to move the House, that leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide a summary remedy for certain Ecclesiastical Offences, said, the measure he desired to introduce applied only to matters regarding which an authoritative declaration of the law had been given by a competent Court, and its object was to prohibit certain rites and ceremonies now practised by many clergymen connected with the Church of England, with regard to which it was generally admitted that legislation was necessary—a view which was confirmed by the proceedings that had taken place within the last two days, at the sitting of the Convocation for the province of Canterbury. It provided that where any spiritual person should practise, or permit to be practised, in any church, any rites or ceremonies which had been declared to be unlawful, an affidavit of complaint might be filed in the registry of the diocese. If the complaint be made by a churchwarden, it must be supported by the affidavit of one householder in the parish. A householder might also file a similar complaint supported by the affidavits of two householders. The Chancellor of the diocese was then required to issue a monition, which was to be served personally upon the clergyman. If within 21 days the clergyman took no notice of the monition, he was to be suspended for three months. If he yielded to the monition, he could file a declaration in the registry that he would obey the monition, and then proceedings should be stayed. Should the clergyman think he had a good ground of defence upon the merits, he would be at liberty to file an affidavit to that effect, and the Chancellor of the diocese would be bound to send the case to the Court of the Province to be argued. Moreover, an appeal would be permitted to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, or to such other tribunal as should hereafter take its place. In the event of the clergyman being convicted, he would in the first instance be suspended for three months; for a second offence, he would be suspended for twelve mouths; and for a third, he would be deprived. If the Bill which had been introduced in "another place" should reach this House, it would be received no doubt with the respect due to the high sanction which it bore. As to his own measure, should leave be given to introduce it, and should it pass the second reading, he would move that it be referred, with any other Bill on the same subject, to a Select Committee.


feared that so far from the proposal being a pacific measure, it would be the proclamation of war through out the Church of England, for it would be nothing less than an attack upon one of the great schools within that Church. It had no pretence to be anything except a means of dealing in a sharp and summary way with a certain class of ecclesiastical proceedings—he would not call them offences—which, from their doubtfulness, had been the subject of adjudications in the Ecclesiastical Courts, while it left untouched other proceedings which were beyond doubt offences against the law. Moreover, it would have the effect of reducing the Bishop from being the father of his flock to the position of a mere constable, whoso duty would simply be to order the offending clergyman to "move on." There were different parties in the Church and different views of what was right and wrong in the way of worship; but the Church was large enough to hold these various parties, and there were clergymen enough to minister to thorn as they desired, at different churches in our towns, if not at different hours in the country. In face, then, of these existing facts, it would be wiser to attempt to accommodate the various susceptibilities that existed, than to endeavour by an Act of Parliament to crush out one of the great parties of which the historical Church of England was composed. That party could not be crushed out or loaded with oppressive measures without bringing down the whole of the Establishment, of which they were an essential portion, no did not fear to assert that if that Bill should pass, then the Liberation Society would have no cause to regret the absence of Mr. Miall from the present Parliament.

Resolved, That the Chairman be directed to move the House, that leave he given to bring in a Bill to provide a summary remedy for certain Ecclesiastical Offences.

Resolution reported:—Bill ordered to he brought in by Mr. HOLT, Lord CLAUD JOHN HAMILTON, Mr. RUSSELL GURNEY. Sir JOHN KENNAWAY, and Mr. SALT.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 89.]