§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [3rd March], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair for Committee on the Public Worship Facilities Bill;" and which Amendment was, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day six months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—(Mr. Monk,)—instead thereof.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.1529
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
was quite ready to admit that there were grievances which this Bill would meet, and which, as an attached member of the Church of England, he did not desire should remain unredressed. It was undesirable, however, to alter any part of their ecclesiastical arrangements without showing absolute ground for making such an alteration, and this Bill would make a considerable alteration in their parochial system. The case which he had been especially anxious to meet was that in which an incumbent neglected the cure of souls committed to his charge, and, at the same time, prevented anybody else from doing so. If the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) would withdraw his Amendment he would propose not merely that the Bill but that the whole subject should be referred to a Select Committee.
§ MR. RAIKES
, while admitting that the Bill intended to carry out a very desirable object, observed that it affected, to a considerable extent, the whole fabric of the Church establishment in this country. In its essential principle the Bill was opposed to the parochial system, and substituted for it another system, which, while it might be a good one, ought, at all events, not to be adopted without the fullest deliberation and inquiry. If the Bill became law it would constitute in every parish, to which it applied, a divided authority, and would establish a system under which two clergymen of the Church of England would be the only two men in the parish who under no circumstances would speak to each other. It would create a state of schism within the Church which they had hitherto believed was to be found only in bodies outside of the Church, and would give facilities to parties in the Church to carry out those extreme tendencies on the one side or the other which they thought they had gone a long way to repress by the Act of last year. The hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) spoke of providing churches of refuge in the Church of England; but he (Mr. Raikes) thought that the existence of these little ecclesiastical Alsatias was alien to the principle of an Establishment. The Bill would also create a new sacerdotal caste within the Church of England. It would establish an order of clergymen who would not have the cure of souls, 1530 but who would be preachers, and it would recognize a sort of regular order of clergy as opposed to the secular order of clergy. The clergy to be appointed under the Bill would only have the power to administer the rites of the Church in the buildings in which they were entitled to preach; and therefore if any members of their congregation happened to be in extremis they would have to call on the incumbents whose services they had discarded, or the preachers whom they followed must break the law in order to administer to them on their death-beds the last rites of the Church. The most obvious objection, however, to the Bill was that it was the corollary of disestablishment, and ought not to be proposed first. In a parish where the incumbent was unpopular another clergyman would be introduced, who would probably be a good preacher, and who would therefore attract a large number from the parish church. They would thus see the parish church empty, and the man who did no apparent work receiving the emoluments; and if they desired it they could scarcely have a stronger argument for disestablishment. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) would consent to refer the Bill to a Select Committee.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
said, he only desired in supporting the Bill to promote union in the Church. On the whole, he thought the best course would be to adopt the proposal to refer the Bill to a Select Committee.
§ MR. WHITWELL
said, he hoped the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) would withdraw his Amendment. He took an entirely different view of the subject from that taken by the hon. Member for Chester (Mr. Raikes), and trusted that it would be referred to a Committee upstairs.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, the Notice Paper showed that it would not be an easy matter to get the Bill through Committee. He thought the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) would best consult his own intentions in agreeing to the Motion to refer it to a Select Committee, where the subject could be thoroughly thrashed out, and where, at the same time, the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) would have the best opportunity of stating his objections to this measure.
§ MR. ASSHETON
said, when he came to look with quiet attention at this question he saw the necessity for considering it seriously. There was one reason why he wished to touch upon the subject, and it was this—that there was no provision in the Bill for payment of clergymen who might be appointed to officiate in licensed houses. Now, that was wrong. It was to any clergyman who might officiate in such houses a question of bread and butter, and if provision in the way of payment were not made for him, how was he to subsist? If the hon. Member for Gloucester pressed his Amendment he would vote with him.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
observed, that the object of the hon. Member for Stafford was to give further facilities for public worship. No one could doubt that there were cases in which incumbents were unable to afford the facilities which were required by their parishioners. The Bill, there was no doubt, had been viewed with considerable alarm in some quarters as being calculated to produce discord rather than unity in several parishes in the country. But he thought the hon. Member deserved the thanks of the House for the way in which he had dealt with this subject last Session and this Session. The hon. Gentleman's object was the good of the Church of England. He (Mr. Cross) believed that the subject required some further discussion, and that the best course to adopt would be to refer the Bill to a Select Committee. He therefore hoped the hon. Member for Gloucester would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the Order for Committee of the whole House be discharged, and that the Bill he referred to a Select Committee, with power to report upon the present facilities for providing additional
means of worship in parishes, with or without the consent of the incumbent, and also upon the desirability of extending such facilities,"—(Mr. J. G. Talbot,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
§ Words added.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Order for Committee of the whole House discharged:—Bill referred to a Select Committee, with power to report upon the present facilities for providing additional means of worship in parishes, with or without the consent of the incumbent, and also upon the desirability of extending such facilities.