HC Deb 16 February 1876 vol 227 cc337-71

Order for Second Beading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said: Mr. Speaker, I should have felt oppressed by the responsibility of so very grave a question having de- volved upon a private Member, if it had not been for the remarkable history of a measure as to which I am, however unworthy, the mouthpiece of a preponderating public opinion—which sweeps in Churchmen generally, the entire Episcopate, the clergy, and, all but completely, the Government of the day. For this reason I can move the second reading of the Bill before the House with a great deal of confidence, even in the face of the extraordinary array of opposition which is to be brought against me. Many a man has trembled before a single opponent; but I have to deal with a three-headed opposition. First, there is, politically, my stern antagonist—personally, my hon. Friend in every way—the Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn). Then there is my hon. and learned, but candid Friend, the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk), who wants what I want, only when it is offered to him he will not take it in the way I present it to him. Lastly, there is my hon. and gallant, but incomprehensible, Friend, the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter Barttelot). In fact, Sir, it is not the "dogs of war," but the Cerberus of war that has been "let slip" upon me, while, as I learn, both hon. and learned Gentlemen have given place to the hon. and gallant Baronet—cedant armis togœ. I will not take up the time of the House by any arguments to show that an increase of the Episcopate is absolutely, I will not say essential, but most desirable for the well-being of the Church of England: that is a proposition which is accepted by everyone who wishes well to that Church. In some form or other, an increase of the Episcopate is most desirable. One single fact of itself proves that. The population of England has doubled during this century, and it is now five-fold what it was in the reign of King Henry VIII., and positively there has not been the addition of a single Bishop to the Episcopal bench since that time. It is true that we have gained Ripon and Manchester; but we have lost Bristol and Westminster.

This growing disproportion was recognized by a Bill which passed through both Houses of Parliament in 1869 for the creation of three additional Sees, and which only fell through at the latest stage; but the Bill which I am bringing forward is founded originally upon the Report of one of the most grave and important Commissions that ever sat on ecclesiastical matters—the Cathedral Commission—which was appointed in the year 1852, and which made its final Report in 1856. That Commission was appointed by the Conservative Government of the day, the first in which the present Prime Minister was Leader of this House, and in which my right hon. Colleague and Friend was Home Secretary, so that to him the Church owes a special debt of gratitude, which can hardly be sufficiently estimated, for having promoted the appointment of that Commission. The machinery for the creation of fresh Bishoprics, which the Commissioners recommended, is that which is embodied in the present measure. Twenty years further on, in 1872, a scheme similar to mine was recommended by a body which, however some people may say ought to be reformed, is, at the least, the most influential Committee of the clergy in the Country—the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury. That body, in 1872, put out a Report recommending a similar Bill. In the meantime, a strong demonstration had been made in favour of an increase of the Episcopate, in the shape of lay and clerical Memorials which were adopted in the year 1862, the clerical Memorial to Convocation having actually 6,000 signatures appended to it, whilst the names to the lay Memorial to Lord Palmerston included those of the present Prime Minister, of the present Lord Chancellor, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, the present First Lord of the Admiralty, the present Postmaster General, and the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex.

Such were the circumstances under which, in the year 1873, the question was again revived. My noble Friend, Lord Lyttelton, undertook to introduce the Bill in "another place," and adopted the wise precaution of writing round to the Bench of Bishops, to ask if they stood to the recommendations of Convocation of the year before, and all of them, with two or three exceptions only, answered "Yes;" so that the Bill which I now bring forward has the direct and written approbation of almost the entire Episcopate. Besides these, about 450 rural deaneries—that is, the representation of nearly the entire Church in England—declared themselves in favour of an increase of the Episcopate. So armed, Lord Lyttelton was ready to have moved in 1874, but the Dissolution led him to postpone action. However, he brought in this Bill in "another place," at the beginning of the last Session of Parliament, and the result was that it passed through every stage without a single Division, and with only one Amendment, which was a very marked improvement in it, and to which I shall have occasion to call attention when I come to the details of the Bill. It went through without a single Division; but its career was not without debate; and I may read the words of one for whom we all entertain a very great and sincere respect—the present very eminent and respected Archbishop of Canterbury. On the second reading of the Bill "elsewhere," on the 23rd of February, 1875, the Archbishop began his speech with these words— The noble Lord (Lord Lyttelton) has brought before us a very important practical question. I pray the attention of the House to that word "practical"—it is in the eyes of the Archbishop, not a vague, but a "practical question"—and, continued the Archbishop— I should not be doing my duty if I did not, in fulfilment of the pledge I have given to him, express my hearty concurrence in the measure he has brought forward."—[3 Handsard, ccxxii. 733.] So that I am bringing forward a Bill which has the "hearty concurrence" of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The third reading of the Bill was taken on the 16th of March, and on that occasion the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond and Gordon) who so ably represents Her Majesty's Government in that exalted Assembly, said— The Government did not think it right to accept the responsibility of the measure, but, as he had stated, they did not oppose it."[Ibid., 1867.] The Government did not oppose the measure. Considering what the Bill is, I think I may claim that this is one of the cases in which it may be truly said that those who are not against us are with us. If Her Majesty's Government did not oppose so important a Bill as this, though brought in upon private responsibility, we may conclude that it went very near indeed towards approving of it.

That ends the history of the Bill "elsewhere." I was then invited to take it up in this House. There was a debate on the second reading, when a hearty speech was made in its favour by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. The House was ready to have divided on the main question, when three Divisions were taken on Motions of Adjournment, which were meant to obstruct, if not to prevent the passing of the Bill, and there were in each case decided majorities on the side of the supporters of the measure, which, as everyone knew represented the division of opinion within the House on the question itself. I would call the attention of the Treasury Bench to my reason for not moving the second reading till the month of May, though the Bill had passed the House of Lords in March. In the meantime. Her Majesty's Government had brought in the St. Albans Bishopric Bill. I was, therefore, anxious not to interpose, even, a seeming obstacle to the passage of that measure. I might have pressed forward my Bill with a better chance of its passing; but as Her Majesty's Government had made their contribution—a small and local one, it is true, yet a tangible one—to the increase of the Episcopate, I determined not to stand in their light, and the result was that, in helping them with their Bill, I lost the opportunity of carrying my own that Session. That is the reason for the course I then took, while I believed that, as I had helped them, so I have a right to look for their help. And here I may state that I do not look upon any Bill for creating single Sees—be it for Cornwall, or Liverpool, or Halifax, or any other place—as in any way antagonistic to my measure. It will, as I shall proceed to show, make all such special Bills wholly unnecessary; and if Her Majesty's Government, or anyone else, pleases to bring in such special Bills they will have my support. It will, at any rate be an addition to the Episcopate. It win not be a general measure; and a general measure will remain as much a necessity as ever for the great margin of country which the special Bills have not covered. I put the Bill often on the Notice Paper, and the oftener I did so the more vexed seemed my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea at the zeal on my part to give him the opportunity, which I thought would be gra- tifying to him, of letting us know what he thought of the measure. So we came on the end of the Session, and the two last divisions of that Session were upon this Bill, as will be the second one of the present Session. In fact, the two Bills have followed each other so rapidly that we may look upon them as almost the realization of the day-dream of the Reformers of our Parliamentary procedure, who wish to carry on the unfinished Business of one Session into another. The second of these two last divisions was on the Main Question, and that was carried by 54 to 23, or a majority of more than two to one. Here I have to express my thanks to the Members of Her Majesty's Government in this House for the large and satisfactory numbers in which they appeared in those five divisions. The great majority of the Members of the Government having seats in this House voted for me from one to five times; and not one voted against me. It would be invidious to mention names; only I may say that, among those Members of the Government were the four Law Officers of the Crown then in Parliament, of whom the present Attorney General appeared not less than five times. I cite that fact as an answer to those who try to make out that the Bill I bring forward is a vague and an unworkable measure. I do not believe that the Law Officers of any Government in Parliament would all of them have voted for a Bill, if they were not fully satisfied that it was one that would work consistently with the statute law of the Realm.

This is the history of the Bill down to the close of the Session of 1875; and with such antecedents I have this year no option but to bring in the Bill literatim as it passed the House of Lords, and made some progress in this House last year. It would be disrespectful to those who then gave it their support; it would be disrespectful to the Archbishop of Canterbury; it would be disrespectful to Her Majesty's Government; above all, it would be disrespectful to this House, if I had not given it an opportunity of considering the Bill, line for line and word for word, in the form in which it received the approval of the House last Session. Having done so, I discharge my duty in moving that the Bill be read a second time to-day. It will then come under the scrutiny of a Committee of the Whole House; and in. reference to that, I wish to say that I am open to consider in the most candid and friendly spirit any Amendment that may be suggested, whether it comes from one side of the House or the other. I am not irrevocably wedded to the Bill in the shape in which it stands, though I think I can give adequate reasons why it should pass in that shape. My only wish and desire will be to send it to "another place," and to help it on to the Statute Book, in as perfect and useful a shape as it can be possibly made to assume. I suppose that the House is sufficiently familiar with the general outline of the Bill. It is emphatically an enabling Bill. It is not a Bill to make one or more specific Sees. It is simply a Bill to provide an easier and cheaper machinery whereby, through private munificence, a larger number of Sees may be created than at present exist; and for that purpose, it brings into play the machinery which is most familiar to us in connection with questions relating to the Church—the Ecclesiastical Commission, who will have to prepare the scheme and to see that the funds provided by private munificence are sufficient to put the scheme in operation consistently with the present framework of the Episcopate. The Ecclesiastical Commission is prevented from giving any money for the creation of a new See; and before it can promote a scheme, it must be satisfied that there is money enough forthcoming to carry out the object. Then the scheme has to go before the Queen in Council, and afterwards it will have to be for a certain time upon the Table of both Houses. All possible safeguards are provided against abuse: in fact, the Bill bristles with safeguards, against any risk of its tending to scatter Bishoprics broadcast over the land. There is one provision and only one in respect of which the Bill came out of the House of Lords in a form different from that in which it was introduced there—that is the clause which we owe to a right rev. Prelate, whose zeal and energy every one will gladly admit, the very able, active and devoted Bishop of Exeter. Those who are familiar with the history of the re-arrangement of Sees initiated by Sir Robert Peel know that with a few exceptions, the incomes of all the Bishoprics have been fixed at between £5,000 and £4,200 in view of the supposed expensiveness, in the way of outgoings in each diocese. Clause 11. of the Bill allows a Bishop to alienate a portion of his income towards a new See to be carried out of his diocese, while no doubt there is an understanding that this concession should not be taken to allow of a diminution below the lowest existing figure. Nothing could be more reasonable, safe and conservative than this provision so limited. Some persons may think that £3,000 or £3,500 a-year would be enough to maintain a Bishop in his social rank and position. I am not here either to contest or to support that opinion. My Bill contains nothing which can be used for or against it, for it leaves the question of the sufficient income to the action of the executive authorities in each particular case.

This, then, is the Bill which has been called a vague one, because it does not recite any particular Sees to be created. Why, I never heard of such a misuse of a word as of this word "vague" in the present instance. What is it, let me ask, that has produced the extraordinary development of church building, the creation of new parishes and new endowments, followed by the erection of thousands of schools all over the country? Why, the series of Church Building Acts which have been passed from time to time since 1818, every one of which is a vague Act in the sense in which the term has been applied to my Bill. It is vague, simply because it does not recite new Sees to be created. It says that, where there is a proved grievance, the proved grievance may be met and remedied under certain well-considered conditions; and it brings in the highest authorities in State and Church as umpires and arbiters to decide whether a want is proved, and the remedy proposed is a proper one. So far as the Forms of the House will allow me to do so, I call as my witness to the efficiency of the Bill a Return which was ordered in "another place" at the instance of one who was long well known in this House as Sir John Pakington, now Lord Hampton, of churches built or restored at a cost exceeding £600 since 1840. That Return shows that millions upon millions have been given to the Church by private hands in the way of building and restoration. Who can doubt that this material, enormous increase of Church property owes its direct impulse to those vague Church Building Acts; so, to put the matter on the most practical basis, I do not see why this "vague" Bill of mine should not produce analogous results in the multiplication of the higher pastorate—the Episcopate of the Church of England. At the same time, as I have said, I am willing, and not only willing, but anxious, to consider any friendly Amendments which may be proposed in Committee; not Amendments which, like the kiss and the sword of Joab are intended to smite the Bill, as it were, under the fifth rib; but such Amendments as are honestly proposed to make it more efficient and useful. And here I would call the attention of the Treasury Bench to one Amendment that has occurred to me as being perfectly consistent with the intention and object of the Bill, which would neither cripple its efficiency, nor stiffen its elasticity, whilst it would give full effect to all its beneficial intentions. One mischievous result which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex may anticipate, is the creation of Bishoprics without areas or populations sufficient to justify the proceeding. Now, in reference to that point, I have no objection to insert a Proviso that no new See shall be created of a less area than an entire county, or some portion of a county, with a given minimum of population, it being further provided that the residuary See or Sees should fulfil the same conditions. In short, the whole county of Northumberland, or a substantive portion of the West Riding of Yorkshire, might be made a a new Bishopric; but it would be impossible to tender a scheme for a new See in the shape of a circle of 10 miles round a favoured spot, the Bishop of which would be something like the private chaplain of the munificent and magnificent founder. It would be a misfortune if the Bill were to be worked in that way; but although there are, as I believe, already, ample safeguards in it against the occurrence of such an abuse, I have no objection to meet the wish for a precise enactment, by providing that there shall be such minimum of area and of population. It may be a healing balm for my hon. and gallant Friend, that, under this Proviso, he need not be afraid of being over-Bishoped in his county of Sussex. You could not cut up that county into new Bishoprics until Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings and other towns had grown much larger than they are at present, or to such a size as they are not likely to reach in our life-time. There is another provision which has been suggested to meet the case—that of a Schedule to the Bill specifying the new Sees which are to be created. Candidly, I must say that I do not think such a provision would be so desirable as the suggestion which I have just thrown out. In the first place, such a provision would, as it seems to me, ignore the element of human nature; for the Bill appeals to private munificence, and we all know the justifiable pride which a man takes in being the originator of a great and good work; it appears to me, therefore, that if there were a Schedule of the kind attached to the Bill, it would be very likely to take away the personal glory of initiating new Sees. That is my first objection to a Schedule. My other objection is less sentimental and more practical in its character. I think you would find yourselves in a great difficulty when you came to arrange the Schedule and define the places where new Sees should be created. You do not want to be bringing in a Bill every successive Parliament; and if the Schedule is to be a comprehensive one, its framers would have to forecast the condition of England 40 or 50 years hence, and I think that a complete Schedule of all the Sees which it would be a desirable thing to possess, say, in the year 1900, would rather startle the House, and make it think that the measure was a more speculative one than it really was. On the other hand, if your Schedule was a small one, how could you choose between pretty equal claimants? This is my second objection to the Schedule. In the present condition of England, with Durham having a population that approaches to 700,000; with Northumberland approaching to 400,000; the West Riding of Yorkshire nearing 2,000,000; our rural Warwickshire—the forest-land of Shakspeare and the Elizabethan poets—now inhabited by a great teeming population, town and country, of nearly 700,000; my own county of Stafford, with a population rising 900,000; with an aspect so varied as the Black Country in the south and the mountain district in the north, where you may fancy yourselves on the Moors of Scotland; Derby, with its 400,000 people, and Nottingham with its 300,000; with all these claims upon you, how, I ask, could you make your selection? Any selection of seats for new Bishoprics must be invidious. If, then, all parts of the country are to be gratified, you had better fallow the principle which has governed appointments to the public service for so many years, and let there be a competitive examination. Have your enabling Bill, and let those localities have new Sees which show, by their energy and munificence, that they are most deserving of them. I have now stated the grounds upon which I doubt the expediency of a Bill with a Schedule, though I think that a Bill with a well-considered Schedule would be better than no Bill at all. But an enabling Bill, such as that which I am moving, with a limitation of area and population, such as I now submit to the House, would be a more elastic, and, I believe, quite as efficacious a way of working the matter. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the second reading of the Bill.


seconded the Motion.

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


, in rising, according to Notice, to move the Previous Question, said he had to thank the hon. Members for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) and for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) for having kindly given way to him on the present occasion. He humbly ventured to think that by moving the Previous Question he best met the requirements of the present case. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) had described his Bill as one for increasing the Episcopate; but his (Sir Walter Barttelot's) Amendment was by no means directed against that object, and the hon. Member was perfectly accurate when he said that he who now moved the Previous Question was in favour of the increase of the Episcopate in 1873. He was not only in favour of increasing the Episcopate in 1873, but he was of that opinion at the present moment. [Mr. HEYGATE: Then why oppose the Bill?] His hon. Friend said, then why oppose the Bill? and his answer was, he opposed it because he thought it a very bad one; but his hon. Friend could get up and support it if he thought proper. He (Sir Walter Barttelot) thought that the Government possessed ample power to increase the Episcopate by bringing in a Bill for that purpose whenever they thought it necessary to take such a step. He had shown what his opinion was on this question of the increase of the Episcopate by the vote in favour of the St. Albans Bill, which was carried by a majority of 273 against the minority of 61, who voted with the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. H. Richard) on his Motion for its rejection. The result of that decision showed that the general opinion of the House was strongly in favour of an increase in the Episcopate, when it was clearly shown by those who were responsible in that House for the management—he would say boldly—of the affairs relating to the Church, and whose duty it was to introduce Bills upon this important subject, that it was desirable that such an increase should be made. The hon. Member had in his speech modified his Bill very materially, and finding that it was too loosely drawn he was prepared, should the measure get into Committee, to move some important Amendments in it, and thus reduce his scheme to one which might be brought in by the Government for erecting a new Bishopric. If the Bill was not intended to create a number of new Bishoprics, the matter had better be left in the hands of the Government rather than of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. What had been the history of this Bill? It was perfectly true that it had come down to the House from "another place" last year; but it could scarcely be said that it had met with an enthusiastic reception in that "other place;" indeed, its reception was of the coldest character possible, and to show that the hon. Member had been afraid of the position of the Bill he had, he would not say used un-Parliamentary language, because in his most courteous speech, he had stated the case most fairly, fully, and frankly, but he had taken a step with regard to the second reading of the Bill which he regretted, and which the hon. Member himself would regret when he came to look back upon it. He denied that the great majority of the people in this country were in favour of the Bill, although no doubt those who had considered the matter would be in favour of an increase in the Episcopate, His hon. Friend the Member for West Kent (Mr. J. G. Talbot) had inserted in a local newspaper, which circulated in three counties, under different headings, a notice asking for Petitions in favour of this Bill, but it appeared to have met with no response. He wanted to know where were the Petitions which were to show that the majority of the people in this country were in favour of the measure? It was impossible in a matter of this kind to separate the laity from the clergy, and it would be most mischievous to attempt to do so. The laity were willing to work hand and heart with the clergy of the church, but the clergy must bow to the decision of that House, and it was for that House and the people, and not merely for the clergy, to say when Bills of this character were brought in, whether they ought to pass or not. He objected to this measure, because it proposed to place in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners a power which he did not think should be intrusted to them. He had every respect for his right hon. Friend (Mr. Mowbray) sitting on his left, and for the Body to which he belonged, but he doubted whether the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would desire to have this grave and important responsibility of deciding what new Bishoprics should be created thrust upon them; because if they accepted it, they would have schemes without number from all sorts of places pressed upon them, and they would never be free from importunity of one kind or another. The hon. Member for Cambridge University said he (Sir "Walter Barttelot) ought to be satisfied with this Bill, because under it Sussex could not be divided into different dioceses; but, as the Bill now stood, if Brighton were to raise the necessary funds, and were to ask to be made the seat of a new Bishopric, there was nothing in the Bill to prevent the Ecclesiastical Commissioners from acceding to the proposal. Was it wise to give the Ecclesiastical Commissioners power to create an enormous number of Bishoprics? True it was that the hon. Member proposed that the schemes should lie upon the Table of the House for 42 days before they came into force; but surely that in itself would give rise to much evil, inasmuch as it would afford an opportunity for those who were opposed to the Church to say much in its disparagement. In his opinion, it would be better to let things go on as they were, because no good would result from thus tampering with the old constitution of the Church, which had done such wonders in the land during the last 300 years. He objected to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners having power to divide the present Sees, and to parcel out the old historic Bishoprics of this country. It would be preposterous, monstrous, and most mischievous if it were easier to set up a new Diocese than to procure the inclosure of a common. He had heard with surprise the hon. Member state that there was a provision in the Bill that no Bishopric that was created or that was divided should have a less income attached to it than £4,200, for, as he read the measure, there was nothing in it to prevent the Ecclesiastical Commissioners from creating a Bishopric with an income of £1,500, or even less. Another objectionable feature in the Bill was the clause that provided that the new Bishops to be created under this Bill were not to have seats in the House of Lords until after the lapse of a certain time. The result of that provision would be that they would not get into the Upper House until they were too old to be of any practical use there, and such a circumstance would go far to justify those who sought to exclude the Bishops from the House of Lords. Having thus touched upon some of the chief objections to the measure, he now asked whether there was any necessity for such a measure as this at all? For his own part, he was ignorant that there was any universal demand for the large increase in the Episcopate which this Bill was intended to provide for. Her Majesty's Government, he need scarcely say, would meet with the most cordial support in the event of their introducing a measure for the increase of the Episcopate in particular cases; they had already created one new Bishopric, and they were now prepared to bring in Bills to create new Dioceses in Cornwall and Yorkshire, but he was of opinion that such Bills should be brought in on the responsibility of the Government alone. When the hon. Member referred to the necessity that existed for creating a new Bishopric for Northumberland, he appeared to forget that a Conservative Government would not refuse to take all necessary steps that the interests of the Church might require. In the belief, therefore, that the sure, sound, and honest way to deal with this question was to call upon the Government to fulfil their duties in the matter, which they were prepared and were willing to perform; and in the belief that this Bill was unnecessary and mischievous, he begged to move the Amendment that stood in his name.


, in rising to second the Amendment, said, he entirely adopted the principle that underlay it—namely, that any Bill on the subject should be introduced by Her Majesty's Government. Provided the necessity for it were shown, he was by no means opposed to the increase in the Episcopate, as his vote on the St. Albans Bill of last year sufficiently proved; but he objected altogether to placing in the hands of a body like the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, for whom personally he had the highest respect, a sort of roving Commission for making new Bishoprics and dividing Sees over the length and breadth of the land. There might have been a good excuse for the noble Lord (Lord Lyttleton) who introduced this measure into the House of Lords last year, because then there was a general desire among Churchmen that certain Sees, such as those of Rochester and Winchester, should be divided, and there were no means for doing so; but that desire had been met by the introduction of the St. Albans Bill, which was admitted on all hands to be a good measure, and one calculated to fulfil the object in view. In his opinion, as he had said, the responsibility of bringing forward schemes for the creation of new Sees should rest with the Government. The hon. Member for Cambridge University had told the House that there was a preponderating feeling of public opinion throughout the country in favour of this Bill, but he had yet to learn from the Petitions presented to the House in reference to it that such was the case. The hon. Member also said that Her Majesty's Government and the Bishops, with a single exception, were in favour of the Bill last year—[Mr. BERESFORD HOPE: I said, with a few exceptions]; he thanked the hon. Member for the correction, and would further say that Lord Lyttelton in his speech complained of the treatment the measure had received at the hands both of the Government and of the Episcopal Bench, and predicted that if it did not receive a more hearty support from the Government in the House of Commons, it would stand but a small chance of passing. A Cabinet Minister had stated last year that the Government were neither prepared to support the Bill nor to oppose it; but he thought that the House was entitled to the advice of Her Majesty's Government upon it. If this power were transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the whole matter would be left in the hands of two or three of the members of that Body, or perhaps of their secretary, the scheme would be presented to the Privy Council and receive its sanction as a matter of course, and when it reached that House Her Majesty's Government would find themselves virtually pledged to support it. If this measure were agreed to, the right of Parliament to declare whether or not there should be an increase in the Episcopate would be taken away altogether, and the question would be determined by an irresponsible body. Seeing that the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter Barttelot) had so fully explained the objection to the Bill, he should not trespass further upon the attention of the House, only to say that he could not join his hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) in his reasons for not passing the measure, and that he should content himself with seconding the Amendment.

Previous Question proposed, "That that Question be now put."—(Sir Walter Barttelot.)


said, that after the able manner in which his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) had stated his reasons for an increase in the Episcopate, and after the admissions made by his hon. Friends who opposed the Bill, he felt some scruples in taking up the time of the House in supporting it. The facts of the country spoke for themselves. An increase in the Episcopate had been felt ever since the Church awoke from her slumbers in the last century. There had been development of old and the growth of new centres of population, and there had been a vast increase in the numbers of the people, and of the clergy, and the parochial system. Episcopacy was the corner-stone of Church government, and now that the more pressing needs of the Church, in creating new districts had been accomplished, the necessity for an increase of Bishops had become more and more felt. He would be one of the last men to advocate for an increase of Bishops without clergy, but he might just state that the first church which the present Archbishop of Canterbury consecrated in the diocese of London was the 200th after the appointment of Bishop Bloomfield to the See, the whole of which had been built by voluntary subscriptions, the commencement of which had been inaugurated by that lamented Prelate; and what had been done since in the country generally was in the memory of all of them. In the days of their forefathers the idea regarding a Bishop was that he was an elaborate and expensive piece of Church furniture, not to be approached too closely by common eyes, and not to have much dealing with the clergy, but rather to spend his time in writing elaborate treatises on Divinity in his study, or on the Greek particles or Greek plays. But that was all changed now, and there was an increased activity going on in all the parishes of the country; and where Church work was going on, it was considered proper that the Bishop should visit the parish, and see what it was and give his sanction to it. The duties, indeed, had become so heavy that even men with iron constitutions like the Bishop of Exeter had to confess that they were unable to perform them. It was said that the laity did not feel that there was any want of more Bishops; but the clergy felt it, because they saw the great necessity of it. For instance, out of 477 clergymen, 468 had petitioned for this increase of Bishops. The hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. H. Richard) last year objected to any increase of what he called political ecclesiastical functionaries, and he indulged on the occasion of the passing of the St. Albans Bill in the pastime of the vivisection of the Church of England; and the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) also objected to the Bill last year, on the ground that Parliament ought to judge for itself on each separate case; but he thought those objections to the Bill would not be well founded now, especially after the proposal now made that a new See should be limited to a county or to part of a county containing a large population. If we had had more Bishops we would not have so many critics indulging in that sort of pastime which he would call the vivisection of Ritualistic and other differences among Churchmen, for our Bishops would have had time to put down irregularities by authority, and many scandals would thus have been avoided. He could not agree with those hon. Members who seemed to wish that the Church should become intolerable, and thus bring about a separation between Church and State. A further objection to the Bill that it did not contain a provision that the income of a new Bishopric should not be less than £4,200 would be obviated in Committee, because the promoters of the measure were quite willing that a clause to that effect should be inserted in it. There could be no doubt the income would be provided, and willingly too, if the Bill passed. He hoped that the House of Commons would not on that occasion listen to those who might desire to get rid of the Bill. Parliament took the view of the Church of England, which had been well expressed by the leading journal that morning. It said the Church of England was— A great national Institution which has everywhere been eliciting money, influence, and devotion in the cause of religion, morality, and education. There remained only the question whether the Government should take this question up. No doubt, they should; but it was too much to ask them to do so until public opinion had been brought to bear upon them. He thought, however, that this discussion and the support the measure had received might encourage the Government to introduce a Bill on the subject.


supported the Motion of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter Barttelot). We wanted Bishops very much in this country, but as the course now being taken was likely to impede the appointment of Bishops, he thought the less evil would be to allow Government to take its own course and bring in a Bill, as was done in the case of St. Albans, which should be submitted to the whole country, because the country would be less jealous of proceeding in that way than in the way proposed by the hon. Member for Cambridge University.


said, he did not advocate this Bill in any sense as an Ecclesiastical Commissioner. He should deprecate the amount of labour which the passing of the Bill would throw upon him in that capacity; but, viewing this Bill as a Churchman, he felt it his duty to give his cordial support to its second reading. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter Barttelot) advised the House not to discuss this question or legislate upon it, but to leave it to be dealt with by the Government. He (Mr. Mowbray) regretted to hear such sentiments expressed by a Conservative Member. This question was not merely fit for discussion, but ripe for legislation. It was a question on which the most thoughtful members of the Church had arrived at a deliberate conclusion. His hon. and gallant Friend said that the views of the clergy alone should not be adopted on this matter, but that the wishes of the laity, as well as of the clergy, should be consulted. He (Mr. Mowbray) entirely assented to that. This was a matter on which the opinions of the clergy and the laity who had thought on the subject had arrived at the same conclusion. The House was asked not to bow to the views of the clergy, but to carry out the wishes, generally speaking, of the members of the Church of England. He was greatly surprised to hear any doubt expressed on the Ministerial side of the House as to the necessity for increasing the Episcopate. In the reign of Henry VIII. six Sees were created and 10 more were promised; but during the last 330 years, notwithstanding the great increase of the population, practically only one addition had been made to the number of our Bishops. When Lord John Russell was at the head of the Government three more Sees were to be founded. Had that promise been fulfilled? Only one Bishopric, that of Manchester, was erected in 1847. In 1867 a Bill for the erection of three new Sees actually passed both Houses, but fell through at the last moment upon questions of detail, when it went back from this House to the House of Lords. While there had been only one addition to the number of our Bishops since the Reformation, making them 28, our Church population had become five or six times larger. What had the Church of Rome been doing in this country? The Roman Catholics in this country did not amount to 2,000,000, but they had 16 Bishops and an Archbishop. What was the case of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States? It was a voluntary Church, and was not above 90 years old. What was the number of its Bishops? Fifty-eight; more than twice the number of the Bishops in the Church of England, whose members were five times the number of the members of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. What had happened in the Colonial Church during the same time? Fifty years ago there were, perhaps, half-a-dozen Bishops in the Colonies, now there were upwards of 60 Colonial Bishops. That showed what voluntary organization could do to promote the efficiency of the Church and to increase the number of Bishops in proportion to the number of the clergy and laity of the Church. He thought this was a matter which eminently deserved the attention of the House and the Government, and that there could be no more favourable moment than the present for dealing with it. The Church had reason to expect that a Conservative Government and a Conservative Parliament would do something to remedy an evil which had been admitted for 40 years, and which successive Governments had promised to meet. The hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) said this was a sort of measure which ought to originate with the Government. He (Mr. Mowbray) entirely agreed with his hon. Friend. He wished the Government would take it up. He quite admitted that until the Government did take it up, it was not likely that it could be forced through Parliament. Under this Bill a scheme for the creation of a Bishopric would have to be submitted to the House and receive the sanction of Parliament, and that was the answer to those who argued that a separate Bill should be brought in on every occasion when it was thought expedient to create a Bishopric. He thought every Churchman would admit that there was a necessity for an increase of the Episcopate. He admitted that if he had brought in a Bill on this subject he would not have introduced it in the shape in which his hon. Friend had brought in this Bill, and that there was some force in many of the objections made to this Bill, but his hon. Friend had told the House the circumstances under which this Bill came before them. The principle for which he was about to vote was that contained in the Preamble—namely, that it was desirable that new Sees should be created in England and Wales.


, who had given Notice that he would move the rejection of the Bill, but who had given way to the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter Barttelot), said, he had mingled with different classes of society, and had not heard any general desire expressed for the increase of the Episcopate. On the contrary, the general opinion was, he thought, that if any extension of the Church was required, it was not among the highly-paid officials, but rather among the poor curates and the working clergy. He did not believe that the connection between the Church of England and the State would long be maintained. He looked around him and saw the Nonconformists not decreasing, but, he believed, increasing. ["Oh, oh!" and "Hear, hear!"] In his (Mr. Dillwyn's) own part of the country, at least, there could be no doubt that they were increasing. Assuming, however, that they remained in statu quo, he was not aware that there was any diminution in their antagonism to Church, not as a religious community, but as a State institution. The Church of England was torn with dissensions, and there was an existing rancour which was unparalleled. If he wanted to find specimens of evil speaking he looked into the Church newspapers, and, looking at all these influences, he did not think the day far distant when the connection between Church and State would be severed. He certainly thought that day would come, and he objected to see high-class officials increased in the Church. He objected to it for this reason—those who had had listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Jenkins) last year could not forget the charges which he had made against the Church, with reference to the Irish Church disestablishment, and those charges had never been refuted; and if the disestablishment of the English Church should come—as come it surely' would, he had little doubt but that a similar proceeding of obtaining undue compensation would be repeated. He thought it most ungracious in the promoters of this Bill to ask the House of Commons to delegate its powers to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Let the House have the whole scheme before them, and let them see what was to be done. It was proposed by the Bill to give a power to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to increase the number of Bishops and to divide the dioceses of England and Wales. The authority of Parliament was proposed to be taken away by such a step as that. No doubt the scheme would be laid before Parliament for six weeks or more, to consider its provisions, but what security had Parliament that the Bill would not be swept through towards the end of the Session? They all knew what was done in "the small hours" towards the end of a Session, and that when it became a question "Aye" or "No" whether a Bill should pass, undesirable measures were not unfrequently swept through Parliament. This was a question of great importance, and was one which should be taken up by the Government, and not left to Ecclesiastical Commissioners or private Members. He submitted, in conclusion, that he should be very sorry if Her Majesty's Government were prepared to aid in delegating the authority of Parliament to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and in taking from Parliament the powers which it possessed and ought to maintain. They ought not to shirk their responsibility, and upon those grounds he should heartily support the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex.


said, he thought the Bill was one which ought to meet with the support of both sides of the House. It was a Bill which only proposed to place the National Church, in relation to its own government, on the same ground as every other Church and religious denomination was placed. It was a Bill which it was surprising to find hon. Gentlemen, who in other respects professed to be the advocates of religious liberty and toleration, opposed to. It had been truly said by the right hon. Member for the Oxford University (Mr. Mowbray), that the population of this country was now infinitely larger than it was at the time of the Reformation; and he (Mr. Hubbard) held that it was time that the Church of England should have a power delegated to it to increase its Episcopacy, in relation to the increased number of the members of the Church. Regarding the Church of England as a National Church, he thought the assent of Parliament ought to be given to a measure, the object of which was to give to the Church a power to do its own work; and in asking for that power, the Church did not ask for any increase of its income, whether from the Consolidated Fund or otherwise. It was prepared by the liberality of its own members to find the resources from which these new Bishops were to be created; and therefore he was at a loss to understand on what reasonable ground the Bill could be objected to. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter Barttelot) said there was no evidence that a general desire had been expressed for the passing of this Bill, but he destroyed his own premises, for he proceeded to say that if the Bill were passed, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would be unable to resist the applications which would be made by persons in all parts of the country for the appointment of additional Bishops. There was, he thought, a very strong feeling in favour of that measure on the part of intelligent, thoughtful, and devoted men in the Church, whose views and wishes were entitled to the consideration of the House. It was unreasonable to expect a great number of Petitions from the public at large on such a subject. The hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) wound up his attack upon the Church by saying he was a staunch member of it. He thanked him for that declaration, because it could hardly have been guessed from the teneur of his speech. For himself, he was not surprised or concerned that Dissent had taken hold of the people in Wales, where the Church had laboured under great disadvantage from the ignorance of many of the clergy of the native language, and also from much neglect on the part of both clergymen and laymen; because he would infinitely sooner see energetic, conscientious, and zealous Dissenters doing a good work in Wales than see the people utterly neglected, as they would otherwise have been. The apostles of religious equality said a Church could not be national unless it was co-extensive with the nation; but such a Church could never exist in a country like this, where religious freedom prevailed. He was therefore not concerned to maintain that the Established Church contained the whole of the people. All he said was that it was recognized by the State; that three-fourths of the nation adhered to it; that its religion was the religion of the Sovereign and of the State, and must remain so unless they entirely destroyed the Constitution of this country. Religious liberty was one thing, and it was fully enjoyed in this Kingdom. Religious equality was another thing, and it amounted to nothing else but a Republic. They could not maintain a Monarch on the Throne who had not a religion, and they could not find any religion for the Monarch which the people of England would accept but the one that was now connected with the State. He demurred, in the interests of liberty itself, to the attempt to force on changes in the Constitution which would utterly destroy the liberty they now enjoyed. The difficulty as to claims for compensation mentioned by the hon. Member for Swansea was removed by the circumstance that under this Bill no money would be taken from any public funds, while the necessary means would be provided by the personal liberality of Churchmen. If the Bishops should, at any future time, be deprived of their positions, they could be paid off with the principal of the monies, the interest of which would be amply sufficient to provide for them during their tenure of office. They would not receive £5,000 a-year, and would live quietly and usefully in their dioceses. He saw an advantage in having a class of Bishops who, as would be the case under that Bill, would be free from the enervating effect of political bias in their original selection, and who, if they subsequently found their way to the House of Lords, would reach it by their own merits. The Bill was one which the interests of the country demanded, and he should therefore give it his support.


said, he would oppose that measure on the ground that it had been avowed by one of its supporters in the House that it aimed at withdrawing in part the National Church from the control of the National Legislature, and that, too, in a manner affecting the constitution of the other House of Parliament. This was certainly not a moment for withdrawing from the control of Parliament and handing over to the Church itself the power of not only electing Bishops, but of placing them on the high road to the other branch of the Legislature. Though many of the clergy were the friends of enlightenment and freedom, the Church was nevertheless doing its best to de-Protestantize the country and spread a vicious superstition through the land; and he thought it was a most lamentable thing that the constitution of a Church which was allied to the State should not place the clergy under more restraint, and prevent them from holding out inducements to their flocks to put their confidence in regard to matters of faith and religion upon forms and ceremonies which were spurned and turned out of the Church long ago, in what they might fairly call the dark ages.


said, that no one either in that House or out of it was more sensible than he was how necessary it was that there should be some increase in the Episcopate, owing to the great increase in the population of the country; but while he admitted that in its fullest sense, he was also bound to say that he thought the means or machinery introduced by his hon. Friend (Mr. Beresford Hope) to supply that want was not only not well suited to the purpose, but also in many particulars likely to prove mischievous. For that reason he was unable to support the Bill. A question of that importance, moreover, ought to be taken in hand by the Government. If they thought upon consideration that the want could not be met by an individual Bill here and there, and that it required a larger measure, then the attention of the Government ought to be given to a general scheme, by which the size and the population of the new Diocese should be well considered, in order that the matter should not be cast, as that Bill would cast it, upon a sort of "happy-go-lucky" system, without any principle to guide the Ecclesiastical Commissioners either as to the extent of the Dioceses or as to any other point, except that they were to exercise a discretion on the money to be given. No man had a greater respect than he for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; but he did not think it was fair to throw on them that with respect to which Parliament was more competent to form an opinion. That was another reason why the Bill was unsuitable. Again, apart from the spiritual view of the question, there was the constitutional question of the number of Bishops who were to have seats in the House of Lords. As to that, he thought it would not be unwise to assume that it was not likely the number would be increased; and then the question arose, How was that number to be kept up? Then, again, it was most important that an opinion should be formed beforehand of the extent of the probable increase of the Episcopate which they thought right; because if there was only a moderate increase, the system proposed by the Bill might possibly work without much inconvenience. But if there was to be a large increase—say of ten or a dozen, which probably his hon. Friend might not think very large—then the system of succeeding to the seats in the House of Lords would, in his opinion, be certain to lead to this conclusion—that the whole body of the Bishops would be excluded from the House of Lords. Because, what would be the position of things? They would have them coming one after another at that time of life when men were less able, if able at all, to perform those duties which hitherto they had performed. Therefore, the work of the Dioceses would not only not be so well performed, but in what position would a man be, going quite at what might be called the evening of life into the House of Lords, to take a part in the deliberation of that great Assembly, and, what was more than taking a part, that he should have established such a place there as to lead that House to value his opinions on the matters brought before it? Those were some of the reasons which prevented him from voting with his hon. Friend. He thought nothing could be so mischievous as to have a machinery created by which a large number of Bishops in a number of years—he was unable to calculate either the number of years or the length of the lives before they would reach the House of Lords—would evidently enter that Assembly as worn-out men. A good deal had been said about the authority on which that Bill came down last year from the other House. He was as well disposed as any man to yield, and he always did, to such authority. But, unfortunately, some 30 years ago another Bill came down from the same place with some very curious recommendations. That Bill proposed not only that one Bishop should do the work of two, if paid for it, but also that one Arch-bishop should do the work of two Provinces and two Dioceses—one in York and the other in Canterbury; but to that he was opposed; and, in fact, neither he nor those with whom he had acted at the time could swallow it; and he was one of four, the present Postmaster General being another, who were in a minority on a division on the Bill. He believed it was law now; at any rate, he had never heard of its being repealed. It was therefore important that they should consider these questions on their own merits, and not allow themselves to be carried away by the authority on which they were recommended. These were shortly the reasons which induced him to support the Amendment. He earnestly hoped the Government would give their best attention to the subject; and, if they thought it necessary, lay down some general proposition with respect to the number and size of the Dioceses proposed to be formed. This was a matter on which he held a very decided opinion, and he felt bound to give his vote against the Bill.


remarked that if the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hubbard), that Bishops were far more useful in their dioceses than in the House of Lords represented generally the views of the Church of England, it would go far to avert that opposition which many hon. Members on that side of the House entertained for this Bill. They would gladly give the Church of England as many Bishops as she liked, if for each one given one of those now sitting in the House of Lords would be relegated to his own Diocese. The right hon. Gentleman was not correct in saying that this was a Bill to enable the Church to govern herself. That might be true if the Bill gave power to Convocation—particularly to a remodelled Convocation, though he would not himself be prepared to assent to such a proposal. But he had never before heard that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners—one of whom was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and two by the Crown—were synonymous with the Church. The real question for consideration was, however, whether the Bill was likely to strengthen the Church in her relation to the nation. If they considered the Church as a national Church, what was more clear than that, if new Bishoprics were wanted, they should be proposed upon the responsibility of the Government, and that the question should be submitted by them to both Houses of Parliament. To delegate the power of creating new Sees to any other body would to that extent weaken the status of the Church of England, which as a national Church, had better deal directly with the national legislation; and, as a friend of the Church and one who was not in favour of disestablishment, he held that this Bill tended directly towards disestablishment. In his opinion, the fairest and wisest course to take was to support the Previous Question.


observed, that there was a general concurrence of opinion in the House as to the necessity of doing something to meet the spiritual wants of the population which was growing up in different parts of the country. Any one who reflected on the state of the Diocese of Exeter could not fail to see that there, for instance, some additional Episcopal superintendence was required, and the same want was experienced in other places. But, while the necessity of increasing the Episcopate was obvious, the Bill did not appear to him to be one that Parliament could accept. A measure which propounded loosely and vaguely that they should leave the matter to private and voluntary exertion, without any information as to what were the parts of the country which required an increase of the Episcopate, could not be accepted; and it would be idle, and worse than idle, to leave it to the discretion of zealous friends of the Church to increase the Episcopate where it might not be desirable, while other parts of the country where it was desirable were left neglected. The details of the Bill altogether were so objectionable that, to have any chance of passing at all, it would have to be completely remodelled. He entertained a very strong opinion that those who desired to have an established religion in this country must feel that any changes or additions which were made to that Establishment, or any alterations that were propounded in the law with reference to it, ought to come before Parliament with the joint concurrence of the Episcopal Bench and the Government. Now, that unanimity in the present case did not exist. The measure was not one which the Govern- ment had thought it right to support, nor had it been sent down to that House by the Episcopal Bench. Believing that it could not be remodelled without changing the whole framework of the measure, he hoped that the Government would tell the House, whether they could see their way to increasing the Episcopate, and then they might obtain a measure which would be very beneficial to the country. He would support the second reading of the Bill merely as an expression of his opinion that some increase of the Episcopate ought to be made; but it must be on the understanding that it should not be further proceeded with until the Government took the subject in hand.


said, he should vote for the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter Barttelot). The necessity for an increase of the Episcopate, urgent as it was, would have been more felt if it had not been for the accident of many retired Bishops from the colonies being in England and the restoration by the late Government of the order of suffragans. There were no public funds available for new Bishoprics, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would be prevented this year, as they were last, from accepting more than one-third of the benefactions offered them because they had not sufficient funds to meet them. It was to private, and not to public, funds, therefore, that they must look for provision for an increased Episcopate. As an Ecclesiastical Commissioner, and speaking for himself, he thought the duties sought to be imposed upon that body by this Bill were duties which they would find it very difficult to discharge, even if they were not altogether beyond their province. In these days of generosity it was possible that some impulsive and generous person might offer a large sum to found a Bishopric in one large and populous parish of London; and the Commissioners would be placed in the dilemma of either having to refuse a large benefaction made to the Church, or to prepare a scheme which would not be at all likely to enhance the opinion entertained by Parliament of their wisdom, and which would have no chance of passing. The question of the increase of the Episcopate had passed out of private hands into that of the Government. Last year they passed a Bill for the Bishopric of St. Albans, and it was said that efforts were being made with their sanction to obtain the residue of the funds needed for the establishment of a Bishopric for Cornwall. He thought the matter might well be left in their hands; and he protested against the duties which the Bill proposed being thrown upon the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.


said, he hoped that the Memorial lately presented to the Government in favour of the increase of the Episcopate would have due weight. If the Bill were pressed to a second reading he should support it, because he wished to affirm the principle that it was undesirable to have piecemeal legislation on this subject. Out of 450 rural deaneries, representing some 10,000 parishes, from which communications had been received on the subject, 441 were in favour of an increase, the only doubt entertained being as to the raising of funds, and the propriety of increasing the number of Bishops in the House of Lords. The laity, he believed, were generally in favour of an extension of the Episcopate in districts where there had been a large increase of population. The greatest benefits had resulted from the division of the diocese of Chester, Episcopal supervision had become a reality and not a name. At the present moment there was still a population of 1,500,000 under the Bishop of Chester, and a very strong opinion prevailed in favour of the appointment of a new Bishop for Liverpool. He quite agreed that, for the first year, a Bishop should not be called upon to attend to his duties in Parliament; and he was therefore in favour of Bishops taking their seats in the House of Lords by rotation. The Government had admitted the principle of an increase of the Episcopate by their Bill of last year, and he therefore thought that the time had come for the Government to deal with this question in a comprehensive measure.


congratulated the House upon the calm and temperate character of the discussion, and upon the evident desire which had been shown on all sides to deal with the matter dispassionately, fairly, and in a spirit of entire justice to the Church of England. No one who had had to deal with the large masses of our population, which had increased so rapidly during the last few years, especially in the manufacturing districts, could possibly have witnessed that increase without having come to the conclusion that if a Bishop of the Church of England was to attempt to do his work with anything like satisfaction he must have assistance, otherwise he could not possibly do it. He (Mr. Cross) knew nothing so absolutely depressing to a man placed in a position of high authority, with the most responsible of all duties and with the most earnest desire to fulfil his work, as to feel that however much he exerted himself, whatever self-sacrifice he incurred, it was impossible for him to fulfil the duties which were incumbent upon him. If this were so, it was clear that there must be some relief granted. He was sure the House would agree with him when he said that there was the most earnest desire on the part of the Bench of Bishops to do their duty in their dioceses; but what could they do if circumstances were too strong for them? Let them take the case of the diocese of Chester, which had been divided. What could the Bishop of Chester, by even more than human strength, do if he had, in addition to all the duties which at present devolved upon him, the spiritual charge of the vast diocese of Manchester? Why, that diocese alone had increased to such an extent within a few years as to overstrain the powers of one of the most earnest, zealous, and efficient Bishops on the Bench. If a man in full health and strength, with only that portion of a diocese under his control, was rendered absolutely unable to perform his duties, what would have been the case if the burden had been left upon the Bishop of Chester? Owing to the vast increase of wealth and population in this country large towns, such as Middlesborough and Barrow-in-Furness, sprang up in the course of 10 or 12 years where previously there had been but a scanty population. It was quite clear, therefore, that if the work was to be done there must be, from time to time, some revision of the number of those who had to do it, and of the extent of the work which each had to do. His hon. Friend (Mr. Beresford Hope) must have been aware from the action already taken by Her Majesty's Government, of their opinion that the necessity existed for some steps being taken to remove this evil. They had passed into law an Act for the episcopal supervision of one of the most populous dioceses in this country. He did not believe there was any difference of opinion as to the point of which he had already spoken; but the question of the means by which that view was to be carried out was a totally different matter, and he hoped his hon. Friend who had charge of this Bill would tell the House that it was not his intention to make any division of opinion apparent where no such division really existed. His right hon. Friend the senior Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Spencer Walpole) had stated that, in his opinion, this was a bad measure. No one who had read the Bill could, in his (Mr. Cross's) opinion, come to any other conclusion. He considered his right hon. Friend's objections to the provisions of the Bill to be of vital importance. Even the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Mowbray), who supported the Bill, was obliged to say that in voting for the second reading he was only voting for the Preamble, and that almost all its provisions would have to be changed. For his own part, he thought it would never do to bestow upon the Ecclesiastical Commissioners—for whom he had the highest respect—a sort of roving Commission to make Bishoprics at their discretion. There was, no doubt, a provision in the Bill that the schemes of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should be laid before Parliament, as a safeguard against the adoption of any ill-judged proposal; but that would involve an evil which it was desirable to avoid—namely, the perpetual discussion of Church questions in that House, for every scheme proposed by the Commissioners would, no doubt, excite controversy. At the same time, the Commissioners were invested with very questionable powers, the 11th clause, for instance, providing that they might attach to any new Bishopric a portion of the income of the Bishop whose diocese had been diminished. Thus the Commissioners were to be intrusted with the disposal of money which was already applied by Parliament to a particular purpose. Surely that was not a wise provision. However, he would not discuss further the details of the Bill, but proceed briefly to state what the Government were prepared to do in reference to the Episcopate. The diocese of Exeter undoubtedly called for some action being taken. Well, a proposition was made to him some months ago for the formation of a diocese of Cornwall. Funds to the amount of £1,200 a-year were placed at his disposal, on the condition that the Bishopric should be founded during the lifetime of the donor. That generous offer was met in the most liberal spirit by the Bishop of Exeter, who was willing to give up £800 a-year of the income of his diocese to be added to the £ 1,200 offered. He thought that a very generous proposition. As soon as sufficient additional funds were provided to furnish a proper income for the new Bishop, a scheme for the establishment of a Bishopric of Cornwall would, no doubt, be prepared. Up to the present moment, unfortunately, the necessary funds had not been forthcoming; but he hoped they would be, and in that case he would strongly recommend the adoption of a measure for effecting the object in view. He felt that it was not, perhaps, the wisest course to bring forward a separate Bill for each separate diocese, and he was not prepared to say, therefore, on behalf of the Government, that he should not be willing to consider a well-prepared scheme for a limited number of new dioceses. He thought, however, with his right hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Spencer Walpole), that in selecting these special dioceses, in fixing their limits, and in dealing with the intricate questions which would be raised, Her Majesty's Government, in concurrence with the Bench of Bishops, had a much better opportunity of knowing, and were much more likely to come to a wise conclusion, than the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; and he thought a matter of this gravity, touching so deeply the interests of the Church and the State, should be brought forward on the responsibility of the Government. He might also state that negotiations had been, he would not say entered into, but proposed for the formation of other dioceses in other parts of the country; but no proposition had come before him in such a form as would at the present moment justify him in laying it before the consideration of the Government. He was, however, perfectly prepared when any such propositions were made to lay them before the Government. Instead of dealing with cases individually, he should prefer to lay on the Table of the House a scheme for a limited number of Bishoprics, so that the work of the Bishops might be properly divided, at all events, until the changes in the population of the country rendered some re-adjustment necessary. He hoped, therefore, that his hon. Friend (Mr. Beresford Hope) would not press for a division. There was no difference of opinion amongst his Friends and amongst a great number of Members on the opposite side of the House as to the necessity for some increase in the Episcopate. There was no difference in any portion of the House on the question that if the work was to be done there ought to be men to do it; and he trusted his hon. Friend would not put them in the false position of being apparently divided amongst themselves when practically there was no division of opinion.


said, that the course of the debate had so altered the position in which he stood with respect to the measure, that with the view of giving further time for consideration, he would move that the debate be now adjourned.


seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Hall.)


said, he had only to state, in reply to the friendly criticisms upon his Bill, that he had no option as to its form. He introduced it as it had come from "another place" without a division, as the Episcopate had sanctioned it, as the ministry had also virtually approved it, and in particular as the Archbishop of Canterbury had very warmly commended it, so the shafts of his right hon. Colleague and of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) struck a far higher quarry than himself. Upon the general question, he was sorry that the Government had not made up their minds nine months earlier. This would have saved a great deal of trouble. He did not think the just expectations of the country would be satisfied by little Bills dropping in from time to time, enacting a Bishopric here and a Bishopric there. However, he accepted the statement of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary as a general promise that the Government would take in hand the extension of the Episcopate in a systematic way, and by some measure providing for the creation of a plurality of Sees. Accordingly, he most willingly accepted the Motion for the adjournment, hoping that in the meantine Her Majesty's Government would be able to state something more definite than what they had heard that day.


said, he had not heard any reason why the debate should be adjourned. There was a general opinion that this measure could not be adopted, and it was better that it should be disposed of at once. The best course, he thought, was that the Bill should be withdrawn.


said, that the reason for adjourning the debate was this—the Bill had commanded a great deal of support, and the Government had, through the Home Secretary, made an important announcement, which was a great encouragement to the supporters of the measure. If the Bill were withdrawn, it would seem as if it had received a blow, whereas, in fact, the discussion had shown that it was strongly supported; and further, no inconvenience could arise from an adjournment of the debate, for the subject could then be more fairly and adequately discussed.


I hope the House will assent to the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Oxford (Mr. Hall). We understand that it is the wish of the Mover of the Bill; and as the Mover of the Bill has placed his interpretation on that Motion—namely, that the debate is adjourned to an indefinite day—I trust that after the discussion which has passed, the House, as an act of courtesy to my hon. Friend, will agree to the Amendment.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 174; Noes 90: Majority 84.

Debate adjourned till Wednesday 5th July.