HC Deb 28 March 1876 vol 228 cc767-9

MR. DILLWYN moved— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to withhold Her assent to the Draft Ordinances for creating Anglican and Roman Catholic Church Bodies at Gibraltar, which have been recently laid upon the Table of the House. The hon. Member observed, that in the case of the Anglican Body it appeared that a new Established Church was to be created with the aid of an endowment. The Roman Catholic Body was to be under a Vicar Apostolic, who was to have the whole control of the Roman Catholic community, and possession of all the churches, with an income of £500 a-year. This sum he might expend as he liked, being bound to account for it only to the Governor General of Gibraltar. This arrangement had given great dissatisfaction to the Anglican community. We had an Attorney General there; but the ordinance he had prepared did not give satisfaction to the clerical orders of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vicar Apostolic described himself as a missionary sent from Rome in partibus infidelum. The Attorney General did not feel satisfied with this, and the Governor General did not seem decided on the matter. The Chief Justice of Gibraltar and 12 other persons holding high office there had joined in a memorial requesting the Government to suspend action in the matter, but they had refused to do so. He (Mr. Dillwyn) thought nothing should be done to sanction a new religious endowment, especially one of the Roman Catholic Communion. Such a course would occasion widespread dissatisfaction. Our recent legislation had been in the direction of disendowment. On no account should we consent to the creation of a new religious establishment in any of our colonies. The House and the country would have been very much startled to find that this Ordinance had been sanctioned by the Queen without Parliament know- ing anything of the matter. Such a proceeding would bring the Crown into collision with Parliament and the people. If an endowment was to be created it should be done not on the responsibility of the Queen, but with the knowledge of Parliament; but he considered it was not expedient to proceed further with the matter, and therefore he should move the Resolution of which he had given Notice.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to withhold Her assent to the Draft Ordinances for creating Anglican and Roman Catholic Church Bodies at Gibraltar, which have been recently laid upon the Table of the House."—(Mr. Dillwyn.)


said, that he had nothing to complain of in the manner in which this question had been brought before the House, but the hon. Gentleman had not sufficiently stated the whole facts. The Ordinances were not now for the first time proposed. The fact was that allowances of the description in question had been for many years paid to the clergyman of the Church of England on the one hand, and to the Vicar Apostolic of the Roman Catholic Church on the other, the allowances being to the clergy of the Church of England £600 a-year, and to the Vicar Apostolic on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church £400 a-year. The payments existed without challenge down to 1872, when a change took place for which the present Government was not responsible. In that year the disestablishment of the Church at Gibraltar took place, and representing, as he did, a Conservative Government, the very existence of which was a standing protest against the principle of disestablishment, it was hardly necessary for him to say that he assumed no responsibility for that step; but when the present Government came into office they found that two preceding Secretaries of State—Earl Granville and the Earl of Kimberley—had committed themselves to a scheme which was virtually the same as that now submitted by the Governor of Gibraltar. These endowments were derived from local sources, and Parliament would not contribute to them. Objections to the Ordinances had been received from the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, and some of the leading persons in the colony; and, under all the circumstances, the Secretary of State had felt it his duty to intimate to the Governor of Gibraltar his opinion that those Ordinances should not be persevered in; and he might say that as this scheme had created considerable dissatisfaction in the colony, it would not receive the Royal Assent. He hoped that it would be distinctly understood that the present Government were in no shape or form responsible for the origination of these Ordinances.


, having passed a few years in Gibraltar, begged to say a few words on this subject. The population of Gibraltar was, to a great extent, Roman Catholic, and a considerable proportion of the soldiers, and to some extent of the sailors, were also Roman Catholic; and if those Ordinances were to be done away with, he hoped some provision would be made for the celebration of Divine worship for the Roman Catholic soldiers in the garrison. He was sure there would be for the Protestant soldiers and sailors.


wished to know if it was intended to change that which had been an annual Vote into a permanent endowment, over which the House would have no control. He did not in the least complain of paying for religious services for Roman Catholics, provided it was so paid that Parliament could control it.


expressed his approval of the intention of the Government to withdraw the Ordinances.


hoped the Ordinances had not been dropped temporarily, but permanently.


expressed his approval of the course taken by the Government.


wished to know if the withdrawal of the Ordinance would lead to the withdrawal of the allowances hitherto paid for religious services in Gibraltar?


said, he hoped the day would never come when the property of any Church would be taken from it in order to reduce the clergy to the position of State stipendaries.


said, he was satisfied with the statement of the Under Secretary for the Colonies, and would withdraw his Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.