§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. E. A. LEATHAM
Mr. Speaker, in asking the House to read a second time a Bill for the prohibition of the common sale of livings, I need hardly state that I am not one of those who place much reliance upon any measure for the reform of the abuses of patronage which does not strike at the root of the evil which we deplore. The root of the evil is not the scandal and impurity which have gathered round the system; it is the system itself—the common sale of a public trust. This is a thing which is abhorrent to all our notions of what is right and honourable, and for the public good. If it were proposed to extend the practice to any other office of trust, the moral sense of the community would revolt from such a proposal; and yet we calmly contemplate the fact that there is no part of England and Wales in which the official oversight of the spiritual interests of every soul in a parish may not be made the subject of common sale or barter; may not be advertised in the newspapers; put up for auction and knocked down to the highest bidder; may not be hawked about the back slums by agents, the antecedents of some of whom are such that their recognized connection with any honest trade would be impossible. If you wish to find a traffic which is a positive disgrace to everyone engaged in it, which demoralizes everyone who touches it, and which is often carried on 724 in the teeth of law itself, you have only to turn to the purlieus of the great institution which we have established for the glory of God; and if you want to find men who are steeped in all the discredit of illicit transactions, and often in the infamy of offences which are akin to perjury itself, you, have only to look for them among those who have taken the most solemn vows upon themselves, and who are commissioned by all the authority of Parliament to undertake for our spiritual necessities. All this has been proved over and over again in debates in this House; and it is no part of my duty to-day to disgust or amuse the House by the repetition of a story, with all the details of which it is painfully familiar. I will only refer to one case, and that because it occurred in the diocese of Peterborough. We may be quite sure, if it had been preventible by the Bishop, that it would have been prevented. The public were startled a few months ago by the announcement that a Race-course Company had purchased an advowson. It appears that it was thought advisable to enlarge the Race-course near Leicester; and for that purpose the Race-course Company rented from the Vicar of Oadby a piece of land which belonged to the glebe. In order to fortify their position, they purchased the advowson. The fact was denied in the newspapers; but the gentleman who bought the advowson was the paid Secretary of the Company. The last stage of the transaction is the most picturesque. I am informed that the Company has been wound-up, and the advowson purchased by an eminent jockey for £1,500, or £5 more than he paid for the "Black Dog" public-house in the same parish. Now, Sir, I do not propose to take up the time of the House by discussing those clauses of this Bill, which also form part of the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope). I imagine that no one will stand up in the House as the champion of Donatives or of Resignation. Bonds; and if they do we are quite prepared to fight them in Committee—for the clauses abolishing the latter and making the former presentative benefices are by no means the main provisions of this Bill. One of the main provisions of my hon. Friend's Bill is that by which he forbids the sale of next presentations. This is also one of the main provisions 725 of this Bill. But it is not one about which, by any means, the keenest controversy will be excited. Up to this point I think that we have certainly carried the conscience of the Church—and the conscience of a majority upon both sides of this House—with us; and it is after this point that the Bill before the House begins to take its distinctive character—for it is a Bill not only for the prohibition of the sale of next presentations, but of advowsons as well. My first duty, then, before asking the House to read the Bill a second time, will be to show that its main principle—the prohibition of the sale of advowsons, except under certain exceptional conditions—is just as much called for in the interests of morality and religion as the prohibition of the sale of next presentations—that the one is the logical sequence of the other, and that no real moral distinction can be drawn between the two transactions. I am well aware that attempts have been constantly made to do so; but anything more hazy cannot well be conceived. Even the Bishop of Peterborough, to whom we are all so much indebted for his eloquent denunciations of the traffic in livings, has fallen, apparently, into the common error; and as he has probably expressed, with less vagueness than anyone else, the moral distinction which he thinks he sees between the sale of an advowson and the sale of a next presentation, I will attempt to deal with his argument at once. We shall find it in the right rev. Prelate's examination of Mr. Slocock, who appeared before the Royal Commission upon Patronage, as spokesman of the Essex clerical patrons. He was asked these questions—(844.) "As to the sale of livings, do you see any difference in principle between sales of advowsons and sales of next presentations?—Yes.(845.) "What is the difference in your mind?—The one is more the sale of property, and the other is more the sale of the right of exercising a special function.A reply which the right rev. Prelate regarded as scarcely sufficiently lucid, so he put the argument into Mr. Slocock's mouth as follows—(846.) "May I put it to you in this way? The owner of an advowson, when he sells it, divests himself completely of that property; and with the sale of that property, he divests him- 726 self of all the trusts attaching to the property—it has gone clean away from him?—Yes.(847.) "The owner of an advowson who retains it, while he sells the next presentation, has not divested himself of the property?—No.(848.) "Nor of the trusts attaching to it?—No.(849.) "If he has appointed some person of whom probably he knows nothing to come in and do his duty as a trustee, which he was supposed to do, or ought to have done for himself, there is a difference, is there not?—Certainly.Now, the question which we have to decide is not whether there is any difference in principle between the sale of an advowson and the sale of a next presentation, but whether there is such a difference as to make the one sale right, and the other sale wrong. The fact is, that both sales are wrong; and the offence in the case of the man who sells his advowson is, if anything, the greater, because he puts a rather larger sum into his pocket by the sacrifice of his trust. What constitutes the offence in either case seems to have eluded the grasp of the right rev. Prelate—it is the desire to turn a trust into money. Nor is it true that the vendor of an advowson renounces his trusteeship and all its advantages and responsibilities; but the vendor of a next presentation does not do so. For the remainder of his lifetime, in all probability, the vendor of the next presentation makes just as complete a renunciation of his trusteeship. Old men are not the purchasers of these things, and the fact that some day a man's heirs may again have the appointment does not practically make him a trustee. Again, if we turn to the purchaser, his motive is the same in either case. He makes the purchase, not from a laudable desire to become a patron of the Church, but with a view to the next presentation, and with an eye to a particular presentee; and we must observe this distinction in favour of the man who buys the next presentation, and against the man who buys the advowson. The man who buys the next presentation buys the office for another; but the man who buys the advowson generally buys the office for himself. But the fallacy of the right rev. Prelate's position becomes still more apparent if we examine the illustration which he has selected to show what he means—(850.) "The difference might be illustrated in this way. Supposing that you, as a trustee to a property, had a right to appoint a solicitor to act under the trust for the benefit of the pro- 727 perty, you might, if you chose, resign your trusteeship, and get rid of it altogether; but whilst you held your trusteeship, you would not consider it a right thing to do to advertise in the paper that any person might have the solicitorship to that trust on paying, you a certain sum of money?—No.Yes; and would it be a right thing to do to advertise in the paper that any person might have the trusteeship, including the right of appointing the solicitor, and all future solicitors, on paying you a certain sum of money? The act of selling a trusteeship, whether involving privileges to the owner or not, is happily regarded in this country as discreditable. Why should the discredit disappear the moment we approach a spiritual trust? One would suppose that it should increase tenfold. To buy or sell a trust, even if the trust be only the ten-thousandth part of the right of returning one of us to the House, is called by an ugly name, and severely punished by law. The odd thing is that we are all blind, even Bishops, to an act of bribery when the trust is not a trumpery share in a political election, but the right of electing in perpetuity to an office the responsibilities of which are supposed to reach into Eternity. And, Sir, I must say it is a fortunate circumstance that no moral distinction can be drawn between the sale of an advowson and the sale of a next presentation; because it is the sale, not of next presentations, but of advowsons, which constitutes the bulk of this miserable traffic. Mr. Stark, who is a prince among clerical agents, in the copy of his Church Preferment Register which he laid before the Royal Commission, advertised particulars of no fewer than 110 advowsons, but only of 22 next presentations. The reason is obvious. When a clergyman wishes to present himself, the law compels him to buy an advowson. The advowson, therefore, becomes the leading article in the market; and it is thus, if we are to believe Mr. Stark, that two-thirds of the saleable patronage of the Church have passed into clerical hands. The clerical patronage in the county of Essex alone has been shown to amount to a capital sum of £324,250, representing 60 or 70 benefices. And, Sir, not only is the bulk of this objectionable traffic a traffic in advowsons, but that portion of it which is still a traffic in next presentations is readily convertible into a traffic in ad- 728 vowsons; because, as we have abundant evidence to show, the advowson can be sold with an understanding that as soon as possession is given it is to be handed back to the original owner. What I ask the House, then, to bear in mind is this—that if we really desire to arrest this traffic in livings, it is idle to limit our prohibition to the sale of next presentations. We shall be simply shutting the side door to the traffic, while we leave the main entrance obvious and wide open. But, Sir, I shall, no doubt, be told that there are sales of patronage which are not of this objectionable character—I mean the cases in which it is morally certain that the purchase is not made from interested or unworthy motives—for example, when patronage passes with an estate or a substantial interest in the parish; or when it is repurchased by those who have such an interest already, and acquires again the nature of an advowson appendant. I do not think that public opinion demands the prohibition of such sales as these, or when patronage is bought by Boards of Trustees to be for ever withdrawn from the market. This Bill, therefore, does not contemplate the prohibition of such sales; but it very clearly limits the circumstances under which they can take place; and it distinctly prohibits the sale of an advowson appendant apart from the manor. I must confess I should have been glad if, by this Bill, we could have established the principle that patronage not only partakes of the nature of a trust, but partakes of no other nature; that the law should henceforth regard it as a trust for the parishioners, to be exercised for their benefit, and their benefit only, and that no kind of facilities should be given to turn it into money. But I can easily imagine the storm to which such a proposal would have given rise. We should have been told that patronage has passed for centuries by will; that it has entered into every kind of settlement; that the lawyers have treated it as property from time immemorial; and that to deprive it of its character as property by Act of Parliament would be an act of confiscation. Now, Sir, if, as legislators, we are compelled to bow before such a storm as this—and I am far from saying that we are not—we are, at least, bound to see that our compliance is attended with the minimum of public mischief. 729 The Bill now before the House is an attempt to solve this difficult problem in this spirit. It recognizes the fact that, almost from time immemorial, this kind of trust has been regarded as something from which the trustee might derive personal advantage, but that it has never lost its character as a trust, while acquiring in part the character of property. The Bill attempts to assign their relative values to these conflicting elements, to define the proportion which has practically become the property of the patron, and the proportion which still remains the property of the public; and, in cases in which the proprietor insists upon his rights, by paying off the proprietor to purify the trust. Now, Sir, when I look at the course of legislation generally, with regard to what are called proprietary rights, and when I look also at the history of patronage, and how lax we have been in allowing the claims of the proprietor to overshadow the responsibilities of the trustee, I am not sanguine enough to hope that Parliament will sanction the reservation to the public of more than half the present marketable value of patronage. I believe that the great bulk of patrons would scorn the idea of turning their patronage into money at all; but, to meet the exceptional case of those who feel no such scruple, this Bill provides for the return to such patrons in exchange for their patronage of this proportion of its present marketable value—a value, let us bear in mind, which has been greatly enhanced by the existing irregular and illegal methods of disposing of it. If we are to regard patronage as property at all, I do not think that we can offer them less, though I shall be glad to find the House thinks otherwise. If we are to uphold the principle that patronage is at least as much a trust as it is a property, it is impossible that we can offer them more. Now, Sir, this Bill provides that patronage, thus voluntarily surrendered, and thus enfranchised, should go to the Crown. The Crown is a patron who, in all probability, would be the most willing to surrender it again, if Parliament, in its wisdom, should desire to deal with it otherwise. I wish the House to observe that with what is really a distinct branch of this great subject—namely, who ought to present to livings, if the existing patrons were out of the way, I do not profess to deal 730 Hon. Members who desire that patronage should be vested in the parishioners, either directly or indirectly, or in any other hands, must find some other opportunity of pressing their views. For the purposes of this Bill I assume that the best patrons are those which exist. Sir, the Bill provides that when the actual patron is anxious, or compelled, to sell his patronage, and the person I may term the natural patron is unwilling or unable to relieve him of it, then Queen Anne's Bounty Board should be empowered to purchase it at half the present market value, a figure which the actuaries will readily determine, the patronage to go to the Crown, as I have said, and the benefice to be charged, after the next avoidance, with such a sum annually for a term of years as will enable Queen Anne's Bounty to recoup themselves in both principal and interest. In naming Queen Anne's Bounty Board as a public body both able and willing to undertake this duty, I am only giving effect to suggestions made on the best authority in the evidence taken before the Committee of the House of Lords. Mr. Aston, Secretary and Treasurer of the Board, appeared, I may say officially, before the Committee. A scheme for the redemption of patronage, very similar to that which I have had the honour of submitting to the House, was explained to him. He said (1,378)—He thought Queen Anne's Bounty Board could undertake these transactions, with the two-fold view of the Board having the settlement and arrangement of the terms of sale and loan..…That such proceedings were, to some extent, analogous to many proceedings which Queen Anne's Bounty Board are now engaged in (1,379); that he thought Queen Anne's Bounty Board, in some respects, better qualified than the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for such transactions (1,383); that there is a considerable amount of trust fund which could be applied by direction of Parliament to this purpose (1,384), without any injury to existing interests, under Queen Anne's Bounty Board; and not likely to be wanted at all for any other Church purpose (1,386); and he gives this opinion after having had his attention drawn to such a scheme for several years (1,387).Now, let the House bear in mind that Mr. Aston gave this opinion, apparently, under the impression that the great bulk of patrons would avail themselves of the permission to surrender, and that the amount of compensation paid to them would not be, as proposed under this Bill, half the actual market value, but the whole. For my own part, I do not believe that there would be any rush 731 among patrons to avail themselves of this measure. I think that the vast majority would prefer to keep their patronage in their own hands. And if this anticipation be correct, we need not distress ourselves very much in consideration of some of the objections which are likely to be made to this Bill. What are those objections? We shall be told that it will contract the area of private patronage; further, that the benefices coming under the operation of the Bill will emerge shorn of a portion of income; and, lastly, we shall hear the war-shout of assailed abuses—"Vested interests to the rescue !" Let us examine these objections, and see how far they are valid, when weighed against the shame, the scandal, the injury to public morals, to the morality of the clergy and of patrons, the injury to congregations, to everybody inflicted by a system, which has defied all your efforts at reform, and which constitutes an evil so great and crying, that in the words of one of our Prelates—It cuts into the very reason for the existence of a Church at all.That a certain sacrifice of income will eventually be incurred by those presented to these livings there can be no doubt, amounting, on the average, to a sixth, or thereabouts; but the persons who will suffer ought to be the last to complain for the patron being changed—they, at all events, would not have been selected to fill the benefices at all. And if it be said that the Church will suffer, I ask in what? It will lose some petty fraction of emolument here and there; but it will gain enormously in self-respect—in the respect of others; in that moral health without which a Church is doomed; it will gain what millions cannot purchase for it, and which, if ever irrevocably lost, millions cannot restore. But we shall be told that the conversion of private into public patronage is a thing to be deplored. Let us consider, then, what kind of private patronage it is which will pass to the Crown. In the first place, it will be the patronage of the lunatic and the bankrupt. Then it will be the patronage of the spendthrift and the man in embarrassed circumstances, who fling their patronage upon the market for what it will fetch. Further, it will be the patronage of those who care so little 732 for the Church, or for their responsibilities as patrons, that they expose it for sale, and let the parish get on as it can. Lastly, it will be some part of the patronage which, against all intention of the law, against all interests of the Church, against all rights of the laity, against all well-being of the parishes, has passed into the hands of the clerical patrons. The intention of the law was that the patron should be one person and the presentee another; the law forbids a clergyman to purchase a presentation for himself; and yet, if Mr. Stark be right, two-thirds of the saleable patronage of the Church have passed into clerical hands. Unquestionably, two-thirds of that which floats about in the market have done so. These are the benefices which are advertised in every newspaper, which find their way into the auction mart, with which the registers of the clerical agents are crammed, and the moral density of whose patrons—I borrow the term from the evidence—the moral density of whose patrons, being clergymen, is a laughing-stock to mere men of the world! Is there anyone who has listened to the revelations which again and again it has been my unpleasant duty to make to the House any time during the last 10 years—is there anybody, who is not an enthusiast for everything sacerdotal, who does not desire to see this kind of patronage pass to the Crown, to the Bishops, to anybody who will lift it out of the mire, and make it something which honest men will touch? Sir, the last objection to the Bill with which I need trouble the House is the assertion that it is an unwarrantable invasion of the rights of property. There are some people, I know, who will tell us that the patronage of the Church is something which a man may buy and sell and barter at his pleasure—may invest in when he thinks it cheap, and sell out again when the market hardens; and that the Bill before the House is a daring attempt to burden this species of property with an encumbrance of responsibility which will depreciate its market value. I have seldom read anything more disgusting than the plea put forth by the clerical patrons when the Bishop of Peterborough proposed to limit the dealings in private patronage. It was contended that it was blank robbery to deprive the clerical patron of any portion of that in which he had invested his money. It 733 was further contended that when a man had once been ordained he was a fit person, to be presented to any benefice, and that in the teeth of all the evidence which we have had of the moral worthlessness of many men in Holy Orders as exhibited by their dealings with patronage itself. Sir, to the charge of robbery which was freely brought against the Bishop of Peterborough, and which I daresay will be still more freely brought against the supporters of this Bill, it is not very difficult to reply. Though the law may have winked, times without number, at what was a gross misappropriation of patronage, there are some things which the law would have permitted, if patronage were property, at which it has never winked. It has never winked at the sale of a vacant benefice; it has never winked at the purchase by a clergyman of a next presentation. The most reckless trafficker in livings has all along been trafficking with the knowledge that the law might, at any time, insist upon a stricter application of the principles which he has evaded; and the most greedy of spiritual speculators might always have found enough in the Statute Book to remind him that nothing but an awakening of the public conscience was required to strip him to the skin. And if we turn to what I may call the deliberate and emphatic declarations of public opinion, the carefully framed Reports of Committees and Commissions which have sat on this subject, we shall find the principles for which we are contending set forth in no unambiguous phrases. The Lords' Committee of 1874 say—The Committee are of opinion that all legislation affecting Church patronage should proceed upon the principle that such patronage partakes of the nature of a trust to be exercised for the spiritual benefit of the parishioners, and that whatever rights of property originally attached, or in process of time have attached to patronage, must always be regarded with reference to the application of this principle.And the Royal Commission, which reported three years ago, expressly reaffirmed in this particular the very words of the Lords' Committee. Nor is the proposal which we make a novel one. Substituting Queen Anne's Bounty Board for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and fixing, as we do, a rather higher percentage of the whole value of the living as that which represents the trust, our 734 proposal is very much the same as that submitted to the Lords' Committee by the Bishop of Exeter; indeed, I think the right rev. Prelate almost claims to be the parent of this Bill. I shall be delighted to yield to him my paternal honours—although, if he be the parent, the period of gestation has been unusually prolonged. But, at all events, if it be robbery to claim for the public a percentage of the market value of livings, I may regard the Bishop as accessory to my crime. But I claim a still more powerful accomplice. I claim the conplicity of public opinion. I assert that public opinion demands from Parliament some such Bill as this is, if only to declare that the patronage of the Church of England is no mere marketable chattel, but one of the most solemn trusts which can devolve upon any man; that the first duty of a patron is to his parish and not to himself; and that considerations of private gain are to be made subordinate to the gain of the parishioners, and not, as they too often do now, to ride rampant over them. In my humble opinion, and in that of many who are better Churchmen than I am, it is a misfortune that the rights of property are, in any measure, allied, or intertwined, or entangled with the duties of a trust; but it is tenfold a misfortune—it is a disaster—if these rights are to be set up as an insuperable barrier to the purification of that trust. Nor is the history of patronage in the Sister Kingdoms such as to warrant these high views of the property rights of patrons. In Ireland, you have disestablished the Church and paid off the patron. In Scotland, you have not disestablished the Church; but you have paid off the patron by the scantiest of compensations; and that was the work of a Conservative Government. Will you wait in England until the public detestation of these abuses, every year becoming stronger, so strong already that it has moved some of my hon. Friends opposite to the spasmodic exercise of reforming zeal, out of a lethargy which a few years ago was so profound that it seemed to be troubled not even by evil dreams; I ask you whether you will wait until public indignation compels you to sweep away, wholesale, the abused privileges which I only request you to curtail? Hon. Gentlemen cannot fail to have observed the shyness with which some hon. 735 Friends of mine, not remarkable for their attachment to the Church as an Establishment, have approached this question of the reform of patronage. How long will you leave this prodigious weapon in their hands? I have been asked, indeed, why I should seek to deprive them of it? "Who are you," I have been asked, "with Liberationist and Nonconformist antecedents, to seek to build up the Church upon the very side whore her defences are crumbling into ruin?" Sir, it is in proportion as the Church is purged from sinister influences that the right feeling will revive and prevail within the Church to which, far more than to any interference from without, I am looking for the promotion of those changes which will ultimately set the Church free. And I find my justification as a Nonconformist in the very sufferings which, two centuries ago, the Church inflicted upon my sect, and in which I am not sorry to think my own family bore their full share. I would repay persecution by compelling the Church to recognize the principles, for the faithful maintenance of which she sent our forefathers to gaol. For if they had been still here to animate us by their example and the heroic meekness of their lives, I am persuaded that they would have sought no ampler, and that they would have found no nobler revenge. I beg to move the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. RYLANDS
, as a member of the Church of England, said, he had much pleasure in availing himself of an opportunity of joining in an earnest attempt to remove certain evils, by seconding the Motion for the second reading of a Bill which proposed to put a stop to an abuse which all members of the Church desired to see removed. Similar abuses had been put an end to in relation to public offices and the Army, and now the turn of the Church had come. There was a general public opinion that no offices of trust ought to be bought and sold. He would not say that any abuses had occurred within his own experience; but, from, the Report of the Royal Commission, and from general knowledge, he knew that there had been most discreditable transactions, which cast a serious reflection not only on the persons engaged in them, but on the Church at large. Session after Session, and year after year, abuses patent to 736 everyone arose in the Church. Government succeeded Government, and yet no step was taken to remove those abuses. He did not wish to contend otherwise than that there was a very large majority of clergymen in the Church who did their duties conscientiously; but, while quite recognizing that, he thought it was a reason which added to the strength of the argument—that men actuated by the highest religious motives and fulfilling public duties should be placed beyond the stigma complained of. It was, in some quarters, proposed that there should be free trade in this matter, and that all the present restrictions should be removed. Certainly, the anti-simo-niacal declaration was of little use. It only made clergymen stretch their consciences; for they took refuge in a profession that they made it, without understanding it, or in a different sense from that which it was intended to bear. But the public opinion of this country would not tolerate free trade in the sale of next presentations and advowsons. Another proposal was to do away with the property in advowsons. In the present state of public opinion, that might not be deemed right. There would be considerable opposition; and no such measure could be carried, except with a proposal to give very considerable compensation to the holders of this class of property. It was suggested that they should merely place restrictions on next presentations, and require a declaration from the patron and the presentee, and prevent a resale within a limited time. There might be some safeguard in preventing the resale within a certain time; but, as to the declaration, it was quite worthless in matters of this kind. He quite agreed with the opinion of his hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) that they should go farther than the sale of next presentations, and apply themselves to the consideration of the sale of advowsons under considerable limitations. Every argument that applied to the sale of next presentations really applied to advowsons; for advowsons would be sold for the purpose of the next presentation, and then re-conveyed. This Bill did not meet the wishes of some of his hon. Friends, who considered that he (Mr. Rylands), who was known to be in favour of a large measure of Church reform, was somewhat inconsistent in 737 supporting it. But he believed that the Bill had been drawn with great care and judgment, and was one well calculated to meet the wishes of hon. Members on both sides of the House; and that it would afford, to some extent, a practical remedy for the present state of things. The subject, however, was one of such importance that there was very little hope of its being settled by the efforts of independent Members; and while, personally, in favour of a measure of Disestablishment, in his opinion, both the late and the present Government were equally responsible for the abuses which had occurred; and, therefore, he would say that they ought to deal with this question in a practical way, with a view of devising a solution. They might not suggest a mode which would obviate every objection; but if they suggested a mode which would, to a large extent, prevent the evils which now scandalized the Church, they would have done a work which would be very satisfactory and advantageous to the Church and to the benefit of the country at large.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. E. A. Leatham.)
§ MR. ALBERT GREY
, in moving, as an Amendment,That this House, affirming the principle that Church Patronage is a trust to be exercised for the benefit of the parishioners, is of opinion that no reform in the Law affecting Church Patronage will be efficient or satisfactory which does not enable the parishioners to veto the presentment to a benefice of any clergyman whom they consider unsuitable,said, that everyone must sympathize with the object of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) to prevent the immoral and indecent traffic in a sacred trust, which stood out as a reproach and scandal to the Church of England, and the country at large was indebted to the hon. Member both for his admirable speech, and for his exertions in awakening the national conscience to a recognition of the evil which the Bill sought to remove. He believed no one in the House was in favour of a continuation of a system which the hon. Member had described as an indecent traffic in a sacred trust. It was not, therefore, because he was less anxious than the hon. Member for Huddersfield to remove the abuse, that he had ventured to put down a traversing Amendment to the Motion 738 that the Bill be read a second time. He did not wish, in any way, to postpone legislation on this question. He was anxious, on the contrary, to hurry on legislation; but he was still more anxious to secure that, when the House did proceed to legislate, it should go straight to the very root of the malady. The hon. Member for Huddersfield described the root of the malady as being the common sale of a public trust. He (Mr. A. Grey) ventured to disagree with his hon. Friend on that point. The root of the impurity was not the common sale of a public trust, but the right of the patron to ignore and disregard a public trust. The chief evil was not that the trustee should be able to sell his trust, but that he was under no compulsion to exercise his trust in the interest of those parishioners in whose behalf he held it. If the sale was abolished, the root of the impurity would still remain, for it would still be in the power of the patron to appoint to a parish a minister who might be altogether unacceptable and objectionable to that parish. That was the real evil with which they had to deal. The evil of which they had to complain was not that there was a sale, but that there was a something to sell. The evil, in short, was that whereas the right of presentation should be regarded and exercised as a trust, it was regarded and exercised as a property. It was unnecessary to explain how the right of presentation came to be regarded as property and not as a trust. The law took no care to secure that the patron should be a fit and proper person—that was, a person who might be expected to take an interest in the well-being of the parish and in the efficiency of the Church. As the law now stood, anyone, excepting a Roman Catholic, might exercise the rights of a patron of the Church of England; and the Royal Commission had recommended that the Roman Catholic should be taken out of his exceptional position, and placed in the position of every other Nonconformist. While the law took no care that the patronage should be vested in the hands of proper persons, it also took no care that the trustee, whoever he might be, should exercise his right of presentation as a trust for the benefit of the parishioners. The patron might put into the living anyone he pleased, and the man who was thus put in might do exactly what he pleased. That being so, it was no 739 wonder that Church patronage came to be looked upon, not as a trust, but as private property. The Bill of the hon. Member proposed to restrict the sale of the right of presentation to persons who might be expected to take an interest either in the welfare of the parish or in the efficiency of the Church. Thus, the Bill would do something to remove one of those causes which had led to Church patronage being regarded as property. But the Bill did nothing to remove the second and principal cause—for even if the right of presentation was confined to the big landowner, what security was there that he would exercise that right for the benefit of the parish? It seemed monstrous—and, were it not true, almost inconceivable—that it should be true that a patron could force a minister on the back of an unwilling parish, and that the parishioners should be bound to submit, and should have no power to resist or control his choice. It was just because a patron had at present the power of forcing upon a hostile parish his fancied nominee, that the right of presentation was so valuable. That value in the market had been created by the power of the patron to ignore his trust; and if this power had been properly guarded and curtailed, he believed that the market value would be largely diminished, if it did not altogether disappear. He objected to that part of the Bill which dealt with compensation. He did not understand on what principle the hon. Member based his demand that the patron should be able to exact as compensation half the present value of the living. If patronage was to be regarded as a property, and if it was thought right, for State purposes, that that property should be abolished, they could not in fairness give only half its value. On the other hand, if it was to be regarded as a trust, they would be acting most unfairly in giving as compensation half that value which patronage possessed at a time when it was unfettered by any trust conditions. Either they should not be compensated at all, or they should be compensated fully. But they ought not to be asked to admit the right to compensation, and, at the same time, to declare that the limit of compensation should not exceed half the value of the property interfered with. If, moreover, it were true, as he contended it was, 740 that the present value of advowsons was caused by the power of the patron to ignore his trust, ought they not, before they talked of compensation, to secure that the right of presentation should be exercised as a trust. It was very possible that when the patron was compelled to exercise his trust under conditions imposed in the interests of the parishioners, the value of advowsons would sink to something far less than half their present value. If, then, they agreed with the Royal Commission in regarding patronage as a trust, let them take care to secure the fulfilment of the trust. This should be the first step in any patronage reform, and it was because it was not taken by the Bill that he had put down his Amendment. How, then, were they to secure that patronage should be exercised as a trust in the interests of the parishioners? There was only one way that seemed to him to be at all satisfactory, and that was by allowing persons who knew the wants of the parishioners to have a power of veto on the appointment of the patron. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. K. Stanhope) proposed to give the Bishop a veto on the appointment; but, in his opinion, the parochial veto was preferable to the episcopal veto. The organization of the Church was already far too aristocratic. What it needed was the introduction of the lay and popular element into its government and into all its arrangements. The question of patronage must be looked at from the standpoint of the parish. It was worse than a scandal; it was an abominable injustice to appoint a man to a parish without the assent or consent of the parishioners being in any way consulted. They called the Church National! But how could the Church be National when the people were carefully kept out from all part in the direction and management of its affairs? The Church was National in so far as it was directly under the control of the State; but in its local aspect the National Church was only the parson and the patron. The patron could appoint what man he liked, and the parson, when appointed, could do what he liked. He wished to see the Church and the people synonymous terms, and that could only be done by admitting the people into the management of the affairs relating to the Church in their respective parishes. By 741 unjust laws, by a carefully guarded and aristocratic system, the people had been kept out of their rights in their own parish churches; and this was the cause of the comparative weakness of the Church. It was time that this should cease, and that the people should be admitted to some share in the government of their Church affairs. This was a favourable opportunity for asserting the rights of the laity. As the parishioners had no control over a clergyman once he was appointed, let them have some voice in deciding whether he should be appointed. It might be said that to give a power of veto would be an interference with the property of the patron; but he asked whether it was an interference with property to say that a trust should be effectually guarded? They had a right to demand that the patron should use his power of presentation as a trust. If the present value of his property consisted in the power to ignore his trust, then that value ought not to be regarded. On the grounds, then, that patronage was a trust, and that that trust could only be efficiently guarded by giving the parishioners power to prevent an unacceptable clergyman from being forced upon them against their will, and because the Bill did not proceed on that principle, he begged the House to declare itself in favour of the policy enunciated in the Amendment which he had the honour to move.
§ MR. BRINTON
, in rising to second the Amendment, said, the evil was admitted, and was peculiarly unfitted both to the spirit of the Church, and to the popular impressions as to the duties and responsibilities of the Church at the present day. Outside the House there was a strong feeling that if both sides would come to some compromise, and do away with this very serious scandal, it would be a great benefit to the Church. If that was done, it would be very gratifying to all members of the Church of England, and not unacceptable to the Nonconformists. There was much in the Bill of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) which he approved. He thought the provisions with regard to the financial part of the question were just, and that no better selection could be made than the Commissioners of Queen's Anne's Bounty for carrying the object of the Bill into effect. He could not help 742 thinking that it was necessary, in order to approach the question in a proper spirit, that they should be prepared for the compromise suggested in the Bill of the hon. Member for Huddersfield— namely, half what the livings would fetch, if brought to sale in the open market. There was one important point, however, which had been overlooked, for nothing whatever was said in the Bill about the persons most interested in those appointments — namely, the parishioners, who undoubtedly ought to have some voice in the matter. With regard to the appointment itself, there could be no question that patronage vested in the Crown was the best way of dealing with the matter; but the parishioners should be given the right of veto, and he believed that if such a power was given them in these matters, it would do more to upset the scandal of which they complained than anything else. He objected to appeals being made to the popular vote when the appointment of a clergyman was concerned. He ventured to think that, if his hon. Friend would withdraw the Amendment, and agree to refer it to a Select Committee together with the Bill, it would perhaps be the wiser course to follow. In dealing with these questions, a great service would be rendered to the country if they endeavoured to induce the clergy and the laity to work together in the cause of religion, social order, and progress. He hoped the House, with that object in view, would refer the whole matter to a Select Committee.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, affirming the principle that Church Patronage is a trust to be exercised for the benefit of the parishioners, is of opinion. that no reform in the Law affecting Church Patronage will be efficient or satisfactory which does not enable the parishioners to veto the presentment to a benefice of any clergymen whom they consider unsuitable,"—(Mr. Albert Grey,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he need hardly remark that he was deeply interested in this question. It was just 14 years ago since he passed through that House a Bill to prevent the sale of 743 the next presentation; but he was sorry to say that that Bill met its death-blow in "another place," as it failed to pass. He was, at the time, exceedingly sorry for that circumstance; but he would admit that it might have caused heart-burnings which would not result from similar legislation now. Indeed, he was not sure that, in proposing his Bill in 1870, he was not in advance of public opinion; but since then the question had progressed so greatly that he believed if such a Bill were now passed by the House of Commons it would become law. They now had the advantage not only of the evidence taken by a Committee of the House of Lords upon the subject, but also of the labours of a Royal Commission. The late Government was not open to the censure of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) for having neglected this question. So far as he was concerned, he had a complete answer to the charge, for he himself had signed the Royal Commission that inquired into the subject. That Commission did not make its Report until the end of the Session of 1879; and as the late Government, unfortunately, in his opinion, were driven out of Office in 1880, he thought there was not much blame to be attached to them for not having acted on the Report of the Commission. He thought that the public mind was fully made up that patronage was not a property, but a trust, although there was, no doubt, something of the nature of property deeply involved in it; and in 1870 he called the attention of the House to the law as laid down by Chief Justice De Grey and Chief Justice Best, showing that this matter of property was clothed with a trust. He felt strongly that the evils complained of arose more from the sale of the next presentation than from the sale of an advowson, provided they could make it certain that the sale of the advowson was not used as a scheme for selling the next presentation. He looked on the principle of the Bill as being directed to check what was admittedly the cause of very great abuses; and it was upon that ground alone, though he objected to many of the details of the Bill, that he would be willing to assent to the second reading. If read a second time, the Bill could not possibly become law this Session, and he should, therefore, strongly recommend 744 its reference to a Select Committee; because, after the careful sifting it would receive before such a Body, it would have a much better chance of becoming law than if it were to be dealt with in Committee of the Whole House. The hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. A. Grey) had moved his Amendment in a very proper spirit; but he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) doubted whether the method he proposed would accomplish the object he had in view. He thought the suggestion contained in the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope) would be much better—namely, giving power to the Bishops, or rather reviving the power of the Bishops, to refuse to accept the nomination of clergymen to whom serious objections could be raised. The Bishops unquestionably had this power by law; but it had fallen into disuse, and it would be difficult now to refuse to institute anyone except on the strongest and plainest grounds. He had no objection to the wishes of the parishioners being considered; but how were those wishes to be ascertained? If the right of presentation were altogether intrusted to the parishioners, he doubted whether the best men would be selected. No doubt, if the Bishop had a Council to assist him, his hands would be strengthened, and, at the same time, the parishioners would have a voice in the appointment. The real question before them was what they were to do with this Bill? He was glad to find that there was a general agreement that something must be done to put a stop to the system of selling next presentations. There were, however, many clauses in the Bill, especially the clause dealing with compensation, to which he strongly objected. In all the circumstances, his course would be that he should vote for the second reading, in the hope that the Bill would be referred to a Select Committee, together with the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire.
§ MR. CROPPER
said, he had great pleasure in congratulating his hon. Friend (Mr. E. A. Leatham), the Mover of the Bill, on the tone of discussion that had taken place. On previous occasions, when this subject had been discussed, there seemed to have been two opinions prevailing in the House—one, to treat the subject as being too bad to be 745 amended; and the other opinion, represented by the hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. T. Collins), that it was too good to be touched. There could be no doubt there was a general agreement that the subject required amendment, and that the time was drawing near when it would be found necessary to amend the whole subject relating to patronage in the Church of England. There could be no doubt that, just as the system of buying and selling commissions in the Army very frequently produced efficient officers and heroes, and just as they had sound and legal decisions when Lord Chancellors took bribes, so, in the present system of patronage in the Church, while men had been appointed to advowsons in ways they did not like to refer to, men of the highest character had filled the benefices to which they had been appointed. He believed, however, that the subject was beginning to be cleared up, and that the debates in the House in years gone by had had a marked effect on the sale of advowsons in the market. Indeed, he had been told that the sale of first presentations and advowsons was now very dull indeed, and the way had been prepared for some measure which would solve the whole question. In regard to the Bill now before the House, he felt that the money question was one of great difficulty. He could not congratulate the hon. Member for Huddersfield on the manner in which he proposed to get rid of patronage by giving the advowsons purchased by Queen Anne's Bounty to the Crown for distribution. The patronage dispensed by the Crown was not always dispensed in the most desirable way. He agreed with the hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. A. Grey) that the most effectual method of putting an end to the abuses complained of would be to give some veto to those affected by these clerical appointments. Speaking from experience, he, for one, should desire to avoid any connection with a system by which the election of their clergymen should be in the parishioners' hands, for such proceedings were objectionable and most disagreeable; but if they could distinguish between veto, which his hon. Friend proposed, and popular election, and if they could give the veto to some Body representing the parishioners, he believed the proposal would be got to work. While 746 approving the effort made by this measure to solve the difficulty, he thought the Bill of the hon. Member for Huddersfield and that of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope) should be passed through the crucible of a Select Committee; then a result might ensue in the present state of public opinion towards a solution of the matter. He believed that this question would not be shelved much longer.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he had listened to the debate with much interest and with great satisfaction, because no one had proposed, and he did not think anyone was likely to propose, a negative to the principle which this Bill contained. That principle, as he understood it, was that it was a scandal and a disgrace to the Church of England that the system of selling the cure of souls should exist. He doubted if there was any man in the House who would deny that proposition. As a member of the Church of England, and a supporter of the Establishment, he believed that that practice was one of the greatest dangers to the Established Church of England that could possibly exist. He thought it was a thing that no one could defend. How it ever began he did not know. Why it was continued was still more unintelligible; and that it should not be put an end to was a thing he could not comprehend. If any Corporation were to insist on doing the thing which was done every day in the sale of livings, there would be an outcry against it which would be irresistible. Some 50 years ago they had a system of property by which men had exactly the same property in rotten boroughs as they now had in advowsons. They went with the estate, and they sold them at an average price of £5,000 a Parliament. A rotten borough was just as much a property as an advowson; but the House of Commons had no hesitation in dealing with rotten boroughs, and when they were done away with, so far as he was aware, did not grant any compensation for doing away with them. Therefore, that question seemed to him to stand entirely by itself, as a sort of solecism and outrage on the civil and ecclesiastical system of the country. He did not know how it was that, in ecclesiastical affairs, we were tolerant of the thing which everybody condemned in all other relations of life. 747 Such a practice as that under notice would not have been tolerated under any other system of property in the country; and he could not think there would be any difference of opinion in the House upon the proposition that it ought to be put an end to. In that respect he confessed that he was inclined to be more Radical than his hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham). He did not quite understand, if that was a trust, why a man should be allowed to sell a trust at all. If the House were disposed to take the view that patronage of livings and cure of souls constituted a trust, why should it not be dealt with by the Courts of Law in the same way as any other trust, and why should they not prevent the trustee from improperly disposing of that trust? The hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. A. Grey) had raised a very important question. Church patronage was, no doubt, a very difficult subject. The hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Cropper) had said—and he very much agreed with him—that it was not desirable to increase the ecclesiastical patronage of the Crown. The ecclesiastical patronage of the Crown, in his opinion, was valuable and necessary in respect to the highest posts in the Church as long as they had an Established Church. It was absolutely necessary that the appointment of the Bishops and higher dignitaries of the Church should be in the Crown. That asserted the principle of the supremacy of the Crown in the Church, which seemed to be an essential principle of the Protestant Establishment. Therefore, as regarded the patronage of the Crown in those respects, it had been requsite that the higher appointments in the Church should remain in the Crown. But when they came to the disposal of the cure of souls, it was a totally different question, and he could not conceive of anything more undesirable than that the patronage of the Crown should be multiplied in that respect. Indeed, it would be a retrograde step, because two years ago a measure was passed—not very consistently with the principle of this Bill—by which the Lord Chancellor was allowed to sell certain Crown livings in his gift. He was not prepared to say that that was a right proceeding; but its effect was to diminish the patronage of the Crown, rather than to increase it in 748 those respects. There was another Body quite as unfit to become the recipients of an increased amount of the patronage of the cure of souls, and that was the Bishops. Nothing would be a greater evil, in his opinion, than to put the gift of the cure of souls in the hands of Bishops. That would destroy the independence of the clergy altogether. He thought it was a good thing that, to a certain extent, the Bishop should have the power of rewarding a hard-working and deserving clergyman in his diocese; but if they gave the appointments to the cure of souls to the Bishop, they would make the clergy of the diocese the mere creatures of the Bishop, holding the same shade of theological opinion as he did; and that would be a great evil in itself. Then he came to the question of lay patronage, which he was by no means averse to. As long as they had a National Church, what they must desire was that the clergy should represent, in a rough way, the average opinion of the laity; and, therefore, as long as they adhered to the principle that the laity, having that patronage, could exercise it, not as a matter of pecuniary benefit for themselves, but as a trust for the Ecclesiastical Body with which they were connected, he thought they would on the whole obtain a tolerably satisfactory arrangement. They might not arrive at the result very perfectly in theory, yet, practically, they secured that the appointment of the clergy would be, as it were, a sample of the general opinion of the laity. He entirely sympathized with the hon. Member for South Northumberland in his view that the laity ought, to have a predominant voice in the Church. He had always protested, and always would protest, against the enormous evil of their popular phraseology, by which, in speaking of the Church, they talked of the clergy. It was said that the Church thought so-and-so, and they were told that that was what the clergy thought. The clergy were not the Church; they were the ministers of the congregation. It was the congregation that was the Church; and it was the opinion of the congregation that ought to prevail, as it was the Church. He had always, on that ground, supported a measure which he knew was not very popular with the clergy, and which was intended to give the laity a proper voice in the transaction of their 749 ecclesiastical affairs — he meant the Public Worship Bill—because the object of that Bill was that the laity should insist on the clergy doing that which the law of England had guaranteed to the Church that the clergy should do. The object of that measure was to give a veto to the laity on any attempt on the part of the clergy to depart from the Act of Uniformity, and other guarantees. He could not, however, altogether agree with the hon. Member for South Northumberland in thinking that how the thing was to be done was a matter of detail. It was really the important matter in the whole question. How were they to give the laity a veto in that case? He had not himself taken part in one of those contests; but he had heard of elections where the laity chose the clergyman, and he understood that they were principally transacted in public-houses; and, therefore, they would have to add a second Bill to the one now before the Grand Committee, and have a Bill brought in to prevent Corrupt Practices at Ecclesiastical Elections. That would not be a good work to embark in. In England they were not so fortunate as Scotland was in her ecclesiastical organization; because, in Scotland, the Presbyterian Church had a regular and very elaborate organization, by which the opinion of the particular parish could be obtained in a manner in which it could not be done in this country. Therefore, unless the hon. Member for South Northumberland could put before the House a practical scheme, he hoped that he would not insist on pressing his Amendment, but would allow the Bill to be read a second time. In now assenting to its second reading, his view of the matter was that they were not called upon to approve of the measure in all its details; they were merely asserting the principle that the sale of livings for money was, in point of fact, a violation of what was regarded as a sacred trust; was the thing which the House of Commons condemned; and that they desired to get rid of a practice which was most injurious to the people in its operation, and which could only be considered as a grievous scandal to the Church of England. For those reasons, he should support the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, that he could not altogether accept what had 750 been said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir William Harcourt) as to the Church being the congregation, meaning by that the laity, and treating the clergy as if they were only a set of ministers brought in from outside, to do the work. He did not believe that that view of the Church was to be supported, either by sacred or by secular history. In assenting, as he was prepared to do, to the second reading of the Bill of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham), he must not be understood to agree in the interpretation which the Secretary of State for the Home Department had put upon the matter—namely, that, by assenting to the second reading, they objected to all sales of advowsons. That was not, he thought, a policy which could be sanctioned by a great number of hon. Gentlemen sitting on that (the Opposition) side of the House. The Royal Commission on the subject had reported that they had determined not to recommend an alteration as to private patronage in advowsons and the right of presentation. That Report had been signed by some who were certainly good Liberals. While he could not agree with the version of the right hon. Gentleman, on the other hand he would say, at once, that he entirely agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir E. Assheton Cross), that it would be advisable to limit in some way the sale of advowsons. He would ask hon. Members to turn their attention to the opposition with which the Bill brought forward in 1881 by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope) had been met by a small section of Nonconformist Members. He contrasted the tone of the present discussion with that of the former, and congratulated the House upon the alteration. He considered that now they had a great and admitted evil, and they had had the Secretary of State for the Home Department saying that it ought to be grappled with. He thought that the means of doing so would be best discovered by submitting this Bill to a Select Committee. What were the proposals before them? The hon. Member for Huddersfield, instead of allowing the patrons to have the full value, proposed to allow them only one-half. But if the practice was to be held as absolutely wrong and sinful, it should be 751 taken away altogether. It must be borne in mind that there was no class in the country whose income, considering the appearances which they were bound to keep up, was so small, on the average, as that of parochial incumbents. Taking them altogether, there was no class who were expected to do so much with so small an income; therefore to tax the incumbents in cases where the patrons sold the livings was most unjust. As to the patronage of the Crown, he did not know any function of the high Officers of the State which was more conscientiously discharged than that of the appointment of the officers of the Church; and, in his opinion, no Prime Minister had ever discharged this duty more conscientiously than the right hon. Gentleman who now held that Office. The hon. Member for South Northumberland was anxious for a popular veto; but a popular veto was very much the same as a popular election, and would be sure in time to degenerate into it. In a Bill which had been brought in by his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire a boná fide attempt was made to avoid the grievous evil of forcing improper people upon the sacred duties of the ministry in any parish. The hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. A. Grey) went a great deal further, and made a proposal which was full of difficulty. He thought that if the hon. Member would look into his proposals, he would see that, although they might be very nice in theory, they would not be so in practice. If, for instance, Dr. Hook had been subject to a popular veto or election, he would not have had much chance of being appointed Vicar of Leeds. That was only one of many cases. A clergyman who made himself conspicuous by his energy in any particular direction was almost sure to have opponents amongst the parishioners. If there were veto by majority, then the minority would be oppressed. They were all agreed as to the existence of evils; the difficulty was to find the proper remedy for them. He suggested that not only this Bill, but the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire should be referred to a Select Committee, in the hope that a reasonable and practical scheme would be framed. The Bill of his hon. Friend contained provisions against forcing an incompetent or unworthy presentee on a 752 parish, and that at least went some way in the direction suggested by his hon. Friend the Member for South Northumberland. He would ask to be allowed a word of personal explanation. From the Division which would probably be taken, he regretted that he must absent himself in consequence of an engagement to his constituency; but he had intrusted his Motion to the care of an hon. Member who had consented to take charge of it.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, he repudiated the statement which had been made out-of-doors by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Stuart-Wortley), that he, and others who acted with him, were guilty of obstructing every question of ecclesiastical reform. No statement could be further from the truth. What he had done was only guarding the rights of the House as to full debate, in objecting to the practice of smuggling Ecclesiastical Bills through the House at 2 o'clock in the morning without discussion, thereby avoiding scandal; and of one in particular, where the hon. Member in charge of it had hid himself behind the Chair, and only presented himself at the last moment to move the second reading by merely lifting off his hat. [Mr. STUART-WORTLEY: No, no!] He had been present at transactions of that kind over and over again, and he had taken means of securing for the House of Commons and the country a fair opportunity of debating these very important ecclesiastical questions. He was not ashamed of that, but was rather disposed to glory in it, as a guardian of the right of Members of the House of Commons to discuss every question brought before them. Moreover, the charge did not come well from the quarter in which it had been made. The right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), if he were present, would himself bear him (Mr. Illingworth) out, when he said that when Bills for the relief of Nonconformists had been discussed in the House of Commons over and over again, and had even passed a second and third reading, and had been sent to the House of Lords to be rejected, and were afterwards brought forward in the House of Commons, these Bills had been met on the opposite side of the House by all sorts of obstructive Motions. He did not com- 753 plain of hon. Members exercising their rights to fair discussion. But, so far as he was himself concerned, he believed he had the courage to meet any ecclesiastical question that might come before the House on its merits, when a fair opportunity occurred for giving it due consideration. He could not refer to the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) without expressing the gratitude which the House and the country, and, most of all, he thought the Church of England, as a religious community, owed to him for the immense service he had rendered, by the attention he had given to the scandals arising out of the system of Church patronage. His hon. Friend had devoted himself for many years to an, interesting investigation of these scandals, and he (Mr. Illingworth) did not hesitate to say that, through his individual effort, this matter had been far more advanced than by all the speeches of all the Bishops and all the zealous Churchmen who had taken the question in hand. It was true that his hon. Friend had been obliged to go into disagreeable details. But he (Mr. Illingworth) wanted to know how public opinion was to be roused upon this matter, and how the scandal was to be removed, unless it was to be laid naked before the House and the country? The evil of the present state of things was admitted by all, except, perhaps, the House of Lords. It was not the House of Commons, or men of the most advanced views upon ecclesiastical questions, who had really been troublers of the episcopal Israel in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir R. Assheton Cross) had said that he had carried a Bill through the House of Commons which was a much milder proposal than the present. But where was it strangled? It was in the House of Lords, whose Members, as a matter of fact, held by far the largest share of the bulk of this patronage in their private hands, the value of which was enormous, and of which they were not likely to be contented with receiving half its value as now proposed. If his hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield had proposed to give them value and a-half, he would have been more likely to have carried them with him. He agreed thoroughly in the opinion that, in any scheme of 754 Reform short of Disestablishment, it was essential that the rights of the parishioners should be guarded; and he trusted the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. A. Grey) would be pressed to a Division. His hon. Friend's Bill was defective in this respect. He hoped that the Amendment of the hon. Member would receive such support as would show that opinion was loading in the direction of giving increased rights to the parishioners. He believed that opinion outside was far more advanced than it was in the House of Commons. Still, he could not help thinking that this question was not yet ripe for settlement. It was going through, a process of development which would lead before long in the direction of Disestablishment. Public opinion was growing, and he looked with confidence to the future. What had happened in Ireland? There had been numberless measures passed to remove abuses, but no good seemed to come of them, until, in the end, the overwhelming majority of the people of the country demanded Disestablishment. What had been the result? He did not hesitate to say that, even among Churchmen themselves, after more than 15 years' experience of the working of religious equality in Ireland, there was only a small minority who wished it to be in their power to restore the Church Establishment. Of course there were differences between the two countries; but the condition of this country ecclesiastically was such as to make it most difficult to deal with Church Reform in that House. Even among Churchmen, he found little disposition to come to Parliament in the expectation of obtaining a return to ascendency. Although he did not frequently attend Church Congresses himself, he was a diligent reader of what took place at them and he found, at one of these meetings, the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for the Home Department advising Churchmen not to come to Parliament, because very often they did not get the thing they asked for, but they got something that they did not want.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he was sure the hon. Gentleman did not wish to misrepresent him. He had only said this—"Never go to Parliament unless first you are agreed among yourselves."
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, he believed that the right hon. Gentleman had gone so far as to say to his Friends —"Go to Parliament as seldom as possible." If that were so, how could Parliament have opportunities for promoting Church reforms, and what was to be the future of the Church? There were crying acknowledged evils in every branch of ecclesiastical administration, and in every branch of spiritual work, belonging to the Church; and, on the other hand, the time of the House was so occupied with its secular Business that it had no time for ecclesiastical legislation. Then there were so many schools of thought, or, as he might more properly describe them, so many antagonisms within the Church of England, that it was impossible for Churchmen to agree upon any substantial proposal dealing with real difficulties; and, if they did, it was impossible for Parliament, with so many claims upon its time, to deal with the numberless details of ecclesiastical measures. By all these discussions the right course would in the end be indicated; and, for that reason, he should support the Amendment on the second reading of the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, which he looked forward to with interest. At the same time, he was bound to say, with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that, in some respects, it was a faulty measure, and was very far from meeting the necessities of the case; and he must say it did not come up to what his hon. Friend had himself so often pointed out as being required to meet the necessities of the case in the way of remedy. Under it, buying and selling might go on as usual. [Mr. E. A. LEATHAM dissented.] His hon. Friend had been absolutely silent as to the probable effect of the measure, which was permissive in some respects; and it only touched the fringe of the question. Parliament, if the Bill were passed, would be compelled to return to the subject again and again. He did not agree with the suggestion that the patronage should be handed over to the Bishops, which would make matters worse than ever. The Prime Minister of the day, who appointed the Bishops, would be able in such a case to control the ecclesiastical guidance of hundreds of parishes. In fact, there was no place that Parliament could ap- 756 point where patronage ought properly to lie. Reference had been made in the course of the debate to the case of Dr. Hook, Vicar of Leeds, who, it was said, might never have attained the promotion due to his peculiar merits but for private patronage. Why, if Dr. Hook had belonged to any other Church in the country, there would have been no difficulty in his finding his way to the most suitable sphere for his work. But the Church of England, as an Establishment, was out of harmony with the times in which we lived, and its members must feel that the present system of patronage was full of difficulties and anomalies and hindrances to the proper working of the Church as a spiritual institution. He did not believe that there was any cure for the evils which were bound up with the system of the Established Church, excepting Disestablishment. He believed that if the people were polled, the great majority would be found in favour of Disestablishment ["No, no!"] That was his opinion. He was convinced that the majority of the people of this country would be found to be on his side. All these attempts at tinkering only touched the sores. At the same time, he should not much regret if the measure reached a second reading, and were referred to a Select Committee, because, as he had said, out of all these discussions and antagonisms, the right course would in the end be indicated. No man in the Church of England itself had more real regard and sympathy for the Church as a spiritual institution than himself; but, to his mind, in view of the teachings of history, the progress of enlightenment, and the spread of the democratic spirit in this country, he believed the day was not far distant when Parliament would be obliged to disestablish both the Church of Scotland and the Church of England.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY
said, he thought it was a curious fact that they always got the largest amount of advice on Church questions from those who were the enemies of the Establishment. He was really surprised that the hon-Member who had just sat down (Mr. Illingworth) should seriously expect that his interest in this question should not be seen through by those who were earnestly desirous of forwarding this matter. He regretted that the hon. Mem- 757 ber's remarks made it necessary for him to recur to the transactions which had occurred in that House some two or three years ago. So far as the hon. Member's description was intended to relate to those transactions, it was totally inaccurate. The hon. Member knew very well that this subject of Church patronage had in 1881 already been exhaustively discussed on a Tuesday Motion of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. Leatham). The Prime Minister on that occasion, having before him the Bill of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), said that if the non-controversial clauses of the Bill were taken out, and put into a separate Bill, the Government would offer no objection to its being further proceeded with, and might possibly give it assistance. The expression of that feeling by the Prime Minister justified the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire in taking the course he did; while it deprived of all justification the course taken by the hon. Member for Bradford, the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. H. Richard), and those acting with them. Nothing would have prevented the second reading of the Bill of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire in 1882, if it had not been talked out by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil. On that occasion they received a promise from the Government that the Bill of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire and the present Bill should go to a Select Committee, and be considered together. If that course had been taken, the question would have been materially advanced. But what happened? The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, about a quarter to 6, arose and moved the adjournment of the debate. On that occasion the hon. Member contented himself with simply moving the adjournment of the debate. Indeed, no time was left for any remarks, as the debate would then have closed. But in the published account of the hon. Member's speech certain reasons were adduced for his conduct, which he (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) would be prepared to assert, in a more solemn manner than he was now asserting, the House had not really heard at all. It was entirely owing to that circumstance, that they were discussing a subject, in 1884, on which a conclusion might have been arrived at in 1881–2. After that, they might be 758 allowed to have their own opinion as to the elaborate disclaimer of the hon. Member for Bradford, who said it was his desire to reform the Church of England, instead of injuring it, though it was unfortunate that his speech produced exactly the opposite impression on those who listened to it. Now, to come to the Bill before the House, what was the practical thing to be done? He (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) hoped he might be allowed to give his opinion, because, as the House knew, he had acted as Secretary to the Royal Commission in 1878, and had not only been a witness of its deliberations, but had conducted the business of the inquiry. To the Bill of the hon. Member for Huddersfield he intended to give his support; and, indeed, on several abstract theories, he (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) would be inclined to go even further than the Bill proposed. He was of opinion that, in regard to patronage, it was wrong that the patronage should be vested in private hands, because they could not separate from private ownership the power of alienation; they could not separate from the power of alienation the power of sale; and, from the power of sale, they could not separate the power of selling with the greatest secrecy to a man who might possibly be a totally unworthy and unfit character. Well, having said so much, it was quite clear that his ideas went even further than those of the hon. Member for Huddersfield. The question was, how far they could go as a matter of practice, and how far they could go without raising the question of compensation. The hon. Member for Huddersfield wisely abstained, in his Bill, from touching that part of the patronage system which might be theoretically indefensible, but which he (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) found had worked very well in practice. The hon. Member also recognized, to a certain extent, the principle of compensation. With that he (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) agreed; because if you did not give compensation, the hardship would fall on widows and children. As to the compensation which the hon. Member proposed to give, he (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) did not think it would come to more than half the actual value. Still the proposal, on the whole, seemed just; because, if the other Bill which was before the House were to pass into law, its effect would be at once, without 759 any compensation, to diminish the value of the patronage, probably, by more than one-half. Therefore, the hon. Member for Huddersfield sought simply a right scale of compensation, when he proposed the scale which he did. The only question of detail on which he and his hon. Friend differed was as to whom the patronage was to go when it was taken away. He (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) did not agree that the patronage ought to be given to the Crown ultimately; but it might be right to vest it in the Crown, in the first instance, because it would be easier afterwards to take it by Parliamentary action from the Crown. Not much, in his opinion, had been done to forward this subject by the discussion. His own belief was that patronage should be vested, if in anybody, in some local authority. He did not by that mean any existing authority, but a sort of trusteeship, consisting of persons acquainted with the locality and the character of the benefice to be filled up. If a veto were given to the parishioners, the result would be that where there were differences between the patron and the parish, the parish would go on objecting to the appointment, and that ultimately the patronage would lapse to the Bishop. The House had been engaged in discussing impurities; but he should like to point out that when they took away the secrecy, they removed all the motives for improper action. He was sorry his hon. Friend the Member for South Northumberland (Mr. A. Grey) had complicated the question by bringing forward his Amendment. He thought it would be well if the House availed itself of the willingness of the Government to allow the two Bills to go to a Select Committee, which was the only means of making progress on this question. He supported the Bill, not for the reasons advanced by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, but because he thought it would lead to the prevalence of a better spirit in the Church, which would then be able to live in a higher sphere of usefulness, and would not be subject to the assaults of the hon. Members for Bradford and Merthyr Tydvil. It would remove from the Church the only reproach which could be cast upon her, and which would not have existed so long but for the action of her enemies.
MR. LYULPH STANLEY
said, he should support the Amendment of his 760 hon. Friend the Member for South Northumberland (Mr. A. Grey), because he thought it was necessary to supplement the Bill, and to secure a real remedy for the grievances from which the parishioners suffered. The presentment of livings for the cure of souls should be made a trust. He regarded the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) as being likely to be effective in abolishing the sale of patronage in livings; whilst the other measure before the House, and which he was prevented by the Rules from going into, would not be a practical remedy of the existing grievances. If they wanted to remedy the mischief resulting from this buying and selling of livings, he would rather act upon the lines of his hon. Friend's Bill than adopt any other scheme that might be before the House; but he must object entirely to an important part of the Bill, which dealt with the way in which the future patronage of the livings was to be disposed of. The hon. Member only opened up three vistas of future patronage—in the first place, the Crown, which was the Prime Minister, who must have too much work to do to enable him satisfactorily to determine the claims of persons to Church livings; in the second place, a body of trustees, who might give a certain colour to Church services in a parish totally at variance with the wishes of the parishioners; and, in the third place, the squire, or the lord of the manor. Very frequently the latter was but a territorial name; and it would have a very mischievous influence on the Church, if such a person had a preponderating power, and were to be the one person allowed to pay the full price of a living. The Established Church was, and would remain until disestablished, a strong political institution, with a strong Tory bias, and therefore had not a very strong hold on a very large section of the people. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that in theology, and according to the Thirty Nine Articles, the Church was the congregation; and he held that the maxium, Uibi tres laici ibe ecclesia, was sound. The parishioners were the people most interested in these matters, far more than the patrons and the Bishops or the Crown, or anyone else; and he held that, so long as they kept up the patron- 761 age system, so long was it essential to protect the people, who might have to suffer under the administration of certain clergymen. It was said that to give the parishioners a veto, would frequently mean, when the patron and the parishioners were at loggerheads, handing over the appointment to the Bishop; but the Bishop's nomination would be equally subject to the parochial veto. The present Bill was not expected to become law. Simply by giving it a second reading, they would affirm its principle, and, it would become law in some future Session. They must also read the proposal of the hon. Member for South Northumberland in connection with his proposal for the constitution of Church Boards.
§ MR. J. G. HUBBARD
said, he held that every Member of the House, whether Churchman or Nonconformist, was interested in the well-being and purity of the Church of England, as it was a portion of the Constitution. He, therefore, welcomed the contribution which his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. E. A. Leatham) had made to the consideration of a difficult question, as an attempt to settle it; but, while fully admitting that scandals had occurred, he thought the hon. Gentleman had hardly given the true effect of those scandals. The scandal of the auctioneer's eloquence in conducting the sales was short-lived; but the real scandal was, that men who were not qualified, either by acquirements, conduct, or education, had been intruded into the Ministry. He admitted that the question of the exercise of patronage in the Church did raise a very real and important grievance, as no one could deny that Church patronage ought to be looked upon as a trust. If everyone who had been admitted under the present system had been of the character of Dr. Hook or John Keble, very little would have been heard of the manner of their appointment. It was, after all, the man who was in question, and not the mode in which he reached the position. No good could arise from calling a sale of patronage a sale of souls. Such an expression was merely nonsense, for nothing of the kind took place. What was sold was not souls, but merely the pecuniary value of the legal power of presentation to a living; and he held that the Bishop should have the power of rejecting the person so presented, if 762 found not to be efficient; and, in that respect, he thought the Bill before the House was imperfect. He regarded it as only a partial measure of relief, because, amongst other things, it ignored the paramount consideration of the possession of proper qualifications on the part of the individual to be presented to a living. Therefore, glad as he was to support the second reading of the Bill, he could not venture to do so, unless it were agreed that the two Bills should be sent to a Committee together. As to the sale of advowsons and next presentations, he thought that was mainly a question of degree. If a man sold the next presentation, he sold one appointment; and if he sold the advowson, he sold several. The Secretary of State for the Home Department had appeared to think that lay patronage was altogether an abuse; but, as a matter of fact, the creation of lay patronage was of the simplest possible character; and nothing could be more reasonable or just than that the owner of a property, who was naturally interested in the people living on the property, should have not so much the privilege as the responsibility of presenting the clergyman to the Bishop for institution. He thought it always tended to the harmony of the ecclesiastical system when the patron and the clergyman were of the same class in life; and, therefore, he should feel it his duty not to permit an accumulation of ecclesiastical appointments in the hands of the Crown. The Crown meant the Prime Minister, or the Lord Chancellor, and he thought those functionaries had quite enough of such power in their hands at present. As to the question of compensation to the patron for depriving him of the right to exercise his patronage, if it was a scandal to sell Church patronage at all, he did not quite see how a man could be compensated for taking away his right to sell. He believed that very much good would be done by the power being given to the Bishop to veto the appointment of unqualified persons. In the hope that the Bill and that of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope) would also be referred to the same Committee, he should vote for the second reading.
§ MR. RICHARD
said, that members of the Church of England were in the habit of charging Nonconformists with 763 systematically obstructing all Bills introduced to remove abuses in the Established Church, in order that by maintaining the abuses they—the Nonconformists—could obtain a greater leverage for the exercise of their power in assailing the Church. He positively and emphatically denied the justice of that charge; and when it was repeated in an eloquent speech last year, by the Bishop of Peterborough, he took some pains to look into the matter, and found that of nine Ecclesiastical Bills then before this House and introduced by members of the Church of England, presumably to promote the advantage of the Church, every one had been blocked, not by Nonconformists, but by members of the Church. The Bill with respect to Church Patronage, introduced in 1870 by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton-Cross)—and everybody-would admit that it could not have been in more fitting and competent hands—was opposed in that House mainly not by the Nonconformists, but by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) and the right hon. Gentleman the late Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley). In the House of Lords it was introduced under the sponsorship of the Duke of Marlborough; on the second reading it was treated with a good deal of severity by Lord Cairns and Lord Salisbury. But when the time came for going into Committee, the Duke of Marlborough said that so many and such formidable objections had been raised against the Bill from all parts of the House, that he had lost heart, and moved to discharge the Order. The Morning Post, the chosen organ of the Church and the Conservative Party, declared bluntly—Most of their Lordships are patrons of livings, and many of them sell their patronage in their lawyer's office or in the auction mart. They have a sort of vested interest in the abuses which the Bill was framed to remove.The Bill of the Bishop of Peterborough, in 1875, was so mutilated in the House of Lords that the Archbishop of York said he feared this abominable traffic was beyond the reach of legislation; and the Bishop of Peterborough gave up the matter in despair. At length, when members of the Church of England seemed disposed to abandon the ques- 764 tion, his hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) took it up in 1877, and again in 1878. He gave his support to his hon. Friend; and as an indication of the spirit in which he did so, he asked permission of the House to read two or three sentences from the speech he made on that occasion—If I were the enemy of the Church of England, I should say to my hon. Friend—Leave this matter alone.' No weapon can be so effective and formidable in the hands of the enemies of the Church as the perpetuation of such scandals as these. But I am not an enemy of the Church of England. I wish, indeed, to see it separated from the State, as in my belief likely to conduce to its own freedom, purity, and efficiency. But as a religious society, as a spiritual institution, I can, with the utmost sincerity, say that I wish it all possible prosperity. It has done, and is still doing, inestimable service to the cause of Christian civilization in this country; and God forbid that I should be moved by any sectarian jealousy to desire the continuance of anything that tends to impair its usefulness or to mar its glory as a Christian Church."—(3 Hansard,  1502–3.)He also denied the justice of the assertion that had been made by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Stuart-Wortley), that he had proposed to strangle the Bill of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope) on a former occasion by moving the adjournment of the debate. The Bill came on for second reading in the middle of a Sitting on Wednesday, after a long previous discussion on another subject; and, as only two Members had spoken, he did not think it an unpardonable sin to move the adjournment of the debate. He also denied the truth of a further assertion made by the same hon. Gentleman—that he had inserted in Hansard a speech which he had not made on that occasion. He desired, as heartily as any member of the Church of England, to see that Church relieved of the scandals now existing in the matter of the sale of advowsons and next presentations.
§ MR. CUBITT
said, he did not wish to follow the hon. Member for Merthyr Tynvil in his detailed defence. The fact remained that his action in a previous Session had prevented the offer of the Government to refer the Bill to a Select Committee being carried out. But as a Member of the late Royal Commission, he felt it incumbent on him to say a few words upon this occasion. As he under- 765 stood the tone of the discussion, the House was prepared to give a second reading to the Bill, on the understanding that it was not committed to the clauses, and that the measure was to be taken simply as a protest against the present gale of advowsons. Some regarded this patronage as a property, others as a trust. He believed the truth lay between the two opinions. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department said he did not think that compensation should be given; but, for his own part, he (Mr. Cubitt) did not believe that the matter could be settled without compensation. As to the special clauses of the Bill, it appeared to him objectionable, first of all, to reduce the value of advowsons one-half, and then to make the payment a charge on poor livings which could hardly bear it. He believed the clause which vested the patronage in the Crown would really place most of it in the hands of the Lord Chancellor. There was one unfortunate thing connected with the Lord Chancellor's patronage which did not, apparently, speak very well for it—he did not mean that of the present Lord Chancellor, but all Lord Chancellors—and it was that a good many of their livings were under sequestration. Therefore, it was not a good thing that the Lord Chancellor's patronage should be increased. With regard to the question of sequestration itself, he was of opinion that an act of bankruptcy should involve a forfeiture of the living. Respecting the Amendment, he might say that the Royal Commission had various instances brought before them of scandals which had taken place in consequence of the appointment of clergymen being vested in the parishioners. Since the Commission reported, a very great scandal had taken place in the appointment of a clergyman to St. Saviour's, Southwark; but he was glad to say that the election had resulted in the parishioners handing over the patronage to the Bishop. With reference to the appointment of a committee to present the clergyman, it was difficult to see how such a committee could be formed. In his opinion, the appointment of a committee would be as objectionable as the appointment of a clergyman by the parishioners. In any Bill upon this subject, the difficulty of transferring livings from private patrons to the Bishop caused by the necessity of 766 obtaining a licence in mortmain ought to be dealt with. There were many points in the Bill of which he approved, and he was, therefore, quite prepared to support the second reading with certain qualifications.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said he hoped there would be a Division upon the Bill, although, at the same time, he might say that it was not his intention to vote for or against either the Bill or the Amendment. He had no doubt that the Bill dwelt with a very gross abuse; but he could not help thinking that, from a Radical standpoint, it was undesirable that there should be an Established Church at all; and there seemed to be no reason why they should be continually trying to tinker up and remedy this and that abuse in connection with the Church. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had taken a more advanced view of this matter than he usually did on such questions, and he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman; but this Bill did not go far enough, if it granted compensation in the case of those who now held livings. To sell a cure of souls had always been regarded as a most monstrous iniquity, and why should they give compensation to those who were enjoying what was wrong? They might as well suggest that Simon Magus himself should have had compensation. There was another preposterous clause in the Bill. These advowsons could only be sold to the great landlords and the lords of the manor. If the livings were sold at all, they should be sold to anybody who might be ready to buy them. But why should the great landlords—the race he should be glad to see cleared off the land, for he had always held it a sound doctrine that the landlords were the greatest burden upon the land—why should the great landlords and lords of the manor be allowed to buy livings, while other persons were not? The Amendment of the hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. A. Grey), so far as it went, was reasonable. There was no doubt that matters would be infinitely improved, if the parishioners had the right to veto the appointment of clergymen. But the Amendment did not go far enough. Why was there only to be a veto? Why not allow the parishioners to elect any clergyman they liked? Why 767 was the Bishop to be the only person to have a veto? If the majority of people in a locality were Dissenters, he thought they should not be compelled to elect a Church of England clergyman. He was opposed to all this tinkering of the Church of England, which should be disestablished and disendowed; and if his hon. Friend (Mr. E. A. Leatham) wanted his (Mr. Labouchere's) support, he should institute legislation in that view. He was quite ready to leave the Church such amounts as had been given to it within the last 20 years; but he had seen calculations made that, deducting those amounts, a sum of about £5,000,000 per annum ought to come to the public. That sum was the property not of a sect, but of the English people who paid it, and he should like to see a Bill introduced to enable the English public to enter into their property. He should also like to see a Bill introduced dealing with glebe lands. These glebe lands were, he believed, the worst cultivated in the country, and it would be infinitely bettor to distribute them in allotments amongst the deserving labourers of the village, than leaving them in the hands of the clergymen. When his hon. Friend brought in a Bill dealing with the glebe lands, and giving back to them the £5,000,000 of which they were now deprived for the benefit of a sect, then he would give him his most cordial support.
§ MR. THOMAS COLLINS
said, that had the proposal made on Tuesday evening for introducing the elóture at 5 o'clock on Wednesdays been carried, he should not then be allowed to address the House. This admirably illustrated the absurdity of such a proposal. He quite agreed with the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that the parson should exist for the benefit of the parish, and not the parish for the benefit of the parson; but he differed from him entirely as to the advantages conferred by the Public Worship Regulation Act. He saw no substantial difference between the sale of next presentations and the sale of advowsons. If one was wrong, so was the other. He believed there was nothing absolutely wrong in either; but he did think that, in the present state of the public mind, the sales gave occasion for the enemy to sneer and blaspheme, and that, in the interests of the Church, it 768 would be wise to abolish them. He was in favour of sweeping the whole system of sales away; but he objected to the Bill, because it proposed to give only half the value as compensation. If they abolished by law, in the interests of public morality, certain private rights which had belonged to private patrons for very many years past, how could they turn round and refuse to pay the last owner for them? That was not a fair way of dealing with property which they had in recent times created. What he suggested should be done was to fasten upon the living whatever sum was found to be the value of the right of the presentation to the lay owner. With regard to the sale of the livings themselves, he objected to societies having the power to buy up the whole patronage of a district, and in that way endeavouring to establish a monopoly of their own school of thought, and to prevent any body of persons in a given area having any other form of worship within the limits of the Church of England. As to compensation, he pointed out that the Secretary of State for the Home Department had compared the property in those advowsons to the property formerly held in rotten boroughs. But there was a distinct difference between the two cases. The sale of rotten boroughs had never been recognized by the law of the land. It was an illegal sale from beginning to end; but the sale of the advowson had always been recognized by the law, so much so that when the law was passed for forming Corporations all over England, there was a positive Order in the Act of Parliament by which Municipal Corporations were constituted, providing that all the livings in the possession of the Municipal Corporations should be sold, and that the money should go to the benefit of the Corporations. They ought to abolish, in the interest of the Church itself, and with fair compensation, the saleability of Church livings. There were two precedents in favour of this course—one the Abolition of Purchase in the Army, and the other the Abolition of Slavery. Those two cases were analogous; but he maintained they ought to throw upon the living itself the cost of its enfranchisement. He would support the second reading of the Bill. He thought it was a preferable measure, on the whole, to the Bill of the hon. Mem- 769 ber for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope). Both Bills contained many valuable provisions; and if, after they had passed through a Select Committee, they were to lead to the abolition of the sale of livings of all kinds, he thought a very valuable "work would have been done in the interests of the Church.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 141; Noes 83: Majority 58.—(Div. List, No. 124.)
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed to a Select Committee."—(Mr. E. Stanhope.)
§ MR. ALBERT GREY
proposed that it be an Instruction to the Committee, that they have power to insert clauses in the Bill, having the effect of the Amendment which he had moved to the second reading.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the hon. Member would not be in Order in moving an Instruction to the Committee without Notice.
§ Question put, and agreed, to.
§ Bill committed to a Select Committee.
§ MR. ALBERT GREY
gave Notice that he would to-morrow move the Instruction to the Committee to which he had referred.