HC Deb 21 March 1884 vol 286 cc501-51

, in rising to more a Resolution to the effect— That the legislative power of Bishops in the House of peers in Parliament is a great hindrance to the discharge of their spiritual function, prejudicial to the Commonwealth, and fit to be taken away by Bill, said, he hoped no Member would suppose that in moving this Resolution it was his intention to holdup the Bishops of the Church of England to either ridicule or contempt, or to cast any discredit on the office which they held. He might, perhaps, be permitted to say that he had not been induced to bring this subject forward by the course which the Bishops had pursued with respect to a great social question, although he altogether disapproved their conduct in that matter. Nor did he move the Resolution with a view to improve the character and efficiency of the House of Lords. That was a task which could be better accomplished by the Peers themselves who, by taking thought, could easily add a cubit to their stature. He had made the Motion from a conviction he had long entertained that as the Church of England was founded on compromise, that as obedience to her Articles, Formularies, and Prayer Books never had been, and never would be, procured by any Courts, however skilfully devised, and as there was little chance of Parliament ever revising these books so as to secure a general assent to them, there was no hope of healing the divisions from which the Church of England suffered, or of procuring a substantial unity on the part of its members except by combining the Bishops and the clergy in the bonds of Christian love and sympathy, and securing, if possible, accord and unity between Bishops and clergy and the laity of the Church itself. But in order to get that sympathy and union, Bishops must cease to be nominated by the Prime Minister of the day, and must be placed on a footing of brotherly equality with those whose conduct they overlooked. In his judgment the Bishops ought to be elected bonâ fide either by the clergy or by the clergy and laity. He believed that his Motion was the only practicable proposal at the present time, and that he was asking the House to resolve upon nothing which was injurious to the interests of religion, or which would in any way impair the influence of the Bishops themselves. He was only asking the Bishops to surrender an authority which they had never exercised for the good of the Church, but which had been a source of positive injury to it. He sought the removal from the House of Lords of those who were present there as the representatives of a small portion of the community endowed and established by law. Their removal would render the Established Church less offensive to those religious communities which, in ever-increasing numbers, existed outside its pale. What was the present condition of the Church of England? He did not consider it to be his duty to leave the evils of the Church of England untouched and un-remedied until by their severity and pressure Disestablishment could be hastened. If the English people had time to attend to their own affairs, no measure would be more fruitful in public good than one for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church; but he valued too highly the influence of the Church on the religious and national life of the community to prevent; the adoption of a system of reformation that might lead to its development and increase. The present condition of the Established Church was a scandal and an offence to the nation. We had a Church in which none governed and none obeyed. The Bishops were estranged from their clergy; as far as regarded their truly ministerial and spiritual influence they were well-nigh extinct. They "had a name to live and were dead." Instead of uniformity, there were three great divisions within the Church, actuated oftentimes by the bitterest feelings towards one another. How could a conscientious clergyman sock admission into the Church by an acceptance of the Articles with the intention to immediately forget them? There was a body of men whose object seemed to be the introduction into the Established Church of a system that was absolutely Roman Catholic. They hated the Reformation, and yet they were ministers in the Established Church. There were other men who used language expressive of solemn mysteries in which they did not believe; and there was yet another class who, holding generally the doctrines of the Reformation, kept them in abeyance or subordinated thorn lest they should lose all their popularity and influence. Again, there were others who sought to prevent anything like a fixity of opinion and of practice, with a view to allow people of all descriptions to find their place in the Established Church. At the end of three centuries where did the Church of England find itself? After having expelled the Puritan clergy from their pulpits, after losing at the Restoration 2,000 illustrious confessors and martyrs, together with the thousands who loved and followed them, and after having allowed Wesley to create outside the Establishment a Church which rivalled it in every town and village, the Church of England was without Articles, except on paper, without settled order of worship, and without discipline. The Courts pronounced decisions which everybody regarded as waste paper, and the energy of the Church seemed to be exercised in bringing to the front two great litigating societies. The Bishop of Liverpool, writing this very year, said— Our present state is one of utter anarchy and lawlessness. Every Bishop has a sorrowful tale of fatherly admonitions set at nought and despised. In plain truth, if there is any one point on which multitudes of people seemed agreed, it is the incompetence of the episcopal order. He (Mr. Willis) would not have used those words himself; but the Bishop was better acquainted with the conditions of his Church than he was. The same condition of things was described 10 years ago by the Bishops and Archbishops in the debates on the Public Worship Regulation Act. The Bishop of Peterborough, in speaking of the claim for greater fatherliness on the part of the Bishops which had been made by some of the clergy, said there was something one-sided about it, and that the Bishops might reasonably look for greater filialness" on the part of the clergy; he would like some reciprocity. The Bishop said a clergyman had spoken of him as neither a gentleman nor a divine. Then one of the Church papers said that the Bishops had failed to secure the confidence of the clergy over whom they were placed. High Church, Low Church, and Erastians were alike agreed in this—that the Bishops had lost their influence with those who were immediately in subordination to them. There was an almost impassable gulf separating the clergy from their Bishops. All that even Archbishop Tait, whose last act of peace was to remove a recalcitrant clergyman from one part of London to another; and all the Bishops could devise was a recourse to the coarse and un-Christian like machinery of the law. But the weapon had broken in their hands, the lawlessness and anarchy continued, and the Bishops had, he hoped, learnt the lesson that, within the range of the Christian Church at least, force was no remedy. The Bishop of Peterborough had well said that a great scandal was itself a great evil, and no Institution could continue with safety to offend the moral sense of the community. The cry was still for reform and peace and quiet. The condition of the Church absorbed the whole "passion of pity." Three centuries ago, almost to the day, a paper was presented by the clergy to Archbishop Whitgift, entitled "Means how to settle a godly and charitable quietness in the Church;" and after three centuries the means of settling a godly and charitable quietness in the Church was its great need. The heads of the Church were still looking to Courts for relief. In his view they would look in vain. There had been a Royal Commission, and a mass of historical and antiquarian lore had been placed before the country, and the suggestion was still for Courts, which the country would not accept. The right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge had suggested a revival of the study of the Canon Law, forsooth, and a learned body of practitioners, with, the Bishops as Judges, before whom clerks in Holy Orders were to plead as counsel. But no relief could be anticipated from that quarter. If his proposal were accepted the Bishops would themselves be able to remove all the difficulties which existed, and the clergy and laity might come to a common agreement as to the documents of the Church. It would require no compensation, and involve no great trouble, and the Bishops would receive a great reward in the reverence and sympathy of their clergy. It was not for him to detail the events of the three or four great crises in the history of the Church, but it would be easy to show that the Bishops had on all great crises sacrificed its interests. There had been nothing hitherto but force, and no resource had been had to the method of simple affection. ["No, no!"] He could only express his own opinions. He would not deal with the great Oxford movement of 1833, when, as always, anything which was enthusiastic and vigorous was suppressed. He was not expressing approval of the High Church clergy, but he recognized that they were men of exemplary lives, who had a lofty conception of life and of the headship of Christ over His Church. The Public Worship Regulation Act was passed for no noble purpose, but with the view of suppressing Ritualism, whilst the deficiencies of the Low Church clergy and the principles of the Essays and Reviews should be connived at. A Resolution similar to that which he proposed had already passed that House, in which none but Churchmen had seats. In March, 1641. a like Resolution was accepted, and the men who passed it included the names of such illustrious men as Hyde, who was a devoted partizan of Charles I., Falkland, Selden, Hampden, Pym, and Vane, and last, but not least, the name of a man whose name would ever be associated with the cause of civil and religious freedom, Oliver Cromwell. The next branch of his subject related to the question whe- ther the Bishops had exercised their political power for the good of the community, or for the advantage of a single body in the State. He affirmed that they had not. If they had been servile to Kings, they had been enemies to Parliament. They had maintained abuses of the most shameful kind, both political and legal. He would give them some instances. Archbishop Bancroft went down on his knees to tell James I. that he was the greatest King since Christ; Whitgift said that this great King spoke by special inspiration of the Holy Ghost; and when that man of unclean life died, a third Archbishop, a man hateful to true English sentiment, of intolerable bigotry, Laud, declared that such was his purity that there was no doubt the King had been translated to Abraham's bosom. Laud and the Bishops tried to establish despotism in Church and State, and so hateful did their whole order become, that in 1641 it was rooted up. In Charles II.'s time, the most slavish doctrines of unlimited Kingly power and passive obedience were propagated by the Bishops and clergy, and the best men were put in prison. In 1688 the Seven Bishops were popular leaders, and were put in prison by accident; for they never intended things to go so far. They presented a Memorial of the mildest kind, and Archbishop Sancroft, when questioned as to his handwriting, claimed, as if he were a witness in Court, the privilege of not answering any question tending to criminate himself. But as the King determined to prosecute, the Bishops could not help taking their trial, and, by a week's imprisonment, gained the cheap and easy honours of martyrdom. But the Bishops were not true friends of liberty. In the last century, when persons in this country were thinking that they should lose their slaves if they had them baptized, the Bishops, headed by Gibson, Bishop of London, hastened to assure them that, they might baptize their slaves, for Christianity was not inconsistent with property in men and women. Bishop Horsley told the people that they had nothing to do with the laws but to obey them. The Bishops opposed village preaching and Sunday schools. When it was proposed to put an end to the law under which a man was hanged for stealing to the value of 40-s. in a shop, the Bishops opposed the measure. So with Catholic Emancipation. If Dissenters wanted relief, the Bishops would not give their assistance; and Archbishop Howley, in opposing a Bill for the removal of Jewish Disabilities, said the Jews were intellectually and morally unfit for political power. It was so with the abolition of Church rates, and with anything that was intended to remove differences. They opposed the abolition of slavery, until Lord Eldon said there could not be anything so bad in slavery, seeing that the Bishops were always supporting it. Time would fail to tell of their opposition to the best measures. The Prime Minister (Mr. Gladstone) had to confess that though the Liberal Party had made Bishops for 40 years, the latter were such lovers of abuses, that the Party had never received the slightest assistance from them. At last they came to this, that when a man had lived 50 years with his wife, and a gross act of cruelty had been committed towards him. The only thing that a Bishop could see was the Table of Affinity; and when the present Archbishop of Canterbury was installed, he could select no other name as inspiring him with awe on entering upon his sacred office than the name of Laud. [Cheers] Let those cheer who would; but for his part he said, as a citizen of this country desiring to have great measures move faster than they did, that it was time the Bishops were removed from the House of Lords. At least his Motion would have this advantage, that it would give the Bishop of Manchester the time he said he had not now got for prayer. [Laughter, and "Oh !"] Well, those were the Bishop's words. It would enable Bishop Wordsworth to visit a little more those villages in his diocese of which he said that if he were to visit one every Sunday, he should not complete the visitation in 15 years. It would give time to the Archbishop of York, who it was said had not held a Visitation for 10 years. The late Bishop Hamilton, of Salisbury, a name to be mentioned with respect, always felt the difficulty of leaving his diocese to attend the House of Lords. What he was proposing would enable Bishop Selwyn, who was fit to be the leader of men in any Church, and at any time, to attend to the duties of his diocese; and who was actually pending to his diocese to say that his work was suspended. [An hon. MEMBER: He is dead.] He (Mr. Willis) was very sorry if he had erred; he had only praised a dead man whom he was entitled to praise. He supposed the present Bishop (the Bishop of Lichfield) was equally qualified for his office, and he had said that he was obliged to give up the whole of the engagements he had made with regard to the work of his diocese, because, as junior Bishop, he was Chaplain to the House of Lords. Whether they looked at the matter politically or in the interests of the Church, had not the time come when at least this first step should be taken in reform? He did not even present his proposal as his own. He had culled it from a good time, and had received instructions from men of an earlier date. Some of the best men who had been connected with the Church of England had then approved of the proposal he now made. They desired that a change should be made, both in the appointment of Bishops and in the mode of their election. While there was a most democratic system in the State providing for the best men managing public affairs, they had in the Church almost an Imperial system of election; and until that was altered he submitted that no good could come. Let them change it, as it was proposed 240 or 250 years ago to change it by some of the most eminent men who ever spoke in that House, and who said that— Nothing would be so good for the Church as to mould a modern to a primitive Bishop, unrevenued, unlorded, of matchless temperance, constant labour, frequent fasting, and incessant prayer. These were the words of men who were still entitled to their esteem; and as he believed they were wise words, and that they should do best to act in the spirit of them, he moved his Resolution as a first step towards procuring such an Episcopate as would be a blessing to the Church of England.


, in seconding the Resolution, observed that he had rarely risen in that House. He was one of those who thought there was far too much speech in the House. It would be better if hon. Members would regard the fact that the House was constituted for work rather than speech. He would himself not detain the House more than a moment or two; and would not attempt to go over the arguments of his hon. and learned Friend, or even to advance any that he bad omitted. Having regard to the requirements of the country and its national life, he failed to see that there was any necessity whatever for the Bishops of the Church to which he himself belonged having seats in the House of Lords, when seats in that venerable Assembly were denied to the Chief Rabbi, to the President of the Wesleyan Conference, to the Moderator of the General Assembly, or the heads of any of the other great religious organizations which existed in this country; and he should content himself on this occasion with seconding the Motion, in the hope that the House would assent to it.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the legislative power of Bishops in the House of Peers in Parliament is a great hindrance to the discharge of their spiritual function, pre-judicial to the Commonwealth, and fit to be taken away by Bill,"—(Mr. Willis,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


Sir, if I agreed more entirely than I do with the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend, I should still deem it incumbent on the Government always to defend its own Motion of Supply; and certainly we have always regarded, and must always regard, an intercepting Motion of this kind as one to be met by a Motion of Supply, which, as has been often stated, is really the Previous Question. But I should not be dealing frankly with my hon. and learned Friend, or with the House, if I put the matter solely, upon that ground. The fact is, I do not agree with the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend, and I hope I shall be able to state my reasons in a manner which will not be offensive to him. The House will fully appreciate the very able and earnest manner in which he has presented his view to us. He has drawn a Motion in a fine old English style, which he has told us be has derived from memorable times and from famous men. I must remind my hon. and learned Friend that some of those great names only co-operated for a very short time. The Motion which, I take it, he has placed on the Paper was followed by other Motions and other actions on the part of at least one of those great men which probably my hon. and learned Friend does not contemplate. It is a rather remarkable fact that he has had to go back to the year 1641, about two centuries and a-half ago, for successful Motion of this character. That evil which he abhors, and which was then abolished, very soon revived, and it has survived for two centuries since that time. I was inquiring this afternoon into the history of Motions on this subject. Now, the position of Bishops in the House of Lords and their conduct in that Assembly did not commend itself, and I think very naturally, to the opinion of the English people about half-a-century ago, at the time of the Reform Bill, and there was a very celebrated warning given to them Lord Grey to set their house in order. They set themselves, I think very unwisely, against the sentiments and interests of the great body of the nation, and they were consequently extremely unpopular. But shortly after that the first Motion resembling that of my hon. and learned Friend was made, about the year 1836, and Lord Althorp, who then represented the Party in the House of Commons, made a speech upon a Motion of that character shortly after the Reform Bill. It was a very short speech, but it was a very conclusive speech. He said— If I thought that anybody else except the Mover and the Seconder of this Motion was going to vote for it, I would state the reasons for which I oppose it. The Motion was renewed in the year 1837. From that time this great grievance slept until 1870. There was a Motion then; but I think there has been none since until 1884. So that the "periodicity" of this Motion has been rather a lengthened period. My hon. and learned Friend has put a, Motion, down which the House ought to examine in its terms. It touches, or hardly touches, two very great questions. Ono is the question of the Established Church, and the other is the question of the existence of the House of Lords. But it does not deal with either. It assumes the existence of both. If you look at this Motion, it is not a Motion for Disestablishment, though the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman was a speech for it. It is not a Motion for the abolition of the House of Lords; but it is a Motion to say that, suppose the Established Church to remain an Established Church, and suppose the House of Lords to remain, it is not expedient that the Bishops should sit there. Now, first of all, my hon. and learned Friend said a great deal about the principles of the Reformation. Nobody agrees more profoundly with him than I do upon that subject. I have deeply deplored the tendency of a certain portion of the clergy of the Established Church of England to depart from the principles of the Reformation. But if my hon. and learned Friend thinks that by emancipating the clergy of the Church of England from the control of the State he is going to secure or advance the principles of the Reformation, I am entirely at issue with him. How was the Reformation of religion in this country carried out? Was it carried out by a free Church or by free clergy? Why, everybody knows that the clergy, as a body, were banded against the Reformation—that they were against the Reformation in the time of Henry VIII, that they were against it in the time of Elizabeth, that the Act of Uniformity was carried against the unanimous votes of the Bishops. The principles of the Reformation were established by the wholesome and necessary control which the State exercised over the clergy of this country; and in my opinion the principles of the Reformation in the Church of England, as they have been, so alone can be maintained and secured by the control of the State over the clergy. What has been the principle upon which the establishment of the Church of England has rested? It has rested upon this principle, that the head of the Church is the same person who is the head of the State. It has rested upon the principle that the patronage of the clergy—of the higher orders of the clergy, at all events—is in the Crown; that the discipline of the Church is in the Courts of Law. [Cries of "No !"] Hon. Gentlemen may disapprove; but that it is so is an unquestionable fact. We fought that battle out on the floor of this House on the Act which has been so often referred to to-night. I say that the patronage of the Church is in the Crown; that the discipline of the Church is in the Courts of Law; and that the Ritual and Formularies of the Church are established by Act of Parliament; and I, for one, entirely differ from my hon. and learned Friend if he thinks he is going to find security for the principles of the Reformation by emancipating the clergy from those restrictions. My hon. and learned Friend thinks it would be a good thing to take the Bishops from the House of Lords. Well, now, there are two aspects in which we must regard that question—first of all, as respects the Church in its ecclesiastical character, and, on the other side, as it respects the State in its political character. As it affects the Church in its ecclesiastical character, he wishes to take the Bishops out of the House of Lords—out, as I understand, of the political atmosphere altogether. That is not my view of the wholesome position of the clergy in this country or in any other country. The view, at all events—I speak with all respect of those who entertain other ideas in another Church—the view that has always been taken by the Protestant Church, whether it be in securing to its clergy the institution of marriage as against that of celibacy, is that they should mix with society and the community upon the same terms as all other members of the community; that they should not be a separate caste; that they should be ministers of the congregation, citizens of the State, and not cloistered priests. Well, if that be so, why are the Bishops not, like anybody else, to have their share in any political institution of this country? That is precisely what I think ought to be the case. Do you say that a Bishop ought to have nothing to do with politics? ["No!"] I am very glad to think, at all events, that the leaders of the Nonconformists do not take that view. Therefore, there is nothing wrong in these men, because they are the spiritual leaders of their own congregations, taking the part that other people might take in political life. I think it is a very great advantage that they should do so. It gives them far greater knowledge of and sympathy with the society with which they have to deal. Well, you have lawyers, you have Law Lords, in the House of Lords; you have for their distinguished services Admirals and Generals in the House of Lords; and why in the world are you not to have Bishops? I have always thought that if the House of Lords has any defect—it is not for me to say it has—it is the want of variety in the interests which it represents, and I cannot understand why it is that Gentlemen—especially those who desire a reform in the House of Lords—should desire to diminish the variety of interests which that House possesses. We sometimes hear from Gentlemen of advanced opinions denunciations of a hereditary aristocracy; but the aristocracy that you are attacking is not a hereditary aristocracy. We are sometimes told that what you want in the House of Lords is a body of men who have reached their eminent positions by merit—who have worked their way from humble positions in life, who have not acquired their political authority simply from the accident of birth. That, I have always understood, is the Radical doctrine upon which, if the House of Lords exists, it ought to be reformed. Well, but it is a singular thing that the first reform proposed in the House of Lords should be to get rid of the only class sitting there which, as a, class, is selected for eminence and merit of its own. ["No!"] I say that is quite as true of the Bishops as of the Law Lords. [Renewed interruption]. These statements, surely, are not so extravagant that they should be met by clamour. I say that the men who are nominated as Bishops are generally eminent in their profession. I was extremely sorry to hear my hon. and learned Friend speak with disparagement of one of the most distinguished and learned men of this country, and, I venture to say, of Europe—Professor Stubbs. There does not exist a more learned or more accomplished man, or a greater ornament of the profession to which he belongs, than Professor Stubbs. Then, that is the one class which you wish to remove from the House of Lords. My hon. and learned Friend candidly admits that this is a question entirely apart from the question of Church Establishment—that he has not raised the issue of Establishment; you cannot raise the question of the Establishment of the Church on a Motion for going into Committee of Supply. But we are, for the purpose of this argument, assuming the Establishment of the Church and the propriety of that Establishment. Then, assuming that, what is asserted is that it is peculiarly improper that this class of men should be in the House of Lords. Now, I ask why? First of all, my hon. and learned Friend says they had much better be in their dioceses. Well, but I thought my hon. and learned Friend, or some of those who think with him, were against dioceses and diocesans altogether; and why these Gentlemen should be so extremely anxious that diocesans should be always in their dioceses I cannot understand. I should have thought that, from their point of view, the more diocesans were away from their dioceses the nearer they would be of attaining their object. If my hon. and learned Friend desires that diocesans should always be in their dioceses, then he is one of the most enthusiastic friends of the Church of England. Now, no doubt, in old times, when it took three or four days to come from the North, and a visit to London was a great affair, if a Bishop remained in London a great part of the year that was a serious interference with his episcopal functions. But is that true now? I can speak from a knowledge of a. good many of the Bishops; and I do not think that his attendance in the House of Lords does interfere, or need interfere, at all with his duty in his diocese. It is absurd to suppose that it should be so. The House of Lords is a very respectable Assembly. It is not in the habit of sitting up till 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning; but it behaves like a reasonable Institution. It meets about once a fortnight for the transaction of serious Business. ["No!"] Perhaps once in three weeks; at all events, it does not make large demands on the time of its Members. No doubt the Bishops take an interest in certain questions, and do not vote as some of us might wish; but that is not a consideration on which we should act in a discussion of this description. But to suppose that a Bishop cannot find time to give such attendance as is required in the House of Lords, and at the same time to attend to the business of his diocese, is not a practical proposition that bears argument. Why, there are Members of the House who attend to business that requires quite as constant attention as the business of a diocese does. There are a great many persons engaged in professions and in business who find time to attend the House of Commons, and do not neglect that business or their professions, although the demands upon them are very much greater. Then I cannot see that attendance in the House of Lords is injurious to the Church by taking the Bishops away from their dioceses. Then, as regards the House of Lords, I cannot see that that Assembly suffers disadvantage from the presence of the Bishops. I should say, on the whole, that it derives advantage from their presence. I say they are a class of men who, from the very nature of their appointment and occupation, are extremely different from the great majority of the House of Lords. They are most of them men of humble origin; they have risen by labour, by talent, by devotion to work. They are professional men in a very honourable profession, who have won their way to the House of Lords as the great lawyers have won their way, us the great generals, the great admirals, as a few men—I wish there were more—of commerce have won their way there, and as I should hope to see men from other departments and walks of life win their way there also. And those who are not prepared to abolish the House of Lords altogether—those who wish to see it made more various in its character, more liberal and enlightened in its views, I think should rather welcome than repulse a class of this kind from among them. What is their number? It is 26 out of upwards of 500 Members of the House of Lords. Well, that is only a small leaven in the lump; and if I were looking to reform the House of Lords, as some Gentlemen have proposed to reform it, I should not think the best reform was to remove that element from among its Members. The fact is, people will not sufficiently clear their ideas and distinguish between the two things. What you really want to do is to get rid of the Bishops in order that you may get rid of the Church. ["Hear, hear!" and "No!"] Well, if that is not what you mean, you are perfectly illogical. If what you wish is to get rid of the Church—if you regard the Bishops as an outwork—a powerful outwork—of the Church, I can quite understand your position. That is quite reasonable. It will bear argument, and there is much to be said from the point of view of those who desire it. But if you assume that the Church is to be kept, then it seems to me that the argument has nothing whatever in it. For if you accept the Church as established, it seems to me that the argument for the Bishops to be in the House of Lords is much stronger than the argument against it. You talk of the Bishops being a dangerous political power. I do not regard them in that light at all. In former days the Bishops generally hold anti-popular views; but now they move along with the spirit of the times, and they mix with other people a great deal more than they used to do. I do not, agree with my hon. and learned Friend, and. perhaps, I know as many Bishops as he does. The picture he draws of a Bishop as a sort of distant tyrant, far removed from his clergy and his flock, is not a correct picture. The Bishops are extremely hard-working men, who live among their clergy and the people of their dioceses; and my hon. and learned Friend has, I am sure unconsciously and unwillingly, done injustice to a very deserving body of men. And, therefore, from this personal point of view, I do not think there is anything whatever to be said against them; and so far from their being a bad element in the House of Lords, and if you are to have a House of Lords, and if you are to have an Established Church, as the hon. and learned Gentleman admits, then I think variety in the House of Lords is a good thing. The Bishops are mostly men of learning; they are all well conducted; and I do not think that is a bad element. Therefore, if you have a House of Lords and an Established Church, I cannot see that my hon. and learned Friend has made very much out of the argument against the presence of the Bishops. Now, Sir, I quite agree that there remain behind this Motion and this discussion to-night two great questions—namely, the question of the Established Church and the existence of the House of Lords. I am happy to think that we are not, at a quarter past 10 o'clock on an Evening Sitting of the House of Commons, and on the Motion for going into Committee of Supply, going to dispose of either of those large questions on such an occasion and in such a discussion. The Motion before the House is of a much narrower tendency. It is whether 25 individuals who, as Bishops, are Members of the House of Lords, ought to be removed from that Assembly. I do not think that their removal would be an advantage to the Church, nor do I think it would be an advantage to the House of Lords; and, therefore, in these circumstances, and bound, above all, by the overpowering consideration referred to at the beginning of my remarks—namely, that the Government must defend their own Motion of Supply—I must oppose the Motion of my hon, and learned Friend.


said, the House had the advantage of hearing the very best that could be said by anyone in the House, except the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton), upon that side of the question. The House had listened with the respect due, not only to the experience and talent of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but they remembered also that he had hereditary claims to speak as the champion of the Bishops and Archbishops of the country. He did not wonder that in 1834, when Lord Althorp tried to find some arguments against a similar Motion, all he could say was that "he should like to be excused from entering into any discussion of the merits of the question;" and he observed, in looking carefully at the discussion which took place on that occasion, that with one exception—such was the feeling existing at the time in the House—all the Members who spoke were in favour of the exclusion of the Bishops. They were told that the Bishops were to be continued in the House of Lords because it was a place to which they had been raised by their eminent talents, and by their having lived lives of studious and careful education. It was also asked, why should not Bishops as well as lawyers be admitted to the House of Lords? But did his right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary propose that all the Judges should become Members of the House of Lords, or would the right hon. and learned Gentleman be satisfied that the Bishops should be represented by the Archbishops of York and Canterbury, and the Bishops of Winchester, Durham, and London? He (Mr. Waddy) spoke as a Nonconformist, and not in any hostility whatever to the Church of England. ["Oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite did not believe in his conscientiousness. He should be surprised, knowing what he did, if they believed in anybody's. If they were anxious to disestablish the Church, he thoroughly and honestly believed the Motion they were seeking to make was one which was far more likely to delay that, event than to hasten it. The presence of Bishops in the House of Lords was, rightly or wrongly, supposed by some persons to be a kind of grievance. He did not himself consider it to be much of a grievance. But to get rid of that grievance would be far more likely to help the view taken by some hon. Gentlemen, and far more likely to delay the success of others, because, postpone as they would, the exclusion of the Bishops would happen. He declined to consider this as a question for banter. To his mind, it was a matter of great seriousness and great importance. He looked with the profoundest admiration on Churchmen such as Hooker, Tillotson, Tait, and scores and hundreds of others; and he should be unworthy to belong to any Church whatever if he attempted to ignore obligations to such men as those. He did not wish to do any damage to the House of Lords; but he and those who thought with him believed the presence of Bishops in the House of Lords was an anomaly. The historical reason had failed. They had gone so far that they had destroyed anything like a logical ground for their existence in the House of Lords. At one time there were 55 Ecclesiastical Members in the House of Lords; but more than one-half of them had been turned out. The Premier of this or any other Government might at any time flood the House of Lords with new Peers; but he could not add to the House of Lords a single new Bishop. By what right did these very learned and very excellent men sit there now? Was it because they were Barons? No; it could not be, because there were men who were sitting in the House of Lords now who were not Barons. Some of them derived their incomes solely from subscriptions. They had no baronies in any sense or form. Was it because they were Bishops? No; because they only admitted a certain number of Bishops; there were some Bishops who did not sit in the House of Lords. If they sat there because they were Bishops, then he would ask why the Bishops of the Irish Church did not retain their seats after the Disestablishment of the Church? Was it because they were leading Representatives of the Established Church? The House of Peers was not a Representative Assembly. The religious Census of 1851, which was the only Census they had— and which was held by Churchmen to be a good one until its results were-known—showed that of the accommodation provided in churches for the population of this country, 29.6 was provided by the Church of England, and 27.4 was provided by the Dissenting Churches of this country. That Census also showed that seats were provided for 5,317,915 persons in the Church of England, while the three sections of Nonconformists—namely, the Baptists, Wesleyans, and Independents—provided accommodation for 4,114,401. [An hon. Member: Absurd.] It might be absurd, but it was a fact. He did not say they ought to have Representatives of other Churches in the House of Lords; but what he wished to point out was that they had an anomaly to deal with, and if it was to be said that the Bishops were in the House of Lords as the Representatives of the Church of England, then he wanted to know why there were not to be found in the House of Lords Representatives of other Churches, which amounted to nearly, if not quite, as large a number of people, in something like a reasonable proportion? The Bishops had not always been ready to come forward in the other House even in connection with matters which certainly called for their support. On every occasion when there had been any proposition to increase the Episcopate in the House of Lords, it had been on the ground that the work to be done by the Bishops was already more than they could do. Some short time ago it was said to be necessary to create a now Bishopric to relieve the labours of the Bishop of Exeter, and accordingly a new See was created at Truro. But it would be found that the Bishop of Exeter was the person who attended most assiduously to his Parliamentary duties, and by so doing was precluded from discharging his local work in the diocese. All they wanted to do by the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend was to relieve these eminent, learned, and godly men from work for which. They were not entirely fitted, and from the turmoil of political controversy. Let them attend to their own spiritual work in their own dioceses, and not mix themselves up in work of a purely temporal kind. He utterly denied that in making this proposition a foundation was being laid for Disestablishment. On the contrary, he maintained that so soon as they took these Bishops away from work for which they were not fitted, and confined thorn to work for which they were fitted, they strengthened the Church of England far beyond anything that had been known in modern times. Although he was a Nonconformist, he desired to see the Church of England stronger than it had been for the great work which it was called upon to do.


said, the affection for the Church manifested by the two hon. and learned Members who had brought forward and supported the Motion was almost overwhelming, though he could not say that the method they adopted in showing their love was that which a logical and well-ordered mind would have adopted. He was reminded of the lines— Perhaps you were right to dissemble your love, But prithee why kick me downstairs? The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Waddy) asserted for himself a monopoly of gravity and of conscientiousness; while, in his opinion, there was no conscience, no sense of propriety, on the other side of the House; so he (Mr. Beresford Hope) would gladly leave the hon. and learned Member to his own opinion of himself. As his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had pointed out, those who advocated this Motion had impinged themselves on the horns of a dilemma; either they wished well to the Church of England, and in that respect posed as external reformers, or else they were the sharpshooters of the Liberation Society. He was sure that the hon. and learned Members, both from their high personal character and from the ingenuousness which was a part of the distinguished Profession to which they belonged, had no second thoughts in the pure and simple desire to do good to the Church and to the Bishops, who, of course, could not know what their own professional duties were, or what were his, for their interests. So much for pretexts; but he repudiated the imputations thrown upon the Church of England in the speeches of the hon. and learned Members, and he would not accept compromises which were really surrenders in disguise. What were the arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Willis)? He lamented that there was no discipline in the Church of England, and he blamed its division into three parties, as if, in his Liberal eyes, it was a reproach to be elastic, and to be able to approach the same formularies from various sides and with resources of modern research. He wished the Church to shrink into a sect, narrow and unprogressive, and the expulsion of its heads from the great Council of the nation was a ready way to that end. The object of the Motion really was to make the Church a little less popular and a little less influential for good; but they could not do all that in a Motion on going into Supply; and so the assailants took up this one point of turning the Bishops out of the House of Lords. It stood self-confessed of not being a sincere Motion, and it went too far, simply because it did not go far enough. Then the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh waxed eloquent, and, in thrilling and pathetic phrases, dwelt on somebody's great wrong and grievance, because there had not been a religious Census taken since the year 1851. Whose fault was that? He appealed to every Minister on both sides of the House to know if his life had not been made absolutely miserable by the leaders of Nonconformist opinion, and by their blatant protests, whenever, at each successive Census period, an attempt had really been made to ascertain what the true proportions of religious belief were? That religious Census of 1851 was only a Census of the attendance at public worship on a particular Sunday. Of course, it was not for him to suspect that some persons might have treated religious worship as a serious thing, and not have whipped up an attendance upon that day, while others of a political turn had been more alive to the opportunity. But, granted that that form of religious Census was the best, as he did not believe, why had no Member on the Liberal side of the House come forward himself and asked to have a similar Census on a similar basis taken in successive periods? He would not have thought it the best basis; but rather than have none at all he would have closed with it. But no; the stale cry was always raised that religion was a question between man and his Maker, as if the relations of man and his Maker were different in Ireland, where there always had been a religious Census. The Church of England, with all its difficulties, had meanwhile been growing and waxing strong in a remarkable and continuous manner—growing and waxing strong in its edifices, and the zeal of its ministers, and the devotion of its flock, and growing also in power and in variety in its pious institutions, its charitable enterprizes, and in the schools under its administration since the year 1851. Its opponents knew all that far too well; they feared and they avoided any official recognition of this growth, and they fell back, over and over again, upon the stale cud of 1861; and so that venerable spectre of the collusive Census was brought up as a reason for expelling the Bishops from the House of Lords. One point had not been referred to in the debate, and that was the historic origin and Constitutional character of the House of Lords as the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, two Estates of the Realm. If they expelled the Bishops from the House of Lords, it might still be an Upper Chamber; but it would no longer be the Chamber of the ancient Constitution. It would then be a totally different Assembly—an Assembly of the Lords Temporal only—so this project would be an absolute change in the Constitution of the country. This was, in effect, a Motion for pulling down, the Established Church of this country, and for putting it in a position of less respect in the eyes of the people, and in a lower social position, and then trusting to the drift of events for complete Disestablishment. For the Church itself he had no fear—established or disestablished; she would go on in her beneficent course; but her doing her duty was a very bad reason for wronging her. Before he sat down he must answer one question of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh. The hon. and learned Member asked why the Bishops of the Irish Church did not retain their seats in the House of Lords. The reason was that, out of a very fine feeling, and in a most self-denying spirit, they had refused to do so. The Act of Disestablishment retained for the actual occupants their right to sit in the House of Lords; but they declined to accept that privilege. So much, therefore, for that argument, and so much for the professed zeal for the Church of England, and the desire to promote its interests and develop its good points so loudly proclaimed by the hon. and learned Members for Colchester and Edinburgh. The Church of England was an Institution to be trusted with its own internal organization; and he objected to allowing it to be dealt with by men who in the House professed great zeal for it, and on the next day would go to the liberation Society and join in the conspiracy to pull it down.


Sir, I always consider the eloquence of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to resemble one of the most powerful and wonderful machines of modern times—I mean the Nasmyth hammer. He can bring all the force of his eloquence to bear on a solid argument and shiver it to pieces, and he can crack the shell of an egg without disturbing the yolk. I am not going this evening to reply to his argument with respect to the position of the Government on the Motion for going into Committee of Supply, as, if my recollection is correct, on many occasions during the present Parliament the Government have accepted Motions on a Friday evening which were Amendments to going into Committee of Supply. Nor will I stop to discuss his extraordinary theory with respect to the Re-formation, nor his new scheme of competitive examination for admission to the House of Lords. I wish to approach the question from a serious point of view. In my humble judgment, the present Motion is not antagonistic to the House of Lords, it is not antagonistic to the Church of England, and it does not raise the controversy as to the Disestablishment of that Church. A man may be as enthusiastic an admirer of the House of Lords as the Home Secretary is; he may be as devoted a member of the Church of England as the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down; he may entertain the most decided opinions as to the desirability of the State endowing the Church; and yet he may be as much opposed to 26 of its Bishops being ex officio Members of the House of Lords as the Home Secretary would be, and as every Member of this House would be, to 26 of the Archdeacons being ex officio Members of the House of Commons. The question before the House is, whether it is in the interest of the State or in the interests of the Church that 75 per cent of the English Episcopate should be Peers of Parliament? I answer that question in the negative, because I contend that the possession of such a privilege is a political anomaly, a sectarian injustice, and a religious calamity. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Beresford Hope) has alluded to the historic position of the Bishops as Lords Spiritual. May I remind him that the presence of ex officio legislators in the Parliament of to-day, who are neither hereditary nor representative, is a very feeble fragment of the original principle by virtue of which the Lords Spiritual, mitred Abbots as well as Bishops, took their places side by side with the feudal nobility? They were the owners of enormous tracts of the country, and as such they were emphatically an Estate of the Realm. But, whatever the Constitutional history of the case may be, we have to-day 26 clergymen nominated by the Prime Minister—always because they are the fittest men for the post, and sometimes, I suppose, under the circumstances described in the Life of Bishop Wilberforce—representing no one, and responsible to no one, claiming to form part of one of the branches of the Legislature. Looking at this claim from the political side, I ask, is it a political advantage or a political security? Has the course of legislation or administration gained by the presence of the Bishops in the House of Lords? Has it not, on the other hand, produced—as all political anomalies produce—irritation, disproportionate and exaggerated, against the Institution of which it forms a part? And when the Home Secretary speaks of the advantages of the presence of the Bishops in the House of Lords, I would ask him to put his finger on any one of those great measures of social, moral, or Constitutional progress which are the greatest achievements of the English Legislature and say that measure was the off-spring of the Episcopal Bench. I am not speaking of individuals. I would speak of the Bishops personally with the highest respect. I am speaking of them as a class, and as a class I allege that they afford all the disadvantages without any of the advantages of life Peers. The very conditions which are essential to their successful discharge of their highest and truest functions disable them from acting with the freedom and the courage which are the great advantage of life Peers. And their absolute irresponsibility—save so far as they are the advocates of a limited class who have no special right to distinctive representation—is in itself a disqualification for political power of the gravest significance. No one would propose to create such a political anomaly if it did not exist; and, although it is more difficult to discontinue wrongdoing than it is to commence wrong-doing, we have a right to protest against any privilege which is devoid of public advantage, and is a source of weakness, and, therefore, of danger, to the institutions of the country. There is another ground of objection of equal weight, and that is the presence and perpetuation of sectarian injustice. The raison d'étre of the presence of the Bishops in the House of Lords is that they are clergymen of the Church of England. When, as in centuries gone by the Church and the State were convertible terms, and when all the subjects of the Crown were members of the Church, the Rulers of the Church sustained a relation to the people as a whole which has long since ceased to exist. I am not going to discuss the disputed figures as to the relative numbers of those who belong to, or dissent from, the Anglican Communion. It is immaterial for my argument to which side the majority belongs. We know from a Return laid on the Table of this House, defective and inaccurate as it is, that there are, at least, in England and Wales 21,000 churches and chapels belonging to the Nonconformists and the Roman Catholics. In Scotland and in Ireland an overwhelming proportion of the people are outside the Anglican Church. If, therefore, it be right that ministers of religion, because they are ministers of religion, should be entitled to a place in the Legislature, why are they to be taken exclusively from one Church to which a large number of the people of England do not belong, and why are the Churches of Scotland and Ireland to be excluded? If this selection is defended on the ground that the presence of the clergy of the Church of England is one of the consequences of the connection between the Church and State, why does not that consequence follow from the connection of the Church and State in Scotland? The Church of Scotland is historically and constitutionally as legally established as the Church of England. But the injustice is not confined to the conflicting aims of the rival Churches—it affects the religious feelings of the whole community. The voice which the Bishops claim to utter in the House of Lords is the Christian voice of the nation, proclaiming, as Edmund Burke did a hundred years ago, that politics are but an enlarged morality, and that whatever is morally wrong can never be politically right. When the voice of the Bishops is not in harmony with the convictions of a large section of the religious community it would be better that that voice should be silent. I am not going to trouble the House with details of the Divisions in which Bishops have taken part according to their consciences and political convictions, which I have no right to challenge; but I must say that when questions have arisen which have aroused the deepest feelings of those who believe that politics are something higher than Party intrigues, those feelings have rarely found expression from the Episcopal Bench. ["No!"] the Lord Mayor says "No." I ask him to take a review of the last 50 years, totally irrespective of Party politics, of the grave question of peace or war; and I ask him whether the Christian voice on that question has been heard from, the Episcopate in the House of Lords? I ask him to look to the very question which, perhaps, has suggested this Motion—the reform of the Marriage Laws—[Cries of "Oh !"] Hon. Members say "Oh !" I am not expressing any opinion as to whether the Bishops are right or wrong; but, as a matter of fact, there are two strong currents of opinion running through all the Churches of Christendom. As a matter of fact, an overwhelming majority of the Members of this House—Liberals and Conservatives—are prepared to alter that law. As a matter of fact, a majority of the Temporal Peers are prepared to alter that law; and when the Bishops, assuming the right to act on behalf of the religious voice of the nation, interpose their veto, they are assuming a function which does not belong to them, and are promoting a great injustice. In making these remarks I do not for a moment contend that any Church or denomination, as such, should be represented either in this or in the other House; but when all the Members of the House of Lords, with the exception of the Roman Catholics, belong to the Church of England, and when an overwhelming majority of the Members of this House also belong to that Church, her position is perfectly safe. No legislation affecting her rights can be passed without the support of a large number of her lay members. I, therefore, object to her having imposed on her the disadvantage of a political privilege of no real service, and which aggravates and intensifies an antagonism which is already far too severe. Notwithstanding what the right hon. Gentleman has said with reference to the effect of this question on the Church itself, I would presume to utter a word or two on that point. We have been told, and shall be told again, that this Motion is one of the weapons of the political Dissenters, and that the "be all" and the "end all" of their principles and policy is hatred to the Church. I repudiate the title "political Dissenter," and I repudiate the motives and the objects which hon. Gentlemen associate with that nick-name. I should like to hear a definition of "political Dissent" which will bear five minutes' criticism. If I understand anything of the past history or the present attitude of English Nonconformity, it rests on a far wider and more lasting foundation than political partisanship or political aims. We object, as you do, to many of the evils against which ardent Churchmen are crying out with a daily increasing voice, and in respect to which they are coming to this House to be relieved by legislation. And although we may believe that political privileges and political power are fetters none the less galling because they are golden, and although we smart under sectarian intolerance and social wrong—we, nevertheless, recognize and appreciate the priceless services which the Church of England has rendered to the Christianity of England and to the Christianity of the world. In my opinion, it would be as idle to dream, as it would be wicked to desire, that the real influence of the Church should be either weakened or destroyed; but I ask, in the interests of the Church, what does it lose and what does it gain by the possession of this privilege? It loses the presence and the work of its great officers in their own dioceses at a period when that work has an importance and a reality which had no existence a generation ago. It loses that sympathy with the masses of the people which political privilege, especially when tinged with political partisanship, invariably destroys. Dr. Arnold deplored that the Church of England, during its history, had, on the whole, belonged to one political Party. That political bias has been most strongly evinced by the Parliamentary action of the Bishops; and the strength and extent of the political alliance is the measure of the loss of national influence and moral power. The Church loses not only the services of her most distinguished sons in the sphere of their highest work; but she sustains the deeper loss of the inevitable, though perhaps unconscious, deterioration of tone which an official and professional advocacy of property, privilege, and power induce. One of the saddest of modern biographies is that of a Prelate whoso rare genius, almost unsurpassed talents, and lofty aims were dwarfed by the atmosphere of episcopo-political intrigue, in which, as Leader of the Ecclesiastical Parliamentary Party, he was compelled to live. And what does the Church gain? Rank? Yes—Dignity? Yes—The shadow of power, not its substance. There are Bishops and Bishops. The Church of England has had her Prince Bishops, who have exercised sovereign sway and received regal revenues. She has had her Poor Bishops, great nobles, successful courtiers, and keen politicians. She has had her Missionary Bishops—men devoid of wealth and rank, who have consecrated their Episcopate by the splendour of their self-denial, and the simplicity and sanctity of their lives. I would ask the strongest Churchman in this House—I would ask the Members for the two Universities, whether they can point to any Prelate of the English Church during the 18th century, or during the 19th century, who has rendered such a service, or reflected such a glory on that Church, as was rendered by the life and work and death of the martyred Bishop of Melanesia? I remember the Sunday after the imposing pageant with which the Primate was conducted to his archiepiscopal throne in the Cathedral of Canterbury, the rector of the parish to which this House belongs described, with all the pictorial eloquence of which he is such a pre-eminent master, the deserted canoe drifting over the coral reefs of the South Pacific, bearing the body of the murdered Bishop; and when Archdeacon Farrar bad completed his picture, he added, with a tone which was as significant as it was impressive, "that a scene like that was worth to the Church of England a dozen enthronizations." That distinguished dignitary discerned the true secret of the Church's weakness and the Church's strength. I venture to submit to hon. Gentlemen opposite that pomp is not power; that the greatest, and the truest, and the most indestructible strength of the Church of England lies beyond the range of Peerages and Parliaments. The State novel-gave it, and the State can never take it away. In the interests of the Church, therefore, using that term in its broadest and most catholic sense, as well as in the interests of the State, I protest against the continuance of a privilege which is an anachronism, an injustice, and a wrong.


said, that, whatever their opinions might he, he was sure they had all listened with the greatest admiration to the eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Wolver-hampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler). He could assure the hon. Member for himself (Sir John R. Mowbray), and for many of those around him, that they all felt indebted to him for the way in which he had raised the tone of the debate. They were the last persons to wish to expose themselves to the taunt unjustly thrown out by the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Waddy) that they were inclined to treat the matter with banter as a joke. On the contrary, he approached it as one of the most serious and important questions that could possibly he brought before the House; not that he thought for one moment that the Church, as a Divine Institution, was likely to have its existence affected by any action the House might take on this Motion, or upon a still larger question. But he thought that the Motion raised a very grave Constitutional question, which had been so regarded by all who had treated it before. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) had passed lightly over the Constitutional question, and seemed inclined to draw a distinction between the Abbots and Prelates of olden times and the Lords Spiritual of the present day. He would, however, remind the hon. Member that when the matter was before the House some years ago a great Constitutional authority like Lord John Russell pointed out that from time immemorial the Lords Spiritual and Temporal had been associated with the Crown and the Commons in making the laws of the Kingdom; and any proposal to strike out the Lords Spiritual from the House of Lords would really be building up a new Constitution on now principles. That was the way in which so great a Constitutional authority as Lord John Russell approached the question 40 years ago. The right hon. Gentleman the present Prime Minister, in dealing with the same question in 1870. said the proposal involved a change of one of the most important and principal features of the British Constitution. It was very wrong that so grave and important a question should be raised in the incidental way in which it had been raised that evening, upon the Motion for going into Committee of Supply; and, indeed, it would be altogether impossible, by an abstract Resolution, to make so great a Constitutional change as would be involved in excluding the Lords Spiritual from the House of Lords. When it was attempted to be done 40 years ago, Sir Robert Peel said that if the question was to be raised at all it ought to be raised by a Bill; and the hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Willis) admitted that the right ought to be taken away by Bill; but the hon. Member did not proceed in the usual way, by proposing to take it away by Bill. The hon. Member for Wolver-hampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) had made a very eloquent speech; but he also supported a Motion by which it was admitted that nothing could be gained. He (Sir John R. Mowbray) joined with the hon. Member in the tribute he had paid to the martyred Bishop of Melanesia; but it should be remembered that the Bishop of Melanesia was a pupil of the Bishop of New Zealand, and the latter Prelate died a Peer of Parliament after holding for 11 years a seat in the House of Lords. Bishop Patteson, as everybody knew, was a disciple of Bishop Selwyn. It was said that the time of the Bishops ought to be devoted to the discharge of their duties in their dioceses; but times were so changed that Bishops were well able to leave their dioceses in order to give occasional attendance in the House of Lords when it was found necessary to discuss questions which affected the interests of the Church, and, at the same time, to discharge all the duties required of them in connection with their dioceses. The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Waddy) had made some at-tack upon the Bishop of Exeter because he had been enabled to devote some time to his spiritual duties in the House of Lords last Session. He gathered from the hon. and learned Member that the attack was not against the Bishops for being in their places in the House of Lords, but for having mainly contributed towards bringing about a result which they themselves conscientiously believed to be necessary. On the Marriage Law question they had simply taken the course which they believed to be right. They had defended the law of the Church, and had stood up for that which they believed to be true; and unless the Bishops had taken the part which they did take on that occasion they would have lost the respect of the people. Did anyone seriously think that the presence of these 26 Bishops in the House of Lords was prejudicial to the Commonwealth? [Mr. WADDY: Hear, hear!] the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Waddy) said "Hear, hear!" but he did not know that the hon. and learned Member had urged that view of the question. He certainly did not recollect that the hon. and learned Member had shown the House in what way their presence was injurious to the Commonwealth. The hon. and learned Gentleman would admit that their presence added weight to the deliberations of the House of Lords, and that they were men possessing the highest talent, the greatest force of character, variety of learning, and attainments of every kind. Every quality that was desirable was contributed by the Bench of Bishops. He would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman if he did not think that in the last 30 or 40 years the Bishops had been very important Members of that Assembly? Did he not think that the clear, convincing, and argumentative speeches of Bishop Blomfield, the learning of Bishop Philpotts, the eloquence of Bishop Wilberforce, and the dignified bearing and statesmanlike utterances of Archbishop Tait, had added to the deliberative power of the House of Lords to a very remarkable degree? He might go through the Prelates of the present day in order to give further proof; but he would refrain from doing so. He maintained that the hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Willis) had completely failed to prove either of his points. Instead of the Bishops having been taken away from their duties, they had been fully able to perform them; and the House of Lords, instead of having been weakened by their presence, had been materially strengthened. No ground, therefore, had been proved for the great Constitutional change the House was now asked to make, and he hoped the Motion would be rejected.


said, that investigation had shown that no weight at all could be given to the Returns of the religious Census. They were absolutely untrustworthy, and utterly devoid of value as showing the relative position of the Church of England and of other religious Bodies within the Realm. The religious Census, therefore, could not be alluded to by anybody who understood the subject with any degree of satisfaction, he had had occasion once himself to estimate the proportion of members of the Church of England; and as far as he could form an opinion of those who were in the habit of attending any place of worship—including all sects—within the Metropolitan area, the members of the Church of England—and he gave the figures to the House for what they were worth—amounted to nearly 70 per cent of the number who were accustomed to go to any place of worship. He asked the House to remember, then, that if the Church of England was the Church of the State, it was because it was the Church of that large mass of the people, who might claim to have provision made for their spiritual wants, however negligent they might be to use those advantages that were provided for them, and might be regarded in that sense as a political element. At the same time, although a member of the Church of England, he intended to vote for the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Willis). He would not trouble the House with entering into matters which had been far more elo- quently put by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) than he could possibly put them, and with whose statement of facts he entirely agreed.


said, that no one could for a moment complain of the tone of the remarks which had been made to the House a short time ago by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. Whenever that hon. Member spoke in that House upon questions affecting the Church, he not only spoke with eloquence, but with generosity. He was afraid, however, that the same remark could not be applied to all the speeches which had been delivered in the course of the debate. The hon. and learned Member for Colchester, who moved the Resolution, began by stating that he would not enter into the question of Disestablishment; and then, for 40 minutes by the clock, the hon. and learned Member continued to pour out the vials of his wrath against the continuance of the connection between Church and State. In point of fact, the debate was nothing less than a demonstration in force of the Liberation Society, and the raison d'étre of that Society was to stamp out the political existence of the Church of England. They thought the best thing they could do was to begin by trying to stamp out the Bishops in the House of Lords. He had listened carefully to the debate, in the endeavour to hear some argument in favour of the abstract Resolution which had been moved. He had heard it stated that the Bishops, by reason of their attendance in the House of Lords, were prevented from attending to the more immediate duties of their dioceses. If that was an argument worth anything, it was an argument in favour of an increase of the Episcopate; but whenever a Bill for that purpose was brought forward, it always met with most uncompromising opposition from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. He, therefore, could not think they were altogether sincere in what they said. Then, in regard to the duties of the Bishops in the House of Lords, they were confined, as a general rule, to very few occasions. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, who had spoken very eloquently, very logically, but he (Colonel Makins) must say, somewhat flippantly, said that the attendance of the Bishops in the House of Lords was confined to once a fortnight, or, perhaps, once in three weeks. Now, it was not a question of whether their attendance was confined to once a fortnight or once in three weeks; but whenever there was a question for the consideration of the House of Lords which affected the moral or the physical well-being of the community, he ventured to say that the Bishops would be found in their places. No doubt, whenever the question for discussion was one of a Party and political character, the Bishops were generally conspicuous by their absence. He would make the right hon. and learned Gentleman a present of one concession in regard to his arguments. He himself (Colonel Makins) certainly did think it was a pity that one of the Bishops should always be withdrawn from his duties in his diocese for the mere purpose of acting as Chaplain to the House of Lords. He thought that a much more satisfactory arrangement might be made, such, for instance, as attaching to the Deanery of Westminster the ex officio duties of Chaplain to the House of Lords. He believed that the duties of the Dean of Westminster were not of an arduous nature, and the Dean would be able to give the necessary attendance without its being necessary to withdraw a Bishop from the discharge of important duties in his diocese. In the next place, he (Colonel Makins) wished to find fault with the form of the Motion moved by the hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Willis). The hon. and learned Member said— That the legislative power of Bishops in the House of Peers in Parliament is a great hindrance to the discharge of their spiritual function, prejudicial to the Commonwealth, and fit to be taken away by Bill. The use of the word "Commonwealth" he took to be simply technical, seeing that in the present day there was no Commonwealth in this country, but a Monarchy. Indeed, he thought the hon. and learned Member had better begin by abolishing the Monarchy altogether. The fact was, that the only time a Resolution was passed excluding the Bishops from Parliament was when there was no Monarchy. [Cries of "No!"]


It was in 1641.


said, that, at any rate, it was passed at a time when revo- lutionary notions were very prevalent. He deprecated any attempt in these days to upset the Constitution by a Resolution of this kind. If the hon. and learned Member desired to deal with the question, let him do so in a regular way by bringing in a Bill, which would enable the Bishops themselves to have their say in the matter. In regard to the representation of the clergy of the Church of England, it must not be forgotten that if they took away the Bishops from the House of Lords, they would leave the clergy the only body in the community who would be altogether unrepresented. The clergy of the Church of England could not sit in the House of Commons, although the same disability did not apply to the Nonconformists; and there were reverend Gentlemen, Presbyterians and others, at the present moment, who were very able Members of the House. There was nothing to prevent them from sitting as Members of Parliament; but with regard to the clergy of the Church of England, their only representation was in the House of Lords, by means of the Episcopal Bench. If the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Willis) were carried, and the object he desired were passed into law, it would then become necessary to give the clergy of the Church of England some compensation; but he had not been able to gather, from the speech of the Mover of the Resolution or of those who supported it, that it was proposed to offer any compensation whatever. Of course, he did not speak of compensation in money; but if Parliament were to take away the only representation the clergy of the Church of England now possessed, in common fairness they must be prepared to give them some other means of representation. There was only one other point which he wished to bring before the House, and it was this—that he believed one strong reason which induced hon. Members opposite to make this attack upon the Bishops was the part they had taken in the House of Lords in opposing a certain measure which had been described as one of great social importance—the Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister Bill. Surely those who blamed the Bishops for the action they had taken could not be aware of the obligation which rested upon them. Every one of the Bishops had sworn to uphold the Canon Law, and that law distinctly declared that such marriages were incestuous and unlawful. Therefore they would be guilty of a gross breach of duty if they were to give a vote which would have the effect of breaking their Oath upon any canonical matter. The hour was too late to justify him in entering into many of the questions which had been brought before the House in the course of the debate; but he ventured to say that, except as a demonstration of the Liberation Society, the Resolution, even if carried, would be worthless.


said, the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) had told the House that this Motion was brought forward at the instance of the Liberation Society, and that it was, in reality, a veiled attack upon the Church of England. That assertion had been repeated by the hon. and gallant Member for South Essex (Colonel Makins), who had just addressed the House; and, therefore, he (Mr. Mellor) begged to say that, for his part, he was not a member of the Liberation Society; that he had had no communication with that Society; but that he was a Member of the Church of England, and intended to vote for the Motion. He might add that he was a constituent of the right hon. Gentleman; and he would inform him that a great number of his constituents, quite as anxious for the spiritual well-being of the Church as the right hon. Gentleman or any other person could be, agreed with him (Mr. Mellor) in thinking that the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Colchester ought to be carried, and that the presence of the Bishops in the House of Lords was calculated to injure the interests of the Church, and to work mischief. They had been told by various speakers that they ought to deal with the subject by Bill instead of by Resolution; while others said that his hon. and learned Friend ought to have put down some other form of Motion; but when it came to be considered how very few opportunities any private Member of the House had of bringing forward any Motion at all, he thought his hon. and learned Friend might be congratulated in having secured a place on the Order Book which had allowed him to bring this Motion before the House that night. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, among other things, had called attention to the Constitutional question. At that hour of the night he (Mr. Mellor) was not going to trouble or weary the House with many remarks so far as the Constitutional question was concerned; but he should like to say a word or two in regard to that matter. Although the right hon. Gentleman, had treated the Bishops as Peers, in point of law they never were Peers. They were Lords Spiritual only, and had never, in the whole history of England, been summoned to the High Court of the Lord Steward. They had no right to sit there, and had never been called upon to sit in judgment. [Mr. WARTON: No, no !] The hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) said "No !" but he would beg the hon. and learned Member to turn his attention to the authorities upon the subject. If he did, he would find that he (Mr. Mellor) was quite right; and if his hon. and learned Friend would go a little further, he would find that the Act of Uniformity, in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, was passed in defiance of the opinions of the Bishops, who were all against it, and that when the Act of Uniformity was drawn up, the words "with the consent of the Lords Spiritual" were omitted from it. His hon. and learned Friend would also find that in the Reign of Henry VIII. the Judges were of opinion that Parliament might be lawfully summoned without the Bishops at all; and it was a remarkable fact that in the Reign of Charles II. two Parliaments were composed of Temporal Peers, and the House of Commons without any of the Spiritual Lords being summoned. If any hon. Member would take the trouble to look at the Act of Charles I., which succeeded the Motion to which reference had been made by the hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Willis), and which took away the right of the Bishops to sit in the House of Lords, he would find that that Act recited that the presence of Bishops in the House of Lords was found to be prejudicial to the State, and that, beyond all things, their spiritual duties in their dioceses required their whole attention. That was what the Act itself recited. Someone—he thought it was his hon. and learned Friend—had quoted Lord Falkland. Now, Lord Falkland made a remarkable speech in favour of that Bill which still survived; and, although Lord Falkland afterwards changed his views as to this, it must not be forgotten that he changed his opinions, not because he had arrived at a different conclusion, but because he became frightened at the state of things which was then existing. In that speech of Lord Falkland he called attention to this very question—the continual absence of the Bishops from their Sees—and it was not till the Reign of Charles II. that the Bishops were restored to their place in Parliament by the repeal of that Act. What he and his hon. Friend thought as to other mischiefs caused by the presence of the Bishops in the House of Lords, as far as the State was concerned, was this—that they sat there as Bishops to judge and vote upon questions, not only affecting the people of this country, but the people of Ireland and Scotland. The Irish Bishops had been excluded from sitting in the House of Lords. The Bill which disestablished the Irish Church took away the right of the Irish Bishops to sit and vote in the House of Lords. The consequence was that the Bishops who retained scats in the House of Lords were placed in this anomalous position—they had power to sit and vote upon Irish questions, while the Irish Bishops could not do so, and it might happen that by their vote some important Irish measure might be thrown out. If that were done, he would ask the House what would be the result in that as well as this country? He was satisfied that a most serious blow would be struck, not only against the Bishops, but against the Church. They could not reproach the Bishops for the votes they gave if they allowed thorn to sit there. The fault laid in the system. It would be unfair to say that the Bishops voted either in this way or in that way, because if they allowed them to remain in the House of Lords, they ought to assume that they would act conscientiously. What he contended was this—if such a crisis were to be brought about, a serious blow would be struck not only against the Bishops, but against the Church, for they could not strike at the Bishops without the blow recoiling upon the Church. As a member of the Church, he should deeply deplore that such a state of things should exist. Another part of the question, and one of the most serious aspects of the question, was this—the Bishops, at the present time, in order that they might do their duty as Members of the House of Lords, were bound to be in attendance there, in order that they might serve the State; but while they were serving the State they could not be in their dioceses, and he thought every Member of the House, whether he agreed with him in the view he took of the Motion or not, would admit that, throughout the country at the present time, in various country parishes a most lamentable state of things existed. He did not propose to enter into the question as to which Party was wrong in any of the disputes which prevailed; but he could not help thinking that, if the Bishops were able to devote the whole of their time to the duties of their dioceses, they would soon make themselves acquainted with the wishes and views of many persons with whom, under the existing state of things, they never came into contact at all. In that case, they would be able to act as mediators in many of the unfortunate disputes which had arisen, and remove a considerable amount of heartburning and bickering. Instead of seeing the Bishops occupying the position of great Lords, and coming down to the House of Peers to attend the debates, he should like to see them occupying their time with their spiritual duties, endeavouring to ascertain for themselves the feelings of the clergy and laity in their various parishes. By going about amongst the farmers, and even the labourers in the country, and listening to their complaints and their views, they might learn a good deal more about them than they could ever hope to do under the present system. If they were able to do that, they would soon do a vast amount of good. It had been pointed out that night, as it had been pointed out in early times, that it was most desirable the Bishops should be accessible at all times; and the only conclusion he could arrive at was that, if the Bishops were allowed to remain ill the House of Lords—even if they were only called upon to be in attendance occasionally to discharge duties of the kind which had been described—they could not, at the same time, perform the legitimate duties of their dioceses, and devote to their various parishes the time that was desirable. At present they must either neglect their duties to the State or their duties in their dioceses. Their duty, as Members of the House of Lords, required them to spend far more time in political matters than merely the actual spent in the House itself. He had no desire to prolong the debate; but he hoped hon. Members would agree that a great number of Churchmen, who were all deeply attached to the Church, were most anxious to secure the greater efficiency of the Bishops. And he thought that, by passing this Resolution, a stop would be taken towards directing the attention of the whole country to the matter.


said, the question was one which could not be decided by a debate of an hour or two, but which really required very serious consideration and discussion. A great number of hon. Members of that House, who wished to see the Bishops no longer having seats in the House of Lords, had two objects in view. One was, that there should be no House of Lords at all. [Cries of "No!"] It was the fact all the same; and he would repeat that there were a great number of Gentlemen, among whom he did not include the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Mellor), who last addressed the House, but a great number of those hon. Members who had spoken in favour of, and who were ready to vote for, the Motion would desire that there should be no House of Lords. [Cries of "No!"] Their other object was, that there should be no Bishops of the Established Church—["No, no !"]—and, therefore, when they said they wanted to withdraw the Bishops of the Established Church from the House of Lords they were practically putting forward, in the first place, that there should be no House of Lords at all; and, in the second, that there should be no Bishops of the Established Church. ["No, no!"] hon. Members opposite might shout "No!" but it was true. He would undertake to say that one-half of those hon. Members who intended to vote for the Motion would vote for the Disestablishment of the Church, while an equal number would vote for the abolition of the House of Lords. Therefore, his proposition was quite true. A considerable number of hon. Members now present were not Members of the House of Commons in the year 1870, and, therefore, had not the opportunity of listening to the advice then given to the House by the present Prime Minister. Nobody regretted more than he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) did the absence of the right hon. Gentleman on the present occasion. He had no wish to speak disparagingly of one word that had fallen from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, who had addressed the House against the Motion; but the greater weight and authority of the Prime Minister had generally exercised a considerable amount of influence over the votes of hon. Members on the opposite side of the House. He, therefore, begged to remind them that in 1870—not very many years ago—no one spoke in more eloquent terms against the proposition at present before the House than the Prime Minister then did. The right hon. Gentleman opposed the proposal from both points of view. He said—" I do not care whether you consider it in regard to the benefit of the State, or whether you regard it from the interests of the Church.—in whichever way you take it, I am entirely against the proposal to take away from the Bishops the seats they have in the House of Lords." He (Sir R. Assheton Cross) did not quite understand how it should have happened that the eloquence of the Prime Minister, which was always listened to with the greatest respect by hon. Members opposite, should have one effect in one case and not in another. For this reason he regretted most deeply that the Prime Minister was not able to be in his place to repeat, with all the eloquence and force he had employed in 1870, his arguments against the Motion which it was now the wish of hon. Members opposite to pass. ["Divide !"] No; hon. Members might take it from him that they were not going to divide until the question, had been properly discussed. He had no doubt, if the Prime Minister were now in his place, he would state again what he had said so well in 1870, whatever hon. Members opposite might think. He did not dispute that when the right hon. Gentleman brought forward his Land Bill originally, he announced opinions which he totally changed in 1881, and probably hon. Members opposite indulged in the hope that the Prime Minister had also changed his opinion as to the exclusion of the Bishops from the House of Lords. Perhaps hon. Members opposite thought that the Prime Minister was continually going to change his opinions on all subjects, and that in regard to the Bishops in the House of Lords his views had undergone as much alteration as they had upon the Land Question. [Interruption, and cries of "Move the Adjournment."] No; he would not move the adjournment of the debate; but he must persist in reminding hon. Members sitting on the opposite side of the House of one or two of the arguments used by the Prime Minister in 1870, because he thought that the words of the right hon. Gentleman would have greater weight with them than any he (Sir E. Assheton Cross) could use. Hon. Members opposite voted in accordance with the advice and opinions of the right hon. Gentleman then, and he did not see why they should not take the same course now. What the right hon. Gentleman said in 1870 was this. [Cries of "Agreed!"] he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) did not propose to read any opinion of his own, but simply those of the Prime Minister, if hon. Members opposite cared to listen to them. [Interruption.]


the right hon. Gentleman is in possession of the House, and is entitled to be allowed to proceed without interruption.


said, he was merely going to quote what the Prime Minister had stated; and, notwithstanding the interruption of Members on the other side, he meant to say what he intended to say. He had certainly thought that they would have listened with more respect than they had manifested to any words that had fallen from the Prime Minister, and his only regret was that the right hon. Gentleman was unable to repeat thorn in person. [A laugh] He did not see why hon. Members should laugh at the words of the Prime Minister before they had heard them. What the right hon. Gentleman said was this—that the question might be regarded in two ways—first, as it affected the Church, and next in regard to the State; and that, in his opinion, neither the Church nor the State would derive any advantage from the Bishops being excluded from the House of Lords. The right hon. Gentleman gave his reasons as far as the Church was concerned. He said it had been stated that the Bishops had now ceased to reside habitually in London during the Session; that there were a certain number of them who were always necessarily here—namely, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and the Bishop of Winchester, who might be called the Metropolitan Bishops; that no one could find fault with their being constantly in London; and that their duties in Parliament were not now allowed to interfere with the performance of their duties in their respective dioceses. The hon. Member for Grant-ham (Mr. Mellor) said he wished that the Bishops should confine themselves entirely to the discharge of the duties connected with their dioceses; but the Prime Minister was of a different opinion, and stated so in 1870. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that the old practice whereby the Bishops were constantly in London had practically ceased; that they were only in London now and then; and that their duties in their dioceses were in no way interfered with by the performance of their duties in the House of Lords. The right hon. Gentleman stated further that their occasional presence in London for purposes of union and communion was absolutely necessary for the complete discharge of their duties in their different dioceses; and he added that they could perform the duties required of them, at the present moment, in Parliament perfectly consistently with the duties they were called upon to discharge in their dioceses. He left the Prime Minister and hon. Members opposite to settle the matter among themselves; but no one could have spoken with greater force and reason, and more conclusively, than the right hon. Gentleman did in 1870. But the Prime Minister went on to declare that the exclusion of the Bishops from the House of Lords was intimately connected with the question of the relation between Church and State, and ought not to be considered apart from that subject. He thought the proposal then brought forward would materially weaken the influence of the State upon the Church; and that was one reason which, in his opinion, rendered it necessary that the Bishops should retain their seats. The right hon. Gentleman said it was most desirable that the influence of the State, exercised through the House of Lords on the Bishops who were there representing the Church, should be continued, not only in the interest of the Church, but in the interest of the people. Lastly, the Prime Minister stated that, in his opinion, the matter was so intimately connected with the Disestablishment and disendowment of the Church of England that it could not be considered solely on the mere question of the presence of the Bishops in the House of Lords; but that, whenever such a serious subject did come before Parliament at all, it must be discussed in connection with the question of total Disestablishment and the relations now existing between Church and State; that it ought not to be discussed upon any bye issue, but must be fought ought straight. [Cries of "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members opposite said "Hear, hear;" but it was clearly the opinion of the Prime Minister that the question was so vitally connected with the relations between Church and State that it could not possibly be discussed in any other form or shape, but must be met by a direct proposal, and not brought forward as a bye question. The Prime Minister even went on to point out what would be the disadvantages to the State. He declared that the charges which had been made against the Bishops were altogether inconsistent—on the one hand that they were too subservient to the State, and on the other that they were too ostentatious. Such charges, said the Prime Minister, were inconsistent with each other, and ought not to weigh with the House in discussing the matter. As to the removal of the Bishops from the House of Lords, the Prime Minister gave it as his opinion that their removal would not strengthen that Chamber. The House of Lords, as everyone knew, was a hereditary Legislature, and the effect which the Bishops, who were persons most of whom had raised themselves from inferior positions in life, and many of them from even the lowest stations, by their high character, intelligence, knowledge, and learning—the effect which their presence produced afforded material strength to the House of Lords. [Interruption] Hon. Members were impatient; but they must remember that he was not speaking his own words, but those of the Prime Minister. They were discussing the question whether these Prelates were to be dismissed from the House of Lords or not, and he presumed they were agreed that there ought to be two Chambers. He supposed there could be no doubt whatever about that. ["No !"] If they were not agreed upon that point, he would ask any hon. Member to get up in his place and state whether he could put his finger upon a single epoch in the history of any country, ancient or modern, in which, with a single Chamber, the liberties of the people were over preserved for a longer period than 50 years. He defied any hon. Member to get tip and disprove that assertion. Therefore, upon that point there could be no question, and there must be a Second Chamber. Then, if there was to be a Second Chamber—[Cries of "Divide!" and interruption] Hon. Members opposite seemed lo imagine that they were in a majority, and that he was occupying the time of the House solely in order to enable Members to come down. He certainly intended to conclude the remarks he had risen to make; and he would say this. If there was to be a Second Chamber, it was of vital importance to that Chamber that there should be persons introduced there on account of their special ability, special knowledge, and special power. If they really wished to reform that Chamber, instead of excluding the Bishops from the House of Lords, a far better course would be to place more life Peers in it. All these questions which he had put before the House were questions which were stated in 1870 in far more eloquent language by the Prime Minister. [Interruption] He was very sorry to find that there were hon. Members opposite who were not disposed to accept the arguments of the Prime Minister; and the only conclusion he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) could draw from that fact was either that the right hon. Gentleman himself had changed his views, which he could scarcely imagine to be the case, seeing that the Home Secretary had spoken in precisely the same sense, or that many Members opposite were so much in difference with him that they intended to vote against the Government. He (Sir R. Assheton Cross) could only say that if the Motion were passed it would only be taken for what it was worth, for they might depend upon it that the country would be of a different opinion, [Cries of "Oh !"] He certainly believed that the country were upon this point, and probably it was the only point on which they were at one with the Prime Minister—that was to say, supposing the right hon. Gentleman still entertained the opinions he had expressed in 1870. He (Sir R. Assheton Cross) cared little about the Liberal majority, because he felt satisfied that before the question came to a practical solution it would have to be deliberately discussed on its merits, which it certainly had not been that night, and when it had been so discussed it would be found that, whatever majority there might be then in favour of the Motion, when the question was thoroughly and practically considered, the feeling of the country would be strongly against the proposal.


said, that it had been urged in the course of the debate that the object of bringing forward this Motion was to advance the cause of Disestablishment, and, if possible, to damage the Church of England. He believed that was not the case. Although he was of opinion that if the Motion before the House were passed, and the Bishops were expelled from the House of Lords, it would be for the benefit of the Church of England, yet, as a member of that Church, he should give his opposition to that Motion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross) had said that many Gentlemen on that side of the House desired to see the abolition of the House of Lords. He (Mr. Buxton) believed that the time for that had not yet come; but undoubtedly there was a large majority of Members on those Benches who desired to see a reform of the House of Lords. His own desire was not to see it reformed in the direction indicated by the Motion, but by the admission of life Peers, and as the principle of life Peers was as yet only admitted in the case of Bishops, he felt bound to oppose the Motion now before the House.


Sir, I promise not to detain the House many minutes. I am anxious to make one observation—namely, that before we go to a Division we should understand that we neither over-estimate nor under-estimate the effect of this Motion. It has been remarked in the course of the discussion that the real moaning and intention of the proposed Resolution is to lay the foundation of, or to take a stop towards, the Disestablishment of the Church. That has been denied by many speakers, and I have no doubt that in the denials they have given hon. Members have been perfectly sincere; nor do I for a moment doubt that many who will give the Motion their support to-night will say that it does not pledge them to go any further, and will wish it to be clearly understood that if the Motion is carried it shall not be taken as moaning anything beyond that which it really states. But, on the other hand, I must point out that if such a vote should be passed—even in this very informal shape, and in a House so little, qualified for want of time to discuss, or by the form in which it has been brought before it, as a Legislative Body, to consider the proposal—it must not be thought that such a vote carries with it any assent to the principle of Disestablishment; nor, on the other hand, must we shrink from the conviction that such a vote will give a considerable impetus to the feeling, and will impress it strongly on the minds of persons outside this House, that a step in that direction has been taken. It is not a, little remarkable that the arguments which have been adduced in support of the Motion, if they are arguments that are worth anything, are such as ought to have proceeded from friends of the Church, and within the Church, rather than from those who wish to attack it, or who are jealous of its position; because the best argument brought forward is that the attendance of the Bishops in the House of Lords militates against and prevents their properly discharging the functions of, their dioceses. Now, if that were a serious objection, it would be felt by the Bishops themselves, and by the friends and members of the Church, who would be the first to put it forward. But it is to be observed that it is not from that source that the objection proceeds. I listened with admiration to much of the speech of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler). There is no doubt that great eloquence and good feeling was manifested throughout the whole of that speech, and it was impossible not to be influenced by the very touching manner in which the hon. Gentleman spoke of the great services of the Missionary Bishops. But I venture to say, however great may be the devotion and services of Bishop Paterson, of whom, no one can speak more highly than I do, that amongst the Bishops labouring in their several districts in England, there is quite as much resolute devotion, quite as much keenness to take their part in the proper solution of those great social questions which affect the religious and moral as well as the political character of the country, as there is to be found in the exertions of one who went out to the heathen in Melanesia. Sir, it is not fair to bring forward any Motion or any proposition of this kind in a spirit which seems to imply that the Bishops of the Church of England are not doing their duty as a body. I say there are no men who are making greater exertions, and greater sacrifices of time and health, and all that they can command for the good of those committed to their charge, than the Bishops of the Church of England. With regard to the form in which the Motion is presented to us, I will only say that it is of a kind which naturally renders this discussion a very cursory one, and that if it had been seriously contemplated it ought to have been presented in the form of a Bill, which could be discussed upon the lines of a practical proposal rather than as a Motion of an abstract character. We have had two or three hours only for the discussion of this great question, which leads into other questions greater still, and which cannot properly be separated from it; and I venture to say that the vote taken upon it to-night will be far indeed from expressing the real conviction of the House.


said, he had not had the advantage of hearing the whole of the eloquent introduction of this Motion by the hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Willis), and he therefore asked, for the information of the House, whether it was his intention, should the Motion be carried, to introduce a Bill? He had another question to put. Was the House to understand that, in the event of the Motion being carried and a Bill being introduced, the latter would receive the support of Her Majesty's Government? He put these questions for this reason, that if the House were to pass such a Resolution as the present without a promise on the part of the Mover that he would introduce a Bill, and without a promise on the part of Her Majesty's Government that they would support it. The House would, in his opinion, be trifling with the country.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 148; Noes 137: Majority 11.

Alexander. Major-Gen. Fremantle, hon. T. F.
Amherst, W. A. T. French-Brewster, R. A. B.
Archdale. W. H.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Gabbett, D F.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Garnier, J. C.
Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks- Gibson, right hon. E.
Giles. A.
Beach, W. W. B. Gladstone. W. H.
Bective, Earl of Goldney, Sir G.
Bellingham, A. H. Grantham, W.
Bentinck, rt. Hn. G. C. Gregory, G. B.
Birkbeck. E. Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.
Blackburue, Col. J. J.
Blennerhassett, R. P. Hamilton, I. T.
Bourke, right hon. R. Harcourt. rt. hn. Sir W. G. V. V.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.
Hartington. Marq. Of
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C. Harvey, Sir R. B.
Burghley, Lord Herbert, hon. S.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Herschell, Sir F.
Buxton, F. W. Hicks, E.
Cameron, D. Hill. Lord A. W.
Campbell. J. A. Holland, Sir H. T.
Castlereagh, Viscount Hope, right hon. A. J. B. B.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.
Chaplin, H. Houldsworth, W. H.
Christie. W. L. Kennard, C. J.
Clarke, E. Kennaway. Sir J. H.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. King-Harman, Colonel E; R.
Collins, T.
Compton. F. Lawrance, J. C.
Corry, J. P. Lawrence, Sir T.
Courtauld. G. Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.
Crichton, Viscount Legh, W. J.
Cropper, J. Leighton, S.
Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A. Lennox, right hn. Lord H. G. C. G.
Curzon, Major hon. M.
Dalrymple, C. Lever. J. O.
Davenport, W. B. Levett, T. J.
Dawnay, Col. hon. L. P. Lewisham, Viscount
Dawnay, hon. G. C. Lopes, Sir M.
Digby, Colonel hon. E. Lowther, rt. hon. J.
Dixon-Hartland, F. D. Lowther, hon. W.
Dodson, rt. hon. J. G. Lowther, J. W.
Douglas. A. Akers- Mac Iver, D.
Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H. M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.
Ecroyd, W. F. Makins, Colonel W. T.
Egerton, hon. A. de T. Manners, rt. hon. Lord J. J. R.
Elcho, Lord
Elton, C. I. Master, T. W. C.
Fellowes, W. H. Maxwell, Sir H. E.
Finch, G. H. Mills, Sir C. H.
Finch-Hatton, hon. M. E. G. Morgan, hon. F.
Moss, R.
Forester, C. T. W. Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R.
Foster, W. H.
Fowler, rt. hon. R. N. Newdegate, C. N.
Newport, Viscount Severne, J. E.
Nicholson, W. N. Smith, rt. hon. W. H.
Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H. Smith, A.
Stanhope, hon. E.
Northcote, H. S. Stanley, E. J.
O'Donnell, F. H. Stanton, W. J.
Onslow, D. R. Strutt. hon. C. H.
Paget, R. H. Sykes, C.
Pemberton, E. L. Talbot, J. G.
Percy, right hon. Earl Tavistock, Marquess of
Percy, Lord A. Thornhill, T.
Phipps, P. Tollemache, H. J.
Plunket, rt. Hon. D. R. Tomlinson, W. E. M.
Puleston, J. H. Torrens, W. T. M.
Raikes, rt. hon. H. C. Tottenham, A. L.
Rankin, J. Walrond, Col. W. H.
Ritchie, C. T. Warton, C. N.
Rolls, J. A. Whitley, E.
Ross, A. H. Wilmot, Sir. H.
Ross, C. C. Winn, R.
Round, J. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Salt, T.
Scott, Lord H. TELLERS.
Scott, M. D. Cotes, C. C.
Selwin-Ibbetson. Sir H. J. Grosvenor, right hon. Lord R.
Ainsworth, D. Fry, L.
Anderson, G. Fry, T.
Armitage, B. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Armitstead, G. Grant, A.
Arnold, A. Grant, D.
Barclay, J. W. Hamilton, J. G. C.
Baring, Viscouut Healy, T. M.
Barran, J. Henderson, F.
Bass, Sir A. Heneage, E.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Holden, I.
Beaumont, W. B. Holland, S.
Biddulph, M. Hopwood, C. H.
Bolton, J. C. Howard, G. J.
Borlase, W. C. Howard, J.
Bright, right hon. J. Illingworth, A.
Bright, J. James, C.
Brogden, A. James, W. H.
Brown, A. H. Jenkins, Sir J. J.
Bruce, hon. R. P. Jenkins, D. J.
Bryce, J. Johnson, E.
Buchanan, T. R. Kenny, M. J.
Burt, T. Kingscote, Col. R. N. F.
Buszard, M. C. Labouchere, H.
Campbell, Sir G. Lawson, Sir W.
Campbell, R. F. F. Leake, R.
Carington, hon. R. Leamy, E.
Causton, R. K. Leatham, E. A
Cheetham, J. F. Lloyd, M.
Clark, S. Mackie, R. B.
Clarke, J. C. Macliver, P. S.
Clifford, C. C. M'Arthur, Sir W.
Collings, J. M'Arthur, A.
Colman, J. J. M'Carthy, J.
Cowen, J. M'Lagan, P.
Cowper, hon. H. F. M'Laren, C. B. B.
Davies, D. Marjoribanks, E.
Earp. T. Martin, R. B.
Edwards, H. Mason, H.
Elliot, hon. A. R. D. Mellor, J. W.
Fairbairn, Sir A. Molloy, B. C.
Firth. J. F. B. Moreton, Lord
Forster, Sir C. Morley, A.
Fowler, H. H. Morley, J.
Fowler, W. Noel, E.
O'Brien, W. Shaw, T.
O'Connor, T. P. Sheil E.
O'Gorman Mahon, Col. The Sheridan, H. B.
Simon, Serjeant J.
O'Shea, W. H. Slagg, J.
Paget, T. T. Stanley, hon. E. L.
Palmer, C. M. Stevenson, J. C.
Palmer, G. Sullivan, T. D.
Palmer, J. H. Summers, W.
Pease, A. Tennant, C.
Peddie, J. D. Thomasson, J. P.
Potter, T. B. Tillelt, J. H.
Powell, W. R. H. Vivian, Sir H. H.
Pulley, J. Vivian, A. P.
Ramsay, J. Waddy, S. D.
Rathbone, W. Webster, J.
Rendel, S. Whitworth, B.
Richard, H. Williams, S. C. E.
Roe, T. Williamson, S.
Rogers, J. E. T. Wills, W. H.
Roundell, C. S. Willyams, E. W. B.
Russell, Lord A. Wodehouse, E. R.
Russell, C. Woodall, W.
Samuelson, H.
Seely, C. (Nottingham) TELLERS.
Sellar, A. C. Agnew, W.
Sexton, T. Willis, W.

Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

SUPPLY.—Committee upon Monday next.