HC Deb 22 February 1886 vol 302 cc906-7

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, having regard to the present position of the ecclesiastical affairs of Scotland, and the guarantee of Presbyterians under the Treaty of Union, Her Majesty's Government will institute an inquiry, by Royal Commission or otherwise, into the wishes of the Scottish nation in regard to disestablishment, and the future application of the teinds in the event of disestablishment being desired by the people of Scotland, and decided upon by Parliament?


In answer to my hon. Friend, I may say that it has been the feeling of the Members of the present Government, and I think generally of those who are in political sympathy with it, that this important question of the continuance and circumstances of the Established Church in Scotland should be left as much as possible to the spontaneous action and consideration of the country. I need not tell my hon. Friend how very competent the Scotch people are for the purpose of discussing such questions, and of considering whether a change ought to take place; and, if so, in what manner it should be adjusted, and what would be the probable consequences of it, either to the union or disunion of the great Presbyterian bodies. But my opinion is that if we were to appoint any Royal Commission, or appear to stir this question by the use of the Executive authority, it would hardly be consistent with the language that has been held in Scotland and with our desire that an unbiased opi- nion should be formed upon it by the people of Scotland.