HC Deb 19 June 1888 vol 327 cc683-713
MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

, in rising to call attention to the assessment of property in Scotland for ecclesiastical purposes; and to move— That, in the opinion of this House, it is inexpedient that Assessments for Ecclesiastical purposes in Scotland should be maintained, and that in lieu thereof an equivalent annual assessment ought to be made for assisting Secondary Education in Scotland, said, he might best explain the subject to English Members by saying that the nearest parallel which he could find to it was the controversy that some years ago excited great interest in this country—namely, Church rates. It might be asked how, in Scotland, where the friends of religious equality and the supporters of the Liberal Party were stronger than in England, there should be any question of Church rates so long after the question had been settled in England; and, in mentioning this, he pointed out that the question was settled in England without involving the larger question of Disestablishment. The reason why Church rates continued in Scotland was that, while in England they were paid by the occupier, in Scotland they were paid by the owner of land. In Scotland the payments for ecclesiastical purposes were a hereditary burden upon land; and he was obliged to the hon. Member for the Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities, who had given Notice of his intention to move an Amendment to the Motion. While the Motion involved two very different propositions—each of which he ought to be in a position to prove—one of those propositions had been removed by the hon. Member for the Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities, who stated in the Amendment of which he had given Notice that these assessments "had been a burden upon land from time immemorial." There were four obliga- tions imposed by the old Statutes of Scotland on the owners of land—namely, (1) to build and maintain churches; (2) to build and maintain manses in the rural districts; (3) to provide churchyards; and (4) to provide schools and pay the schoolmasters. All these obligations had, for the last 300 years, been a first charge upon land in Scotland, and they partook rather of the nature of tithes than rates. There was a difference between the position of the larger burghs in Scotland and rural districts in respect of these assessments. In the large burghs the question was so bound up with other questions connected with the Established Church that they could scarcely be disentangled; but in the rural districts the question was totally distinct, and the obligation was totally distinct. It was not possible for him to give the House the exact amount of these assessments, because the Returns were not complete; but, from 1879–80, they had continuous Returns for seven years, and he found that in the rural districts, and in the districts partly rural and partly urban, the amount registered for these assessments during the seven years was £406,741, or an average of £58,100 a-year. That was a very large sum—much larger than would be spent if those who used the churches had to provide the money themselves. Inasmuch as the clergy themselves in their Presbyteries were the authority that determined how much money should be spent, he need hardly say that they charged on a princely and liberal scale. Therefore, the amount raised was extravagant. The first objection to this hereditary burden was that the demands made upon the landlords were beyond the requirements of the case. In the second place, these burdens were of a peculiarly irritating character, because they were most irregular in their incidence. Sometimes 10 years elapsed and no demand was made upon the heritors, and then suddenly £2,000 or £3,000 might be demanded in a single year. He was aware that in 1862 an Act was passed mitigating the inconvenience of this assessment by providing that in the case of new churches the expenditure might be spread over a period of 10 years. There was another grievance which was felt very much in the small towns and villages of Scotland—namely, that the feuars had been held liable for this species of assessment. Many of these feuars were comparatively poor, and there could be no doubt that, although under Scotch law they were liable, it had been felt by the landlords themselves in most parts of Scotland that it was a hardship to charge any of this assessment upon the feuars. In the Amendment of which the hon. Member for the Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities had given Notice, he was not quite right in suggesting that those assessments were for churches alone. They were, as he had said, for manses, and for churchyards as well. It was upon the fact that these burdens were of a hereditary and of an ancient character that he based his argument that, whatever was to be done with the proceeds of these assessments, they were a burden upon the landlord from which he ought not to be relieved. The landlord, at all events, had no claim on any portion of this assessment, whatever was to be done with it. The question between the hon. Member and himself was not one of relief to landlords, but one as to the uses to which this money should be applied. What he would ask the House to do was to declare that, instead of this irregular and somewhat vexatious use, the assessment ought to be employed for the purposes of secondary or technical education in Scotland. He was glad to find, from the Amendment of which Notice had been given by his hon. Friend, that he would not deny that, if this money was to be applied towards any secular purpose, there was none more deserving than that of secondary or technical education in the rural districts of Scotland. A sum of £50,000 a-year would probably go far to supply the deficiencies of the rural districts in Scotland in regard to these two branches of education, because he might remind the House that the large towns would have no large claim—or, perhaps, no claim at all—on the fund. The whole of this money would be available for the development of secondary and technical education in the rural districts of Scotland. Supposing this contribution were converted into an annual assessment, would it be a serious imposition on the landlords? He was not in a position to give the exact figures to the House, because there was a lack of accurate information as to the distribution of this burden; but he found that the valuation roll of the rural districts in Scotland amounted to £12,000,000, and, at 1d. in the pound, that would give £50,000. It was probable that the assessment required to be imposed in view of this burden might not exceed 1d. in the pound—that was to say, that a landlord deriving an annual income of £1,200 would only be called upon to contribute £5 a-year. This would not be any serious burden on the landlords, and it would be a relief from an irregular and obnoxious tax. Now, with regard to the purposes to which this money should be applied. The hon. Member contended in his Amendment that this money should be applied to the purposes to which it was at the present moment applied. This was a tax upon land, and he (Mr. Hunter) contended that the product of a tax was the property of the people, and he altogether denied that it was right that the property of the community should be devoted to the maintenance of one of the numerous religious denominations into which Scotland was divided. There was a time in the history of Scotland when this tax was imposed—there was a time when there was so much religious unity in Scotland—so much unity of worship—that it was right and reasonable that the maintenance of the churches, as the maintenance of schools, should be parochial burdens. But everyone who was acquainted with the history of the Church of Scotland knew that by a series of successive secessions there remained now only a small part of that which was once the whole Church of Scotland, and it was totally inconsistent with the principle of religious equality—inconsistent with the principle of equal rights—that the property which belonged to all should be applied exclusively for the benefit of a few. It might be said that the Church of Scotland would be put to some inconvenience by the withdrawal of this money. But it would be in no worse position than any other of the denominations. Besides, nothing would be so beneficial to that Church as to be compelled to rely for repairs to places of worship and other such expenditure upon the Christian liberality of its people; and, by accustoming themselves to support the religious ordinances of their own Churches, they would be preparing themselves for the inevitable time when the connection between Church and State must entirely cease. Only a small addition would be made to the claims on members of the Church if this source of revenue was removed, and a great and lasting benefit would be conferred on the cause of secondary and technical education, which the hon. Gentleman the Mover of the Amendment himself would recognize had the best claim to this fund if it were to be devoted to secular purposes. For these reasons, he begged to submit the Resolution which stood in his name for the consideration of the House.

MR. FIRTH (Dundee)

seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, in the opinion of this House, it is inexpedient that Assessments for Ecclesiastical purposes in Scotland should be maintained, and that in lieu thereof an equivalent annual assessment ought to be made for assisting Secondary Education in Scotland."—(Mr. Hunter.)

MR. J. A. CAMPBELL (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)

, in rising to move as an Amendment— That as the Ecclesiastical Assessments have been a burden upon land from time immemorial for the erection and repair of church buildings in the old parishes of Scotland, this House, in the absence of any grievance connected therewith, except in the case of feuars, for whose relief a Bill is now before Parliament, declines to entertain a proposal to alienate these assessments to secular uses, said, that the hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) was right in presuming that he did not find any fault whatever with the object to which the hon. Member would apply this money, so far as regarded that object itself. He had no objection to secondary or technical schools; but he did object to the proposal that these should be assisted with money intended for an altogether different purpose. These assessments had existed for three centuries. They represented a burden upon the land of Scotland, which was expressly recognized and thoroughly understood by every landowner whenever any property was bought or sold. This burden was taken into account in the price given for properties, so that it was really no burden upon the landowner, but a trust which he held for the Church. The expression "church buildings" in the Amendment was meant to have a general reference to manses and glebes as well as to churches. The Church rates of England, which were dealt with by legislation some years ago, were not at all of the same nature as those ecclesiastical assessments in Scotland. The Church rates were imposed by the votes of the occupants of a parish; but the Church of England had no property in these rates. In Scotland, on the other hand, the churches, manses, and glebes which were maintained by these assessments were the property of the heritors who paid the assessments, and the assessments were the recognized endowments of the Church, not depending in any way upon the vote of the parish. This, no doubt, was an important question for the rural districts, for it was difficult to see how the churches and manses could be maintained in some parts of Scotland if this statutory provision was withdrawn. From the very nature of the case the burden must be irregular in its incidence, as it was not every day that repairs were wanted, or that a new church was required in substitution of the old one; and it would, therefore, be very difficult to substitute an equivalent yearly assessment for this burden. There was no grievance beyond that admitted in the Amendment with respect to that class of heritors who were known as feuars. There was a peculiarity in their case, and there was a Bill now before Parliament to relieve those feuars of their acknowledged grievance. While they were an extremely numerous class, their proportion of the total amount of the assessments was very small, and from an analysis of typical districts of Scotland, including three divisions of Lanarkshire, the counties of Perth, Mid Lothian, and Roxburgh, it was found that though these feuars were 77 per cent of the number of heritors, the amount of assessments paid by them was only 13.7 per cent of the whole; so that while there might be some grievance as to 14 per cent of the assessments, which it was proposed to remedy, there remained 80 per cent of the assessments, as to which there was no ground of complaint. But the real meaning of the Motion was shown by the hon. Member (Mr. Hunter), for he diverged from ecclesiastical assessments to the question of Disestablishment and Disendowment. This Motion was really a proposal for a measure of Disendowment. He thought this was scarcely the opportunity for entering into the larger question of Disestablishment and Disendowment, especially when there was a Motion on the Paper for Friday night which would definitely raise it. He would only say that while it might be argued that the Church of Scotland was only a part of what it formerly was, and while it could not be denied that there had been important secessions, the hon. Member omitted to say that the Church of Scotland was still a growing Church, stronger at this moment than ever before, and embracing within its borders as large a number of people as all the other Presbyterian Churches in Scotland put together. These matters might be considered beside the question, but what he would submit to the House was that an arrangement which had been in existence for 300 years ought not to be hastily set aside, and that they ought not now, for the sake of secondary education or technical schools, to disendow, to some extent, the National Church of Scotland. He begged to move the Amendment which stood in his name.


, in seconding the Amendment, said, he had listened with considerable interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, and he must say that he had seldom heard a weaker advocacy of a great change. And, as if to give a greater air of unreality to the proceeding, the Motion was seconded by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Firth), whose acquaintance with the ecclesiastical affairs of Scotland must be of a very recent date. He recognized in the speech a movement in favour of Disendowment, and one reason given by the Mover of the Motion was that Church rates in England had been abolished. But he almost immediately stated that Church rates in England and Church assessments in Scotland were a totally different thing. Then he (Sir Charles Dalrymple) had always been under the impression that the amount derived from Church assessments in Scotland was very small; and he thought oven £58,000 was so modest a sum to be derived from that source that it was hardly worth the hon. Member's while to covet it. No doubt a laudable motive lay at the root of the Motion. It was to find funds for secondary education in Scotland. In that desire they all sympathized; but he wished that the hon. Member had looked elsewhere in order to satisfy his very laudable desire. He ventured to say that there was no grievance whatever connected with the ecclesiastical assessments in the old parishes of Scotland, and if there was a grievance in the case of the feuars, it was not the fault of those who sat on the Ministerial side of the House that it had not been remedied before the present time. He would like to know whether the hon. Member (Mr. Hunter) had any authority to speak for these feuars, and whether they would be prepared to give an equivalent annual assessment for secondary and technical education?


, interrupting, said, he expressly stated that he thought the assessment ought not to be borne by the feuars.


said, that the Amendment of his hon. Friend expressly stated that it was in contemplation to relieve the feuars from ecclesiastical assessment, as they alone had a grievance on the subject. His hon. Friend had dealt fully with the subject, and he would therefore content himself with saying that the Church of Scotland now needed endowments more than it had ever done, because it was doing more work than it had accomplished in past years.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "as the Ecclesiastical Assessments have been a burden upon land from time immemorial for the erection and repair of church buildings in the old parishes of Scotland, this House, in the absence of any grievance connected therewith, except in the case of feuars, for whose relief a Bill is now before Parliament, declines to entertain a proposal to alienate these assessments to secular uses."—(Mr. James Campbell.)

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

MR. A. R. D. ELLIOT (Roxburgh)

said, he was anxious to support the Motion before the House. He was bound to say it appeared to him a little unnecessary to recall to Members of the House exactly what was the object and purpose of the system of ecclesiastical assessments now existing in Scotland. The fact was that the Scottish Established Church differed from all other Churches in the United Kingdom, established or free, in this—that a special provision was made by law for the repair of the churches and buildings of the Establish- ment and of the manses of the clergy. That was a state of things which he maintained did not exist as regarded the Established Church of England, and did not exist as regarded the Disestablished Church, now the Voluntary Church in Ireland, and did not exist in regard to any other religious denomination whatever in the United Kingdom. The state of things which they now impugned as regarded the Scottish Establishment had existed in former days as regarded the Established Church in England, because provision was at that time made by law in England for the support of the fabrics of the Established Church. That state of things, however, could not exist in conformity with the state of opinion which began to rule in this country a generation ago; and he thought it incumbent upon those hon. Gentlemen who supported the existing state of things to justify the exception. What they had to show was the right and title of the Scottish Establishment to enjoy an advantage which was not enjoyed by any other Church, established or disestablished, in the land, and he maintained that neither the hon. Gentleman who moved nor the hon. Baronet who seconded the Amendment which had just been put had, in the slightest degree, justified to the House the special position in which the Church of Scotland stood. He knew that an attempt bad been made to draw a distinction between Church rates in England and the provision made for the Established Church in Scotland; but, after all, the distinction was a skin-deep one. By law a provision was made for the support of the Church fabric in England, and by law a provision was made for the support of the Church fabric and the ministers' houses in Scotland. It was true that in England, following the universal plan, the rates were levied on the occupiers, and that in Scotland, following the almost universal plan in that country, the money was raised not by a rate on the occupier, but by a charge on the owners of the laud, but these were merely matters as to the way in which the money was raised. As to the fundamental principle, the question was, whether by law they should raise out of the land provision for one denomination—whether that which existed in Scotland now, which was a parallel to that which existed in England before the compulsory Church rates were abolished, should continue? It was only natural that there should have been some allusion to the fact that this matter was no new thing in this House, and in this country, as regarded the ecclesiastical assessment question in Scotland. This matter had been before the House several times, and what had happened? The House had on two occasions, if not oftener, resolved in condemnation of the continuation of the principle of the ecclesiastical system in Scotland. They had decided the matter upon a Bill which was brought forward year after year for the abolition of the ecclesiastical assessments in Scotland. Hon. Members had resolved in that House, by a considerable majority, that that system should not exist, and they had resolved again on a separate occasion—and that as lately as 1884—on a Resolution he himself had brought forward in opposition to a Bill promoted, he thought, by the hon. Member for the University of Glasgow (Mr. J. A. Campbell). He himself had brought forward, on the second reading of the Bill to which he had referred, a Motion almost substantially the same as that put before the House that night, which Motion amounted to this—that it was contrary to public policy at the present moment that a special provision should be made by law for raising out of the national resources a fund for the maintenance of any special denomination in the country. That was the broad principle on which he stood, and he wished to put that view strongly before hon. and right hon. Gentlemen that night. He knew that in days gone by it would have been hopeless to appeal to the Conservative Party on such a topic as this; but he knew that now things had changed, and that there were men on the other side of the House who, on this question, were as Liberal in every sense of the word as hon. Gentlemen who sat on that (the Opposition) side, and he asked them to consider what justification could there be for making a special provision for a favoured denomination that was established? When the hon. Member for the Glasgow University said that the Church of Scotland was a thriving Church, and when somebody else said that in the main as to free quarters and resources the Church of Scotland depended now, as other Churches did, on the enthusiasm, the love, and the voluntary assistance of its members. Then he said he thought all that, which he believed to be thoroughly true, rebounded against the argument they were now setting before the House. He maintained that it was beneath the dignity of the Church of Scotland, the National Church, looking at the sympathy which a great body of the people had always felt towards it, to come to the State to ask it to repair its own fabrics and enlarge the houses of its ministers, spending upon it a sum which, after all, throughout the length and breadth of Scotland, amounted to no more than £40,000 a-year. But, at any rate, if hon. Members had looked at statistics in this matter, and had looked at the Returns moved for in 1881 by Lord Balfour, and by hon. Members in this House, they would see how unreasonable it was to suppose that it was in any way necessary for a popular Church to have any such assistance as this. It evinced no animosity on the part of anyone towards the Church of Scotland to show that this was an invidious law. He believed there were many thousands, nay, he knew there were hundreds of thousands of members of the Church of Scotland who were almost ashamed to claim such a privilege as this when they knew that they, as well as the Free Church, and as well as various other Churches in Scotland, could trust to the voluntary efforts of their members to keep their fabrics in repair, to build new school houses when required, and to support the houses of the Scottish ministry. This question was, he know, a question of principle, and he knew it might be said that it was, to a certain extent, a question of religious endowment. It was a question, there was no dispute about it, as to whether it would not be more expedient and more just to ask those who were new Members and who supported that particular denomination to carry out, at all events, the every-day expenses of the Establishment. He had no hesitation in saying that it would be more just and more expedient, and that it would cause no injury whatever to the Church. He did not wish now to enter upon other matters which were, no doubt, more or less remotely connected with that with which they were now dealing, which matters would come before them more properly next Friday; but it was hardly possible to pass over, on such an occasion as this, the fact that in many parts of Scotland—in the Highlands of Scotland particularly—they were imposing a parochial rate upon the parishes, and imposing a rate to support an Established Church and the manses of its ministers, when, as a matter of fact, the worshippers of the congregations were so few as hardly to need any consideration; he meant to say that where they had a parish containing a population of some thousands, and where the communicants of the Established Church were only some six or seven, it was absurd by law to make provision to keep up the fabric and the manse. It was absurd to make this provision, when the whole population, practically speaking, went to a church where precisely the same religion was to be found administered by the same class of ministers, and where a precisely similar system of worship was maintained by voluntary effort. This was a matter he wished to press very strongly not only on that (the Opposition), but also on the Government side of the House. He thought hon. Members opposite should acquaint themselves with these matters, and he did think that it would be a thing to be deeply deplored—seeing that Conservative Members had now arrived on this question at a more advanced position than they had ever previously attained to, and looking at, to use a Scotticism, their recidal from the old position they used to occupy—if now for the first time for many years they should decide in favour of a principle which had been abandoned in regard to the Church of England. He asked the Members of the Government to consider these matters, and to think very seriously indeed before they went back behind the decisions of the Parliament of 1870, and even behind those of the Parliament of 1874, when the then Lord Advocate in a Conservative Ministry induced an hon. Member to withdraw a Bill for the abolition of the Church rate by stating that the Government themselves were dealing with this subject. He thought that, so far as the earlier part of the Resolution went, the hon. Gentleman who moved it was perfectly right in saying that this provision should not any longer be made for the advantage of a special religious denomination in Scotland, and he (Mr. A. R. D. Elliot) thought, further, that the hon. Member was perfectly right in saying, or implying by his Motion, that the landlords had no right to appropriate to themselves the funds which had hitherto been appropriated to what had been considered a public purpose. But he did think it doubtful whether the House of Commons ought now to resolve that the proper purpose to which to devote these national funds was secondary education in the country. He did not feel that that was the right way to deal with the matter. It might be the right way, but that seemed to him to be a subject for subsequent and separate consideration. It must be remembered that these were parochial funds, and did not belong to the Church at large or to the country at large, but belonged separately to each parish. He doubted very much indeed whether they ought now to pledge themselves in the House of Commons to saying that a fair method of dealing with these funds was to devote them to the purpose of secondary education; but as regarded the main principles of the Motion he was thoroughly in accord with his hon. Friend's view, and could only say that if he would withdraw that portion which invited the House to make a certain application of these funds, he should have no hesitation whatever in going into the Lobby with him in support of his proposal.


said, he was obliged to the hon. and learned Member for Roxburgh (Mr. A. R. D. Elliot) for having made a Disestablishment speech on this occasion. The hon. and learned Member had evidently anticipated the delivery of a speech he was about to make on a future occasion, and he (Sir Archibald Campbell) was much obliged to him for having told the House his views on the question of all endowments. But when he came to look at the Motion moved by the hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) he found that, at all events, he recognized the justice of the assessments not only to the owners, but also to the feuars, for in his speech he told them, from the commencement to the end, that he proposed to appropriate the money now given to the Church of Scotland to other purposes—for what he called secondary education. Now, so far as secondary education was concerned, he (Sir Archibald Campbell), for one, would be very glad to see that given to Scotland; but he should be sorry to see it done at the expense of the higher education given by the Church, that education without which, as they all knew, all other education was of no worth at all. The speech of the hon. and learned Member for Roxburgh was a remarkable one; the hon. and learned Member had the courage of his opinions; but surely he must know and must feel that it was not altogether right that endowments which were admitted to be just, which were admitted to be right, and which it was admitted that the land ought to pay, and which it was admitted were devoted to a good purpose—for no one could say that they had not been devoted to a good purpose—should be taken away for another purpose. He must say he admired the hon. and learned Member's courage extremely on this occasion. Let them consider, for one moment, the way in which these assessments were made. They had been told by the hon. Member for North Aberdeen that they were often very excessive; that they were more than the Presbyters were entitled to, and were very much more than were needed. Well, at all events—as he (Sir Archibald Campbell) had something to do with the rural part of Scotland—he knew perfectly well this—that every one of these propositions for assessment, when they came to the Presbyteries, had to pass through the hands of the heritors, and were carefully scanned by skilled men. Everything that was done for the Church was carefully looked into, and not one farthing more than was necessary was paid for the work. He did not think that, whatever might be the sum annually charged for the maintenance of the Church, the assessment upon the the land could ever be called excessive, because it was carefully looked into by those men who had to pay it; and, at all events, his countrymen might claim credit for this—that they were not in the habit of paying more money for a thing than there was absolute necessity for. Then, another point was, was there any cause for this proposed change? Well, in 1885, when he had the honour to contest the county which he represented, the election turned largely upon the question of Disestablishment, and he might say that, during the whole of that time, no question ever cropped up in reference to these assessments. He knew perfectly well that there was a grievance with regard to the feuars, but that grievance had always been met by hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House; and the delay which had been caused in gutting rid of that grievance had been owing more to the opposite side of the House than to that (the Ministerial) side. All he could say was that they would have heard plenty on this subject in his contest had there really been any crying grievance in the matter. But what were the real facts of the case? Why, he was supported quite as much by those who belonged to other Churches in his position as regarded the Established Church of Scotland as by those who were communicants of the Church itself. The most valuable support he received, and some of the best men who assisted him as chairmen of his committees, were gentlemen who belonged to other Churches. He could assure the House that there was very little jealousy indeed amongst the laity on either side, whether they belonged to the Established Church, the Free Church, or the United Presbyterian Church. He believed that the question was used for political purposes by those who held certain political views—they had hit on this particular grievance, though there was no movement in Scotland in favour of its being brought up on this occasion. He was sure of this, however—that if it were desired to take away the property of the Church in Scotland and deliver it over for the benefit of some secular project, they would find a feeling roused in that country which would not be easily allayed by such speeches of that of the hon. Member for North Aberdeen.

MR. HALDANE (Haddington)

said, it was with much satisfaction that he had listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Roxburgh (Mr. A. R. D. Elliot), and he must say that the speech which followed it from the hon. Baronet the Member for West Renfrew (Sir Archibald Campbell) bore out a belief which many of them on that (the Opposition) side of the House had held for some time. Whenever his hon. Friends, and that majority of Scottish Liberal Members with whom he was associated, took up an attitude in the least in advance of that which was adopted amongst hon. Gentlemen opposite, they heard a loud and violent protest, and found the opinions of the hon. and learned Member for Roxburgh promptly repudiated by the hon. Baronet the Member for West Renfrew. They knew that the opinions of the hon. and learned Member for Roxburgh were not those of the hon. Member for the Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Mr. J. A. Campbell), and they knew that these were opinions which were distasteful in the sight of the hon. Baronet the Member for Ipswich (Sir Charles Dalrymple), and therefore they were face to face with this fact—that the appeals made to the Tory Party to advance and take up subjects which would really be popular in Scotland, such as the question of secondary education and Church reform, were appeals which were addressed to the deafest of deaf ears. There was an aspect of this question which was raised in the speeches of the three hon. Members opposite and who had addressed the House. They had told the House that these assessments were assessments which in some way or other might be looked upon as the property of the Church, and that it was robbery and spoliation to divert these endowments, which had been given to the Church by a legal title, from the purposes to which they had been destined, and they asked the House to look on this question not merely on the ground of that higher ecclesiastical education for which the hon. Baronet the Member for West Renfrew appealed, but also on the ground of the vested rights of property. He thought it was high time that in the House and outside the House those principles should be clearly recognized and defined on which for the future they were to approach the question of charitable endowments and the diversion of them to public purposes. There seemed to be a superstition that these charitable endowments and these particular properties were to be regarded as on the same footing as, or as having some analogy to, private property. He ventured to think that nothing was more plain than that there was not the smallest analogy between the two cases. When property was given to a corporate Body, such as the Church—the only justification for whose existence in a corporate capacity was that the public desired its maintenance—they were face to face with the fact that the public—in the present case the Scottish public—were the only parties concerned. The public were the beneficiaries for whom the endowments existed, and if the public chose to say that these endowments were to be diverted to some other purpose, then he should like to know who was entitled to complain. Certainly, no complaint could be put forward on the footing of the rights of property. Then the question remained as to what obligation they were really subject to. They had got thus far—he thought there was an obligation, and a binding obligation, which they must bear in mind in this matter. They must remember that, after all, they who administered these things were trustees not only for this generation, but for future generations. They must remember in diverting the Church property, or any other property, to be careful lest the purpose for which they did make that diversion was a purpose which benefited only the generation in which they lived, and they must see that it would be a purpose which would be recognized by those who came after them as a proper one to which to apply the property with which they were dealing. He (Mr. Haldane) supported most cordially the Motion of the hon. Member for North Aberdeen, because he recognized the purpose to which in his Motion he proposed to devote these assessments as one which future generations would support and approve of. Anyone who knew the state of feeling in Scotland, and who had observed the changes which had taken place in public opinion in that country, would know that the desire for Disestablishment had grown at such a pace that even now the Establishment was well-nigh at an end. The great majority of the Scottish Representatives were more or less pledged to principles of Disestablishment. Wherever they went in Scotland, even amongst Liberal Churchmen, they would find the same opinions prevailing, and they would find a tendency on the part of the people to recognize more and more clearly every day that the only reason which had hitherto withheld some of them from throwing in their lot with the Party of Disestablishment was that they did not wish to appear to set themselves in antagonism to the Establishment for ecclesiastical reasons; but whenever they came face to face with the wishes of the Scottish people, they found them saying that they did not desire the Church property and Church assessments applied to purposes which, after all, only concerned a small section of the community. Those who brought forward and supported this Motion did not propose to stop short without defining some kind of purpose to which these ecclesiastical assessments were to be applied. They did not want them to cease. They were not there for the purpose of asking the House to assent to the principle that they should make a present of the assessments to the landowners out of whose land they issued. The land was held subject to these burdens; and they wanted to see this property applied to purposes which commended themselves to the minds of the Scottish people; and it was because they found those purposes in education, and because there was no other purpose which they know of which found popular support, that they were there to insist on the diversion of this property, which ought no longer to be held as at present, to the purposes pointed out in the Motion of his hon. Friend.

MR. MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)

, in supporting the Amendment, said that this Motion appeared to be a proposal for partial disendowment, and probably had been brought forward because its Mover thought that the opportunity on Friday night would not be sufficient to discuss the whole question of Disestablishment and Disendowment. He, therefore, now proposed to have Disendowment; and, no doubt, he (Dr. Cameron) would ask on Friday for Disestablishment. If such were their tactics, hon. Members opposite might do their worst. It was necessary for them to be always agitating the public mind on these questions, for unless they did so their seats would not be worth anything at the next Election. If hon. Gentlemen opposite would make the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of Scotland the issue at the next General Election, the Conservative Members for Scotland would be returned in a much larger proportion than they were at present. Between this hon. and learned Member who had just spoken and himself there was upon the question a great gulf fixed. The hon. and learned Member regarded secondary education as of deep importance. So did he; but he regarded religious education as of more importance still. This proposal for secondary education would, no doubt, benefit the towns, but it would be but of small advantage to the country districts, which would lose the benefits of their endowments devoted to religious education. He altogether differed from the view that these funds should be diverted to purposes alien to the objects and wishes of the founders. Whether the Church of Scotland was disestablished or not, the people of Scotland would stand to it. He admitted the force of the remarks that had been made with regard to Highland parishes, and some reform in regard to these might be necessary, but the Church ought not be judged by exceptional circumstances. The Church of Scotland had as a whole done excellent work, and the parish schools had proved under her auspices most successful.

SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

said, that this was really a debate of very limited scope. The question before the House was not that of the Disestablishment or Disendowment of the Church of Scotland. As to whether the people of Scotland would stand by the Established Church, that would be seen on Friday night, when the voice of their Representatives was asked. The House was now discussing a question on the principle of Church rates. In Ireland that question was settled 50 years ago in the way in which it was now sought to settle it in Scotland, and in England it was settled 20 years ago. The House had also voted on two occasions that the question should be similarly settled in Scotland. The question was simply this: While the members of the Free Church, the United Presbyterian Church, and the other voluntary Churches of Scotland built and repaired their own churches out of funds supplied by themselves, without asking anything from their neighbours, was it fair to expect the general community to go on contributing funds for the building and repairs of the churches of one particular denomination—namely, the Established Church? This Resolution was directed against a special ecclesiastical privilege, and did not touch the question of Disestablishment and Disendowment, and, as such, he trusted that every hon. Gentleman on his side of the House would vote for it. It had been said that as times were very bad the Church ought not to be called upon to surrender part of its existing advantages. But in bad times surely the first luxury which a person would wish to dispense with was the luxury of making a compulsory payment for the purpose of keeping up the Church buildings of a denomination to which he did not belong. He agreed that there was a marked difference between the English Church rates and ecclesiastical assessments. These rates were a burden upon the land, and the House would do very wrong, as the custodian of the national property, should it allow the charge to be simply remitted to the landlords. It had been said that the landlord in this matter held a trust for the Church, but he and those who thought with him believed that the landlord held a trust for the nation. He hoped that hon. Members would not be misled by the allusion in the Amendment of the hon. Member for the University of Aberdeen to remedial legislation in relief of those who suffered under these ecclesiastical assessments. All he would say about that Bill now was that he never saw a measure on which he should be more willing to move that it should be read that day three months. There were some names on the back of the Bill which he respected, and in which he had confidence; but there were others of which he would say that he liked not the security. The Bill was one of those aggressive measures which had been brought in from time to time not so much in the interests of the persons whom they were supposed to affect beneficially as for the purpose of injuring the voluntary Churches. He would be prepared to prove that when the proper time cam. He trusted his hon. Friend would consider the advisability of slightly altering his Resolution. For his own part, he should be more than unwilling to vote for any Resolution which specifically appropriated any part of the funds that presently go to the maintenance of the Established Church of Scotland to any special purpose, and he hoped his hon. Friend would consent to put in some words which would imply that these assessments should be exchanged for an annual assessment to be levied for the purpose of benefiting the entire community. Perhaps words such as "for some unsectarian purpose in Scotland" would meet the wishes of everybody who would be inclined to vote for the Resolution; and certainly by such a change he would, at any rate, lose no votes, except the votes of those who disagreed with the main object of the Resolution.


said, he would certainly agree to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman.

THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)

said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House had succeeded in doing what everybody else had studiously avoided—namely, in introducing the word "sectarian" into the debate. He thought it would have been well had the debate been allowed to proceed without the introduction of such an element; but the right hon. Gentleman in the speech which he had made had plainly indicated that the object and intention of the Motion was to have the principle of Disendowment, so far as the Motion went, established by the vote of the House to-night. It was as plain as possible that the whole object and purpose of bringing forward this question on the present occasion was to have a reconnaissance in force with a view to the general engagement which was to follow on Friday. The right hon. Gentleman had also indicated his horror that the Bill had not been brought in for Party reasons, and that his confidence in his own Friends, whose names were on the back of the Bill, was shaken when he found them in the company of three such terrible Gentlemen as the Members for the Universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow, the Member for Peebles and Selkirk, and the Member for Kirkcudbright. He should have thought that when the names of the right hon. Gentleman's Friends were on the back of the Bill, he should have told them what he objected to in its contents.


(interrupting) said, he would not have been in Order in doing so, and would have been stopped.


said, in that case the right hon. Gentleman should not have referred so pointedly to the outside of the Bill for the purpose of questioning what was in it, when he knew that if he had made any direct allusion to the contents he would not have been in Order. The hon. Member for Aberdeen was doubtless actuated by the best of motives in introducinghis Amendment, because he told the House that the effect of his Motion, if carried, would be very good for the Church of Scotland. If, however, that were accepted as true by many Friends of his, it would probably not be a ground in their opinion for giving any support to the Motion at all; and it had been brought out very clearly that the aim rather was to move in the general direction of Disestablishment and Disendowment. It had been clearly shown that there was no strongly expressed desire on the part of any substantial portion of the people of Scotland for applying these assessments as proposed by the Motion. The hon. and learned Member for Roxburgh had reminded the House that this question had been before it on several occasions, but he omitted to state that it then fell dead and had been dead ever since. It would be found that Mr. M'Laren on a previous occasion withdrew his Motion because he thought that people were becoming more in favour of Disestablishment. Everything showed that the people of Scotland had never in any way indicated the slightest interest in this matter. His hon. Friend behind him had stated that the question had never been raised in election contests, and his own experience in 1874, 1878, and 1880 was to the effect that the question of Church assessment had never on any single occasion been raised. To talk, therefore, of this question as one which was now agitating the public mind in Scotland was an extravagance. It was not a question raised by the people of Scotland; it was a subject raised by politicians as a stalking-horse for another and a more important question. There was very good reason why the public of Scotland should take no interest in it. If the Church of Scotland were asking the State for money to rebuild churches and repair manses he could understand that the question should be raised. But such was not the case. These assessments had been devoted for hundreds of years to purposes of religion, and the Scottish people had never made any complaint. The fact that there was an admitted grievance on the part of the small feuars was an indication that there was no general grievance. No case had been mentioned in which the proprietors or any other than the small feuars had made the smallest complaint. The right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow contended that in these hard times the luxury of paying these assessments should be dispensed with. But it was not proposed by the Motion to abolish the assessments. On the contrary, secondary education was to be assisted out of the money to be drawn from those proprietors and feuars. The only people who were to have nothing to say to the disposal of this money were those from whom it was to be wrung. Nothing could more plainly show that this Motion was only a preliminary skirmish for another question. The money went in aid of a Church which inculcated and taught the same doctrines in morals and Christian faith as were held by the great mass of the population of Scotland, and if they were to devote it to secondary education they would do an act of the greatest injustice. Was it proposed that the poor districts, where secondary education could not reach, should continue to pay this assessment, and that the money should be applied to secondary education in the largo towns? Anything more unjust could not be conceived. His hon. Friend had said that the demands made upon the landlords in respect to these assessments were extravagant and were peculiarly irritating because they were intermittent. He asked his hon. Friend whether he was a mandatory for the landlords of Scotland in order to tell the House what were their grievances in that matter. If the landlords of Scotland were selecting a person to act as their representative on that question he thought that they would put his hon. Friend down last on the list of those whom they would choose to speak for them. One hon. Member had spoken of those assessments as robbery and spoliation, but he would remind those who used that language of the words of a gentleman now in a distant country, Mr. Anderson, formerly Member for Glasgow, who, when that matter was discussed before, stated his reasons for voting against such a Resolution as the present, and declared "that it was not only wrong but very stupid, in his opinion, for the Dissenters to go in for that piece of Church robbery." He knew they were to have a great battle on Friday, and no one doubted that the question now before the House was practically embraced in that which was to be disposed of on Friday. Objection was taken to these assessments on the ground that Church rates had been abolished in England, but there was no analogy between the rates in England and these assessments in Scotland. In conclusion, he hoped that the House would reject the Resolution of his hon. Friend, which would lead to no practical result. When the real issue came to be fought it would be fought on the general question which was to be raised on Friday night. If hon. Gentlemen were satisfied, as they professed to be, that Scotland was with them on this question, then let them stick to the real fight, and not raise side issues of this kind.

MR. M'LAGAN (Linlithgow)

said, the Resolution of the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) contained two distinct propositions. In the first place, it was proposed to abolish assessments for ecclesiastical purposes, and then follows a proposal to divert the assessments to a different purpose altogether. The first of these proposals was identical with that in the Bill introduced by the late Mr. M'Laren, whose object was the abolition of Church rates, and his Bill was drafted on the same lines as the Bill abolishing compulsory Church rates in England. The whole machinery was left the same as if the Church rates were in existence, but they were to be paid voluntarily, instead of compulsorily. He voted on every occasion for that Bill, and he did so for certain reasons; because he considered that ecclesiastical assessments in Scotland were most unjust to the feuars. He saw no way to remedy that, and therefore considered it his duty to take the best way of meeting it; but he had always qualified his vote by his opinion in favour of ecclesiastical assessments being capitalized for the Established Church, so far as there was an Established Church, and afterwards for any purpose Parliament might think proper. If the hon. Member for Aberdeen had directed his Motion solely to the abolition of Church rates, then he should have been bound in consistency to vote for it; but as in the second part his hon. Friend proposed to devote the rates to a different purpose, he must vote against the Resolution. He thought it right to make these remarks, else his action might be considered open to the charge of inconsistency.

SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (, &c.) Kirkcaldy

said, he did not know whether his hon. Friend (Mr. Hunter) was disposed to alter his Motion. He felt reluctant to pledge himself to the purpose to which the latter portion of the Motion would devote the fund, and he did not think it would be expedient to divide the House upon it now. The appropriation of the rates to one particular Church was a very irritating part of the Establishment, and he should be glad to get rid of that source of irritation; but if he voted with his hon. Friend, it would not be for the latter part of the Resolution.


said, he did not think the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. M'Lagan) would be quite consistent if he were to vote for the first part of the Resolution—namely, that assessments of property for Church purposes should cease, seeing that he was quite willing to assent to the continuation of these assessments, provided they were voluntary. But the Resolution provided for absolute abolition. Whereas the hon. Member in former times consistently voted for voluntary rates as in England instead of compulsory, voting for the Resolution now would be voting for abolition altogether.


said, before the House went to a Division, he wished to say a word or two on the point that had been raised. In framing the Resolution, he was anxious to invite the attention of the House to the claims of secondary education in the rural districts of Scotland. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had entirely misapprehended the point when the right hon. Gentleman supposed he contemplated the application of funds derived from rural districts to towns. That was not his intention at all; towns were well able to look after themselves in the matter of secondary education, it was the rural districts he was desirous of helping in this matter. But having brought the matter to the notice of the House, he had no desire to make that an essential part of the Motion, and would, therefore, at once accept the proposal made. It was on the Amend- ment the House would now divide, and of course if that Amendment should be carried, it would be unnecessary to go any further; but if the Amendment should be defeated, he would suggest that words be introduced such as those proposed by the hon. Member for the Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities. Then, a word on the Amendment. It was a great mistake to say this was the Disestablishment Question. It was quite true that the Disestablishment Question included Church assessments; the greater includes the less, not the less the greater.

DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

said, that this form of putting the Question would shut out subsequent Amendments. Could not the first half of the Motion be put?


That is not possible; the Forms of the House will not admit of it.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 111; Noes, 148: Majority 37.

Abraham, W. (Glam.) Esmonde, Sir T. H. G.
Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.) Esslemont, P.
Farquharson, Dr. R.
Allison, R. A. Fenwick, C.
Anderson, C. H. Finucane, J.
Asher, A. Flynn, J. C.
Barbour, W. B. Foley, P. J.
Bickford-Smith, W. Fowler, right hon. H. H.
Biggar, J. G.
Bolton, J. C. Fuller, G. P.
Bradlaugh, C. Gane, J. L.
Bruce, hon. R. P. Gilhooly, J.
Burt, T. Graham, R. C.
Buxton, S. C. Haldane, R. B.
Cameron, C. Harrington, E.
Cameron, J. M. Hayden, L. P.
Campbell, Sir G. Hayne, C. Seale-
Carew, J. L. Holden, I.
Chamberlain, R. Hooper, J.
Channing, F. A. Joicey, J.
Childers, right hon. H. C. E. Jordan, J.
Kenny, C. S.
Clancy, J. J. Kenny, M. J.
Clark, Dr. G. B. Kilbride, D.
Commins, A. Lawson, Sir W.
Conway, M. Lawson, H. L. W.
Conybeare, C. A. V. Lyell, L.
Corbett, A. C. M'Donald, P.
Cossham, H. M'Ewan, W.
Cox, J. R. M'Lagan, P.
Crawford, D. M'Laren, W. S. B.
Cremer, W. R. Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E.
Crilly, D.
Deasy, J. Menzies, R. S.
Dillwyn, L. L. Molloy, B. C.
Elliot, hon. A. R. D. Morley, A.
Ellis, J. Murphy, W. M.
Ellis, T. E. Nolan, Colonel J. P.
Nolan, J. Sheehy, D.
O'Brien, J. F. X. Sinclair, J.
O'Brien, P. J. Stack, J.
O'Connor, J. Stanhope, hon. P. J.
O'Hanlon, T. Stevenson, J. C.
O'Hea, P. Stewart, H.
O'Kelly, J. Sullivan, D.
Parker, C. S. Summers, W.
Parnell, C. S. Trevelyan, right hon. Sir G. O.
Pease, A. E.
Pease, H. F. Tuite, J.
Pinkerton, J. Waddy, S. D.
Powell, W. R. H. Wallace, R.
Power, P. J. Warmington, C. M.
Provand, A. D. Will, J. S.
Tyne, J. D. Williamson, J.
Quinn, T. Wilson, H. J.
Redmond, W. H. K. Wilson, I.
Roberts, J.
Roscoe, Sir H. E. TELLERS,
Sexton, T. Firth, J. F. B.
Sheehan, J. D. Hunter, W. A.
Addison, J. E. W. Finch, G. H.
Ambrose, W. Fisher, W. H.
Amherst, W. A. T. Fitzgerald, R. U. P.
Anstruther, H. T. Fitz-Wygram, General Sir F. W.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E.
Baden-Powell, Sir G. S. Folkestone, right hon. Viscount
Bartley, G. C. T. Forwood, A. B.
Bass, H. Fowler, Sir R. N.
Beckett, W. Gent-Davis, R.
Bective, Earl of Godson, A. F.
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C Goldsworthy, Major General W. T.
Bentinck, Lord H. C.
Bothell, Commander G. R. Gorst, Sir J. E.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Birkbeck, Sir E. Gray, C. W.
Bond, G. H. Grimston, Viscount
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F. Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.
Bruce, Lord H. Hanbury, R. W.
Campbell, Sir A. Hankey, F. A.
Carmarthen, Marq. of Hardcastle, F.
Clarke, Sir E. G. Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards-
Coddington, W.
Coghill, D. H. Heaton, J. H.
Colomb, Sir J. C. R. Herbert, hon. S.
Cooke, C. W. R. Hermon-Hodge, R. T.
Corry, Sir J. P. Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.
Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.
Curzon, hon. G. N. Hill, Colonel E. S.
Davenport, H. T. Hornby, W. H.
De Cobain, E. S. W. Houldsworth, Sir W.H.
De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P. Hozier, J. H. C.
De Worms, Baron H. Hubbard, hon. E.
Dimsdale, Baron R. Hughes-Hallett, Col. F. C.
Douglas, A. Akers-
Dugdale, J. S. Hunt, F. S.
Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H. Jackson, W. L.
Johnston, W.
Ebrington, Viscount Kelly, J. R.
Egerton, hon. A. de T. Kerans, F. H.
Elcho, Lord Knowles, L.
Ewing, Sir A. O. Kynoch, G.
Eyre, Colonel H. Lafone, A.
Feilden, Lt.-Gen. R. J. Lawrance, J. C.
Fellowes, A. E. Lawrence, W. F.
Fergusson, right hon. Sir J. Leighton, S.
Lewisham, right hon. Viscount
Field, Admiral E.
Llewellyn, E. H. Russell, Sir G.
Long, W. H. Russell, T. W.
Macartney, W. G. E. Seton-Karr, H.
Macdonald, rt. hon. J. H. A. Shaw-Stewart, M. H.
Sidebottom, J. W.
Maclure, J. W. Sidebottom, T. H.
Madden, D. H. Smith, right hon. W. H.
Maple, J. B.
Marriott, rt. hon. Sir W. T. Stanhope, rt. hon. E.
Stewart, M. J.
Matthews, rt. hon. H. Talbot, J. G.
Mattinson, M. W. Tapling, T. K
Maxwell, Sir H. E. Temple, Sir R.
Mayne, Admiral R. C. Theobald, J.
Mills, hon. C. W. Thorburn, W.
Milvain, T. Tollemache, H. J.
Morgan, hon. F. Tomlinson, W. E. M.
Mowbray, R. G. C. Vernon, hon. G. R.
Muntz, P. A. Vincent, C. E. H.
Newark, Viscount Walrond, Col. W. H.
Noble, W. Walsh, hon. A. H. J.
Norton, R. Watson, J.
O'Neill, hon. R. T. Webster, Sir R. E.
Parker, hon. F. Webster, R. G.
Pearce, Sir W. Wharton, J. L.
Plowden, Sir W. C. Whitley, E.
Plunket, rt. hon. D. R. Whitmore, C. A.
Plunkett, hon. J. W. Wodehouse, E. R.
Raikes, rt. hon. H. C. Wood, N.
Richardson, T. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Ritchie, rt. hn. C. T. Young, C. E. B.
Robertson, Sir W. T.
Robinson, B. TELLERS.
Round, J. Campbell, J. A.
Royden, T. B. Dalrymple, Sir C.

Main Question, as amended, proposed.


said, after the Division just taken, he should not, under ordinary circumstances, think it right to challenge a Division on the Amendment. But this was a reactionary Amendment; it was not merely an expression of opinion on a matter before the House, it was an expression of opinion, overturning previous Resolutions of the House in a most reactionary manner. It committed the House to a Bill many Members thought objectionable, and which had yet to be discussed. Indeed, he thought it might have been raised as a point of Order, whether a Resolution referring thus to a Bill before the House was exactly within the spirit—it was within the letter, no doubt—of Parliamentary Rules in regard to Bills and Resolutions? It was their duty, he thought, to divide against the Resolution, because it affirmed an altogether reactionary proposal; it was a Resolution, in fact, affirming the desirability of keeping up these assessments for the maintenance of the Church. These assessments had nothing to do with Disestablishment. They were abolished in England, and still the Church remained established; they were abolished in Ireland long before the question of Disestablishment was dealt with. It was, apart altogether from disestablishment, a grievance promised to be dealt with by the House in quite another fashion, and in regard to which Resolutions of quite an opposite character to this had repeatedly been adopted by the House. They could not accept this Resolution without taking a Division against it. He remembered the history of the question, and the late Mr. M'Laren's efforts to get the grievance abolished. It had been truly said that he gave up his efforts at last, because he perceived that there was a strong current of feeling in Scotland setting in in favour, not of dealing piecemeal with the removal of grievances, but towards remedying the great grievance in ecclesiastical matters by abolishing the connection between Church and State. At that time, the persons who opposed all reform in the matter were those hon. Members who had endeavoured to commit the House to an opinion on the Bill before the House referred to in the Resolution. He and his Friends were bound to express their protest against this Resolution by taking a vote against it. He hoped they would have a strong Division again it, for he was perfectly certain there must be a number of Members on either side who, while dissenting from the original Resolution, must find this was not at all to their taste.


thought the hon. Member might have accepted the amended Resolution with his usual amiability. The reasons now given for pressing the Division were not the suggestions made against the Amendment when it was under debate.

MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)

said, he would not have intervened, and would have accepted the present proposal, if he had not been certain that the conclusion the House had just arrived at was not the conclusion of Scotch Votes, and no one was more aware of that than the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate. The right hon. and learned Gentleman must be much misinformed on the question of votes, if he was not aware on this matter that the opinion of Scotch Members had been weighed down by the influence of votes which he and his Government had been able to oppose to Scotch opinion. The hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow was perfectly consistent, and more than that it would have been dereliction of duty on his part if he had not insisted on another Division, to make it more clear to the people of Scotland that in that House it was not the voice of Scotland that was respected, but that it was by those on the other side of the House, and who were responsible for Government, that the voice of Scotland was systematically defied on all matters in which the feeling and mind of Scotland was interested, and that it was only in matters of small detail that a pretence was made of respecting the opinion of Scotland. It was important that a second Division should be taken in order that the fact he had indicated might a second time be signally illustrated, and no one knew that better than the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate himself, than whom no person was more happy when by the assistance of his Friends from England he was able to bear down the opinion of the country he nominally represented.


said, that, as one who had gone into the same Lobby with the hon. Member who had just spoken, and should vote with him again, he would take the opportunity of declaring that he entirely disagreed in every respect from the language the hon. Member had used. In that Lobby, he recognized a large number of Members who had no direct interest with Scotch affairs, and among them he was glad to see a majority of the Irish Members. He was aware that there were hon. Members who were so excited on certain questions that they found it impossible to discuss a particular question simply on its merits; but he would appeal to hon. Members on both sides to reject the present proposal on its merits. It was a retrograde proposal, receding from the position several times affirmed; it said that under no circumstances should the House consent to the abolition of a system under which a public fund was now devoted to a single religious denomination. On the merits of the Question he appealed to the House to reject the Motion.

Main Question, as amended, put.

The House divided:—Ayes 143; Noes 104: Majority 39.—(Div. List, No. 166.)

Resolved, That as the Ecclesiastical Assessments have been a burden upon land from time immemorial for the erection and repair of church buildings in the old parishes of Scotland, this House, in the absence of any grievance connected therewith, except in the case of feuars, for whose relief a Bill is now before Parliament, declines to entertain a proposal to alienate these assessments to secular ones.

And it being One of the clock a.m., Mr. Speaker adjourned the House without Question put.