HC Deb 09 May 1893 vol 12 cc462-4

Motion made, and Question proposed, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to put an end to the Establishment of the Church of Scotland, and to deal with the Public Endowments thereof on the occurrence of vacancies." —(Dr. Cameron.)

SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)

I ask leave to oppose the introduction of this Bill. We have had no explanation of the Bill beyond what appears on the Paper. This is a very important Bill, and concerns all parts of Scotland and every inhabitant of Scotland; and, judging from the opinion in Scotland, as far as I can gather, the people are opposed to such a proposal. I therefore oppose the Motion.


The case of the Church of Scotland is proposed to be dealt with by a number of Members of this House. Various Members have introduced Bills with which I emphatically disagree; but I and those who think with me have not opposed their introduction. The hon. Member for Glasgow University has introduced one Bill. I entirely disagree with that Bill, and I shall certainly oppose it at any future stage; but I thought it proper that no obstacle should be put in the way of the Bill being placed before Parliament and the country. Then the Member for Peebleshire had introduced a Bill for a referendum. With respect to that referendum, I only say horresco referens; but we thought it desirable that he should have an opportunity of placing his views before the House. The Government has another scheme in the shape of a Suspensory Bill. But it has been considered by a number of Scotch Members that it would be very desirable that a concrete proposition embodying our views on the subject of Disestablishment and Disendowment and our fashion of dealing with the question should be placed before the country. These views have now been embodied in a Bill. That Bill we ask the House to read a first time with a view to the provisions it contains being made known to this House and to the people of Scotland. I do not venture to pronounce an opinion as to whether they may be considered satisfactory or not; but I say we are entitled to the same courtesy as we have accorded to those from whom we differ. I, therefore, ask the House not to depart from its almost invariable practice in connection with the introduction of private Members' Bills, and to allow this Bill to be read a first time.


Is it in Order to take a Division at this time?



Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 246; Noes 180.—(Division List, No. 73.)

Bill ordered to be brought in by Dr. Cameron, Mr. Haldane, Mr. Hunter, Mr. Beith, and Mr. Stephen Williamson.

Bill presented, and read first time. [Bill 353.]