§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
formally moved that the Benefices Bill, as amended by the Standing Committee on Law, etc., be considered.
*MR. HARRY FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft) rose to move the Amendment which stood in his name, namely, that the Bill be considered this day six months. The Bill, he said, was of very large scope and of very great complexity. Those who had taken an adverse view to the promoters had laboured under exceptional difficulties in the discussion of the Bill. The First Reading was taken without one word of discussion, and the Second Reading was taken after a discussion of under four hours. Then the Bill was referred, not to a Select Committee, where evidence might have been called upon matters affecting the interests of those who were touched by the Measure, but to the
Standing Committee on Law. That Committee, with the Members specially added, consisted of 100 Members. Theoretically, no doubt, that was a very adequate tribunal for the purpose of discussing and threshing out the details of the Measure. But, as a matter of fact, in 23 out of the 24 Divisions which took place, less than one-third of the Committee voted, and in only one Division did 39 Members vote. So that, though theoretically the Bill had been referred to one of the large Standing Committees, practically the result had been that the Bill had been discussed by a very small section of the House. Again, the opposers of the Bill had had to face the organisation of what was known outside the House as the Church Party. The Bill was backed by a great many hon. Members who were deservedly held in very high esteem on both sides of the House, and he knew from personal knowledge that that fact alone, and the fact they were known to be good and zealous Churchmen, had acted as a kind of voucher with a great many hon. Members who had not the time to study every Bill that came before them. The Bill, too, had received a kind of benevolent support at the hands of the Government, practically, he had no doubt, for the same reason. Those who opposed the Bill in Committee were sensible of the fact that, by continuing their opposition, they were keeping back other Measures which had been more properly referred to the Standing Committee on Law, and which could not be considered until the Benefices Bill was out of the way. The result of that pressure was that the important question of compensation was not even discussed. He was bound to acknowledge that some of the more obnoxious provisions of the Bill had disappeared and made way for much more salutary ones. The Bill as introduced provided for what was absolutely a spiritual court in matters which had no regard to doctrine or ritual. That had been modified to some extent, though to nothing like a sufficient or satisfactory extent. He was also bound to acknowledge that in regard to Part 3, his noble Friend who was in charge of the Bill met his opponents in an exceptionally frank and conciliatory spirit, but with regard to Parts 1 and 2 he thought he should be confirmed when he
said that there appeared to be an unseen hand behind the promoters, and that they had very little discretion themselves in the matter. Again and again arguments were brought forward which, in their view, appeared to be unanswerable and unanswered, but the only reply of the promoters seemed to be that, under eminent advice, there were undoubtedly good reasons why it should remain as it appeared in the Bill. Part 1 of the Bill practically was unaltered, and it was Part 1 which dealt exclusively with the position of the private patron. It was quite true that the right of selling advowson property was not taken away by the Bill. Some hon. Members spoke as though the Bill were going to abolish the right of sale of private patrons. They spoke of making private patronage a marketable commodity, and of dealing in it by means of sale as a thing which they regarded as an evil, and one which they desired to see done away with. But the Bill did not make any proposal of that kind. If the Bill were to propose the abolition of private patronage, then the promoters would be pledged by all their utterances to give adequate and just compensation to those whose private rights they were going to take away. But this proposal was a much more insidious and dangerous one. This proposal imposed a number of restrictions upon the exercise of private patronage in the future, the admitted effect of which would be to largely reduce the market value of that property. With a view of getting out of the demand for compensation, the promoters said that patronage property was a trust, and that because it was a trust Parliament was justified in interfering in the exercise of that trust. The fact was the only trust imposed upon the patron of a private benefice was to present to the ordinary a fit and proper person. The Bishop judged of the fitness of the presentee, and if he was satisfied of his fitness he instituted him in the living. The patron had no power to institute into a living. The only power he had was the right of nomination. Parliament could not control the private character and fitness of the patron any more than they could control the character of a purchaser of a freehold estate, and the Church had never recognised, and would
indignantly repudiate the suggestion that they were bound by the recommendation of the patrons. Upon this the Bishop rested the responsibility of admitting a fit and proper person. Parliament had not only recognised the existence and legality of property in private patronage from the time of the Doomsday Book, but within our own time by the Municipal Corporations Act and other legislation the right to sell livings had been recognised, and power had been conferred upon collegiate bodies and upon the Lord Chancellor to sell advowsons in their gift, a power which had been exercised by Lord Chancellors to the extent of half-a-million sterling, and if Parliament now sanctioned Measures which introduced such limitations as would seriously prejudice the value of the property without at the same time giving adequate compensation for the injury inflicted, it would be not only subversive of every principle professed on that side of the House, but contrary to the principles of righteousness and justice. Inasmuch as the question involved was not the character of the patron, which Parliament could not control unless it abolished the right of private patronage, but was the fitness of the presentee, he submitted with some confidence that if the promoters of the Bill were anxious to save any portion of it, they must be prepared either to withdraw those utterly unnecessary and uncalled for provisions of Part 1 which would interfere with private patrons while leaving public patrons untouched, or that they would provide, what was a much more difficult task, for compensation in those cases in which injury was inflicted by such undue restrictions. Personally he would be glad to see the sale of advowsons by public auction done away with, and the sale of next presentations abolished, and upon those two things substantially all parties were agreed. With these exceptions, the scandals which arose in connection with private patronage were very few in comparison with the large number of private patrons, and justice would be met, and all parties would be satisfied by the removal of those objectionable features. ["Hear, hear!"] Further, he contended that the exercise of private patronage would compare favourably with either
Corporate, Crown or Episcopal patronage. In 1884 the Liberation Society issued a publication, entitled "The case for Disestablishment," in which, while resolutely withholding compensation from corporate bodies and public patrons, they proposed to deal in a much more liberal spirit with private patrons than the Bill now proposed, and proposed that full and just compensation should be given to them, which showed that those who were commonly called the enemies of the Church of England, at any rate in that matter, were far more merciful than some of those who called themselves her friends. [Opposition Cheers.] He quoted from pages 177 and 178:—
Private patrons and others who can dispose of their patronage rights by gift, sale, or bequest, at their own pleasure, are in a different position. If it be objected that private patronage, equally with public patronage, is a sacred trust and not a property, it may be answered that notwithstanding the existence of laws against simony, the Legislation has distinctly sanctioned the sale of advowsons. It did so when the municipal corporations were reformed and were directed to sell their patronage. It has done so more recently, in passing the Lord Chancellor's Augmentation Act (26 & 27 Vic., cap. 120), which authorised the sale of small livings in the gift of the Lord Chancellor that the proceeds might be applied to enhance the value of the livings. Since that Act came into operation (Nov. 1st, 1865) £222,759 have been paid by the purchasers of these livings, and were the Legislation now, on moral grounds, to deny to them some compensation for the loss of what they have purchased, it would be guilty of injustice. Rightly or wrongly, Church patronage in private hands has been treated, both by law and usage, as property, of which the holders cannot equitably be deprived without an equivalent.
The luxury of doing good at other people's expense was an exceedingly cheap one, but in his opinion it was an exceedingly dishonest one. [Cheers.] When they came to Part 2 of the Bill, which dealt with the rights of the presentee, there had been some important modifications of the Bill in Committee, but both that part and Part 3 touched only the rank and file of the clergy, and did not touch the higher dignitaries. The clergy were not in that House as the Bishops were in the House of Lords, to represent their view of the case—["hear, hear!"]—and therefore, being defenceless, they were entitled to greater consideration from the House.
They deserved well of the House, and all parties recognised the obligations they were under to the self-denying and self-sacrificing spirit of the clergy. They had had two very recent Acts passed for purging the Church of unfit Ministers, the Pluralities Act Amendment Act of 1885, and the Clergy Discipline Act, 1892, which had not been four years in operation. These Bills gave very large powers in the matter, and no case had been submitted to show that they were insufficient for their purpose. The Bill created a number of new offences, and he contended that the onus was upon the promoters of the Bill to show that previous legislation in such matters was insufficient, and that further legislation was needed in the interest of the good government of the Church. In the Bill no definition was given of ecclesiastical duty, and it was stated to have been purposely omitted in order that a broad view of the question might be taken. In Committee an instance was given of a man not having properly visited a member of his congregation, and the promoters stated they desired to cover such a case. No doubt, in the abstract, they would all say that a man did not discharge his duty properly unless he gave some share of his time to visiting his parishioners, but they knew very well that there were a large number of unwieldy parishes containing a population so large that it would be impossible for the minister to visit each of his parishioners once a year, and yet under the Bill that might be strained against an unpopular presentee who did not belong to the same Church party as the Bishop. Such considerations had influenced Bishops, who, after all, were human beings, in times gone by, and might influence them in the future. There were a number of other instances in which the ill-defined disabilities created by the Bill might be strained most harshly and unjustly against an innocent man. Misconduct was mentioned as another offence, but again there was no definition of what misconduct was. The result of exposing men to such risks of gibbeting, would be to deter the best men from seeking to enter Holy Orders. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not object to many of the proposals of the Bill if adequate safeguards were provided for the accused
person that injustice was not done, for he did not want to see unfit men in the Church, but he did not want, under the pretended guise of unfitness, that larger powers should be given to the sacerdotal or any other party in the Church. Under existing legislation, if a presentee was refused institution by the Bishop, both the patron and the presentee were given a right of action in the Queen's Courts, and the Bishop was called upon to justify his refusal, but by the Bill they now proposed to take away from a very large section of the clergy, numbering about 25,000, the right of resorting to the Queen's Court in the event of their being unjustly treated. There was to be a private conference between the Bishop and the presentee, and the Bishop could exercise his paternal jurisdiction. The accused was not to be confronted with his accusers, or given any opportunity to have them cross-examined, but in the Bishop's private parlour he would be allowed to attempt to remove the prejudice which might be in the Bishop's mind, and unless he could succeed in doing that he was simply relegated to the Court set up by the Bill, from which no appeal was to be allowed. In his opinion, when they were dealing with a man's future career they ought to give him no less right than was given to an ordinary litigant who had only £20 or £50 at stake. The publication on the church doors of the proposed institution was but a sham protection to the parishioners, whose rights began and ended with an objection, but to the presentee, if institution were afterwards refused, it meant ruin, unless he could upset the Bishop's decision, and even then its consequences would prejudice his whole future career, and so limit his usefulness. Part 3 of the Bill dealt with those clergy who had been instituted, i.e, incumbents, and he admitted that in respect to the tribunal for that purpose the suggestions he had made in Committee had been readily acceded to. He had no fault to find with that tribunal, because at his instance the lay representation had been greatly strengthened, but the offences under that part of the Bill were very vague, and would lend themselves to gross abuse, while the aged beneficed clergyman was treated in the same category and
by the same tribunal as an utterly unlit and unworthy incumbent.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said that the result was very different in the case of an infirm incumbent. A pension was reserved to him, of which he could not be deprived.
§ * MR. HARRY FOSTER
said he would get a little more liberal treatment than he might if dealt with under the preceding sub-section of the Bill, but there was the same power of suspension and inhibition which would totally deprive him of his living, and turn him out of his dwelling-house. That proposal had been condemned by the Bishops of London and Norwich, and, as he had said, it dealt with the rank and file of the clergy in a very different manner to that in which the Bishops were dealt with under the Bishops' Resignation Act. In that Act a minimum of £2,000 a year was provided for a retired Bishop, to be increased up to one-third of the revenue of his See, and he was allowed to reside in his palace until his death, but under the Bill the aged infirm incumbent might be driven, as the Bishop of London had expressed it, on to the highway or into the workhouse. While he desired that all the abuses that could be remedied by Parliament should be remedied, they must take care that they did not create still greater evils. As there was no chance of the Bill becoming law in its present form, and as it was not approved by many of those in whose name it was brought forward, and as it was not desirable that it should be dealt with in a House that was not fully manned, he asked that a Bill of such enormous scope and importance should not be proceeded with. He thanked the House for the very patient and attentive hearing they had given him, and he assured them that nothing but the strongest sense of duty had impelled him to urge that this Bill should not pass, but that everything was to be gained by delay and reconsideration, in the cause alike of wisdom and justice, and, above all, in the best interest of the Church of England. [Cheers.]
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
seconded the Motion. He had been a member of the Committee which sat on a similar Bill last year, and knew something about the 378 subject. A great objection to the Bill, he thought, was, instead of giving to the parishioners any power of removing a clergyman, or preventing his appointment, it put the matter absolutely into the hands of the Bishop. [Cries of "No!"] Well, it did not absolutely put it into the hands of the Bishop, but everything in the Bill tended in that direction. [Cries of "No!"] He could, by reading abstracts from the Bill, show that wherever possible the Bishop gained something to the loss of the private patron, and others. He believed a great deal of injury was done to the Church by the Bishop having at his disposal so many appointments. When a Bishop had either very high or very low tendencies batches of appointments in accordance with his views were made, with the result that in certain dioceses people who held extreme views in the opposite direction left the Church to become either Nonconformists or Roman Catholics. That was a real danger to the Church. The Bill would give the Bishops greater powers in regard to appointments, and great control over the appointments by lay patrons. He thought the Bill would do the Church more harm than any Bill which had been brought in for a long time. He had not so much sympathy with the patrons of benefices, although there was some grievance no doubt in regard to the depreciation of that property. He did not think that the promoters of the Bill had shown that they would benefit anybody, except the autocrats of the Church, and he objected very much to the omission of any reference to the local authority for objections to an appointment. The Parish Council might be a very proper authority to suggest objections. Even the churchwardens would be a better authority than three people who might have a spite against the clergyman who had been appointed. Again, the character of the clergyman was to be taken, not from any layman, but from two beneficed Churchmen. The Bill did not say the clergyman was to give satisfaction to his parishioners, or to be such a man as had given satisfaction to the parishioners, but they were to have men appointed all over the country who had given satisfaction to the Bishop or certain beneficed clergymen. He held that that was not a 379 right system to proceed upon, and if the Church was to depend upon the support of the people they ought to have more voice in its government. If the clergymen were to be separated from their congregations and to rule themselves entirely, they should have a weakness given to the Church which did not exist at the present moment, and which would be certain to bring it into great trouble. He had great pleasure in seconding the Amendment, because he thought the Bill would injure the Church, and really do more harm to the institution it was intended to benefit than any Bill which could possibly be drawn up.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE (Plymouth) rose to make an earnest appeal to the House not to be led by the speeches they had just heard into a re-discussion of the Second Reading of this Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] He wanted to ask the House to consider this question, not only in the interests of the Bill, but in the interests of the business capacity of the House. This Bill had been before a Standing Committee. It was said by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment that it ought not to have been sent to the Standing Committee. But that question was decided by the House itself, and the Bill, by no narrow or Party majority, was sent to the Standing Committee. The principle of the Bill on the Second Reading was affirmed by a majority of 178, and by a majority of 201 it was sent to the Standing Committee as being the proper place in which to discuss it. ["Hear, hear!"] The Grand Committee had given to the Bill a great deal of labour, and it had been sent back, by the admission of everybody in the House, in a very much better form than it was in when the House, by a majority of 178, sanctioned the Second Reading. ["Hear, hear!"] He appealed to the House, therefore, was it reasonable that a Debate should start, ranging over all sorts of considerations, and referring, not only to matters in the Bill, but to those which were not concerned in the Bill at all, upon the general principle? He should like to point out to the hon. Member who had moved the Amendment that the question was whether this Bill was to be reconsidered. The arguments which the hon. Member brought forward might be good reasons for considering 380 the Bill, but they were not reasons for refusing to consider it altogether, and for tearing up a Bill which had been passed by such a majority on its Second Reading stage. The hon. Member said that the promoters of the Bill went to the Committee under the power and the authority of an unseen hand, and were not able to do what they thought right with the Bill. [Laughter.] He assured the hon. Member he was entirely mistaken. ["Hear, hear!"] His name was on the back of the Bill; he spoke on the Second Reading Debate and said he desired to see Amendments made in the Bill when it went into the Grand Committee. When the Bill was before the Committee he took such share as he could in dealing with questions of Amendment; and, so far from an unseen hand controlling him or the other promoters of the Bill, they dealt with the questions as they came before the Committee with a desire to make the Bill what it would be if passed into law—of very great advantage to the Church of England and the nation at large. [Cheers.] He denied that the Bill increased the powers of the Bishops in any way, and pointed out that the Amendments that had been made were in the direction contemplated in the Second Reading Debate. Those who looked at the names on the back of the Bill would see that they were not the names of sacerdotalists; that different parties and schools of thought in the Church were all represented in the names; and, taking the Bill in the condition in which it was now, he believed that every one of these promoters was satisfied with the Bill as it stood, and there was not, so far as he knew, inside or outside the House, any objection by any school of thought in the Church to the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] Something had been said about compensation and the wickedness of taking away property without paying for it. He himself held strongly that no property should be taken away for public reasons without compensation being paid. But it was a very different thing to regulate the exercise of that right for the public advantage. By this Bill they hoped to prevent unfit men being placed in the position of having the cure of souls intrusted to them and the spiritual interests of their parishes committed to 381 them. Surely they were entitled to make such a regulation without being told they were interfering with any right of property. Was there any right of property that could be suggested that gave the patron the right to appoint a man of unfit life and character to be the clergyman of a church? He did not recognise any such right, and what this Bill contained was really a series of provisions which should secure, as far as possible, that fit men only should be admitted to the benefices in the Church, and that unfit men should not be allowed to continue to hold them. [Cheers.] The hon. Member had said clergymen were not represented there and spoke as if he represented them. But he had no credentials. ["Hear, hear!"] There was no body of clergymen in this country who had entrusted the hon. Member with the right to make any complaint of the Bill on their behalf, and there was no body of clergymen that had, in any conference or meeting, protested against and objected to the Bill, except, perhaps, a few that appeared to concern themselves more with the trade questions which affected dealing with the patronage of the Church than they did with those larger questions in which most Churchmen were largely interested. ["Hear, hear!"] He hoped the House would listen to the appeal he had made, and proceed at once to consider the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ * MR. J. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Nottingham, Mansfield)
observed that, as he was neither a strenuous supporter nor opponent of this Measure; he perhaps, occupied the position of an impartial witness with regard to the proceedings of the Committee on the Bill. He differed from many things which had been said by the hon. Member for Lowestoft, but he agreed with him in most of his statements with regard to those proceedings. He joined with the hon. Member in acknowledging the spirit in which the noble Lord and other promoters of the Bill listened to many of the objections and suggestions which were made, and in particular he was glad the noble Lord recognised the force of the objections he (Mr. Williams) thought it right to take on the Second Reading of the Bill in regard to exemptions from the operation of the Measure. The difficulties connected with the Bill 382 were so great, that in the Committee the promoters of the Bill could not overcome them, notwithstanding the able advice of their legal friends. If ever there was a case in which a Bill demanded reconsideration by the House it was this. He had been astonished at the statement made by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth. He had sought to convince the House that the opposition to this Measure proceeded only from interested persons, those who happened to be private patrons, and whose peculiar interests were involved. Surely the learned Gentleman must have come into possession of appeals from societies composed of those whose attachment to the Church of England could not be for a moment doubted. He had never received so many appeals from Church bodies, from individual clergymen, or from laymen of the Church as he had recently done, exhorting him to exert himself to the utmost in order to get rid of the objectionable features of the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] In his judgment, this Bill as it was now presented to the House, as the result of the process to which it had been subjected in the Grand Committee, represented the opinion of about a score of members of that Committee. ["Hear, hear!"] On the Second Reading the details of the Bill were not, of course, in any way dealt with. Since then, the Measure had received much greater attention out of doors, and, so far as his knowledge enabled him to judge, the effect of the Measure would be very different indeed to that which some of its supporters seemed to anticipate. ["Hear, hear!"] It was quite a mistake to suppose that either he or those with whom he was associated were anxious to prevent the passing of this Measure, because it would be an obstacle in the way of Disestablishment. He had no objection whatever to stating that he regarded the Measure as one which was certain to have a disintegrating and dislocating influence on the Church. [Cheers.] He believed it would fail in its object. It was the latest of a long series of legislative Measures, having in view the regulation of the affairs of a Christian community. It had taken 17 years to bring matters to this point, and now the House was called upon to pass another Measure, the object of which was to overcome ancient difficulties in the 383 ancient way—["hear, hear!"]—namely, by means of legislation by that House, instead of the action of the Christian Church in the interests of which it was promoted. The members of the various Nonconformist communities had different methods of appointing their ministers, but they would one and all scorn the idea of applying to that House to interfere with the mode in which their ministers should be appointed. [Cheers.] No doubt, the Nonconformist communities had their difficulties in the appointment of their ministers, but they were nothing in comparison with the difficulties which were encountered by members of the Church. ["Hear, hear!"] The Church would never be free from the scandal of trafficking in livings until it placed itself in the position of the Church of Ireland, which, now being a free, was a pure Church. [Cheers.]
§ MR. SYDNEY GEDGE (Walsall)
said that subject to certain Amendments he was in favour of the Bill because it contained an underlying principle for which he had always contended, and aimed at objects he had always desired. The underlying principle it contained was that it recognised that the parish and the parishioners were the first persons to be considered in the exercise of Church patronage, that the parson was made for the parish and not the parish for the parson, and the object it aimed at was to prevent a person being presented to a particular living for which he was unsuited, and if by any means a man became unsuitable, and was unable to perform the duties, there should be power to remove him. Part 2 was intended to accomplish the first part, and Part 3 to accomplish the second. With some modifications those parts deserved to be passed, and he hoped they would be. But he could not agree that Part 1 was necessary and ought to remain. If it was it should be largely altered in accordance with Amendments of which notice had been given. If Parts 2 and 3 were effectual, there could be no necessity for Part 1. He agreed that the right of patron as to presentation was not much interfered with, and that such interference as there was did not entitle him to compensation. But where the right and manner of selling the living 384 was interfered with by limiting the number of purchasers or limiting the powers of the purchaser, that was interference with the right of property. This interference might be desirable, but it should not take place without compensation. The Bill said that if a man had parted with his right of patronage to another, and a vacancy occurred within 12 months, the transferee would lose his right of presentation, which would go to the Crown. A man might be an Incumbent or the right of presentation had come to him by will, purchase, or settlement. Often, it was the only property he possessed, and it might be his intention to part with his rights of patronage to some one else for pecuniary consideration, which would be provision for his wife and children. As the law now stood, that living was saleable and purchaseable for proper consideration. But what purchaser would buy a living or give for it more than one-fourth of the ordinary value, if he knew he was subject to the contingency that by a death happening he would lose the right of presentation and it would go to the Crown? No man would face such a contingency without making a large deduction from the price. He did not by any means think the Bill was hopeless, but at the same time he thought it still required a great deal of revision, and he appealed to the hon. Member for Lowestoft to withdraw his Motion and allow the House to get on with the consideration of the Bill.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. J. CUMMING MACDONA (Southwark, Rotherhithe)
moved the following clause:—The right of presentation to a benefice now vested in the inhabitants or ratepayers of a parish shall, after the passing of this Act, be vested in and exercised, in the case of a rural parish, by the Parish Council of that parish specially convened for the purpose; and, in case of disagreement, by a majority of at least three-fourths of such Council; and, where there is no Parish Council, by the Overseers of such parish; and, in case of a borough urban district, in the Borough Council or District Council in which the parish is situated; and, in the event of such authority not appointing within six calendar months of the vacancy, the right of appointment for that occasion shall be exercised by the Bishop of the diocese.385 He said he moved the clause with the object of removing a system that had given rise to great scandal. Where livings were in the gift of the parishioners, clergymen were brought down to preach against each other Sunday after Sunday, for the amusement of the congregation. He was sure that if the noble Lord the Member for Rochester would accept the Amendment, he would find that it was acceptable to both sides of the House. It was hardly necessary to give illustrations to show the scandals created by these elections, but he would mention the case of a village in Staffordshire, where the living was £90 a year, the church seated 150, and the parishioners numbered 162. The vacancy there was kept open for six months. At the end of six months an old clergyman from London, 73 years old, was appointed. When a parishioner was asked why a man was appointed who knew nothing about that part of the country, he replied, "We don't want people here to tell us about our own county—we want them to tell us something about London life." In order to prevent these scandals he begged to move the clause.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said he felt a great deal of sympathy with the object of the clause, inasmuch as great scandals had arisen in connection with these elections in various parts of England; but the clause involved so much detail of a contentious kind that it would require great modification if read a second time, and he did not think the House would encourage them to take that up at this stage. He would, therefore, venture to ask his hon. Friend not to press the clause.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Hereford)
said he had great sympathy with the clause, as it would be one step in the direction of ultimately giving parishioners a real voice in the election of an Incumbent. He suggested that, as the noble Lord approved the principle of the clause, he should allow it to pass now and get some friend of his in the other House to carry out the necessary Amendments to it.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
thought that the clause carried out the professed intention of the authors of the Bill—namely, to prevent operations in the nature of scandal. The noble Lord admitted that this method of appointing 386 clergymen was very objectionable, as being in the nature of a contested election. He could not understand a Member of that House protesting against a system of contested elections. They were all the products of contested elections. Of course, there might be a difference in the case of the appointment of a spiritual pastor; but if it was not proper that he should be thrown into the public arena, and his qualifications tested by the public voice, the clause suggested that the matter should be put in the hands of a select portion of the people. There were objections to the proposed machinery, but, undoubtedly the clause carried out the object of the promoters of the Bill. This Bill had distinguished parentage and distinguished grand parentage, and it was the business of the noble Lord, as one of the promoters of the Bill, to put the clause into a workable shape. He had no doubt his hon. Friend would accept any reasonable proposal.
§ * MR. HARRY FOSTER
pointed out that the effect of such a clause in the City of London would be to transfer the power to the overseers, and that would hardly be desirable. He was informed by parishioners of St. Stephen, Coleman Street, that their right to appoint was acquired by purchase in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and had been exercised ever since without any scandal. It was a right that was very much prized. The only body in the City to which the right could be transferred was the Corporation, and he did not think that would be an improvement, the Corporation being too large a body for the purpose.
§ Clause negatived.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
moved the following clause:—In all cases where a right of presentation lapses, or a benefice becomes vacant under this Act, the right of presentation shall go to the Crown.He explained that his object was to provide for cases where the right of presentation lapsed in consequence of action taken under this Bill, and not for cases where an Incumbent was removed. It was not right that in such cases the presentation should go to the Bishop, for the fact that it passed to him would lay him open to the charge of having brought the lapse about from interested motives.
§ * MR. HARRY FOSTER
argued that when a benefice became vacant in consequence of proceedings under this Bill, and the patron found difficulty in securing a nominee who was acceptable to the Bishop, the right of presentation after the lapse of a certain time would go to the Bishop under the existing law. In circumstances of that kind this Bill afforded no protection to the patron.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
thought that unless this clause were agreed to, the Bishop, in the event of lapse or vacancy, might be influenced to reject the nominee of the patron in order that he might himself secure the right of presentation. He held that when there was a conflict between the Bishop and the patron on the question of a succession to a benefice, a third party ought to be called in to appoint a nominee.
§ Question put: "That the clause be read a Second time."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 49; Noes, 116.—(Division List, No. 213.)
§ On the return of Mr. SPEAKER, after the usual interval,
§ * MR. HARRY FOSTER
moved the omission of Sub-section (1). He explained that he did so on behalf of his right hon. Friend the Member for the Thanet Division, who was doubtless better occupied at that moment. He said it represented the first attempt of many in Part 1 of the Bill, not to regulate the exercise of a legal right, but to take away absolutely a legal right at present existing. The sub-section declared that "no transfer of a right of patronage shall be valid which does not transfer the whole right of the transferor." That meant that the patron would no longer have the legal right which he now possessed to sell the next presentation, which was a very substantial part of the advowson. Of course, if the promoters were willing to provide compensation for this interference with private rights, his objection would so far be met. But the sub-section was wholly unnecessary for the purpose for which it was professedly 388 designed. Part 2 of the Bill was directed to strengthening the hands of the Bishops in dealing with unfit presentees. Then, what reason could there be for adopting in Part 1 the wrong principle of striking at the patron? The presentee was not accepted on the character of the patron, whoever he might be. This clause would injuriously affect the right of the patron without doing anything to insure the character of the presentee. The Measure was so utterly unjust and false to the principles of the Party to which he belonged, that he and those who acted with him felt justified in resisting it to the utmost. He maintained that by taking away the right of the sale of the next presentation they were depriving the owner of private patronage of the exercise of a right which at present he possessed. This sub-section did not amount to the regulation of the exercise of the sale of the right to the next presentation, but to an absolute and total deprivation of that which was the most substantial part of presentation—namely, the presentation to the next living. To drive away from the owner of this patronage those who would probably be two-thirds of his possible customers [Sir E. CLARKE: "Customers?"]; he was not at all ashamed of the word "customer." Let them be perfectly frank in the matter. The law recognised that there might be customers for the purchase of advowsons, and he was not at all ashamed to face the present position. There were many hundreds of clergymen who had, either by themselves or by their relatives, sunk practically the whole of their worldy possessions in the purchase of advowson property, and he had received very many letters from such persons asking him to present their case to the House of Commons.
§ MR. C. A. CRIPPS (Gloucestershire, Stroud)
was confident no Member would vote for the Bill if he thought there was any possibility of confiscation under it. ["Hear, hear!"] If the right of patronage were taken away, the question of compensation might arise, but he asked the hon. Member for Lowestoft whether he could cite any case where the mere regulation of a right or the deprivation of a possible customer had ever given a title to compensation? In pressing ideas of compensation too far there was danger of doing greater harm than good. 389 There was one precedent which, more or loss, dealt with the question under the Statute of Anne. Clergymen were not allowed to purchase the next presentation. They were the most possible customers, and yet those rights were taken away by Act of Parliament. Was there any compensation? Was it ever suggested there was any confiscation of proprietary rights? Certainly not. He was sure the hon. Member for Lowestoft could not find that his principle had been adopted in a single English Act of Parliament.
§ * MR. HARRY FOSTER
said the hon. and learned Gentleman had challenged him to give a single instance. His point was that this was not a regulation of a right, but an absolute deprivation of a right.
§ MR. CRIPPS
was satisfied the hon. Gentleman could not give any illustration. Under the Bill the right of patronage would remain; it was merely a question of the regulation of the right, which the supporters of the Bill argued ought to be exercised as trust property. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ * MR. LECKY (Dublin University),
in supporting the Amendment, said the sale of the next presentation was clearly a legal thing, which had gone on for generations in England, and on the strength of which large sums of money were invested. Such a property ought not, perhaps, to have been originally erected, but having been erected and distinctly recognised by the Law Courts, it ought not to be abolished without compensation. He supposed many hon. Members had received letters from different persons who would suffer most seriously by the proposed change of the law. He thought there was a great deal of confiscation in the Bill; direct confiscation, taking away without compensation a clearly recognised form of property; indirect confiscation depriving the owner of an advowson by successive restrictions of the power which rendered it valuable as property. Such a precedent, if it were admitted into legislation, was sure to grow. There was a provision in the American Constitution that no property could be taken away without adequate compensation. He wished 390 we had something of the same kind here. He thought a Member of Parliament could adopt no better rule than steadily to vote against any measure which, according to this clause of the American Constitution, would be unconstitutional.
§ MR. GEDGE
quoted from a recent charge of the Archdeacon of Norwich, in which that rev. Gentleman confessed that the restrictions proposed by the Bill would raise questions of considerable difficulty. A squire or a nobleman who had an advowson might be hard up, and, the clergyman not being very young, the next presentation might sell for three-fourths of the value of the advowson. But he might not wish, because he was hard up, to deprive his successor of the advowson, and it was a great thing that there should be harmony between the rectory and the hall—[Opposition cheers]—and it was right that the owner of the parish should be the owner of the advowson. Therefore, it was better that the owner of the advowson should not be obliged to sell it against his will, and that the purchaser should exercise his right of presentation only on the next vacancy. For these reasons he hoped the sub-section would be rejected.
§ MR. CHARLES MCLAREN (Leicester, Bosworth)
said that an attack upon the proprietary rights of members of the Church of England would further the cause of Disestablishment—[Ministerial cheers]—and he was astonished that an hon. and learned Member opposite should deliberately advocate a measure of spoliation. The Statute of Anne that had been referred to was, perhaps, the last of its kind that did not give compensation to the patrons affected, and compensation was not given on the dissolution of the monasteries, but in those days compensation was not understood as it is now. The proposal now made was a shock to Members on that side of the House—[laughter]—for they had some respect for the rights of property, even though they might be the proprietary rights of members of the Church of England. They had never been parties to measures of spoliation, and, if they had interfered with the rights of property they had always given liberal compensation. Yet the noble Lord opposite now submitted a Measure which would make 391 the hair of every family lawyer stand on end. Everybody knew it was the right to the next presentation that was of importance. The actual value of the advowson was not considered so much as the right of next presentation. This privilege was highly valued, and he certainly would do his best to oppose such an attack on the rights of property by the noble Lord. [Laughter.] He did not know what support he might have from the leaders of the noble Lord, for he noticed that they had deserted the Front Bench, except that there were two or three of them at the extreme end in the darkness. It might be taken as an indication of the fact that they were not in sympathy with the noble Lord; and he hoped the House would show its usual common sense in rejecting the sub-section, unless compensation were given.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
said that what was proposed was not a taking away of property at all; it was merely depriving the possessor of property of the exercise of a particular custom; and there was no precedent in law for granting compensation in such a case. It was not a dealing with a simple, ordinary personal right. The right to appoint a person to a cure of souls was a property of a peculiar kind, which had about it a character of trusteeship as well as the character of a right of property. ["Not to appoint!"] Well, to nominate; it was much the same thing; and it had been found that the exercise of this particular right had been attended with greater abuse than the sale of advowsons. The report of the Select Committee of 1874 on Church Patronage said that the evidence which had been given went to show that the sales of next presentations were open to greater abuses than the sales of advowsons, while, on the other hand, the prohibition of such sales was least open to the objections which were urged against prohibiting the sales of advowsons. The hon. Member for Walsall had given an illustration, the mere statement of which in the House showed what it was that many of them felt so strongly. The hon. Member spoke of the owner of an advowson who wanted to get a little ready money, and so, keeping in his hands the adowson, sold the right of next presentation by private auction to a stranger to the 392 neighbourhood, through one of those agents who were fighting so hard a battle against this Bill. [Cheers.] What was sold was the right to impose a minister upon the people of the district, it might be, for the next 30 or 40 years. That illustration given by the hon. Member for Walsall must have shown to those who did not belong to the Church of England why it was that some of them felt so strongly on the subject. They were familiar with advertisements representing that the Incumbent was an old man and that an early vacancy was expected. It was these shameful and scandalous features of the practice they were trying to stop. It was true they could not stop it altogether. ["Why not?"] Well, under this Bill they were not proposing to stop it altogether; and they claimed the sympathy of others in trying to stop this trafficking and the mischiefs that resulted from it. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton)
said the Committee of 1874 was not the last Committee on the subject; but there was one in 1884, of which the only Members now in the House were the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, the hon. Member for a Division of Sheffield, and himself. Although the Radical element was not ignored on that Committee, still it was not a Committee of a violently democratic and confiscating character. Mr. W. E. Forster was Chairman, and the Committee included Mr. Pemberton, Mr. E. Leatham, Mr. Cubitt, Mr. Walter, Sir R. Cross, Mr. Cropper, Mr. Hubbard, Mr. Rylands, Mr. Stuart Wortley, Lord E. Cavendish, Mr. S. Leighton, Mr. Hardcastle, Mr. Stafford, the present Lord Grey, Mr. Talbot, and himself. That Committee was unanimous upon one point. Of course there were a great many other points upon which the Committee were unanimous—but the special point to which he referred was that they were unanimous in recommending that the sale of next presentations should be prohibited. That Committee included many prominent defenders of the rights of property and several eminent members of the Conservative Party, and they united with the Radical Members of the Committee in expressing a strong opinion that the right of sale of next presentations should be abolished. He believed 393 that this right of sale of next presentations was a great scandal to religion. In his opinion, if the statement made by the hon. Member for Wallsall in that House had been made at a meeting of the Liberation Society, it would have been resented as a most unfair satire upon the Church of England, and if that statement had a shadow of foundation the House of Commons ought to remove all ground for it.
§ * SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
said that he was in favour of the clause as it stood in the Bill. The Report of the Commission which sat to consider this subject in 1879 condemned the sale of next presentations, which, it stated, had created much dissatisfaction in the minds of many Churchmen and were injurious to the interests of the Church, and it recommended that such sales should be prohibited. There was a complete catenation of evidence upon this subject which that House could not ignore. He hoped that he might be allowed to sever himself entirely from the high prerogative doctrine as to the rights of property. The fact was that the right of sale of next presentations was accompanied by a trust which almost overpowered the rights of property. He was quite certain that the language which had been used by some hon. Members in the course of that Debate was most injurious to the true interests of the Church, and he was satisfied that none of the great assemblies of the Church would endorse the fatal propositions that had been put forward in reference to this question. He sincerely trusted that no hon. Members in that House would associate themselves with this great abuse which was so fraught with danger to the Church of England.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE
sincerely hoped that hon. Members would not allow the very strong feelings which they entertained upon this subject, or the recommendations of Commissions or Committees, to lead them to do a great injustice. He quite admitted that the great abuse that attended the sale of next presentations and of advowsons ought to be put an end to. But at the same time it must be remembered that the sale of next presentations had been allowed by law for generations, and that the right of sale was clearly recognised as property. This Bill proposed 394 to take away the only thing that gave value to an advowson, namely, the right of sale of the next presentation, and if that were taken away the person who now possessed the right ought to be compensated. It was not because they objected to the sale of next presentations that they should refuse to compensate those who now held the right of sale for the loss of their property. To do so would be most unjust, and he was sure that Members on both sides of the House would decline to act upon such a principle. When a similar right had been abolished in the case of Scotland some years ago compensation had been given. He had always understood that the Church of England was very comprehensive in its character, and he claimed to be as much interested in its welfare as any member of the Church party, and was as anxious to prevent scandal attaching to it, but, in his opinion, if property was taken away the owners of that property ought to be compensated.
§ * MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS
said he had been surprised to hear hon. Members assert that the owners of advowsons would suffer no loss if this proposal were carried into effect; because most undoubtedly, although the right of presentation would remain, the value of the advowson would be seriously affected. He, however, was in favour of thorough, and not delusive legislation on this question. The hon. and learned Member for Plymouth had made an appeal to hon. Members sitting on the Opposition side of the House, and he was going to give the hon. and learned Member his support, and to save the promoters of the Bill from their own friends. The Bill furnished a most useful precedent which would not be lost sight of in the future.
§ MR. J. W. LOGAN (Leicester, Harborough)
said that he regarded the traffic in the sale of livings as a most shameful one. He objected to partial legislation on this subject. He was not an admirer of a great many of the proprietary rights now in existence in this country, but he was perfectly willing to pay compensation where it ought to be paid. If any system of proprietary rights interfered with the rights of the community they ought to be abolished, and 395 he was not prepared to say that compensation should be given in respect of their abolition. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, that a more shocking condition of things than existed in connection with the sale of next presentations it was impossible to conceive. His advice to hon. Members on his side of the House was that they should not blow hot and cold upon this question of compensation, but to vote for the retention of this clause.
§ Question put, "that Sub-section (1), of Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 202; Noes, 22.—(Division List, No. 214.)
§ * MR. HARRY FOSTER
moved to leave out Sub-section (2) (a). He said that by this sub-section the right of the private patron would further filter away, and he submitted that there was no ground for the proposed change. He did not know that there was any particular merit in a period of 12 months. In the Committee an Amendment was moved to reduce it to six months. A Division was taken, the numbers were equal, and it was only by the casting vote of the Chairman that the subsection was left as it was drawn. He, for his part, did not see that any good purpose was effected by limiting the period.
§ Amendment put, and agreed to.
§ * MR. H. D. GREENE (Shrewsbury)
said they were all agreed as to the necessity of putting a stop to objectionable traffic in advowsons. He apprehended that the promoters of the Bill did not desire to carry legislation further than it was absolutely necessary in order to destroy the mischief at which the Bill aimed. Whether they regarded the patronage of a benefice as a trust or as a property, in either event they should not injure the trustee or the owner more than they could possibly avoid. The question of dealing with sales and the question of dealing with gifts stood on a totally different footing. He therefore suggested that while it was highly reasonable to stop sales of presentations, it was not reasonable to prevent the owner of 396 an advowson or a trustee from giving it away, if he chose, in his lifetime to any person or any public body that he desired. The second sub-section of the clause provided that in the event of a "transfer or transmission" of a right of patronage of a benefice, the right of presentation thereto should not be exercised for one year after such transfer or transmission by the person to whom such right of patronage had been transferred or transmitted, but by Her Majesty. It might happen that a father settled on his son, on the occasion of his marriage, some real property to which an advowson was attached. If the clause was allowed to stand in its present form, that son would not be able to exercise the right of patronage of the benefice for 12 months. He thought that would be a hardship, and he would, therefore, suggest that the words "transfer or transmission" should be struck out of the clause, and the word "sale" should be put in. Two objections had been raised to this proposal. In the first place it was said that the Bishop might, under the clause, within three months after a vacancy had taken place in a benefice, permit the disqualified or prohibited patron to exercise the right of presentation. But to his mind the exercise of the rights of property ought not to depend upon the inclination or views of a Bishop. Besides, he could not help thinking that if the gentleman or body to whom the advowson had been transferred entertained totally different views on theological questions from the Bishop, it might be difficult for the Bishop to say whether or not he could permit this prohibited person or body to exercise the patronage. The next objection was that it would not be difficult to evade the Bill by disguising a sale under the appearance of a gift. His answer to that was that if the law was not at present strong enough to reach evasion, the Solicitor General could, he was sure, introduce an Amendment to make it strong enough for the purpose. But he did not think that any person would, after the passing of the Act, run the risk of the penalties imposed by entering into any collusive arrangement by which a presentation should be sold under the appearance of a gift.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
said that it would be impossible for the promoters of the Bill to accept the Amendment, for the reason that if the operation of the clause was limited to sales there would constantly be transfers—on the face of them voluntary transfers, but really sales—and the Act would be open to wholesale evasion. His hon. Friend had said that if the law was not strong enough to prevent evasion it should be strengthened. The difficulty in such cases was in ascertaining the facts, and, unless his hon. and learned Friend could provide some machinery for seeing into the minds of the parties, he did not see how any strengthening of the law would enable the Courts to get at the facts. He suggested that the hon. and learned Member should not insist upon the Amendment, which seemed to be inadmissible, consistently with the Bill as it stood, but that he should introduce words in the sub-section later on providing that in the case of a voluntary transfer, the right of the next presentation should not go to the Crown, but should remain with the transferor—where the transfer was not for money or money's worth, the right of presentation should remain with the transferor. Suppose a father, on the occasion of the marriage of his son, had settled an advowson, and a vacancy took place within a year, it would not be quite reasonable that the presentation should go to the Crown; it would be reasonable that it should remain with the father.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
trusted that his hon. and learned Friend would stick to his Amendment. The Solicitor General had said the difficulty was in dealing with the facts, and yet he suggested another series of facts which it would be equally difficult to ascertain. On its merits, the Amendment was wholly and fully justified. Of course, it was extremely difficult to debate the clauses of the Bill with the tremendous array of legal talent above the Gangway and the array of sacredotal talent below the Gangway, but the suggestion made by the Solicitor General showed that the Bill required a great deal of amendment, that it had not been fully considered, or its terms fully weighed. They were all agreed that the sale of Church patronage was an 398 abuse which ought to be brought to an end or remedied, but all reforms ought to be intelligibly stated. They did not mean "transmission" or "transfer," but "sale." The obvious thing to do, therefore, was to put in "sale."
§ MR. W. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
entirely sympathised with the Amendment. He was much disappointed. He looked for more justification of the use of the words "transfer" and "transmission" than he heard from the Solicitor General. It was not a good principle in legislation to carry legislation which injured innocent persons merely because they might have an evasion, unless they made the words exceedingly strong.
§ * MR. H. D. GREENE
asked the indulgence of the House while he replied to the Solicitor General. The hon. and learned Gentleman had offered that an addition might be made to the clause later on which would effect the object he had in view. If the promoters of the Bill were willing to assent to the introduction of the words "or if the transfer is not for money or money's worth," he would be quite prepared to withdraw the Amendment.
§ * MR. HARRY FOSTER
thought the words suggested by the Solicitor General covered the point. He understood it to be suggested that the disability should not apply in a case of transfer by gift or devise, but only in case of absolute sale.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER,) Isle of Wight
said the hon. Member for Lowestoft had put the point correctly. They could not accept the actual words proposed, for the reason given by the Solicitor General. Under the words suggested by the Solicitor General the onus would be shifted entirely.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
thought it right to say that when the Motion to insert the words suggested by the Solicitor General was made he would regard it as his duty to oppose the Motion, because he thought the presence in the Bill of the words would render the Bill perfectly inoperative.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
moved to omit the word "passing" and to sub- 399 stitute the word "commencement," so that the clause should read:—In the event of a transfer or transmission of a right of patronage of a benefice after the commencement of this Act, the right of presentation thereto shall not (except as hereinafter provided) be exercised for one year," etc.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
denied that the Amendment was verbal. There would be a difference of three months, and his object was to make the Act as drastic as possible.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
thought it would be best to raise that point on the clause providing when the Act should come into operation.
§ Question put: "That the word 'passing' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 55; Noes, 184.—(Division List, No. 215.)
§ Word "commencement" inserted.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE,
in order to carry out the arrangement to which the hon. Member for Walsall had referred, moved to leave out the following words:—The right of presentation thereto shall not, except as hereinafter provided, be exercised for one year after such transfer or transmission by the person to whom such right of patronage has been transferred or transmitted, and, except as hereinafter provided, any presentation made by any such person within that period, and any institution in pursuance thereof shall be void.(b) A transfer of a right of patronage made.The effect of leaving out these words would be to enact Sub-section (b) Clause 1, and to leave out Sub-section (a) Clause 1. He would explain what provisions they 400 proposed to insert in the Bill to take the place of Sub-section (a). The objection his hon. and learned Friend took to the clause as it stood was that it prevented a patron presenting within a year after transfer, unless the Bishop allowed him to do so. The hon. Member said that was throwing the burden of proof on the patron, and that an exception ought to be made in his favour. The promoters of the Bill, in order to meet the objection, were perfectly willing to turn the provision the other way about, and to say that in ordinary circumstances the patron should have the right to present, but that the Bishop should have the right to stop him. They knew from sad experience where a man had acquired a property under circumstances in which a vacancy took place in a year, that a very strong suspicion was aroused as to the bargain being a corrupt one, and that the real object of buying the patronage was not for the purpose of being a patron, but to buy so that a particular individual should get the incumbency. That was already forbidden by the law of the land, but that power of buying the right of patronage had been used against the express prohibition of the law of the land. To prevent such abuses, the promoters of the Bill had framed a provision to the effect that where anybody bought the right of patronage, and suddenly a suspicious vacancy took place, some great authority should have the power of prohibiting that particular institution if he came to the conclusion that the bargain was really corrupt, and that it was not intended to buy the right of patronage, but the right to the incumbency. Now, instead of saying that in every case a man should not have the right to present to a living within a year, they had agreed to say he should have the right, but that if the Bishop saw fit he should have the power to prevent the institution of any such Incumbent as had been indicated, within a year. It seemed to him that the Amendment which stood later on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Lucas-Shadwell) would, with very slight alteration of the words, achieve the end in view when they came to Clause 8, which was the proper place to insert the provision, instead of in Clause 1. The Amendment of the hon. 401 Member was to insert at the end of Subsection (a) of Clause 8, the words:—Not more than one year has elapsed since the transfer of the right of patronage of the benefice, and that such transfer has taken place after the commencement of this Act; or.By that provision the Bishop would have the power, when a vacancy took place within a year of the transfer, of refusing the institution of the incumbent if he saw fit. It would insure protection against cases where suspicions of corrupt bargains might be entertained. To show the moderation of the framers of the Bill, he might mention that instead of the patronage falling to the ground in such circumstances, it would remain with the patron, although he would not be able to institute the particular person on behalf of whom he had made a corrupt bargain. He begged to move the Amendment.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said it was proposed to cut out the words providing that if there was a sale and presentation to a benefice within a year such presentation should be void. This was one of the most valuable parts of the Bill, and he and his friends must oppose the proposition.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
said that Amendments were suddenly sprung upon the House involving changes of the most important character. They should have time to consider them, and he, therefore, moved that the Debate be now adjourned.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
said he could not accept the Motion. The Amendment was in the nature of a drafting Amendment to leave out certain words at this point, so that the proposal might be brought forward later on in a modified form.
§ MR. LEWIS
said they ought to be informed of the nature of the proposed modification, and have an opportunity of seeing how it would apply to Sub-section 2 of Clause 1. Under the clause as proposed to be altered, the presentation would remain, and it would be the transfer or transmission alone that would be voided. There was nothing to void the presentation when once it was made. On these grounds he hoped his hon. 402 Friends would divide against the proposed Amendment.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 64; Noes, 190.—(Division List, No. 216.)
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
moved an Amendment with the object of altering the period after the institution of an incumbent within which the right of patronage shall not be exercised, from one year as provided in the Bill, to nine months.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said that he and his friends proposed to move an Amendment to extend the period to five years.
§ Question, "That the words 'one year' stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'nine months' be there inserted."
§ MR. LEWIS
said he looked upon this question as one of considerable importance, and he ventured to think that five years would be a far more proper period. If this Bill was to be carried at all, it ought to be made a reality, and to insert such a period as nine months would be to render the Bill pro tanto nugatory. If the promoters of the Bill were really desirous of stamping out the evils which existed in connection with Church patronage, they would only be consistent if they accepted the suggestion that the period should be five years. He made a special appeal to hon. Gentlemen in charge of the Bill to justify the ground on which they proposed to make the period nine months. He did not know whether he would be in order in moving that the period should be five years.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member will be in order in proposing that five years be inserted if the proposal to insert nine months be negatived.
§ And, it being Half-past Five of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Wednesday next.