HC Deb 28 June 1898 vol 60 cc383-414

On the Motion for the Third Reading of the Benefices (No. 2) Bill,

*SIR W. HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)

The Bill that we are now invited to read a third time is a Bill which professes to have for its object the reform of abuses in the Church of England. Well, so far as it asserts that Parliament is to deal with the abuses of the Church of England I am entirely in accordance with the objects of this Bill. It is founded upon the principle that the proper authority to deal with the reform of those abuses is Parliament, and no other authority has a right to deal with the constitution of the Church of England as established by law. This Bill accepts that principle in its entirety. By this law it is secured that the clergy and the bishops of the Church of England hold their benefices and their sees, and it is to the faithful observance of this law that they have at their ordination pledged themselves by their vows. That law is the Act of Settlement, by which the rights of the laity of this country are protected and preserved. That is the principle laid down and asserted and approved by the Act of Uniformity, which is the Act of Settlement of the Established Church in this country, and if anyone will look at the Reformation Act of Uniformity in the first year of Elizabeth, in the copy of the revised Statutes which is upon the Table of this House, he will find a remarkable note—a note which lies at the root of the whole of this question. That Act in the fourth section declares that it was enacted by the Lords temporal and the Commons of England, departing from the ordinary phrase, that it was enacted by the Lords spiritual, the Lords temporal, and the Commons. That is a remarkable fact; because it proves that the Church of England was established at the Reformation against the spirituality, as it is called, of England at that time. I believe that, with one exception, the whole of the bishops voted against the Act of Uniformity, and it is for that reason that there is this record in that Act of Uniformity that it was passed by the Lords temporal and the Commons of England. And, Sir, the fourth clause of that Act is very germane to the questions which are opened up by this Bill. It recites that— For the due execution thereof the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, the Lords temporal, and all the Commons of the present Parliament assembled, doth in God's name earnestly require and charge all the archbishops, bishops, and other ordinaries that they shall endeavour themselves, to the uttermost of their knowledge, that the due and true execution thereof may be had throughout their dioceses and charges. And therefore the duty is imposed upon the bishops to enforce upon the Established Church of England the constitution of that Church as enacted in its formularies, its articles, and its liturgies. Well, Sir, it is necessary to bear in mind, in dealing with questions of abuses in the Church and their reform, that the work of the Reformation was a work not of the ecclesiastics, but was against their will; it was the work of the laity of England; and that is specifically expressed in the Act of Parliament. If the clergy of this country or the bishops desire to be delivered from those obligations which they may conceive to be onerous and irksome, they can be discharged only by putting an end to that compact by which they hold their preferments and their offices. They can be discharged, of course, by disestablishment and disendowment. If each man claims—and we hear this claim to-day—to be the judge of the doctrine he shall preach and the practices he shall follow, he can be so, but it can only be by the repeal of the Act of Uniformity, the object of which was to put an end to diversities of doctrine and practices within the Church of England. There must, of course, be a surrender of the advantages and the privileges and the rights which they hold. We do not complain of any man who holds these opinions, or who has those desires; but, Sir, he must accept the consequences of that which he demands. He is not entitled to the benefits and advantages which he has obtained by solemn promises unless he will take the consequences of the reversal of the system under which he holds those advantages. What I have complained of, and what I venture still to complain of—and I desire to withdraw nothing which I have said, either in substance or in form—is the dishonourable and dishonouring conduct of men who knowingly and deliberately violate the conditions upon which they hold their offices, while they insist upon keeping the advantages. This is, to my mind, a clear proposition, and I cannot understand how any man of common intelligence, who knows what good faith means, can dispute such a proposition as that, or can defend such proceedings as those which we have impugned. Now, Sir, it is said, and is professed, that this Bill is a Bill for the reform of abuses in the Church; and, so far as it is for the reform of abuses, I have not opposed the Bill, and have no desire to do so. So far as it reforms abuses in the sale of patronage, and in preventing men physically unfit from obtaining benefices, and so forth, I have nothing to say against the Bill. But it professes to deal with much larger questions than those. [Ministerial cries of "No!"] Well, I know it does not. My complaint is that, while professing to deal with the abuses in ecclesiastical conduct, it does not deal with them; and even if it had omitted them altogether I should have objected to the bringing forward of a Bill for the reform of abuses in the Church of England which did not deal with the greatest abuses in that Church. But the Bill in its terms professes to deal with the misconduct of clergy in the discharge of their ecclesiastical office. Then I ask, what is meant by the misconduct of clergy in their ecclesiastical office? I admit that the Bill claims to deal with the misconduct of clergy in their ecclesiastical office, but its manner of dealing with it is essentially defective, to my mind at least. It excludes misconduct in respect of doctrine and practice, which is the principal and most important duty of any man holding ecclesiastical office. To say that you are dealing with misconduct in the ecclesiastical office when you are not dealing with the most important duties of the ecclesiastical office seems to me wholly illogical and irrational. That such misconduct of a grave character does exist at present to a great extent in the Church of England no man denies. I have heard no denial of it in this House from either side. The right honourable Gentleman who has charge of the Bill has, indeed, declared his opinion that it does not exist to a large degree. Sir, I venture to differ from the right honourable Gentleman upon that subject. I cannot help thinking that it is probable that the right honourable Gentleman has had information conveyed to him since these discussions commenced which may have altered his opinion upon that subject. But, at all events, there exists in this country a profound belief and discontent, founded upon the conviction that misconduct in ecclesiastical office does exist very largely and very widely. That is a matter upon which I at least can entertain no doubt. Since these discussions commenced I have been overwhelmed by such a mass of correspondence, coming from people of all parties and of all sections in the Church of England, that upon that subject I at least am absolutely satisfied. Well, Sir, the belief, at all events, that I entertain, and that a great many other persons in this country entertain, is that there is at present at work an organised attempt to identify the doctrines and practices of the Church of England with the doctrines and practices of the Church of Rome. I believe that that is a fact which cannot be disputed, and that the object of that organised attempt is to undo and reverse the work of the English Reformation, by which the Church of England at that time separated from the Church of Rome. I have protested, and I shall continue to protest, against the legitimacy of such attempts as that on the part of men who hold preferments in the Church of England, and who maintain and endeavour to identify the Church of England with the Church of Rome. It has been said—I see the honourable Gentleman present who said it—that this is a reflection on my part upon the faith and practices of the Church of Rome.

MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.)

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to interrupt; but, as the right honourable Gentleman has alluded to me, perhaps he will allow me to say that he has not correctly stated what I complained of as being a reflection upon the Church of Rome. What I complained of as being a reflection upon the Church of Rome was, what I believed, and many others believed, to be the contemptuous description indulged in by the right honourable Gentleman of practices which are held sacred in the Church of Rome, particularly his reference to the decoration of the altar which is practised in the Church of Rome. The right honourable Gentleman may hold what opinion he likes, but he has no right whatever, and so far as I am concerned I will not allow him, to cast ridicule upon practices which may be wrong in the Protestant Church, but wherever they are practised are held sacred by many.


Nothing was further from my intention than to give any offence to the honourable Gentleman or to anyone who belongs to the faith of the Church of Rome. If I had used any expression of that character I certainly should regret it; but on looking at the report of what I said I cannot charge myself with anything of the kind. It was absolutely necessary for me, in order to show that there was an attempt to identify the practices of the Church of England with the Church of Rome, to refer to the practices of which I complained, and to give details of them. I did so only to show that these practices were an attempt to identify the ritual of the Church of England with the ritual of the Church of Rome, and to sustain my proposition that that was not consistent with the principles of the Reformation, the object of which was to separate the Church of England from the Church of Rome. What I said was not in any way contemptuous of the faith which the honourable Member professes. That I think is a clear proposition, but I hope that it is not too late in the day to declare that the Church of England is distinct from the Church of Rome, and not identical with it. That is the object of all that I have said. I undertook to prove that there was an attempt being made to do away in the practices and the doctrines of the Church of England with that distinction. I have satisfied the honourable Member that at all events I had no intention and that I had no desire to give offence to him or to his co-religionists.


May I—


I really think that now I may be allowed to proceed—


I really, Mr. Speaker, have no desire to interrupt the right honourable Gentleman, and I accept most decidedly what he has said. Perhaps I may be allowed to say, how-over, that what gave rise to the impression in my mind were the observations made by another honourable Member who supplemented his statement by a letter in the public Press in which he described the practices being introduced into the Protestant Church of England and called them Catholic practices, thereby altogether misrepresenting the views of the Catholic Church on the subject.


Order, order!


He spoke, for instance, of the adoration of images.


Order, order! The honourable Member is going beyond an explanation.


The adoration of images has never been indulged in by the Catholic Church. It is an insult to accuse Catholics of idolatry.


I have no desire to cast ridicule upon any persons of different religious opinions to those which I hold myself. When I spoke of offences being "illegal, immoral, and dishonourable," I was speaking of persons who, to use a phrase which I think expressed the matter perfectly well, of men "who eat the bread of one Church only with a view of betraying it to another." That, in my opinion, was justly described as conduct which is illegal, immoral, and dishonourable. Another eminent writer the other day, with a great power of condensing thought, in language, described the complaint that has been made against a certain section of the Church of England as, not a cry of "No Popery!" but a cry of "No treachery!" It is against that treachery that we have raised our voice, and against which we shall continue to raise our voices. Well, Sir, I spoke of the real remedy for this if the Church of England desire—and I believe a great majority of them do not desire it—to be relieved of the vows they have made at their ordination, and of the obligation which the settlement of the Church of England imposes upon them. There is the remedy of disestablishment and disendowment. Since the establishment of the Church of England, at one time it was disestablished and disendowed, and why? What was the reason which led to it? Sir, there is a remarkable passage in a speech of Lord Falkland, a man whose character was great and memorable in those days, and this is what he says— It seemed their work (the bishops) to try-how much of a Papist might be brought in without Popery, and to destroy as much as they could of the Gospel without bringing themselves into danger of being destroyed by the law. Some of them have so industriously laboured to deduce themselves from Rome that they have given great suspicion that, in gratitude, they desire to return thither, or at least to meet it half-way. Some have evidently laboured to bring in an English, though not a Roman, Popery; I mean not only the outside and dress of it, but equally absolute a blind dependence of the people upon the clergy and the clergy upon themselves, and have opposed the Popery beyond the sea that they may settle one beyond the water—namely, at Lambeth. Nay, common report is more than ordinarily false if none of them have found a way to reconcile the opinions of Rome to the preferments of England, and be so absolutely, directly, and cordially Papists that it is all £1,500 a year can do to keep them from confessing it. Well, that is the state of things against which Lord Falkland warned the Church of England at that time. They did not take the warning, and it was followed by disestablishment and disendowment. But there is another point. I ought to apologise for having spoken of the objection taken by the honourable Member below the Gangway. There is another point which is more or less personal to myself, and which perhaps the House will pardon me for referring to, and that is the representation that I have in some manner shrunk from the position which I have taken up, and that on Friday night I ran away from an Amendment which I had on the Paper. Sir, that misrepresentation could only arise from people absolutely ignorant of the practice of the House of Commons. I was informed at a very early stage by you, Sir, that the Amendment I had on the Paper had been covered by the Amendment of my honourable Friend behind me, and that it was not in my power to move my Amend- ment. For this simple reason I did not move an Amendment which I was very anxious to have submitted to the judgment of the House. If I did not attend the Debate, it was because the other questions arising on the Bill were questions to which I had no objection whatever. I must apologise to the House for having mentioned that. There is another instrument in this controversy of which I am sure I shall have the unanimous assent of the House in complaining, and that is the introduction of the practice of forged letters. On Saturday I saw in several newspapers a letter, to which my name was signed, in answer to a gentleman who was supposed to have written to me on this subject—a letter which, represented that I had modified or retreated from the view I had taken, but that letter was never written by me. The letter of the gentleman who was supposed to have addressed me was a forged letter. The letter to which my name was signed was also a forged letter. We have heard of forged decretals, but I hope those are not going to be instruments of ecclesiastical controversy to-day. I do not complain of the newspapers, except that in their extreme anxiety to have early intelligence they do not seem to think it any duty on their part to ascertain the authenticity of the letters they publish. It is not the first time that this has happened, and I hope that after this protestation it may be considered as the last. Well, now, Sir, there has frequent reference been made to the action of the House of Commons in the Act of Parliament in 1874 with reference to practices not so extreme, but of a similar character to the present. It is said that that action was unwise and totally failed. It was an action taken at the instance of the Archbishop of Canterbury and supported by the Prime Minister of England. It was carried by an overwhelming majority of the House of Commons. I entirely deny that it was ineffective. It had a great effect for a long period in checking and restraining these practices. It would have been a great deal more effectual if that Bill, like so many other Bills, had, when it left the House of Commons, not been mutilated in the House of Lords. I do not desire to refer to the language which was used by the Prime Minister of that day, Mr. Disraeli, in this House with regard to Ms colleague, Lord Salisbury—also a Prime Minister subsequently—who weakened the Bill in the House of Lords, depriving it of the full operation it might have had, and left to the bishops the power to nullify its action; but under the firm administration of Archbishop Tait there was a great check given to those practices for a long period of time, and, Sir, it is only since that check was relaxed that there has been a recrudescence of these obnoxious practices which have at last aroused public attention, and, I will say, public indignation. Since that time, as I say, there has been a much greater laxity of administration. We have been told on the authority of the Attorney General that the bishops have been supine. Well, Sir, he did not inform us whether that lethargy was due to sympathy or whether it was due to timidity; but, at all events, if these discussions have done nothing else, they have awakened at least one bishop. We have had a circular from this bishop, imploring the clergy of his diocese to have some regard to the law under which they live. We might have wished, perhaps, that that representation had come a little earlier. But I for my part have no desire to attack the bishops. I said so the first time that I spoke upon this question. I only desire that they will do the duty which is imposed upon them by the Act of Uniformity of enforcing upon the clergy who are under their direction the law of the Church as established by Parliament, and I hope that that representation may be effectual. If the bishops become aware of the dangers to the Church over which they preside of these practices, against which we have remonstrated, we shall then learn how far these lawless clergy, who will not obey the law of the land, will obey the representations of the bishops. I for one shall watch with interest the effect of these remonstrances. I am glad, at all events, that the doctrine is now abandoned that if a layman of the Church of England claims to have the protection which the law of the Church of England gives him, and does not find it, and he is dissatisfied, as he has a right to be dissatisfied, that he should be told by his bishop that he may go elsewhere. That, at least, I hope, is the doctrine which is no longer to be epis- copally approved. I am glad, at all events, to have seen this commencement at last of an endeavour on the part of the bishops to introduce some regularity, some obedience of the law within the Church. But I confess, Sir, that for the reform of these abuses, which this Bill does not reform, and which it is the duty of someone to reform, I do not rely so much upon the authority of the bishops, which, I fear, may not be as effectual as we might desire. I look a great deal more to the authority which the laity have the power, and I believe the will, to exercise. I believe that that which will really cure these abuses is the remonstrance, the resentment, and the indignation which has been caused by these practices that have been going on. It is my firm belief that the convictions of the great mass of the people of this country, without distinction of Party, are in favour of the principles of the English Reformation, and that they will make these convictions prevail. The principles of the Reformation of the Church of England are not ecclesiasticism; they are not sacerdotalism; and those principles, I believe, will not be tolerated by the laity of the Church of England. The controversy on this subject will not be closed this afternoon by the Third Reading of the Bill, which does not deal and does not attempt to deal with these great questions; but this discussion has opened up, and it has rightly opened up, the whole of this matter, which, in the result, will be solved, and can only be solved, by the public opinion of the people of this country. That is one of the most effective operations of the Debates in this House, an operation which is often as effective as any Act or Bill, because it has the effect of concentrating and focussing the public mind upon questions which are deserving of consideration, and which challenge their opinion. The correspondence which I have had, and to which I have before referred, has certainly satisfied me how deeply the mind of the country is stirred in this matter, and how strong is the great mass of opinion against those unlawful practices. It has been sought to represent that opposition which has been manifested to portions of this Bill has been prompted by Party motives. I have denied that, and I deny it now. I recognise fully that the feeling of reprobation against these departures by men from their ordination vows is shared quite as much by honourable Members on the other side of the House as upon this. I have evidence of it to-day, because, as I have said, I have received letters from men of all Parties and all sections in the Church of England. I think that the right honourable Gentleman, who on the first night of the Debate was disposed to imagine that these discussions had some Party object in view, must even from the evidence, afforded from his own side of the House come to the conclusion that there is nothing of Party in this matter. I feel convinced that there is no Party feeling on this subject, and that in the discussions which will inevitably follow throughout the country on this matter there will be nothing of a Party complexion about it. Nothing but good can come by light being thrown, either through Debates here or elsewhere, upon those dark corners and dark practices—upon these secret societies which, it is known, exist within the Church of England. If the truth be made known, the good faith and the bad faith will be distinguished, and a decision will be arrived at, and pressure will be brought to bear which will and which ought to be effectual. The people of this country are a law-abiding people, and they will not permit that in a Church established by law, so long as it is established by law, there shall be a continuance of that condition of lawlessness and chaos which Canon Gore declared to be the present condition of the Church of England.


I must congratulate the right honourable Gentleman and the House and the country upon the different atmosphere which is evidently hanging over our Debates this afternoon from that which prevailed on a previous occasion when the right honourable Gentleman discussed this question. I think the right honourable Gentleman, above all men, is to be congratulated upon the entire change of tone which has characterised his speech this afternoon. But while I congratulate the right honour- able Gentleman upon his change of tone, and while, I think, the improvement is manifest and to the advantage of us all, I do not think his speech to-day is more relevant to the Bill we are discussing than his speech on a former occasion. He told us that the controversy to which he had been referring will not be closed by the Debate on the Third Reading. Of course, that controversy will not be closed by the Debate on the Third Reading of this Bill. The controversy ought never to have been raised, because this Bill has nothing whatever to do with the controversy, and it is only the ingenuity of the right honourable Gentleman, whose motives it is not for me to describe or to call in question, which has enabled him to lose no opportunity during the last few weeks of dragging in speeches on doctrine and ritual which seem to me to be absolutely beyond the scope of the Measure. The right honourable Gentleman described this Bill as a Bill for the reform of abuses in the Church of England.


Some of them.


Precisely; some of them. The right honourable Gentleman now says some of them, but he did not say "some of them" in all his speeches. He said more than once that this was a Bill for the reform of abuses in the Church of England, and it was upon that phrase that he based by implication the accusation against the Bill that there were abuses in the Church of England which the Bill did not touch. Of course, there are abuses in the Church of England which the Bill did not touch. There are abuses which it was never intended or framed to touch, and which no modification of detail could make it touch. But is that to be a subject of complaint by this House? I have received some five or six letters from distant parts of the country, complaining of the Government, and of myself in particular, for not having on the Report stage of this Bill modified it in the direction desired by one or two of the honourable Gentlemen opposite. But those few letters were written by persons ignorant of our procedure, necessarily ignorant of the effect which would have been produced had that policy been carried out; but we who speak within these walls are persons who understand Parliamentary procedure. Can a single parallel in the whole legislation of the country be produced for the course which the right honourable Gentleman desires us to pursue—namely, that of taking a Bill, not brought in for the first time this year, a Bill which has been over and over again discussed in both Houses of Parliament, and which has been recommended by Commission after Commission, and taking that Bill, not even in its initial stage, not in its intermediate stage, but in its final stage, and attempting to turn it to purposes wholly alien from that in regard to which it was introduced, making it serve purposes for which it was never intended? If the right honourable Gentleman, with his long Parliamentary experience, can find one single instance of a Government Measure being so handled by this House, then I will admit that he has something to say for his contention. But, if no such parallel can be found, is not the right honourable Gentleman, in the speeches which he has made on previous occasions, trading on the ignorance of the country with regard to the procedure of this House? Is he not making an appeal to passions which, however justly aroused, are not relevant to this matter, and attempting to pervert the whole course of rational legislation, in order to raise a great feeling in the country—a feeling which has, I admit, much to justify it, but which nothing in this Bill touches even remotely, and with which this Bill ought not to have been brought, even remotely, into connection? I believe that the speech of the right honourable Gentleman was on the Third Reading. I listened for even an allusion to the Bill, and I listened almost in vain. There were a great many explanations of the right honourable Gentleman's feelings; there were allusions to the legislation of 1874; there were a great many allusions to the Reformation; there were complaints about forged letters, apologies to the Roman Catholic followers of the right honourable Gentleman. [Opposition cries of "No, no!"] Well, explanations to his Roman Catholic followers; but to this Bill there was hardly a word of allusion. One allusion there was to it, and with that allusion I will deal. The right honourable Gentleman complained of the Bill because, he said, the Bill dealt with misconduct in ecclesiastical office, but did not include, as I understood him to say, in the term "misconduct" violation of the law as regards ritual. The right honourable Gentleman is entirely mistaken.


I complained that it excluded from "misconduct" misconduct in matters of ritual. The right honourable Gentleman is mistaken.


The right honourable Gentleman is mistaken. This Bill does not exclude, this Bill does not, in fact, modify the law either in one direction or the other, with respect to misconduct as regards ritual. The words, "in an ecclesiastical office," I may remind the House, were introduced, not to please the High Church supporters, but by the Low Church supporters of this Bill. They were intended as words of limitation by the Low Church supporters of this Bill, and, though I thought there was no objection to them, do not let it be supposed that they were introduced in any sense as the right honourable Gentleman suggested. As a matter of fact the offences in regard to ritual are not touched by this Bill. The powers of the bishop to deal with them are not diminished by this Bill; and though it is absolutely true that no machinery is provided in this Bill for dealing with ritualistic practices, though the court constituted under section 3 of this Bill may not deal with these offences, the limitation of the powers of the court, as I must repeat, was introduced to meet the fears of the Low Church supporters of the Bill rather than the High Church supporters of the Bill. Until it pleased the right honourable Gentleman to import these wholly alien considerations into the discussion the persons who were most strenuously opposed to any attempt to introduce questions of ritual within the purview of this Bill were not the High but the Low Church supporters of the Measure. If that is so, how absurd it is for the right honourable Gentleman to complain of the Government, or of Churchmen on either side of the House, because they have not done in this Bill what they never professed to do—because they have refused to introduce Amendments, suggested at the last moment, and which could have had no object whatever in reforming the ritual abuses of the Church of England, though they would, most undoubtedly, have had the effect of destroying this Bill, in regard to which, whatever the right honourable Gentleman may think, I at least think deals with one of the very greatest abuses from which the Church of England now suffers. I do not wish to go again into these old irrelevant ecclesiastical controversies which the right honourable Gentleman has sought to introduce. But let me say that he himself has admitted that the much controverted statement of my own at an earlier stage of these discussions was not inaccurate. I said that the objectionable practices, not from his point of view alone, but from the point of view of every Member of the House, on whichever side he sits, that these practices were the practices of but a comparatively small minority of the clergy of the Church of England. The right honourable Gentleman has denied that before, but he has admitted it to-night. I took down his words, and he said that the great majority of the clergy of the Church of England do not desire to be relieved of any obligations laid upon them by the Church. That is all I said. I said that the great majority, the whole of the laity practically, I believe, the vast majority of the clergy, do not desire to be relieved of the obligation of taking the Prayer Book as the model of the services of the Church of England; and I cannot imagine, therefore, if the right honourable Gentleman holds the view which he has deliberately expressed, why he should accuse me of a desire to minimise those evils, when I stated in different language precisely what he has himself stated this afternoon.


I did say, and I repeat, that the large majority of the Church of England are adverse to these practices, and I am also convinced that there is a large body of the clergy of the Church of England who are pursuing these practices, not only in London, but all over the country.


We need hot quarrel over this. All I assert is that the great majority of the clergy of the Church of England are absolutely loyal, not merely to the Church of England as they understand it, but to the Church of England as it is understood by the general body of laymen, and if that is conceded by the right honourable Gentleman, he and I on that point, at all events, need have no controversy. I have said over and over again that in my view those practices are not only illegal, but are deeply injurious to the Church of England, and I do not know that I can strengthen the language that I have hitherto used. However much I am likely to be misrepresented for this statement, I must say that I could not listen to the right honourable Gentleman's statement to-night, indicated by a quotation from a speech made more than 200 years ago, that in his opinion these clergy who are breaking the laws are kept in the Church by no motive higher than a desire for pecuniary emolument. He quoted with approval the rhetorical phrase of Lord Falkland that nothing less than £1,500 a year prevented a clergyman of whom he was speaking from going over to the Church of Rome. I know very little about these clergy. I have never been in any church in which these extreme practices have been employed; but I am bound to say, if the information which has reached me has any foundation at all, among those men are to be counted some of the poorest, some of the most hardworking, and some of the most devoted persons who have given themselves and their whole lives and worldly interests to the furtherance of what they believe to be the highest form of religion among the poorest section of the community. These men may be mistaken—they are mistaken in my opinion—these men may be doing an injury to the Church—I believe they are doing an injury to the Church of which they are members—but it is not right that such accusations of worldly, money-seeking meanness should be made against men who, whatever their faults may be—and their faults, I think, are great—are at all times least of all open to this charge. I should have felt mean in my own eyes if, holding the views as I do, I had not expressed them publicly to the House after the statement of the right honourable Gentleman. I have nothing more to say than this. In my judgment, the grievance of the congregations of the Church of England about these extreme ritual practices is a very real and a very serious one. Speaking only for myself, I will go further, and say that there are some changes in certain districts made entirely within the law which I think may be grievances to the congregation. In matters of ritual I regret that the clergy in many cases apparently think themselves at liberty to make any change they please, even within the law, whatever view the congregation may take. But how is that going to be remedied by strengthening the law, as the right honourable Gentleman suggests? It cannot be remedied by any simple legislative methods that have been suggested from any quarter of the House. But I do think that the public opinion to which the right honourable Gentleman justly looks may do much, and may have the effect of calling the attention of the clergy to the fact that they may, as I think, do an injury to their congregations by ritual changes and practices, even though those ritual changes and ritual practices may be, strictly legal; and though, after all, it is a matter of discretion, I would only ask the House to remember this—the Church of England has been the great blessing to this country which I think it has been because it has been tolerant of wide differences of opinion within its own communion. I am no advocate, but a strenuous opponent of anything which violates or unduly stretches the law governing the practice of the Church of England. But, while I hold those opinions and act up to them, I will never be a party to directly or indirectly driving out of the Church of England any of those who are obeying the existing law of the Church of England; nor do I think anybody ought to desire to narrow the boundaries which at present circumscribe the Church. That may seem a commonplace sentiment to honourable Members, but it is not so, I can assure them. Undoubtedly, some of the perfectly genuine feeling aroused in this Debate was aroused not by illegal practices, but by a desire—I think an unfortunate desire—to exclude from a great and important statute of Church reform all who hold a certain set of opinions. Personally, I am neither High Church nor Low Church, but I will never be a party to driving out either High or Low so long as they are within the law which governs the Church. Following the example of the right honourable Gentleman, I am afraid I have been led into controversial subjects far remote from that which we ought to be dealing with in connection with the Third Reading of this Bill. I will only, in conclusion, say that perhaps we have now considered far enough those discussions upon ritual in a Bill which does not deal with ritual, and that we might now, so far as the House is concerned, consider whether we shall not pass into law a Measure which neither touches ritual nor doctrine, but which is designed, and, I believe, successfully designed, to remove abuses from the Established Church which every Church reformer, be he Low or High, has long desired to remove, which Committee after Committee, Commission after Commission, and Bill after Bill, has also desired to remove, and the removal of which now for the first time seems almost within our grasp. I believe the House will now sanction it by an enormous majority, thus removing from the Church of England a blot which ought long ago to have been erased. I trust that this Debate may not be unduly extended, or that, if extended, it may deal with the Bill itself rather than with other questions, so that without undue delay we may place on the Statute Book this great and important Measure of Church reform.


I do not desire to prolong this Debate beyond saying a few words of personal explanation, as I have been referred to by the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. As to the merits of this Bill I have, of course, no right to express any opinion, because this is a Bill dealing with the Protestant Church, to which I do not belong; but before giving the explanation which I think I ought to give I may perhaps be allowed to say that never in the whole course of my life have I felt more satisfied with the religion to which I personally belong than I have during the discussion of the Bill which is now before the House, and I think it must be a matter of congratulation to most of the other Members who belong to the Catholic Church that we belong to a religion against which people may say a great deal, but which, at least, is a religion which is quite independent of party politics, and does not rely for defence of its doctrines, its teachings, or its practices upon the accident as to whether the "Ayes" or the "Noes" may be in a majority in this House. Now, Sir, the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said this afternoon that he had no intention whatever of giving anything in the nature of offence to the very considerable number of Catholic Members of this House, and to the much larger number of Catholics outside the House. The right honourable Gentleman makes that statement. I, for one, have no desire or intention whatever of refusing to accept his word. He said he intended to convey no offence. I am sure that he did not intend to do so, but I must say, Mr. Speaker, that what occurred did deeply offend, not only Catholic opinion in this House, but still more largely Catholic opinion outside this House; and some justification for that feeling, I think, is to be found in the speech made by the First Lord of the Treasury, who, in following the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, said that the manner in which the right honourable Gentleman dealt with these practices complained of did convey offence to him; and if that was so, how much more offensive were his remarks to the Catholic Members of Parliament! What I complain of, for one, is that the right honourable Gentleman appeared to describe these practices as illegal, immoral, and disgraceful. The conduct of the clergymen who, it is alleged, indulged in these practices in defiance of their ordination vows may, from his point of view, have been illegal, disgraceful, or immoral; but I say he had no right, nor has anybody any right, to describe as disgraceful and immoral practices which are held sacred by millions of people in this Empire and in this world, who are entitled to have their opinions respected. We are told that these practices are not objected to in the Catholic Church. I refer not merely to the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition; I refer also to the speech of the honourable Gentleman the Member for Flintshire, who alluded to these practices as being calculated to promote monasteries and nunneries in this country. I say that references of this kind to monks and nuns do give offence to Catholic Members of Parliament and people outside this House. There are many of us who have sisters and close relatives doing good and holy work in what are called nunneries by the honourable Member for Flintshire, and I say that we at least ought to be spared the pain of being obliged to listen to these sneering references to institutions which we believe in, and which we know perfectly well have done a great deal of good in this country and throughout this Empire. We are told that the honourable Member for Flintshire did not particularly want to convey offence, but what is positively most offensive to Catholics is that they should have their religion wilfully and persistently misrepresented. The honourable Member for Flintshire followed up his speech in this House by writing a letter to the Daily News newspaper, in which he said that these practices were for the purpose of Romanising the Church of England and introducing the practices of the Church of Rome. He went on to enumerate what were the practices of the Church of Rome. What did he say these practices were? He said the clergymen against whom they were protesting were endeavouring to introduce Catholic practices, amongst them being the worship of the Virgin. I say it is offensive to Catholics in this House and outside this House that any British Member of Parliament should get up at this time of the 19th century and accuse us of practising worship of the Virgin, when everybody who studies the most elementary details of the Catholic religion must know that there is no such practice in our Church. Then he says that in the Catholic Church we have adoration of images. That is a charge of idolatry. In making that charge of idolatry against Catholics he is doing what is offensive to Catholics. I did not intend to take part in the discussion on this Bill, as it does not concern us, but I think it would be considered beneath contempt by members of every religion if we did not repel everything in the shape of insult and misrepresentation which may be levelled at the Church to which we belong. I conclude by saying what I mentioned in the commencement of my observations—that I believe that if I were not convinced of the truth of the religion to which I and many others in this House belong, we would find conviction in the Debates which have taken place on this Bill in this House. Whatever may be the result of the Division on, this Measure, it cannot but be painful to members of every religious persuasion to think that the sacred practices and doctrines of the Church are made the play of party politics on the floor of this House; and, certainly, I shall leave the House after this discussion feeling that at least I can congratulate myself upon belonging to a Church which can in no way be affected by the criticisms of the Leader of the Opposition and his followers, or by votes given in the House of Commons.

MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)

Mr. Speaker, the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury stated that we complained that the Bill did not deal with ritualism. That is an unfounded charge against us on this side of the House. We make no complaint that this Bill does not deal with ritualism and illegal practices in the Church of England. We only complain that it does not deal with them so far as the limits of this Bill go. We recognise that the Bill is limited in its character. It is confined to presentations to benefices which are under lay patronage. We recognise that it does not deal with the evils directed generally against the Church. It deals with the question of physical infirmity, but it does not deal with the question of physical infirmity in every clergyman. The Bill does not apply to clergymen already in benefices. Our complaint is that it does not disqualify persons who have been guilty of ritualistic practices in the same way as it disqualifies persons who are unfortunately pecuniarily embarrassed or the subjects of physical infirmity. There is no reason why the Bill should not extend to persons who have been guilty of misconduct in performing illegal practices in the Church. Why are persons who are unfitted by reason of pecuniary embarrassment disqualified? They are disqualified because of the injury they do to the Church. That being so, why should the appointment of the other class, who it is admitted do an enormous injury to the Church, be permitted? Our only complaint is that the Bill does not include this class.

*MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)

Mr. Speaker, I wish, before this Bill is sent to another place, to offer some observations on the striking incidents which have marked the discussions at the Report stage. One thing has been demonstrated, and that is the supremacy of Parliament in regard to the Established Church; for, while Convocations talk and Houses of Laymen resolve, this House is determined to take its own course in Church matters. The First Lord of the Treasury has said that this House does not shine in theological or ecclesiastical discussions. It would be strange if it did, considering how it is elected and how it is composed. Candidates are not chosen with regard to religious considerations but with a view to secular legislation; and we have, during the recent Divisions, seen Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Roman Catholics, Nonconformists and others, whose religious positions I will not attempt to define, voting upon questions affecting the Church of England, which many of them do not understand, and in which they take no practical interest. No doubt some of the discussions which have taken place have given pain to members of that Church, and I no more like the bandying of sacred things across the floor of this House than honourable Gentlemen opposite. But it is useless to complain if the House is not willing to adopt the only remedy, which is the abandon- ment of the task of regulating the affairs of the Church, by assenting to disestablishment. I myself complain that so much of the valuable time of the House should have been spent on an ecclesiastical Measure, while other Measures deeply affecting the health, comfort and happiness of the people of this country will be sacrificed for want of time. There are about 9,000 Free Church ministers in England and Wales, but neither this House nor the Law Courts are troubled as to the mode of their appointment; which is determined, not by legal methods, but by reference to Scripture principles, and in accordance with the dictates of reason and good sense. The House knows the cause of the difference: it lies in the fact that the Free Churches are self-governing, and when the Church of England is in the same happy position it will not look for new legislative Measures, which will probably have the effect of aggravating old difficulties. It is a striking fact, that the Church has had to wait a whole generation for even this small reform of the patronage system. More than 20 Bills have been framed before one could be placed upon the Statute Book. What caused previous failures? Not mere obstruction, but apathy, and also the strength of vested interests. And what has the mountain which has been so long in labour now brought forth? Why, even its supporters admit that the Bill deals only with the grosser evils of the patronage system, and one of its supporters has described it as going but a little way in the right direction. Two objects aimed at by the Bill are the keeping of improper clergymen out of benefices, and the ejection of those who are already in benefices. How are those objects to be effected? Simply by the action of the bishops, to whom the Bill gives increased powers; but a bishop may refuse to exercise those powers, and then the Act would become a dead letter. What hope is there that the bishops will adequately use these new legal weapons? They have been found wanting in the past; for they have promoted and sanctioned the clergy whose excesses have been so loudly condemned. I believe that the Act will be followed by small results, while it will create new anomalies. The fact is that it goes far enough to cause alarm and irritation, but it does not go far to create enthusiasm in its favour. I believe it will be accepted, not as a satisfying measure, but because, in the candid words of the RecordWe are all sick to death of wasting time, labour, and hope on Bills which always come to nothing. The Act will afford one more proof of the futility of the attempts to produce spiritual results by means of legislative and judicial machinery. It will, therefore, be a new force tending to disestablishment, and that is the only compensation I can find for the time and labour I have felt it to be my duty to devote to the Measure.

*MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomery)

Mr. Speaker, I shall detain the House but a very few minutes while I state the reasons that will compel me to vote against this Bill. The root of the evils against which so many protests have been made is the power of the priest, and I do not think it has been pointed out with sufficient force and completeness how largely this Bill increases the power of the priesthood in secular matters. From the Bishop of Oxford's Appendix to the Report of the Commission on ecclesiastical courts I find that after the Norman Conquest— Questions of advowsons were for a considerable time treated as ecclesiastical, and it is probably here that the first important limitation was imposed on the area of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. This was reclaimed by Henry II. for the secular courts, and the question of advowsons was tried thenceforth in the King's Courts. That has been the law until now, and it has worked well for seven centuries. Yet the Government are going to set up an ecclesiastical court to deal with questions of an entirely temporal or civil character. That is so by their own confession, because the main argument used by the First Lord of the Treasury and the law officers of the Crown, in defending the Bill against proposals that its scope should be extended, was that it does not touch points of doctrine and ritual; and yet in questions which do not touch matters of doctrine or ritual, we are referred, not to the Civil Courts and to a jury, or to the Privy Council, but to a court in which the Archbishop of Canterbury, a spiritual person, has the last word. It was pointed out with great force by the honourable Member for Shrewsbury that this deprives a man, whose character has been questioned by the bishop, of the right of having his character vindicated by trial by jury. The Bill is contrary to the whole course of legislation, which has been to relieve spiritual persons of the power of dealing with questions which are of a civil or temporal nature. The fact that the Bill thus runs counter to the established principles of the Constitution seems to me to be conclusive against it. It is because I think that the only chance of maintaining the comprehensive character of the Church of England is that the laity should retain a full and effectual voice, that I regret this strengthening of ecclesiastical courts. If the House goes to a Division I shall, with much regret, vote against the Bill.

MR. S. YOUNG (Cavan, E.)

The Book of Common Prayer is a compromise. In the reign of Edward VI. transubstantiation was eliminated from the Book, and in the reign of Elizabeth it was restored; and in that Book of Common Prayer the Protestant may find his doctrine, just as the Catholic may find his doctrine. It is entirely a compromise. Now, we find the High Church party pursuing their ritualistic practices, and diligently propagating the Gospel in their own way and m their own form; at the same time, the extreme Broad Church party do the same, and the Low Church do the same; and the arms of the Church are wide enough to embrace the three. I do not see why there should be any dissension on the part of any of the Members of the Front Opposition benches in regard to the practices which, they say, may work for good in that great Church. I propose to vote with the Government on this matter. I object to the extreme remarks which have been made with regard not only to the Catholic Church, but with regard to the High Church. They are doing a great work in this country, in my opinion.

COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, Bootle)

I wish to say a few words on this question, and in reference to the words which have fallen, in the course of the Debate I have had the honour to listen to, from the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House in reference to this Measure. I can to a certain extent endorse that. The Measure certainly was not intended or conceived with the idea that we should bring forward any very drastic Measure dealing with the Church at all. The Low Church party, to which I have the honour to belong, thought that useful additions might be made to the Bill to strengthen it in the direction in which we wish to see legislation go. There is, I may say, a strong feeling in various quarters of the country that legislation in a particular direction is necessary at the present time. Moreover, the Amendments were introduced, hoping to make the Government Bill a practical Measure in the direction we desire. That was done on account of the great difficulty we have always experienced, and which at this late period of the Session we should experience, in getting any Measure before the House in which a thorough discussion might take place on a point to which we attach importance. Therefore, I trust that, so far as my own particular action in the matter is concerned, I hope it will be understood that that action was not prompted by a desire to oppose the Government Measure, but to amend it. While I shall vote with the Government on the general question of the Bill, I know that there is a strong feeling existing at the present time throughout the country that the time has come when the question of the ritualism that is going on in the Church of England should be thoroughly thrashed out in this House, and that there should be some practical Measure of reform for dealing with it. I may say to the House that I have been engaged this afternoon with those who think with me on the subject in preparing the basis of a Bill we intend to introduce to the House next Session, and we shall press to the utmost in our power to have a thorough Measure on this question. I feel sure that all those who admire and respect the feeling of the Church of England—on whatever side they sit—are only too anxious that the Romish methods shall be eliminated; and therefore we shall look for every support to the Measure which I venture to say will be introduced to the House at the beginning of next Session.

*MR. C. ARTHUR (Liverpool Exchange)

I did not intend to take any part in the discussion; but I do not at all agree with honourable Members opposite that we should wait for an attempt at reform, until we can find a panacea for all the evils complained of; and I think the present Bill, which is accepted by all parties in the Church, should be welcomed as a valuable measure of reform, if only a partial one. I agree that the difficult question of ritualism which, is exciting so much attention in the Church, of England should be dealt with; something has to be done; the feeling of the country is thoroughly aroused. Both sides of the House agree that the practices are very reprehensible, and unless the discussion leads to some practical results we shall be disappointed. I do not wish to introduce anything in the shape of controversy—such controversy would be outside the province of this House. We have no quarrel with the Roman Catholic Church. That Church does its work in its own way, and, I have no doubt, does it very well. Nor have we any quarrel with the High Church section of the Church of England. But we object to the men who seek to obliterate the distinct features implanted in the Church of England at the time of the Reformation, and who seek to raise the level of the doctrine and the ritual of our National Reformed Church to that of the great Catholic Churches of the Continent. We think that is an attempt to make a great revolutionary change by unconstitutional means. Endeavours had been made in the past to deal with the evil; nothing, however, will be done in the way of checking that evil until it is practically dealt with by law. The power which the bishops possess to veto any proceedings under the Public Worship Regulation Act, should, in my judgment, be withdrawn, and access to the courts allowed to all persons, lay or clerical. It will be a misfortune if no practical outcome is the result of this discussion. We desire that the limitations of Church doctrine and ritual should not be unduly extended, and at the same time desire that they should not be trampled under foot. We value our civil and religious liberty, but not the liberty to break a solemn contract; and I hope that this evil will be recognised in the future, and that something will be done to recognise it.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon)

I agree with the honourable Member on the opposite side that, so far as the intention of the Bill is concerned, it is an admirable one. There are evils in the Church of England recognised by both parties in the State. We shall not in the slightest degree oppose a Bill which has that object in view. We desire to strengthen the machinery in that direction. I should like to say a word with reference to the observation of the First Lord of the Treasury. He said that the discussion of the ritualistic practices of the Church of England was absolutely irrelevant to this Bill. The right honourable Gentleman must have forgotten the opinion the Attorney General delivered on the Second Reading of this Bill in the course of the discussion on the Report, that the teaching of ritualistic doctrines was a grave misconduct. Yet, though ritualistic practices were included within the definition of the Bill, there was no machinery for putting them down. There is machinery for every other form of misconduct, except this particular form of ecclesiastical misconduct. Though that is denounced in the Bill and included in the category of evils which it is intended to suppress, there is no possible means of suppressing it at all. As to whether the Bill has been transformed in the course of its passage through the House in order to meet another object than that with which it had originally been introduced, I am sure the noble Lord must remember the Compensation Bill of 1890. That was a much more extreme case of compensation. The Bill was introduced for the purpose of compensating publicans, and it was transformed in the course of its passage through the House, not for the purposes of compensation, but in order to endow education. Here is a Bill for suppressing grave misconduct and evil practices in the Church of England, and the motive of the Amendment was simply to extend the machinery of the Bill for the purpose of repressing misconduct, whether in the case of ritual or doctrine, or any other branch of misconduct. Therefore the First Lord of the Treasury hardly does justice to himself. I could not vote against the Bill, because, so far as it goes, it tries to put down evil practices. I think, however, the power given to bishops is too large. That power is far too great at the present moment. We have had letters from members of the Church of England in Wales protesting against this, especially in one or two dioceses where a great evil is caused by the excessive power of the bishop. I believe the power of the bishop is much greater in Wales than in any British diocese.

SIR E. LEES (Birkenhead)

I think, Sir, it is perfectly evident from the strong feeling aroused in the House upon this subject that if honourable Members had ever contemplated that this was a Bill dealing with ritual and doctrine, they would not have allowed it, in the first instance, to go to a Standing Committee, but would have retained it in the possession of the House. The interest which has been aroused on this subject is, I think, a testimony to the Protestant feeling of this country. Perhaps this is the only country in the world where we should have found men of the highest intellectual capacity discussing matters such as we have recently debated in the House of Commons during the several stages of this Bill. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, I do not propose to consider, but I am inclined to agree with the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that that it is not altogether agreeable that some of these points should have been discussed across the floor of the House. I feel assured, as I have said, that if the House had known that these matters were to be brought within the purview of the Bill, it would never have permitted it to go to a Grand Committee. But whether that is so or not, it would be absolutely contrary to the practice of Parliament that on the Report stage of a Bill which has been before a Grand Committee we should remodel the Bill in the sense which has been suggested by the honourable Member. But I do not think that the Debates we have heard upon the Bill will be without their value in the country. I cannot help thinking that the opinions we have heard exchanged between different parties in this House will have their effect upon the clergy and bishops of the Church of England, and that they will take to heart the views which have been expressed by members of all parties in this House and by Churchmen of all sections in reference to practices which we all recognise. As one who wishes well to the Church of England, and, I hope, a loyal member of the Church of England, I do feel very deep satisfaction that abuses having nothing whatever to do with doctrine or ritual, but relating to simony and immorality are to be removed. By passing this Bill we shall have done much to strengthen the Church of England, I hope, against the onslaughts of those who would deprive her of the place she has occupied for centuries in the estimation of the English people.

MR. COURTNEY WARNER (Stafford, Lichfield)

I should like to say a word or two at this stage of the Bill for two reasons. In the first place, I am glad to see on the part of certain Members opposite an agreement that private injury may be done to remove a public evil. There is no doubt that this Bill does injure the owners of patronage, and so on, to a considerable extent, and I am delighted to see that the great Conservative Party of England recognise that it is fair and right that a certain injury should be done to private persons in order that a public evil may be removed. But as a Churchman I am also pleased to see that the small evils—for they are very small in extent—which this Bill is intended to deal with, will be partially remedied. I say partially, because I do not believe the Bill will do entirely what it is intended to do. But there is one very strong objection to it that I must state here, and that is that it has caused a maximum amount of discomfort and irritation not only in this House but throughout the country for the very small amount of good that it is going to do. I think that if the Bill had been discussed in Committee of the whole House, where we, who knew something about, the Bill in previous Sessions, wished it to be discussed, it would have been made a better Bill than it is at the present time. I believe that if it had been discussed in Committee of the whole House to start with, it would have been made a real help to the Church of England in the great work she is carrying on in this country. If only we could have done a little more to remove the evils going on at the present moment in the Church, this Bill might have been one of the great Measures of the Session, instead of being one which will be almost forgotten in the pigeon-holes, and scarcely ever put in force. I do not wish, however, in any way to object to the Bill, because it does some small amount of good; but I do wish to point out that it has done as little good as it was possible for a Bill of this sort to do, while exciting as much irritation as a Bill intended to remove larger evils could have done.

*MR. LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)

Sir, I rise to say a few words before this Bill is read a third time. I do not think, speaking for myself, that it is desirable a long Debate should take place on the Third Reading. While we desire to see a very much stronger Measure than this Bill is passed, and while we have moved Amendment after Amendment with that object in view, still at the same time it does pretend to go, at all events to a certain extent, in the direction in which we wish to travel. I say it pretends to go, because I imagine its practical operation will be found to be in the future very small indeed. But, Sir, I regard this Bill, when it shall be passed into law, as forming a most valuable precedent for the future. There is no doubt whatever in my mind that what has been described from those Benches as a heavy blow against private property may be used, and will be used, in future with regard to other Bills which may deal with ecclesiastical property. Certain rights of property have been attacked and abolished, for which no compensation has been given. I am not complaining of that in the slightest degree. All I say is, that the precedent which has now been established in this House will certainly be applied on some future occasion.


By whom will it be applied?


That does not matter, so long as the precedent exists to justify its application. I thank the Government for one concession, at all events. I moved an Amendment to the effect that resignation bonds should be abolished, and I am glad that the Government saw that it was necessary to abolish them, and that they accepted my Amendment. For that I thank them. Sir, it is a great pity, I think, when the House had an opportunity, and when the Government had an opportunity, with such a large majority at its back, of dealing with the evils with which this Bill pretends to deal in a drastic manner, that it did not avail itself of that opportunity to abolish once for all this infamous traffic in livings. Sir, it is an opportunity which will not recur for a very long time, and in passing this miserably small and attenuated Bill the Government have lost a great opportunity of dealing in a drastic manner with a great and admitted evil. You have abolished sales by public auction, but what is the use of abolishing publicity so far as it goes, and not abolishing the traffic itself? You are ashamed of the appearance of the traffic in the auction market—why should you not have entirely got rid of the traffic of which you are ashamed? In future benefices may be advertised, and they will be advertised in the newspapers, and the scandal will continue. You have tried to get rid of it in a small measure by abolishing it in the auction mart, but in practical effect it will be as much a scandal as it ever was. Having said so much with regard to the Bill, and admitted that the object of the Bill is good as far as it goes, much as I object to certain portions of it, which will unnecessarily increase the power of the bishops in some very undesirable directions, still, looking at the Bill as a whole it is one against which I do not feel I should be justified in giving my vote.

The Motion for Third Beading was agreed to, and the Bill was passed.

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