§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR (Liverpool, Toxteth, E.)
In moving the Second Heading of the Church Discipline Bill I must ask this House to go back with me to the 10th May, 1899. A period somewhat distant in point of time, and still more distant in point of the magnitude of the affairs which have happened since that date. It was on that date that this House debated the question of certain practices in the Established Church of this country, and came to an important decision and resolution upon that subject. That Resolution was as follows—That this House, while not prepared to accept ii measure which creates fresh offences and ignores the authority of the Bishops in maintaining the discipline of the Church, is of opinion that if the efforts now being made by the Archbishops and Bishops to secure the due obedience of the clergy are not speedily effectual, further legislation will be required to maintain the observance of the existing laws of Church and Realm.We may possibly congratulate ourselves that when the feeling of this country was so strongly aroused on the question 734 of ritualistic practices in the Church of England, no legislation took place upon that occasion. Every Member of the House will agree with me that in matters of deep and vital importance this House should not act in haste, and although some of us at that time thought a case for legislation was made out, it is not perhaps to be regretted that four years have elapsed since last this question was debated. I think that having read this Resolution, for which I call special attention, in that it refers clearly to the "efforts now being made by the Archbishops and Bishops to secure due obedience of the clergy, are not speedily effected, further legislation will be required," I may take it that this House has affirmed its right to initiate legislation of this kind in connection with the National Church. Therefore I consider myself absolved from the necessity of arguing that point, and ask the House to take this Resolution of 10th May, 1899, which affirms the right of Parliament to initiate legislation. I shall proceed, with the consent of the House, to consider how far the efforts of the Archbishops and the Bishops have been successful in securing the obedience of the clergy, but before I go further into details of this matter, I wish to make one remark, which I specially address to hon. Members below the Gangway, on whom some of the observations,. I shall feel obliged to make, may jar. I wish to say at once, fairly and frankly,, that it is with some reluctance that I debate matters sacred to religion in this House, and desire to say that in doing so I attack no man's religious convictions, and that if any remarks I make should jar on the Roman Catholic Members of this House, I hope they will understand I am not attacking the sacred rights and ceremonies which may have their proper and stated place in their religion, but that I am challenging the attempt to force in the Established Reformed Church of this country practices which we thought at one time were for ever abandoned at the Reformation.
Now we have to consider the question of how far the efforts of the Archbishops and the Bishops have been successful in securing due obedience of the clergy, and upon that I should like to refer for a moment to an important statement made recently by a distinguished member of the Government 735 which indicates that the Government has not that confidence in the Episcopal Bench which perhaps some of us have thought existed. The statement that I am alluding to was made by the Duke of Devonshire, and it says—He could not say that the declaration that had been made from the Episcopal Bench was sufficiently explicit to enable him to accept the Amendment. If the bishops possess this power why had it not been exercised before? These eases which they all had in their minds had taken place in schools under Trust Deeds, securing a right of appeal to the Bishop, but had any of their Lordships ever heard of the proceedings of an indiscreet clergyman in the school being restrained by the Episcopal Authorities. He could not understand why it should be found more easy for the Right Reverend Bench in future to exercise the necessary control over their clergy in this respect than it had been found in the past.Those are the utterances of a leading member of the Government, recently expressed, and indicative, so far as he is concerned, of incapacity, or of distrust, if nothing more, of the power of the English Bishops to restrain these practices. I want now to turn the attention of the House to the utterances of another gentleman of some note in the ecclesiastical world, Mr. Athelstan Riley. I do not accept all he says, but I think his observations from his own point of view of the state of affairs are deserving of the notice of this House. Mr. Athelstan Riley, after certain opinions were offered by the Archbishops for the acceptance of the Church, made some observations on the way in which they had been met. He said it was two years since the opinion was issued which condemned the use of incense in divine service, and about a year and a half since the condemnation by the Archbishops of reservation was promulgated, and he went onto say, that from his point of view—which I take it is the point of view of the clergy who indulge in these practices, and which is the point of view of an enormous body of the clergy through the length and breadth of England—the gain was enormous; when a state of things was legalised in London, it was only a question of a little patience and time before it would be recognised the length and breadth of England,and I think I may be forgiven in this connection if I quote the opinion of one more hon. Member of this House, whom
Mr. Austin Taylor.
736 I am sure we all hold in the greatest esteem, the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich. Recently the noble Lord went down to the Canterbury House of Laymen with a Bill in his pocket about which I may have something to say in a few moments, and practically told that body that the state of affairs in the Church of England was one of absolute anarchy.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
I welcome that cheer, which represents the general consensus of opinion in this House that, notwithstanding the efforts of the Archbishops and Bishops to restrain this practice, the condition of things in the Church now is nothing more nor less than anarchy. I do not want to labour the point as regards the condition of anarchy of the National Church of this country, but I am obliged to go a little more into detail in this matter with regard to the use of incense and the practice of reservation. I say that the use of incense in churches since the Lambeth decision has not decreased in any substantial degree; there may have been a modification in the use of incense, but I do not think I need go into particulars to show that.
I should be wasting the time of this House if I were to dwell upon the matter, but I assert, according to the latest figures we have, that whereas in 1898–9 incense was used in 381 churches, in 1901–2 it was used in 393 churches. I hold in my hand a statement which shows that in February of this year the Bishop of London practically says that he cannot but recognise the claim to special consideration which is constituted by the fact that the use of incense and the custom of reserving the Sacred Elements of the Holy Communion have been observed for a number of years, and that he had hoped to be able to define certain uniform limits within which, in exceptional cases, these usages might be permitted. Might I interject here that I cannot understand why, after these things have been declared illegal in conclave by the Primate of the Established Church of this country, the Bishop of a diocese should find it necessary to toler- 737 ate them in any shape or form. Then the statement goes on:But after much earnest thought I have come to the conclusion that it is not possible for me to adopt this course, I do not indeed propose myself to take any active measures against the continuance of such modified use of incense and manner of reservation as shall conform to the limits which you have already in private consultation with me expressed your willingness to observe. But as Bishop of the diocese I cannot he present at any service where incense is ceremoniously used, or visit any Church in which the limits already referred to with regard to the reservation of the Holy Sacrament are transgressed.I understand something of the difficulties that may be felt by the Bishop in these matters, but it appears to me, having regard to the general scope of these practices, and above all to the support which lies behind them as indicated in the utterances of Lord Halifax and certain representative clergy, it is clearly shown that it is the duty of the Bishop to take a firm stand in dealing with these matters, and if after four years it is found that they have not been able to bring these matters into line, am I asking too much if I ask the House to take the responsibility of this matter, and to proceed to redeem the promises given on the 10th May, 1899?
I should like to say just one word about the churches in which these practices exist. I hold in my hand a list of seventy-one churches in the dioceses of London, St. Albans, Oxford, Ripon, Chichester, Canterbury, Exeter, Bristol, Llandaff and Rochester in which the following practices, or some of them, are prevalent, and I want to show to this House that this matter is not confined to a single diocese, but is spread all over the country. It is not a question of one diocese but of many dioceses, and it is clear that nothing but concerted action on the part of the Bishops, which has not been so far forthcoming, can possibly be effective. It is also clear that some action in this House is imperatively required to enforce such action on the part of the Bishops. I find that in these seventy-one churches—I do not want to go much into details—the following practices are prevalent: the celebration of Children's Eucharists; the reservation of the Sacrament, with visits for the purpose of devotions and adorations; the use of an illegal ritual 738 approximating more or less closely to that of the Roman Catholic Mass; the inculcation of habitual confession to a pripst the celebration of unauthorised festivals; the celebration of Requiem Masses; the invocation of Saints; devotions to the Virgin; the inculcation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; and the use of devotions from the Roman "Ordinary of the Mass," and of secret prayers from the Roman "Canon of the Mass." I think this House will readily admit that these practices have no place in the National Reformed Church of this country as by law established. We may well ask ourselves what the position is of that discipline under which practices of this character have grown to such an alarming extent. Surely, Mr. Speaker, it is not out of place to enquire what the Archbishops and the Bishops have been doing during the last four years since the Government passed the Amendment to which I referred in the opening of my speech—what they have been doing during those four years of grace which they have had from this House—what they have been doing, that in so large a number of churches there still exists in unblushing fashion practices distinctly adverse and opposed to the reformed character of the National Church.
I should like for one moment, and I will not detain the House longer on this point—but I would like to refer to the extraordinary service held at St. John's Church, Plymouth, quite recently. The writer of the description which I hold in my hand, who was present, says it was difficult to describe the service, for in its details it was absolutely alien to the Church of England. He had attended many services in various parts of the country, but he had never known one where the Prayer-book was so entirely ignored as at St. John's. At this Requiem Mass the service was practically identical with that provided in the Roman Missal. Secret prayers took the place of that noble ceremonial which was familiar to the adherents of the National Church of this country, and, when the time came for the performance of the most sacred rite of the Christian religion, the only communicant was a lad of ten or twelve years, who was communicated with a wafer only, the cup being denied.
739 I think the fact that services of that kind are possible in the Church of England today is a reproach to the Episcopal Bench of this country. Next I would like, in respect to these seventy-one churches, to call the attention of the House to the extraordinary fact—a fact most significant, I think—that seventeen of these churches are in the gift of Keble College. 1 am going, if I may, to read out a list of the Members of the Council of the College, which, I think, should have some interest for this House. I find on that Council the Earl of Cranbrook, the Rev. P. G. Medd, Lord Aldenham, the Bishop of Lincoln, the Hon. W. E. Sackville-West, the Bishop of Rochester, the Rev. F. V. Spurling, Lord Hugh Cecil, Sir John Riddell. Mr. J. G. Talbot, M.P., Dr. Moberley, Canon New-bolt and Lord Halifax. 1 do not think it is necessary for me to illustrate to the House the significance of this College and its patronage. Here you have two Bishops of the Established Church of this country, pledged, and; most solemnly pledged, to put down these illegal practices, contrary as they are both to the spirit and letter of the Prayer-book, pledged to put them down, and having failed in putting them down, they still remain members of the Council of the College which is responsible for some of the most extreme churches ever known in this country. I do trust that the House will recognise the significance of the settled policy of this College. This is not the mere case of an isolated church, or of a capricious incumbent. Here you have a College—an ancient College—[Cries of "No, no!"] Well, put it then a modern College, presumed to be founded for the advancement of the Christian religion—more particularly in that branch of it, the Reformed Church of this country. Here you have had two bishops on this Council, lending itself to these extreme practices year after year. I think, Mr. Speaker, this is one of the most deplorable illustrations we have of the state of things in our Church—that these two bishops should still remain on the Council of this college.
I do not want to go further into details in respect to these churches, but I would like to call the attention of the House to the fact that a notice will appear shortly, or has appeared, that on the 6th May a 740 notable service will be held at St. Paul's Cathedral. By permission of the Dean, the Army Guild will have a celebration of Holy Communion for the repose of the soldiers who died in the South African War. The principal feature will be the ancient Roman prayer for the dead, "Rest and peace, eternal Lord, in mercy give to them; let light perpetual lighten them," which will be sung twice during the service. Such a service has not been held in the Cathedral since the Reformation. I do not know how this House regards these ancient ecclesiastical fabrics. For my part I look upon them as fabrics hallowed by a thousand associations, intertwined with the hearts of Englishmen—as fabrics in regard to which I have a right to say something as to the services to be held there; and I must say, for my part, that it is with feelings of indignation that I regard the action of the dignitaries who have the control of these noble fabrics, who, without consulting the general wishes of the community, and apparently without recognising the obligations of the Prayer-book, are prepared to throw over t he Reformed Church in practice as well as in theory. I should think they may well, Mr. Speaker, be called to account by this House for the manner in which they are discharging their great trust.
The Bill which has been introduced, and of which I now move the Second Reading, is very short, and it is, I think, a very simple measure. Of course there are alternative proposals. The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich (Lord Hugh Cecil) has, I believe, certain proposals of his own which are not before this House. He went down recently to the Canterbury House of Laymen with these proposals in his pocket, and he took up an attitude which, to my mind, was hardly to be expected from his well-known amiability, an attitude almost of ferocity towards a body of Christian laymen who really did not deserve the treatment he gave them. The noble Lord went down with his proposals to that House of Laymen, and practically told them that their choice lay between his Bill and the continuance of the present anarchy in the Church, or disruption, and he added these momentous words, and one can imagine the terror which must have run through.
741 the Canterbury House of Laymen when they heard their doom from the lips of the noble Lord:—In fact," he said, "your choice is the choice of Hobson.I think this reference to Hobson was infelicitous, because Hobson, I need not remind the House, was an innke per who appears to have offered his guests the choice of the horse nearest the door or none at all. Unfortunately for the noble Lord his horse, if I may use the metaphor, is nowhere near the door; it has been jostled into the back part of the stable, and is therefore not before the House. If I may follow up the metaphor, I may say that if there is an animal ready saddled and bridled, ready to be mounted by some able equestrian, say, like the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, it is the Bill of which I have the pleasure of moving the Second Reading to-day. But there are other proposals besides that, even, of the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich. These proposals are those of ray lion, and learned friend the Member for the Stretford Division (Mr. C. A. Cripps), who has embodied his ideals in a Bill which has been printed and circulated in this House. I want to put very briefly before the House, and very clearly, the nature of the Bill we have submitted, and the nature of certain counter proposals, though, of course, possibly the rules of debate will not allow me to go into them with very much detail.
As regards the measure we have introduced, it is a Bill to take advantage of the existing Courts and procedure, and is not in any sense an attempt to make a revolutionary change in the courts or the general ecclesiastical system of the Church of England. One of the main proposals of the Bill is to do away with the unpleasant provision by which a clergyman of a contumacious character—and such are unfortunately found occasionally in the Church of England—is obliged to go to gaol until he has purged his contempt of Court, and to substitute the more reasonable penalty of deprivation from his benefice.
The other main provision of the Bill is the abolition of the veto of the Bishops, a veto which I think it will be generally admitted does effectually debar the laity of the Church of England, who are 742 entitled to have in their parish churches: the services prescribed by law, from seeking redress in the Courts of law. I am well aware that on this question of the veto considerable difference of opinion is bound to arise, but I wish to put before the House the unique hardship of the laity of the Established Church. The laity have no representation whatever in any Church Synod, nor have they any voice whatever as to the nature of the services they have to attend, and I submit that it is an intolerable hardship that during the last fifty year a complete evolution in the services of the National Church should in many cases have taken place, a revolution which is utterly repugnant to many of those who attend the church, which has driven the people from the parish church to seek the worship of God elsewhere, and which, if a referendum to the laity had been at any time possible, would have been instantly prohibited by the common sense and judgment of the country. Although the I "freehold" of the clergyman—for which, as the son of a clergyman, I have the greatest possible respect—is an institution of great value, yet I am bound to say that it has been remorsely and capriciously abused in many cases, to the great and sore grievance of adherents of the Church. Even though this sacerdotalism has been: so long at work in the Church my solemn believe is, that if to-day you consulted the adult male attendants in the parish: churches throughout the country, if you could form them into a kind of Lay Synod for the purposes of a referendum on this matter, by an overwhelming majority they would declare against these practices, and manifest their adherence to the Reformed Episcopal Church.
It may be said that there is the law to look to. That is just the point of the Bill before us. The Episcopal veto has prevented, does prevent, and in my judgment will prevent, those who are aggrieved by these practices seeking legitimate redress in the Courts of law. There is a difference of opinion hero. The Episcopal authorities of the Church tell us that the veto has not been exercised because no one has desired to put the law in motion; on the other hand, there are gentlemen who toil us that the veto must not be taken away, because, if it were, every one would desire to put the law in motion. Notwithstanding his explanation the other day, I think the 743 Archbishop's judgment was perfectly correct when he said that the knowledge that this veto exists has prevented and does prevent the aggrieved laity betaking themselves to the only tribunal where they have any chance of redress, viz., the ecclesiastical Courts of the country. It may and probably will be urged in this debate that if we take away the veto of the Bishop prosecutions will multiply all over the country. I wish to say, as far as I am concerned, that I believe the idea of an infinite number of prosecutions of clergymen by the laity is the merest bogey, and may be dismissed as such. There is in a layman a natural reluctance to come into collision with his clergyman which does him infinite credit. The fact of the matter is that, so far from desiring to prosecute, those who are offended by these practices retire from the Church, and leave the clergyman in possession of the field, to bring up according to his own ideas, the younger generation, whom he has captured by methods to which I do not care more particularly to allude. I do submit that it is a reasonable proposition that if anything effective is to be done to check these practices, you must put into the hands of those aggrieved by them the right of appealing to the ecclesiastical Courts of the country. I may say with regard to the Act of 1840, which is touched by this Bill, we have been careful to preserve the position of the Bishop, by which a primâ facie case, or the contrary, is ascertained, so that, as far as I can see, there is no risk under our Bill of a clergyman being exposed to a frivolous or vexatious suit. In addition, we have put into the Act, for the first time, security for costs. In the Act of 1874, where the veto is abolished, there already exists security for costs. To my mind that is a solid and sufficient guarantee that frivolous and vexatious suits will not be brought.
I wish to refer for one moment to the proposals of my lion, and learned friend the Member for the Stretford Division. The fundamental basis of our Bill is an affirmation, which we ask this House to make, of the right of the laity to have, in their parish churches, services in conformity with the law—not a dull, rigid, and mechanical uniformity, such as we are sometimes charged with
744 seeking, but one in accordance with the elastic limits of that most elastic of books—the Prayer-book of the Church of England. All we desire is that there should be some finality to this process which is going on in the Established Church, and that those who are aggrieved should have the right of redress, which has been denied them by the exercise of the Episcopal veto for many, many years. The proposals of my hon. and learned friend do not appear to me to deal with that point in any shape or way. He has been careful not only to preserve the veto, but, if possible, to increase the discretion of the Bishop, and the curious thing is that, according to his proposals, when once the complainant who, I suppose is the layman, has set the machinery in motion, he disappears altogether; for that matter, he apparently has nothing more to do with the process of law. The whole thing is a matter of ecclesiastical administration within the folds of the Established Church between the Bishop and the clergyman. I do not so read the position of the laity of the Established Church. I think their position is something different from that. They have a right to be considered, and I cannot accept the proposals of my hon. and learned friend as in any sense a vindication of their position, or as redressing the burning grievance under which they have been suffering.
One more point, and one of vital importance, viz., that of the appeal to the Crown as the ultimate authority of justice in matters ecclesiastical as well as civil. The proposals of my hon. and learned friend, as I read them, amount to this—that unless the clergyman complained of elects to proceed under the Act of 1840, the whole procedure of his suggested machinery is confined to the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church, and no appeal lies to the Crown in any shape or form. I am not one of those who desire to see the disestablishment of the Church of England. I desire to see that connection on certain terms maintained and strengthened, but I do no; think the way to maintain and cherish that connection is to put into the hands of the Archbishops of the Church the absolute unfettered right of declaring what is or what is not the legal doctrine and ritual of the national Church. You 745 could not maintain an Established Church in this country on those terms. I submit that though the State has not claimed, and does not claim, the right to decree the doctrine of the Church, on the other hand, it is not open to the Established Church of this country to alter her doctrine and ritual without consultation with the State, of which she is a member. That is the constitutional position, because this House will remember that when the present Prayer-book was passed by Convocation it was submitted to the House, and although this House did refrain from making any change in that Prayer-book, it distinctly asserted its right to do so if it thought fit. These are the two grounds on which I object to the proposals of my hon. and learned friend, and the reasons for which I prefer the proposals embodied in the Bill, the Second Reading of which I am now moving. To maintain the royal supremacy is surely part and parcel of any establishment of this kind.
Before I sit down—and I fear I have been far too long, but the subject is of immense importance—I desire to say one word in conclusion upon the general position of affairs in the Church of England. A very great statesman in this House once said lie did not know how to draw an indictment against the whole nation. 1, and those who act with me in this matter, do not know how to draw an indictment against the whole of the clergy of this country, but we do feel that the due limits of elasticity have long been exceeded, and that it is imperative that this House should take definite and deliberate action to effectively redress these grievances, and to make known to the Episcopal Bench our determine to put a period to these practices. I hope it is with moderation that I have put my case before the House, but though I have stated my case with moderation, I think it should be understood that behind that moderation there are the accents of inflexible resolution, not only on my part, because, after all, I am only an insignificant Member of this House, but on the part of the great Protestant forces of this country, who are determined that a period shall be put to this Romanising of the national Church. In the hope that this House i will pay attention to that resolution, 746 and pay attention to the very moderate proposals embodied in this Bill, I now beg to move the Second Reading of this Measure.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ *MR. C. A. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
I am sure the hon. Member who has moved this Bill has put forward the views, which we know he feels so strongly on Church matters, in a moderate form, and I think he will find in what I have to say as regards this question that I agree with him that it must be dealt with, and I think it ought no longer to be postponed. That is my view as regards this great issue, and I think when he hears my view he will appreciate that he has misunderstood the remedies which I propose, and I yet hope that, as between his views and mine, there may be sufficient ground for conciliation, in order that this great question may be settled without reference to any particular Party, and with credit to our great national Church as a whole. I agree, of course, with much that he said in the first part of his speech. I should have been the last person to have introduced into this House a Bill upon this difficult and complicated question of Church discipline without I had been absolutely convinced—as much so as the hon. Member for Liverpool—that it is necessary to have better discipline in the Church of England, and that we must put an end to these eccentric and extravagant practices which as a Churchman I dislike, and which, in my view, form a serious obstacle to the future development of our national Church. On those grounds it cannot be necessary for me either to follow the hon. Member or to join issue as to the necessity of a Church Discipline Bill at the present time.
I should like to say, and probably it is on this point that we differ, that I do not think that the allegations which he has made apply at large to the clergy of the Church of England. I believe they are hard-working, self-sacrificing members of the community, who give up their lives to the Church in which they believe, and do this with energy and 747 power and religious spirit, more particularly in some of our poorest and most crowded towns. In fact, I would go so far as to say that but for the power and popularity of the Church of England as a living spiritual organisation making itself felt in the national life, and the national aspirations of this country, we as a great people might sink to the lowest level of materialism, with, in my view, a most certain decadence in the future. I feel the responsibility as much as my hoi), friend, and nothing should I regret more if, perchance, in the course of this debate I used any expression which could emphasise differences of opinion, my whole desire being harmonious action in order to bring a great evil to a satisfactory reform. My hon. friend's remedy is to take away power and responsibility from the Bishops, but my remedy, as I shall point out when come to matters of detail, is to make that responsibility greater, and at the same time to give an effective means by which that responsibility may be utilised for the good discipline of the national Church. There, of course, is a fundamental difference between us. But let me add this. To suggest that I am wanting to interfere with the Royal supremacy, or that the proposals contained in my Bill in any way affect the power of the Privy Council as a supreme court on matters of doctrine, can only be stated because my hon. friend cannot possibly have appreciated what are the true proposals of the Bill for which I am responsible. That Bill, if I may gay so at this moment, is not to supersede the Privy Council, but it is by a certain procedure to make it more easy that there may be an effective appeal to the Supreme Court of this realm on matters of doctrine and ritual.
And as regards the question of the Bishops, I do not know what the hon. Member means when he speaks, I think, of revolutionary proposals. Is he aware that at the present moment under similar provisions in the Act of 1840, and in the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874, there is recognition of this principle, that, if possible, these matters, instead of being referred with all the evils of litigation, the costly and cumbrous procedure of litigation to our 748 courts, may be settled, where they ought to be settle, by friendly relationship between the Bishop on the one side and the clergy on the other. I am introducing no new principle at all; I am only trying to make effective a principle which ought to go to the whole root of the discipline of our National Church. What we complain of now—we who want discipline and who want reform—is that the Bishop has no effective power in order to make his views supreme where, under the constitution of this country, these matters are referred to him for his decision, only ask in the Bill that I propose that an effective power shall be given, and if that effective power is not used, then, and then only, will be the time to issue these general indictments against the fabric of our Church and against its constitution.
Now, Sir, without raising points of difference between the hon. Member for Liverpool and myself, let me state to the House what appeared to me to be the purport of his speech, and let me also state, at any rate, that in my opinion he showed no case. whatever for the particular proposal which he has brought forward in his own Bill, lie told us at the outset—and there T agree with what he says—that many evils of the Church arise not from the want of the Bishops to intervene, but from the want of effective powers of intervention. I want to know what effective power of intervention is given by a Bill which does not deal with any of the true difficulties, and they are great, of Church procedure, but which proposes to take away all the responsibility which now rests upon the Bishop, and to free them from the duties to which they are bound as Bishops of our Church, and from the imposition of punishments which they ought to impose upon clergy who will not obey the directions which their ecclesiastical superiors have a right to give. Let me say this other word of criticism as regards the speech of my hon. friend. I was waiting throughout that speech for him to give me some illustration that the difficulties with which our Church is encompassed were in any way due to the use of that veto power by the Bishops. Now, I appeal to this House whether from beginning to end he gave one single 749 illustration to-show that the Bishops had ever interposed the veto in order to prevent the duties of the Church being carried on in a constitutional way. I do not ask him, of course, to refer to what was said by the Archbishop the other day, but I think he might have this in mind. He might have dealt with an allegation which he knows to have been made—that for thirty years, except in two notorious cases, one in Gloucestershire and the other in Rochester, the veto of the Bishop has never been exercised in order to screen illegality on the part of clergymen of the Church in this country. I speak, perhaps, with some warmth on this point. I do not quite take the same view of the veto as some of my hon. friends do. I will say by-and-bye why I think that the veto ought not to be interfered with, but I have stated in public constantly, and in the discharge of my duties, that if it can be shown that the veto of the Bishops had not been used for its legitimate purpose, but used with the object of screening illegality, I should say for my part it would be necessary to make some change in the constitution of our Church. But there is no evidence that we have come to any such crisis in the constitution of our Church; and may I say this further, which I think will impress the House, and certainly carries my view in the direction.
I have always held, that not only hag the hon. Member not given one single illustration of the abuse of the veto, but there was a document issued this morning, coming I believe from the same source as the Bill itself, which shows conclusively that in the opinion of that body, with which this Bill is closely associated, the difficulties of Church discipline arise entirely on other grounds, and not from the abuse of the veto at all, and surely, if I am right in that, what can be more futile or ineffective than this Bill? Are we sitting here as a House of Commons, anxiously desirous as the hon. Member says, to bring about a better state of Church discipline? Are we to be called upon to deal with an evil that does not exist to attempt to reform Church discipline on lines which in my opinion are absolutely childlike so far as they affect the future? Let me point out what was said in the document issued this morning, and which I presume was sent to various Members of 750 the House. It deals with what is called the Archbishops' reply to the hon. Member who represents the Tewkesbury Division. What does this document say? I ask the attention of the House to this point. It does not suggest from beginning to end—it could hardly suggest after what was said by the Archbishop—that either the want of Church discipline is due to the existence of the veto, or that the veto of either the Bishop or Archbishop has ever been improperly imposed. Just let me read this. It says—The real reason why prosecutions ceased to be taken was that the judges in the ecclesiastical Courts refused to deprive the clerical lawbreaker even after repeated convictions.That refers to the Maconochie case. It has nothing whatever to do with the matter. Whether you have the veto or not in this respect it would make no difference. The same difficulties have existed since the 1840 and 1874 Acts. They have applied to cases of actual prosecutions as much as to the cases where prosecutions have not been carried further in the courts of justice, and where, as I shall point out, in a moment, as regards the proposals I think ought to be adopted, we should have some effective methods of applying procedure in order to produce discipline in the national Church. So far as these proposals are concerned, which are introduced by the Member for one of the divisions of Liverpool, they do not in any way touch the real difficulty or bring about such a simplification of procedure as would enable us to have a better system of discipline in our Church. Let me refer to one other passage which appears to me to be rather peculiar It says—For many years the Church Association has brought forward Bills having for their object the substitution of deprivation for imprisonment, and until this has been effected, we decided to hold our hand.I hope the House will realise, first of all, that for a long series of years—no one knows it better than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire—it has been possible to have deprivation without any appeal whatever to this system of imprisonment. Let me make this further answer to the Church Association. If you have imprisonment at all—which I admit I object to totally, and which I think 751 ought to have no place whatever in our ecclesiastical procedure—if you have it at all it can only be imposed at the option of the prosecution. Are we to believe that the Church Association has held its hand on this ground, although as all ecclesiastical lawyers know, it has long been held; that in order to get obedience to our ecclesiastical courts and monitions, the Privy Council has established that deprivation may take the place of imprisonment? Does my hon. friend agree that these are the two difficulties:—one on the question as regards possible imprisonment, and the other as regards procedure apart from veto? I am only dealing with what is the statement of the Church Association. If he agrees that these are the two difficulties, I beg him to reconsider the position, and to consider that we must have some effective measure of Church discipline.
Before I come to deal closely with the Bill connected with my name, let me say one or two words on the general question. I am not one of those who are alarmed at what are called crises in our Church history. You must have crises, and I think we must all realise that times of crises are nearly always times of religious revival. We do not want the kind of apathy that characterised part of the eighteenth century. I suppose my hon. friend, if he had lived in the latter part of that century, would have been issuing his monitions against the evangelical revival which marked the later years of the eighteenth century. Can anything really be worse than for extreme parties in the Church to be seeking by some cast-iron system of litigation to suppress all those from whom they differ in these periods of ecclesiastical revival? The ideal of the national Church is a very high one. It is difficult, of course, to reconcile doctrine and authority. They have in the Church of Rome eliminated private opinion, which is the heritage of our Nonconformist bodies. The ideal of the national Church has been to reconcile these two great conflicting views, which at times of course must come into contact—authority on the one side and liberty on the other—authority within the constitution of the Church and liberty within the constitution of the Church, and unless you combine these I
752 two elements you will not attract Churchmen on the one side or a living spiritual organisation on the other. I do not agree with what the hon. Member said as to the probability of prosecutions. Of course, so far as the hon. Member is concerned, I appreciate what he said without taking his view of the case. There are rich organisations and rich individuals. What security is given by mere costs in such a case as that? Why should anyone who, perhaps, in the country has a harvest thanksgiving service, why should any one who may have deviated from the lines of the Act of Uniformity, be liable at the instance of any common informer behind whom there is sufficient wealth to interfere with the life and liberty of our hard working clergymen of the Church of England? For my own part I can never accede to such a proposition.
Now let me sketch in a few words, because I cannot go into the matter in detail, how I think the question of Church discipline might be approached, in order that on a basis of conciliation moderate and other Churchmen may get rid of this difficulty, and that we may have a proper and successful scheme of Church discipline—not cast-iron limits of discipline—which would keep each Churchman within the constitution, and yet give sufficient liberty for national life and aspiration. Under existing conditions there are two lines on which clergymen can be proceeded against on questions of heresy and doctrine. They are established by the well known Acts of 1840 and 1874. What do these two Acts establish? There is nothing in the proposals I make which goes outside the principles of those Acts. As regards the Act of 1840 there are two forms of procedure. You can go through Commissions of Bishops Courts, the Court of Arches, and possibly after an enormous expenditure, of no use and not productive, you may find yourself under the protective aegis of the Privy Council.
I think the first and necessary step to be taken as regards the reform of the discipline of the Church of England is to simplify procedure and bring it up to modern date so that it? shall not involve undue complication or undue cost, and so that anyone who 753 wishes to make a complaint against any clergyman of the Church of England shall have an easy and effective remedy before a properly constituted and modernised tribunal. I ask my hon. friend, who, as I understand, is opposed to the principle of the Bill I am introducing, I ask any hon. Member on the opposite side of the House, as well as on this, who is sincerely desirous of reform in the direction of Church discipline, whether he would not agree with me that one of the most necessary steps is the simplification of procedure in order that measures can be taken without undue delay to bring an appeal to the tribunal of the Privy Council. This is a part of the proposal in the Bill with which my name is associated. I can assure hon. Gentlemen that any one who had studied it would not for one moment say that it interferes with the principle of the Royal supremacy. I know there has been some misapprehension on this point, to judge from a circular which has been sent round to hon. Members by some Association. The Royal supremacy is not mentioned in my Bill; the Royal supremacy is not touched in my Bill. It would remain the same if that Bill were passed as it is at the present moment. On that point, of course, I do not agree with all my hon. friends, and probably not with the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich, but standing here, as one who has had great experience in ecclesiastical matters, I declare that I would never willingly myself take any step which would interfere with the rights of the laity of this country in regard to the Royal supremacy in ecclesiastical matters. I am one of those who believe that the laity have their rights in our great national Church; and that they ought to have an effective means of establishing their due constitutional rights in our great national Church; and the consolation, to my mind, of discussions of this kind in the House of Commons is, that it shows that the laity of the country feel their responsibility as active members of our national Church. I desire that their views should be expressed in this great assembly, or wherever the laity are represented, on all questions of ecclesiastical discipline.
There is the other fide as regards the form of Church discipline. At the present 754 moment, even under the Act of 1840 and the Act of 1874, by consent of the parties you can go to the Bishop, and his decision is absolute. I cannot understand any one who has any knowledge of these Ecclesiastical Acts venturing to assert for one moment that that principle of consent in matters of Ecclesiastical procedure has any bearing whatever on the question of the Royal supremacy. Does my hon. friend suppose that those who framed the Acts of 1840 and 1874 had any such opinion in their minds. All I propose is this—and I hope it will be a most effective form of procedure in the future—naturally enough, and I think no one would recognise that more than the hon. Member—where a Bishop is in the position of the promoter of a suit, a particular clergyman may not be willing, even by consent, to have his case decided by a Bishop who is at once prosecutor and judge—is that in order that all parties may have a tribunal in which they have confidence—the Bishops and the Archbishops on the one side, and. the clergyman, who on his ordination has sworn obedience, on the other—to give an appeal even in consent matters brought before the Bishop, which does not exist at the present moment, either to the Archbishops or the Archbishop's Court in order to make the action of the Bishop, by consent of the parties interested or affected, a successful disciplinary measure, and so that he may be enabled to force the clergyman to carry out his order. But the proposal now before the House destroys, no doubt, the responsibility of the Bishop, and destroys one of the fundamental principles of our Churchas laid down by Lord Stowell and recognised by the great evangelical Lord Chancellor, Lord Cairns, and although I can conceive conditions under which the safeguard of the veto might be taken away, yet, if we take the revolutionary procedure of altering the Constitution of the Church, I can see that such an alteration goes so far to the foundation of our whole national Church institution, that, if the House presses on a reform on those lines, one half the Church of England would feel that the fundamental principles on which they had joined that Church had been con- 755 travened. It is not necessary to have such a fundamental alteration.
Now, if we really desire the effective intervention of the Privy Council, let us have a proper reform of procedure If we really desire that the interposition of the Bishop should be effective, where consent is given, let us give due power to the interposition of the Bishop. I want on this matter to declare myself as clearly as I can. I am as earnestly anxious as the hon. Member for Liverpool for a reform of the Church procedure, in order that discipline may be effectively and properly carried out. I do not want, and probably nobody wants, anything in the nature of petty persecution. Much as I dislike many matters which may go on in the Church I recognise that within the limits of the law every member of that great national institution has the same right as I have to his own individual opinion. Nothing could be worse than to curtail the charity and comprehension of our great national Church. What would be a greater misfortune than if we reduced the Church of the nation to the Church of a sect? I think am bound to say that this Bill, introduced as it is, is in its mature, and must be, a partisan Bill which the Church at large can never accept in the full spirit in which my hon. friend has brought it forward. I hope that my intervention in this debate may possibly lead to some effective steps being taken as regards the future. I should not object to the Second Reading of the Bill of the hon. Member for Liverpool if that could be done, without the opinion of those in this House who do not agree with him, being in way committed to it. I should both these Bills to be read a second time, and to be sent to some strong and impartial Committee in order that these evils in the Church may be remedied on broad and comprehensive grounds. But in making that statement, I must also say that if this one Bill is pressed forward—which I look on as the Bill of a Party, as a Bill which the Church at large can never accept, and which the Church at large ought never to accept—I shall have to vote against it, not in any obstructive sense, but in order that 756 if not now, on some future occasion our great national Church, used as authority on the one side and due liberty and freedom on the other, may be reformed in matters of discipline on broad and comprehensive lines acceptable to the Church as a whole, and not put forward by one Party only.
§ *MR. LAWSON WALTON (Leeds, S.)
My hon. and learned friend has announced himself as a Church reformer; but in sitting down he intimated that he would vote against this Bill, because the Bill as it stands ought not to be accepted, and he told us it never would be accepted, by the Church of England. If the House were to agree to the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman to refer both these measures to a Committee, the status quo of anarchy, which is acknowledged to be at this moment the condition of the Church of England, would be indefinitely protracted. My hon. and learned friend tells us that he is anxious for reform, but his Bill is a Bill the only effect of which will be to postpone indefinitely any action that can be taken He told us that he intended to leave the Bishops with their present powers unaffected; so that my hon. and learned friend, so far from being a reformer, leaves the Bishops free to act precisely as they have done for the last sixty years, and, if his Bill is carried, as they would continue to do for the next sixty years. But my hon. and learned friend is a lawyer, and I am astonished how any gentleman of legal acquirements can seriously contend that his measure does not impeach the Royal supremacy in the Church of England. A suit may be instituted before Bishop, and, in the ordinary course, it ends there, subject to an appeal to the Archbishop, if the clergymen does not elect to have the matter determined under the provisions of the Clergy Discipline Act, 1840. It is only if the clergy-man elects that there is an appeal to the King in Council. No such election is given to the laity. My hon. and learned friend would therefore in these suits restrict the supremacy of the King in Council, and would impose a direct limitation of that supremacy in Church and State.
Let me try to indicate the position. If a clergyman elects, the suit may 757 be conducted under the provisions of the existing law, and an appeal to the Privy Council would arise in the ordinary course. But no one in his senses ever supposes that a clergyman would elect to carry litigation into the ordinary courts so as to allow an appeal to the King in Council, because it is the arbitrament of the King in Council against which the clergy are protesting. Therefore, in every case, except in an infinitesimal number of suits, you will have, under this specious proposal for facilitating the application of a remedy to check the present evils in the Church, the whole litigation with regard to doctrine and ritual in the Church finally determined without any appeal to the King in Council. My hon. and learned friend protests his zeal for the Royal supremacy, and for the Church as established by law in this country. How can he consistently advocate such a measure, and yet ask the House to regard him as loyal to the Royal supremacy.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
May I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether he thinks the Royal supremacy exists in regard to the Established Church of Scotland or not?
§ *MR. LAWSON WALTON
The noble Lord must excuse me for not dealing with the Church of Scotland just now.
§ MR. CRIPPS
May there not be a final determination by the Bishop under the existing law if the parties consent?
§ *MR. LAWSON WALTON
If the parties consent to give the Bishop the final power of determining the question the Bishop has that power, but it is not derived under statute, but by consent. Apart from the consent of the parties there is an appeal first from the Diocesan Court to the Arches Court, and then from the Arches Court to the King in Council. That, I take it, is part of the constitution of the Church of England, and as part of the constitution of the Church of England it forms part of the constitution of this country, which maintains that the Royal supremacy exists over matters ecclesiastical as well as civil. This principle would be seriously impaired if the House were to adopt the proposal of my 758 hon. and learned friend. Let me for a moment challenge another branch of my hon. and learned friend's argument. What is the question with which we have to deal? The question is not a theological question; it is not a question of Church policy; it is not a question as to whether it is desirable that different schools of opinion should be allowed to exist within the limits of the Established Church. The question for this House is whether the law is or is not to be enforced; whether a condition of anarchy is to be allowed to prevail in the Church. Has not the House a duty in regard to that matter, by taking such prompt and efficient measures as will satisfy public opinion and restore order in the Church?
My hon. and learned friend dealt with the present state of things, and he challenged, what I thought was clearly demonstrated by the hon. Member who introduced the Bill, namely, the statement that the cause of the present condition of things is the attitude which the Bishops have taken up for twenty-five years in regard to litigation in Church courts. Does my hon. and learned friend deny that from 1879, when the Bishop of Oxford refused to allow a suit to be instituted against a clergyman, there has been a consistent policy on the part of the Episcopal Bench to discourage all litigation as regards doctrine or ritual in the courts. My hon. and learned friend says that he defies any one to mention a case in which a Bishop has exercised his veto as regards a suit which ought to have been allowed to be brought. In the case in which the Bishop of Oxford exercised his veto, the clergyman concerned admitted that on six points, all of great: consequence, he had been guilty of infraction of the law; and the ground on which that suit was not allowed to be instituted was that the prevalence of these suits injured the Church, that the remedy was worse than the disease, and that the revival of mediaeval ritual and teaching was less harmful than litigation to check it. That action on the part of the Bishop of Oxford was applauded by the Prelates of the period, and has been the consistent policy of the Episcopal Bench from that time down to the present. Yet my hon. 759 and learned friend says that in every proper case the Bishops have been prepared to allow a suit to be brought. The Primate the other day told a deputation that there were only two or three recorded cases of the veto being exercised by living Members of the Bench. But the right rev. Prelate forgot that it is the duty of the Bishops to put the law in motion. He entirely forgot that under the Act of 1840, and under the Act of 1874, the Bishops are empowered to take the necessary legal steps to stop the spread of these evils; and while the laity have a right to resort to the courts, it is clearly the duty of a Bishop on his own mere motion to put the law in force; and in every proper case he ought to put the law in force in order to check these evils. Can my lion, and learned friend point to a single case where for twenty-five years a Bishop has put the law in motion to check the prevalence of illegality in ritual or doctrine? My hon. and learned friend says that the veto has not been placed to any great extent on the suits of the laity; but the best answer to that statement is that no suit on the motion of a Bishop has ever been brought.
As far as the inaction of the laity is concerned, it can be easily explained. In the first place, enormous sums of money were spent in contesting the claim of the Bishop of Oxford to prohibit the institution of the suit to which T have referred, and after the House of Lords had declared that members of the Episcopal Bench had an absolute discretion, the law was clear, and it was hardly desirable for the laity to bring forward suits without the consent of the Bishop. In these circumstances, it is easily understood why so very few suits were brought. By the litigation which took place between 1874 and 1879 disputed questions of ritual were settled, the ordinances of the Church were judicially defined, and it was then for the Bishops to enforce the law: and, therefore, naturally members of the Evangelical party held aloof because the Bishops were anxious themselves to be entrusted with the power to put down these evils. The law having been made quite clear by the suits promoted by an association of laymen, 760 the Episcopal Bench has had for twenty-five years unfettered freedom to use their own administrative powers in regard to this matter. What is the result? The result is a state of chaos. What is the remedy? The remedy, and the only remedy, is that proposed by this Bill. The remedy is that we must abolish the Episcopal veto, with a check to prevent the institution of suits by irresponsible persons in frivolous or vexatious cases. This Bill will in the main accomplish both these objects. In the first place, it will abolish the veto, and allow the Courts to be open to the laity; and in the second place, it provides that the persons who seek to put the law in motion shall be responsible persons, and that they shall provide the cost of the litigation. An Amendment might easily be introduced in Committee that power be given to strike out any vexatious or frivolous case. That power exists in the High Court to-day. A person who prefers a vexatious claim will find that claim struck out without any preliminary trial. That power, coupled with the full security as to costs, should be a sufficient protection. It follows that the layman who seeks to use the law must be a responsible person; and the case must be one of gravity. What are the objections? My hon. and learned friend says that the Bill would impair the Episcopal authority of the bishops and would diminish the dignity and influence of their office; but Lord Stowell declared that the right of the bishops to prevent the laity using the courts had never in ancient times been asserted, and Dr. Lushington agreed with him; Lord Chief Justice Cockburn held that it did not exist; and, indeed, there is no ground for supposing that until 1879 the bishops ever sought to prevent the laity using the Courts of the Church in circumstances in which, according to their view the law had been broken, and for securing the remedy which the law provided. I would also ask my hon. and learned friend why should the Bishop have the right to control litigation in the Courts of the Church? Is the Bishop to be the prosecutor My hon. and learned friend's Bill will make him the prosecutor.
§ MR. C. A. CRIPPS
If my hon. and learned friend had read the Bill he would see that it provides exactly the contrary.
§ *MR. LAWSON WALTON
The Bill provides that the Bishop shall issue an admonition, and if it is disregarded, the Bishop shall then authorise a suit to be brought; and, directly or indirectly, he becomes the prosecutor of his own clergy. If I were arguing the question on à priori grounds I think I could demonstrate to the House that nothing is more calculated to detract from the influence of a Bishop than that he should be thrown into collision with his own clergy. Surely, if a proper case is brought forward, if it is held not to be frivolous or vexatious, if it be preferred by responsible persons who give security to indemnify the person against whom the suit is brought, the dignified course for the Bishop would be to retire from the dispute, and say that as his episcopal efforts had failed to bring about peace, let litigation proceed and let the law be established. The greatest authorities have approved of the abolition of the veto. The late Lord Coleridge declared that the bishops had undoubtedly abused their trust in regard to this matter; that in preventing all litigation they were acting outside their province, and that the discretion given to them in the Act of 1840 was to stop improper suits and improper suits only, Lord Coleridge came to the conclusion that the concerted action of the bishops in discouraging all litigation in regard to Church matters amounted to an abuse of the discretionary powers conferred upon them by Statute. What are the consequences? Why at the present time these suits do not exist? My hon. and learned friend the Member for Stretford is also in opposition to Lord Penzance on this point; while Lord Cairns pointed out that the absence of the power under the existing law for securing costs was a ground for inferring that, under the existing law, the right of veto existed. The Bill removes this support from an authority much relied upon by the opponents of the measure. I ask the House, supposing this Bill were passed tomorrow, what possible harm would be done to anybody? A layman may sue 762 in every Court of the realm except the Ecclesiastical Courts without consulting anybody. Why is the Bishop to block the door? Why should the Bishop say "I do not allege that you are an improper person, nor that you do not complain of a grave breach of the law, but I do say that litigation in the Ecclesiastical Courts is worse than the gravest errors of the Ritualistic doctrines which you seek to correct."
The grievances under which the laity suffer in the parishes of England in these matters are often more severely felt than any infringement of property or personal liberty, and yet, although in all civil complaints they may invoke the protection of the law, with regard to matters ecclesiastical they have no rights at all. If this Bill passes you simply put an edge on the law as it now exists, and you will sweep away an obstruction which cannot be juridically defended, and which, if swept away, will leave the Courts open, as they ought to be open, to every member of the Church of England who wishes to have the services in the simplicity in which the Reformation left them. I foresee no evil from this Bill being carried which any friend of the Church need apprehend. If a frivolous or vexatious suit were brought forward, the Bishop will have the power, subject to review by the Judge of the Court of Arches, to strike it out as frivolous or vexatious. If it were brought forward by a person who is a responsible person, ample security for costs will be provided, and then the law will be administered. A Bishop ought to be the last person to complain of being relieved of the painful and almost intolerable responsibility of being himself the author of such litigation.
There are three schools of thought relative to this question. There is that section which holds that the Church ought to have complete control over its own doctrines and ritual. With that party I have a most profound sympathy, but their views are only consistent with the constitution of a free church; they claim a liberty which the Church can never enjoy until the Acts of Uniformity have all been repealed, and you accept the condition of 763 severance from the State. Then there is another school of opinion which holds that the Church should be left studiously alone: that the evolution of Christianity should proceed with no other check upon it than the conscience of the clergyman of each parish. Those who take this view will be among the opponents of this Bill, but they must remember that their attitude is consistent only with the repeal of the statutes imposing creeds; and formularies upon the Church of England and a review of the concordat between Church and State. Then there is the third school—the lowly, humble, devoted members of the Church of their fathers, who only want its services conducted with the dignified simplicity in which the Reformation left them. I ask that this Bill should be passed into law in their interest, and in order that this state of things, which they highly value, should once more exist.
§ MR. VICAUY GIBBS, (Hertfordshire, St. Albana)
I desire to put before the House, as far as I am able, what I may call the view of moderate High Churchmen, as I conceive it to be in tin's matter; that is to say the view of men who equally disapprove of extreme and illegal practices, and of the Bill which has been introduced to-day. I hope the House will tolerate, as it I generally does, the expression of unpopular opinions, provided they are expressed in a moderate form. The ostensible object of this Bill is to restore discipline in the Church, and I desire to show, if I can, that that result will not be attained, and I desire to show that particularly from the lessons of history. Some thirty years; ago the High Church Party were eminently the party of law and order in the Church. That is to say, their special object was to show scrupulous attention to the rubrics of the Prayer book, and to obey them with minute alacrity. Why, and when, did the change take place? I think the change is traceable to the attempt by a Civil Court, insufficiently armed by previous training and expert knowledge of ecclesiastical matters or Church history, to force on the Church its decisions as binding and permanent rules in matters of doctrine and ritual. I think that condition of disregard for authority was aggravated by the Public Worship Regulation Act, and would be still further 764 aggravated if this Bill were to become law. Undoubtedly during the last twenty-five years there has been a disposition in certain quarters in the Church to embark upon practices which, if not actually illegal in every case, are, at any rate, strange and offensive to a large and; most respect-worthy portion of the I Church of England. I do not approve of those practices, even if they are shown to I be legal; and least of all do I approve of them in country districts, where perhaps there is only one Church, and where if those practices offend the persons offended are practically excluded from the ministrations of the Church altogether. To remedy this undoubted grievance, the Bill proposes to allow that any parson, for any alleged breach of either doctrine or ritual, whether important or unimportant, can be brought before the Privy Council by any two or three persons who desire so to do, and be removed from his living. The I ultimate Court of Appeal to which it is proposed to bring these gentlemen has been largely and widely discredited as a tribunal for deciding ecclesiastical causes. The very powerful Royal Commission, to-the minority report of which the hon. and learned Gentleman who last spoke referred, though he did not mention the findings of the majority, reported against the Privy Council and in favour of a different plan; and therefore the authority of the Privy Council is challenged and weakened. Its own contradictory action in finding in favour of vestments in Liddell. Westerton, and again in Martin v Maconochie, followed by the Ridsdale judgment forbidding the use of vestments, on grounds which I do not think any lawyer would now maintain, has not helped to strengthen its authority. How-can we expect the clergy of the Church of England to cheerfully yield obedience to such a tribunal? Let me quote from a man who will be received with general respect in this House. The historian Stubbs declared—The maintenance of the existing jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as a final tribunal of appeal in matters of doctrine and ritual is not to be regarded as an essential part, or necessary historical consequence of the Reformation settlement.It appears to me in essence undesirable that the civil Court should be called upon to decide, as this Bill would call on it, points of doctrine and ritual. Does it seem, to this House, reasonable that such 765 a Court should define what is the proper doctrine of the English Church in the matter of baptismal regeneration? I do not think that that is a doctrine which can be defined by a civil Court which has not had long and careful ecclesiastical study. It is perfectly true there are many cases m the rubrics which are perfectly simple and perfectly clear. Let me take an illustration. The Prayer-book lays down that the Athanasian Creed must be read on Trinity Sunday, and at other times. If a clergyman declines to comply with that rubric, under this Bill he could be removed from his living. But the Prayer Book as a whole, or the rubrics, are not like an Act of Parliament, construable by any able lawyer, without a knowledge of ecclesiastical matters or Church history. Archbishop Benson, in the case of the Bishop of Lincoln, said—It has established the impossibility of trying to find out the meaning and intention of the Prayer-book, merely by a study of words used in it without a prolonged, and careful study of the history that lies behind the words, and of the experience which made up the life of those who first employed them.One tiling is certain, and that is that a study of that history, which Archbishop Benson so justly praised the importance of, would reveal that there have always been in the Church of England since the Reformation a High Church, a Low Church, and a Board Church, although they may have been called by different names, such as Calvinists, Armenians, Socinians. There is as much difference, in my judgment, between, the views of Archbishops Abbot and Laud, in the time of Charles I., as there s to-day between the Church Association and the English Church Union. I would ask the House, although toleration does not seem to be in the ascendant to-day, whether they really desire to destroy the comprehension which was deliberately arranged for in the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England: and which, in my judgment, were not overlooked in the wording of some of the Church rubrics. It is perfectly true that the Church has not always shown that spirit of comprehension. I would remind the House that in the time of Elizabeth the Puritans were: rejected from the Church; that at a later day, when the wheel had come full circle the Nonjurors were rejected, and 766 the Methodists, if not actually rejected, were so cold-shouldered that they were driven into schism. I would ask the House to consider whether the Church of England, speaking of it as a national Church, derived any advantage from this action. I would point out that it is with the High Church Party, and not with the extreme lawbreakers, that we should have to deal if this Bill became law.
As the hon. and learned Member for the Stretford Division said, this is a Church Association Bill. We know the Church Association methods, and we know its opinions. If we do not, it is not because it does not supply us with sufficient documentary matter. The Church Association says that there arc from 8,000 to 10,000 lawbreakers among the clergy. That means that the bulk of the High Church Party are lawbreakers. I demit. I am not prepared to hand over 8,000 or 10,000 of the clergy to the Lender mercies of the Church Association, the body which I regard as a modern copy of the Inquisition, which, if this Hill became law, would in turn hand the clergy over to the secular arm, in the good old style. I assume if this Bill passes there will be au attempt to enforce the Ridsdale judgment in the civil Courts. Can any one seriously suppose that the way to secure discipline, or to obtain obedience, is by such means? It will merely have the effect of uniting the whole High Church Party together—the-great mass who disapprove of extreme practices or extravagant ritual, and the very small portion who indulge in such practices in opposition to what they regard, and will justly regard, as intolerable prosecution. What shall we see? This Bill will put it in the power of any wrong-minded man to effect the following scandal. A hard-working, able,, upright parson, beloved and followed by his entire congregation, supported and approved by his own diocesan, forcibly removed from his living, because he refuses to accept the ruling of a civil Court as to the disputable meaning of a rubric, although that ruling may run counter, not merely to his conscience, lint to the judgment of the bulk of the Episcopate. If that point is reached, one of two things will happen. Either the people, seeing the preposterous condition of things that will ensue, will demand the repeal of this measure, or they will support it. If they support it, there 767 will be an irresistible demand for Disestablishment. That, of course, would meet the wishes of the hon. and learned Member who last spoke, and of many hon. Members opposite. But will it meet the views of the men who are supporting this measure? I think not. I do not regard Disestablishment as the worst of the evils this Bill would cause.
I feel confident that if this Bill is passed in its present form, it will tear the Church of England to pieces, and will destroy a great living national organisation for good. I would ask hon. Members to consider what religious body would profit if the Church of England were thrown down from its national position and broken up into a number of sects. Why, the Church of Rome. It is into the hands of the Church of Rome that the hon. Members who are pressing for this Bill are unwittingly playing. This Bill hopes to avoid the scandal of imprisoning a man for conscience sake by substituting deprivation. But if there is to be forcible removal from the parsonage, as must inevitably follow, you may have an equally grave scandal; and we may have to thank Liverpool for introducing into other English cities the spectacle of religious riots. What sort of position does the House conceive will be that of a new incumbent who is forced on an unwilling congregation, supposing his views are different from those of the man who has been removed? Will it be a tenable position for any clergyman to hold? Or suppose, as is much more likely, that the same patron appoint a man of the same views, and the old clergyman remains, perhaps, under the nominal description of curate to the new vicar been gained?
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS
I am assuming, and justly assuming, that under this Bill a man may be expelled under the decision of a civil Court which is directly contrary to the views of the Bishop of the diocese. If a vicar of similar views is appointed, does the House seriously contemplate entering into a conflict with the Church, and seeing a continuation of prosecutions in the same parish and for the same cause?
768 I can hardly think it does, nor will it gain credit or advantage by encouraging or supporting a Bill which may lead to such a result.
As to the abolition of the veto, it has been pointed out very properly by the Archbishop that by living Bishops there have only been two cases of the exercise of the veto. The Archbishop further stated that the dying out of the prosecutions which were rife between 1875 and 1880 was owing not to the exercise of the veto but to a feeling growing up among the Evangelical party that they were not advancing the spread of their own views by being connected in men's minds with anything which could, even unfairly, be described as persecution. I fully admit and recognise the force of the remark of the hon. and learned Member opposite—that you cannot at the same time say that the veto has had no effect in stopping prosecutions, and also that the veto is a very valuable thing to preserve for the protection of the clergy. Those two propositions are mutually destructive, and I must select which I will support. I desire to preserve the veto, because it is in the interests of the clergy of the Church of England that it should be preserved. May I quote in support of the veto the Commission on Ecclesiastical Courts which sat in 1882–83.But since the principal branch of ecclesiastical jurisdiction which now remains to the Courts is concerned with the correction of the clergy, it seems? reasonable that the Bishop, rather than any private person, should decide whether the interests of the Church in any particular case require that M clerk should be prosecuted. We adopt the words of a Judge of the Court of Queen's Bench that it is 'better for the interests of religion and of the public that the Bishop, who is the overseer or superintendent of religious matters in the Church, should be entrusted with a discretion as to the propriety of issuing a commission of inquiry in such cases, than that it should he left entirely, as expressed by Sir Walter Scott, to the judgment or passions of private persons, who, under the influence of zeal, prejudice or fancy, might call peremptorily upon the Bishop, without any real or substantial ground, upon mere scandal and evil report, to institute proceedings which would cause at once expense, trouble, and vexation and tend to create trouble and vexation in the Church.' It is better to make the Bishop responsible for his leave to set the discipline of the Church in motion, 'trusting to the due exercise of his discretion in all cases where it appears to him that the interests of the Church require it.'Now let me pass to the action of the Bishops themselves. Have they done nothing? The present Archbishop, 769 whose opinion may be received with respect on all sides, says—There is a marked modification and n straint as regards usages habitual a few years ago.I know that in the matter of unauthorised services the late Bishop of London was the means practically of suppressing them in his diocese, and I know of my own knowledge that the Bishops made great efforts and brought great pressure to bear on the extreme clergy in their respective dioceses. I know also that their monitions have for the most part been received with respect and obedience. Therefore the Archbishop can truthfully say that eases of flagrant and defiant illegality and disobedience are very few and are generally confined to the large towns. How can anyone charge the Episcopate with incompetence in dealing with disputed questions of ritual and not give them credit for Archbishop Benson's judgment in the Bishop of Lincoln's case? That judgment had the unique merit among modern ritual judgments that it led to general obedience, and was sufficiently cogent to secure acceptance by the Privy Council, although it traversed and upset the grounds on which the Privy Council had previously proceeded.
Now let me point out what I regard as the way of remedy. I regard the evil as admitted, though exaggerated, and I have sought to show that the Court of Privy Council is not the right body to deal with spiritual matters. I admit the immense difficulty of establishing a new Court. That would undoubtedly open up the controversy as to the proper relations of Church and State as defined by the Statute of Appeals and the Act of Submission. The Bishops have now no legislative power whatever; they cannot sit as a Synod, issuing mandates with the force of law on ecclesiastical questions, and even if they could I am far from saying that that would establish perfect peace and harmony in the Church. What I do say is that the decisions of the whole of the Episcopate would be received by loyal Churchmen in a spirit of obedience, which they are far from showing, and cannot be expected to show, to such a civil Court as that before which questions of doctrine and ritual have hitherto been brought.
770 I should like to say a few words as to the history of this Privy Council Court. The appeal to the Crown was given as a machinery for doing justice to individuals, and not for the purpose of determining questions of doctrine and ritual The old Court of Delegates never attempted to lay down what the doctrine and ritual of the Church were, and the judgments of its successor, the Privy Council, were given the same force and effect as those of the Court of Delegates had had, and no more. But of late there has been set up a claim for the Court of Privy Council, in my judgment as false historically as it is mischievous in practice, that they should decide what are, have been, and should be the doctrine and ritual of the Church of England. In that view I am entirely borne out by the Commission of 188:2, In fact that Commission in their arguments and findings went directly against the whole conception of this Bill. They admit the right of every aggrieved person to approach the Crown for redress, and they provide a lay tribunal for that purpose; but they confine the Court to its proper duties, and recommend the restoration of the Provisional Court, invested with unquestionable ecclesiastical authority, leaving, to use their own words, "the full hearing of spiritual matters to a spiritual judge."
I have no time to develop the matter, but it is clear to me that the only real remedy is to give the Church authorities some such powers as are possessed by the Church of Scotland. I maintain that the appeal to the civil Courts should be in the case of an abuse of justice, and that their proper function is to correct such abuse should it occur. I quite admit that such a measure would require the greatest ability to prepare, and equal ability to pass through this' House, and as any Bill of this kind must vitally affect the condition of the Church of England, I maintain that it is in accordance with every precedent, except perhaps such as can be drawn from the Long Parliament, that such a measure should be introduced by a Minister of the Crown in his representative capacity as representing the King, and I hardly think the hon. Member who introduced he Bill now under discussion can claim inch a position as that.
771 As the hon. Member for the East Toxteth Division is now in his place, I should like to say a word in reference to his remarks concerning Keble College. He made an attack on the Council of Keble, and read out my father's name as being on the Council. Had the lion. Member given me notice that he proposed to attack the Council of Keble, or had I conceived that it was germane to this issue, I would have been prepared to answer him, and to dispute certain of his facts. At the moment I am unable to do so, except in one particular. He led the House to suppose, as no doubt he supposed himself, that the appointment of the present vicar of St. John's, Plymouth, whom he rightly described as engaged in I practices which I imagine would not meet with the approval of more than one I Member of this House, was made by the Keble Council. In that he is mistaken, as the appointment was made before the living passed into the hands of the Council of Keble.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
I did not in any way base my complaint of the Council of Keble on any one church in particular, but on a total of seventeen churches, all of which, in my judgment, are outside the limits of the Church of England in one or other of their services.
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS
At any rate it creates uneasiness in one's mind as to the accuracy of the hon. Member's account of the Keble Council, when the illustration that he chose was unfounded, because Keble was in no way responsible for the appointment. In conclusion, how is it there has been this enormous increase of High Church opinion and practices in the country? Is it not reasonable to suppose that the spread of this opinion is due to the zeal, energy, and missionary activity of that branch of the Church? There was a time when all the zeal was on the side of the Low Church party, and then they came to the front. If you go to the lowest parts of any of our great cities now you will probably find that the clergyman is a High Churchman, and often an advanced High Churchman, and although you may disapprove of his actions in many respects you cannot deny the affection, regard, 772 and sympathy with which he is followed, by the poorest of the people. Can we not draw a moral from that? If the Low Church party desire to counterbalance that activity, they should follow the same methods; they should go among the people and preach, and teach, and work, showing how wrong are the High Church party and how right the Low Church party. It is not by bombarding Members of the House of Commons with printed post-cards from the Church Association that the victory in religious questions is to be secured; it is by following, the methods of Wesley and Whitfield, and not those of Mr. Kensit and the Church Association.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD (Liverpool, W. Derby)
I understand that the question before the House is that of the good government of the English Church, and that, I take it, is not so much a question for the Bishops and the beneficed clergy, as the hon. and learned Member for the Stretford Division would have us believe, as for the whole of the common people of this realm. Indeed, having regard to the ministrations that are required at the most solemn moments of most people's lives, I should not be going too far if I claimed that this question of the; clergy is perhaps the most important that could, possibly come before this House. What is the position in which we find the matter' to-day? It has been admitted by speaker after speaker that the position is nothing but chaos. The foundations of the faith, which were to some extent fixed by the Reformation, arc being daily called into question and openly defied, and there is no adequate machinery to enforce obedience. The patience of the common people has been strained to such a point that it is almost exhausted. It is not to the advantage of the Church that this state of things should continue, and it is, I submit, a scandal to the community. We claim to be a practical people, and we ought to consider calmly the steps to be taken to put an end to the existing state of affairs. There is no wish to adopt harsh measures, or to strain the law when it is ascertained, but what we demand is that there should be some means of ascertaining clearly what the law is, and some effective means of seeing that that law is carried into effect.
773 The Church of England unfortunately differs from almost every other organised religious body in the fact that there is no practical means by which the representatives of the congregation or the laity, or any other constituted body, can get rid of a clergyman who disobeys the law, or of whom they otherwise disapprove. Even in the Greek Church, the oldest of Christian communities, there are churchwardens in every church, who make a bargain with the clergyman when he is beneficed, and in every case, subject to that bargain, have the right to give him reasonable notice to go if they disapprove of his doctrine or anything else. In the Roman Catholic Church, the priests, secular and regular, are directly subject to the Bishop of the diocese in which the I church to which they are attached is situated, and the Bishop can deprive them of their living and position, and habitually does so, if he has reason to complain of their conduct, both parties—not one alone as is suggested by the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for the Stretford Division—having an appeal to Rome.
The Wesleyan body, a great and important community in the country, have their trust deeds applicable to every one of their sacred edifices, under which they are able immediately to dispense with the services of a clergyman who is proved to have departed from the tenets of their order or violated their doctrines; they also have the further safeguard that they need not invite a minister for more than one year, so that they can very speedily put an end to a state of affairs to which they object. I could go on to give instances of all the other denominations—the Presbyterians, who through their Court of Session, which, is practically composed of laymen, with a right of appeal to the Presbytery and the Synod, have the same power; the Congregationalists, who have their trust-deeds whereby, under a special resolution, almost the same as that of a limited liability company, they can discharge their minister and select another. Even the Mohammedans, of whom many millions are our fellow-subjects, are not subject to the same kind of difficulty in this respect as are we in the Church 774 of England. What we want is some speedy and satisfactory remedy by which to put an end to the present state of affairs. There is a doubt in all directions as to what the law on various points connected with ceremonial and ritual is. Some clergymen of the Church of England decline to obey the civil Courts; they have set even the Privy Council at defiance; most of them refuse to obey their Bishops. This Bill proposes a simple method of getting rid of the difficulty. It is not desired to perpetuate martyrdom in the Church. When a clergyman is convicted of a breach of ceremonial or ritual the punishment of imprisonment is a harsh and barbarous remedy which does no good to anyone, and gives the clergyman a chance of figuring as a martyr. The Bill also proposes to abolish the veto.
On each occasion when this subject has come before the House in a practical form certain well-known phenomena have made their appearance. In the first place there has been an outbreak of Ministerial perturbation. That is not to lie wondered at. Every Ministry has to rely upon both High Church and Low Church supporters. I do not suggest that the desire to avoid dealing with this subject in a practical manner arises from selfishness on the part of the Ministry. I suggest it is rather an attitude of aloofness; they would rather take up the attitude of "a plague on both your houses." Then, in the next place, we have seen a flutter in the Episcopal dovecote. This has been especially the case on the present occasion. Only a few days ago there were three or four columns of the daily press devoted to an exposition of the position by the Archbishop, and what did it amount to? It was simply an elaborate attempt to prove that nothing has been done in the past to put an end to these practices; ["No."] that nothing could be done in the future; ["No."] that nothing should be done in the future; ["No."] and it ended with a pathetic appeal to stiffen and strengthen parental authority. The attitude of the Bishops with regard to this subject very much resembles that of the mother with her spoilt offspring; she is unable to beat him herself for misbehaviour, and would have a fit of hysterics if anyone suggested a policeman should be called in.
775 Another thing we meet with when this subject is brought forward is vitriolic abuse of Liverpool and of the sources from which this Bill is assumed to emanate. At an important meeting lately we were dubbed as representing "truculent rascality;" and it has been said that this Bill is dishonest; that it emanates from Liverpool; that it is "the product of disreputable fanatics, conceived during drunken orgies." Speaking for my native city, I desire to take this opportunity of denying that suggestion, and to tell the House that the men who think with us on this matter—the Protestant men of Liverpool—are men with strong religious convictions. They have hundreds of Bible classes in the city. I know of one Bible class with a membership of 250 men, with an average attendance every week of 185, while only the other day had the pleasure of presenting a prize to a man who had attended the Bible class every Sunday morning without missing for twenty-five years. That is the kind of spirit with which you have to deal. Those are the men who helped to make this country, and who had the Protestantism of this country at heart. They are the men who intend to do their best to maintain it, and they will maintain it, and with it those principles of the liberty and privileges of the people which they believe to be inseparably connected with, and dependent upon, the Protestant convictions of this country.
We have had the usual speech from the noble President of the Church Union, which is a masterpiece of disingenuousness from end to end. He says that he will obey neither the Bishops nor the Privy Council. We have to-day in this House the usual counter Resolution or the usual counter Bill, and that has come from the hon. Member for Stretford. What is the object of bringing forward that Bill in this way? It is in order to ensure that nothing shall be done. Our Bill is simple arid straightforward. The last time this Bill was brought forward it was much more complicated and lengthy, and then we were to take our measure away because it was far too complicated and lengthy to be taken into consideration. Now, Sir, we bring forward a very simple, straightforward little Bill, and we are told that it is not complicated and comprehensive enough, and we are imme- 776 diately presented with as comprehensive and complicated a document as the hon. and learned Member for Stretford could possibly prepare. And then we are asked, forsooth, to take the two Bills together, in order to make a thoroughly disagreeable mixture, which is supposed to be the best thing for the patient; and to take both Bills together and send them to a Select Committee, from which it is well known they could not possibly come down to have anything done to them, and so the whole subject will be burked. I hope that every hon. Member of this House who has any desire to see this subject dealt with in a straightforward and simple manner will decline to entertain any such suggestion as mixing up this complicated and difficult measure, which the hon. Member for Stretford has brought forward, with the simple Bill which has been introduced by my hon. friend. I do hope that the House will carry the Second Heading of this Bill.
§ *SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
The House has before it this afternoon a very great question and a very limited time in which to discuss it. There are many topics which properly belong to this question on which I should like to enter; but we ought to bring ourselves to examine as much as possible what is the position in which we stand, and what is the method of dealing with it which is most appropriate. There are some people who think that this is a matter with which the House of Commons ought to have nothing to do. [Hear, hear.] Yes, that will be the case when there is no National Established Church. As long as such a Church exists it is the right and duty of Parliament to see that the conditions of that institution are lawfully and properly upheld. The Established National Protestant Church of England was the work of the great Reformation. It rests on three fundamental principles. It began with the Act of Submission of the clergy, which removed the ecclesiastical hierarchy from the position in the Church which it had previously occupied. Next was the declaration of the supremacy of the Crown, which enunciated and established the fact that the National I Church was not the Church of the ecclesiastics, but the Church of the nation as represented by the Crown and 777 by Parliament. The third process in the establishment of the National Church was the enactment of certain formularies—the Prayer-book and the Thirty-nine Articles—which furnished the standard and embodied the conditions on which that Church rests, and upon which the clergy hold their emoluments and their privileges. I think that is a correct description.
§ *SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Well, if the noble Lord will allow me to say so, that is the Protestant doctrine of the reformed Church and he may regard me, as the name implies, as a protestor against the system which Protestantism displaced. If that is the situation, it is quite plain that what we have to examine is whether these conditions are being at the present time fulfilled by the clergy of the Church of England. Is it even alleged that that is so? Some people differ as to the amount to which those conditions have been violated; some say that there are very few cases of violation; but it is not the violators themselves who say so. They say that there are very many. But if they are very few, why are they not put a stop to? The fewer they are the easier it ought to be to deal with them. The persons who have the right to the establishment, the affirmation, and the carrying out of the law are the people of this country, the laity of this country; and the persons whose duty it is in the first instance to enforce the law are the Bishops. Some years ago Lord Salisbury said that the Church was in a state of anarchy, that it was the duty of the Bishops to bring order into the Church, and that if they did not they ought to be punished. I do not know that Lord Salisbury indicated the express form which that punishment ought to take. But the question is whether or not the Bishops have been able or willing to produce such order' in the Church. That that order does not exist in the Church every one will admit. I cannot go into a detailed demonstration of this. I would rather take the concise explanation of the state of the Church given by the highest dignitary in the land next to the Archbishop of Canterbury—the Lord Chancellor. Speaking 778 on a celebrated Clause in the Education Bill the Lord Chancellor said:—The object of the Clause is to restrain the clergy who had availed themselves of their opportunities to do that which was repugnant to the whole general body of the laity of the Church of England, who had sought to get rid of the old traditions of the Reformation to winch the Church of England was indisputably wedded.But we have higher authority still that this is a state of things which ought to be dealt with and got rid of. Only the other day the present Archbishop of Canterbury said:—There are a few men defiant of episcopal authority and really reckless of the true Church of England spirit. I say to you deliberately to-day that in my view of such cases tolerance has reached, and has even passed, its limits.Then the Archbishop goes on:—The sands are running out. Stern and drastic acts, in my judgment, are quite essential, and, using the word with a full sense of responsibility, I desire that we should act, and act sternly.The Archbishop further says that besides these cases which are intolerable there are a great many cases which are very near the line, and which are calling at this moment for anxious and careful attention on the part of the Bishops. Then there is a case to be dealt with, and one with which Parliament is bound to deal. I read with satisfaction that statement by the present Archbishop of Canterbury. But I read five years ago with equal satisfaction a statement by the same prelate, who was then Bishop of Winchester, in which diocese I have the pleasure of living. And in the promotion of the Bishop of Winchester all I can say is that the only drawback I feel is that we have lost him in the diocese of Winchester. But in 1898 I read the first charge of the Bishop of Winchester, in which he said—The Bishops and clergy have been of late years too lax or, to use a colloquial expression, too casual. Episcopal authority will now be exercised decisively, and, if need be, sternly, wherever in England any difficulty arises.That was the pledge given five years ago, that action would be decisively and sternly taken. The question to-day is why was that action during the last five years not decisively and sternly taken? Because it is that dereliction which has brought us to the position in which we now stand. These are not mere questions 779 of ritual; they go to the whole root of the matter; and I should like to read a few-words of that charge which show how the Bishop went to the root of the matter with which it was necessary decisively and sternly to deal. He said—The gravest danger of all is to be seen in the teaching and usages of an increasing number of parish priests with respect to the Holy Communion … swinging back half unconsciously into something like the materialistic doctrines of the fifteenth century … and insensibly drifting away from the true proportion of the faith of the Church of England into the peril of something sadly like the materialistic superstitions of pre-Reformation days.It is impossible, in my opinion, to express more weightily and more truly the real gravity of this matter, and why it is necessary that stern measures should be taken to deal with it. He says—Test this above all by the little booklets of Eucharistic devotion and instruction which are circulating widely in our congregations, circulating especially among the most earnest of our younger communicants.Then he speaks of—The growing tendency among certain men to ignore and explain away the distinctive character of the Church of England, the Church, not Catholic only, but Reformed; to forget, or at all events not to adhere to, the principles for which the Reformers cared and fought and suffered.That was the evil five years ago. That is the evil which exists now, which in my opinion has grown and increased with the impunity enjoyed by the offenders in the last five years. We were promised five years ago by the Bishop of Winchester, in the name of the Bishops, that it should then be sternly and decisively dealt with. It has not been so dealt with; and the question is whether we should take security that it shall be so dealt with now. What is the course the Bishops have taken in the last five years? They have not been inattentive to this question. They have met on frequent occasions. They met in 1899, and came to certain resolutions condemning certain practices and certain doctrines. The Pastoral of the Archbishop of York set forth these resolutions. What took place? The moment the resolutions were published there was held a meeting at the Holborn Town-hall, summoned by the authorities of the English Church Union. There were present 220 incumbents. They 780 drew up a letter, which they served upon all the Bishops, and in which they said:—The clergy owe it to the whole Catholic Church—not the Church of England, mind—faithfully to refuse to obey any demands even though they come from authority—that is to say, the declaration to which the Bishops had unanimously come at Lambeth—which conflict with the law, customs, and rights of the Church, whether œcumenical or personal, which have canonical authority.And they solemnly declared, in direct contradiction to the findings of the Episcopate, that—The right of reservation and ceremonial use of incense cannot and must not be abandoned.You would have supposed that the Bishops, in the face of this insolent defiance, would have taken instant steps on this occasion to enforce the declarations they had solemnly come to. Not at all. There was not the smallest reason why any or all of the Bishops under the Act of 1840 should not have proceeded against any of these defiant and recalcitrant clergy and removed them and had them deprived. There was no question of imprisonment. Under the Act of 1840 it would have been perfectly possible, in the presence of this solemn and public defiance, to have removed and deprived these men, as they ought to have been deprived, of their emoluments. Why was not that done? The thing went on. Defences went on day after day, week after week, on the part of a certain set of men. Any one who has taken pains to examine the matter knows that it is not a small number of men, but that a very large number of men are banded together and organised for the avowed purpose of undoing the work of the Reformation. I am quite willing that they should do their best, but on one condition—that they should surrender those emoluments and privileges and rights which they only acquired by swearing solemnly to observe certain laws, which they deliberately of set purpose violated. What was the next proceeding? It was still more extraordinary. The late Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Temple, of whom I wish to 781 speak with the highest regard and respect, took a most singular course. He thought that it was a good thing to have a hearing at Lambeth, where both sides should state their views of the case, and then he would deliver his judgment; and he expected, I suppose, that some respect would be paid to that judgment when delivered; but he was careful to explain the nature of the proceeding.The Bishop is to say what the rubric means. He can then enjoin the observance of it, and the oath of canonical obedience—the Canonical Oath—requires the clergyman to obey the Bishop's injunction. The Bishop cannot in any way use coercion. The sanction is the clergyman's double promise. If the clergy-man determines to break that promise, the Bishop can use no compulsion. The appeal is to the man's conscience and to the sacred-ness of a promise without which lie could not have entered the ministry at all.Every one knows the contempt with which this declaration was treated. The findings of the Archbishops was spurned as the personal opinions of Dr. Temple which were of no account. The oath of canonical obedience was derided, if the Primates, instead of taking this course, had pronounced their judgments in their own Courts, they would have taken effect; but they deliberately took a course which they must have known would have no effect on the conscience of men who declared that their conscience demanded that they should take exactly the opposite course to that prescribed by the Prayer-book and by the Bishops and Archbishops. Therefore a more futile proceeding it was impossible to conceive than this Lambeth hearing, which deliberately abandoned and disavowed any intention of giving effect to its decisions, and was treated, and has been treated ever since, with contempt by those who desired not to obey. That is really the state of things to which we have been brought. The Bishops have always had the power in their own courts to summon any man who in their opinion was doing that which was contrary to the law of the Church. They have utterly failed; in fact, they have deliberately determined not to do it; and that is the state of things which has brought us, after five years of probation of Episcopal authority, to the situation in which we now find ourselves, and in which the Archbishop of Canterbury 782 has stated that the condition of things is intolerable, and that something stern and decisive must be done at last. That is S really, I believe, not an exaggerated but I an accurate account of what has taken; place in the last five years in regard to the discipline and the government of the Established Church.
I wish, with all decent respect, to say that in my opinion this condition of things has arisen from the fact that the Episcopacy of this country have not discharged the duty incumbent upon them to enforce the law of the Church in the manner prescribed by the constitution of the Established Church of this country. We have witnessed the melancholy spectacle of a band of mutinous priests setting at nought a Bench of intimidated Bishops, conformably to their consecration oath. That is hardly disputed by the Archbishop. He gave a frank avowal, an apologia, of the course which has hitherto been taken in this matter. It is said that a certain amount has been done in the way of modification. Well, I do not quite understand what modification means. Does it mean observance of the law, or does it not? or does it mean some half-and-half compromise which is not an observance of the law of the Church as it is defined in the formularies of the Church? Is it a sort of semi-Protestant, semi-Roman arrangement made between individuals and the Bishops, who say, "Well, I'll let you do this and not that"? There is really too much of this secret confabulation, which we are told has had a most beneficial effect. But that is not the way in which an evil of this kind can be dealt with. It is not a matter for arrangement between individuals. It must be a real and definite rule binding in all alike on all important matters. I am speaking of things which go to the root of the distinction between the Protestant Church of England and the Roman Church, that vital distinction which is thoroughy under stood and is laid down in the formularies of the Church that are found in the Articles and the Prayer-book. That is not a subject for compromise at all. There is a certain latitude and interpretation. Every body admits that. There are matters which may be regarded as doubtful.
783 But you must have some tribunal by which that subject is to be decided, and it must be a single and final tribunal, because, if you are to leave it to each individual Bishop to determine you will have a different usage in every diocese, and you will have that chaos and confusion which was one of the great evils sought to be remedied by the Statute of Uniformity.
I wish to say one word more upon the question of compromise. What the laity hare a right to demand is that the law of the Church shall be observed in all churches everywhere. It is not for any congregation to demand unlawful services, and the Bishops have no dispensing form by which they can compromise the law of the Church. I come to the question of the veto. That there should be some power of preventing frivolous and vexatious suits I think everybody admits, but everybody knows the practice that lies at the bottom of this veto. What the late Archbishop Temple said about the veto is perfectly true. He said that the Bishop was a considerable power in unimportant matters, in preventing litigation, but he used these words, which are important and, I; think, the real definition of the matter:—It is obvious that it would be an abuse of the Bishop's power if he was thus to permit any serious violation of the law.It was pointed out in the admirable speech of my hon. and learned friend the Member for Leeds how that veto was introduced some twenty five or thirty years ago, and how it has practically operated ever since. It is perfectly plain that if the Bishops prevented the laity from making use of the final Court of Appeal—that is the Court of the Crown—whose supremacy in cases ecclesiastical as well as civil is the privilege of the subject—it would be a gross abuse. What we have to see to is that the laity shall have access to a tribunal which shall assert the law as it is. That is the position in which we stand with regard to the veto. How is it that such scandalous cases as those at Devonport have been allowed to go on? Most gentlemen have read what took place with reference to the schoolmaster and the clergyman there. I hope and believe that proceedings are 784 now going to be taken to relieve the Church from such a scandal as that.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL remarked that the clergyman in that case obeyed the Bishop.
§ *SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I will not go into the case. I want to keep out of particular cases and to give my attention as far as possible to the general principle. The hon. and learned Member for Leeds suggested, I think, a very good method of limiting the veto—viz., that the Ecclesiastical Court should in the first instance disallow and set aside frivilous and vexatious proceedings. As to the rival Bill promoted by the hon. and learned Member for Stretford, I quite agree with my hon. and learned friend the Member for Leeds that the Bill is absolutely destructive of the right of the laity to ask for the vindication of the law of the Church. If anybody will read the first two clauses of that Bill lie will see that its object is that the whole matter shall be settled between the clergyman and the Bishop. The Bishop may be disposed or may not be disposed to call the clergyman to account. The Bill says—When complaint shall be made to a Bishop charging a clergyman within the diocese of such Bishop with an offence or offences in matters of doctrine or the conduct of public worship, the Bishop shall call upon such clergyman to give, either personally or in writing, an explanation of the alleged offence or offences, and if it shall appear to the Bishop that such explanation is not a sufficient answer to such charge, it snail be lawful for such Bishop to issue a monition to such clergyman requiring him to obey his directions and setting out the offence or offences from which he directs him to desist.Then if the clergyman wishes to appeal to the higher Court he has a right to do so. What is the position of the layman complainant? The layman complainant is not heard of any more. Perhaps the Bishop and the clergyman come to an understanding as to what is to be done. The clergyman follows out what the Bishop says. He uses incense and reserves the sacrament in a particular way which meets the view of the Bishop and the view of the clergyman. But the complainant holds that that is not the law of the Church; that the law of the Church forbids the incense, forbids 785 the reservation of the sacrament. Supposing he says "I do not agree in the monition you have given; I do not think the monition is in accordance with the law of the Church, and I claim that the law of the Church shall be ascertained." Then perhaps the Bishop says "I have arranged with the clergyman what it is right to do. I consider that under these circumstances the matter is settled, therefore, I use my veto."
The right hon. Gentleman assumes that because the Bill has been produced in this form the lights of laymen under the Discipline Act of 1840, or the Public Worship Regulation Act, 1874, have been interfered with. I cannot discuss it, but I entirely deny that. He has all the rights he has now.
§ *Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT
When a complainant comes forward to claim his right to proceed under the Church Discipline Act, and to carry the case to the supreme tribunal of the Church he may be told by the Bishop that he has already dealt with the matter. The worst of this arrangement is that it will never lead to a decision upon any point which is to govern all the Bishops, all the clergy, and all the Church. There will be separate decisions upon each of these points in every diocese by each Bishop according to his separate proclivities. An arrangement which would lead to greater chaos and anarchy in the Church than the proposals in that Bill I cannot conceive. In my opinion there is only one proper course, to take, and that is to make due provision for the prevention of frivolous and vexatious suits, but to open the doors of the law and the administration of the law in ecclesiastical matters as much as in civil matters to the subjects of the realm—that is what they are entitled to under an Established Church. If you do not like interference in this matter, dis-establish the Church. In the establishment of the Church ecclesiastical tribunals have been erected. Those tribunals are perfectly accessible. The decision in the first instance is in the hand of the Bishop or Archbishop. The pretence that they could not be used for I the purposes of discipline is utterly unfounded. I have consulted the greatest 786 legal authorities who are most experienced in these matters, and I have asked whether there was or is any difficulty whatever in a man who refused to obey the law as it was laid down by the Bishops themselves being deprived. The reply was "none whatever." It can be done in a clear case in a brief period and at small expense. Wherever the case is clear, and the Bishops at Lambeth have made clear what in their opinion the law is, what ought to be done is to take proceedings to enforce the law; that being the case, I have no hesitation in supporting the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Liverpool.
I certainly could not vote for the hon. and learned Member for Stretford's Bill, for, in my opinion, to pass that Bill would be to make things a great deal worse than they are at present. It is absolutely inconsistent with the principles and constitution of the Established Church that it should practically be left to the Bishops and clergy to determine what is the law of the Church. That would be the outcome of the Bill of the hon. and learned Member. Allowing there would be access to the Court by a layman under the Church Discipline Act, still this introductory procedure in which a layman would have no part, would, in point of fact, give the veto such power as would practically leave the matter entirely and exclusively in the hands of the Bishop and clergy. That is not the principle of the law of the Church of England; that is not enforcing the right of the laity in that Church; and, I believe the state of opinion among the clergy and the differences of opinion existing among Bishops would not tend to the removal of the anarchy, the chaos, in which the Church finds itself, but would rather aggravate that condition of things. If the House wishes to do something to encourage the dealing with disorders with that decisive and stern temper of which the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken, the proper course, which I hope will be taken by a great majority, will be to pass the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
The House will probably think it right that I should say a few words on this subject; 787 but I ought to preface those words by stating that I do not speak on behalf of my colleagues on this bench. This is not a Government question, and the views I propose to express, with as much brevity and lucidity as I can command, bind no man but myself, and ought not to be taken as the opinion of anyone but the opinion of the speaker. Yet I feel so strongly on the subject, I am so conscious of the danger, which to my thinking the Church is now running through the action of extremists on both sides of the question, I feel so intensely the peril which—I am afraid I must use the word—disloyal Churchmen are bringing to the Church to which they belong, and the danger, the corresponding danger, which we run from the opposition their proceedings naturally provoke, that I feel bound in conscience to take the course, always a disagreeable one to both sides, of adopting a middle position that finds friends nowhere. I have listened with great attention to the speech with which the hon. Member for Liverpool introduced this Bill. He has not had great practice in our debates, but nobody who heard his exposition of the Bill this afternoon can doubt that, whatever may be the subject occupying the attention of this House, we shall always be glad to hear the hon. Member express his opinion upon it. My hon friend uttered a great many general propositions with which I find myself in the heartiest agreement. For instance, he told us the position is moat serious, and in that I express my agreement. He also told us that as things are now the rights of the laity do not get their proper recognition in our ecclesiastical system, and with that proposition I am in the heartiest agreement. I shall have a word or two to say later on as to his particular method introducing the lay element into ecclesiastical proceedings; but with the general view that the laity are more deeply, more passionately, concerned with the services given in the Church to which they belong even than the clergy, with that proposition I am in perfect accord.
I said I was in the ungracious position of having some grounds of complaint against all the parties, almost all the parties concerned in this controversy. I need say nothing about the Extremists, 788 whose proceedings have brought all this trouble upon the Church. I have condemned them often, in this House and out of this House, and I need not now elaborate this point. I have to add that I do not think we have in recent controversy obtained all the help we might have expected from the historic, Moderate High Church party. That is a party having as good a claim, to put it moderately, to its place in the Church as any other party in our ecclesiastical system; and I believe they profoundly dissent from the Extremists. But for some reason which is intelligible, but does not supply an adequate excuse, I do not think they have come forward with sufficient argument and expression of opinion that these practices are contrary to the spirit and traditions of the Church to which they belong, and ought to be suppressed. I think if this party had taken a bolder course in the earlier stages, we might have been saved a great deal of trouble to the Church, and saved from a great many of the dangers we now run. When I say this of the historic High Church party, I am bound to add, as regards the militant Low Church party, though I approve their motives and honour their courage and consistency to their policy, 1 do not think they have come forward with that careful charity and anxious sifting of all the facts, that earnest desire not to inflame unnecessarily those religious passions which seem, for some mysterious reason, to be more easily inflamed than those other passions to which poor human nature is subject, I think it is desirable they should maintain in a controversy of this great difficulty and complexity.
Well, my Lords—[laughter]—I must add, and I say it with ail respect—in my mind I was addressing the Episcopal Bench. While I feel some grounds of complaint against all parties, I cannot absolve the Episcopal Bench of some share of blame. I am perfectly certain that one and all, whatever their opinions may be, have earnestly striven to diminish the evils complained of and to properly order the Church in which they are the supreme spiritual authority. But I do not think they have thoroughly realised how deep, how bitter, is the feel- 789 ing in large sections of the most respectable laity in the country which these practices have aroused. The feeling that does find violent and often regrettable expression in certain phases of the controversy is shared by many who take no part in public controversy, who say little, but who, because they say little, do not feel less. I do not deny that the position of a Bishop is far more difficult than, perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman will admit—I mean the position of a Bishop during the last four or five years. The difficulty arises from this, and I am afraid it rises from the fault of his predecessor. A condition of things has been allowed to grow up in large centres of population, and also in other places, which ought never to have existed but, as it does exist, he feels the utmost difficulty in suppressing it by a single violent stroke. There may be dissent from what I say in the minds of some who hear me or who read my words. I disclaim any sympathy with practices which have been condemned to-day; but I want hon. Gentlemen to place themselves in the position of a Bishop who finds himself called to a diocese for the condition of which he becomes responsible, and in which in certain churches there are practices which are not merely illegal, not merely breaking the law, but are of a kind which, using a convenient phrase, I will call Romanising. I use the word, not as indicating the intention of the clergyman, but the direction in which the practices might lead a congregation. I am not putting any exaggeration. The Bishop finds that in a particular case some of these mistaken but earnest and devoted men have carried into a region which is practically that of heathenism the light of religious expression, from the form of which we may dissent as illegal, but which, at all events, is religion. The Bishop knows that, if he adopts an instantaneous and drastic method of procedure to enforce his own opinion, he at once puts an end to the whole of the spiritual work in that locality. Is it then to be wondered at that the bishop decides, "I will try what personal influence can do with this clergyman. I will go to him, not as a prosecutor, but as a spiritual superior, and induce him to reform his practices, which he 790 has been allowed without interruption or; complaint to carry on for twenty years, and to which an entire generation of worshippers have become accustomed. I will persuade him to modify his practices, and to bring them into conformity with the teachings of the Church." The right hon. Gentleman calls this a secret compromise, or—what was the word?—confabulation—of which the laity have a right to complain. I am not sure that in some cases there has not been too much tolerance of illegalities, but remember again and put yourself in the place of the Bishop. If this erring clergyman made large concessions to the demands of his spiritual superior, is it: wholly unreasonable, does it show in-difference to the Protestant character of the Church, if the Bishop should not at; once put into operation against this great spiritual influence in the parish all the engines of the courts of law? We may regret it; we may think that the considerations I have endeavoured to explain to the House have, in some cases, been allowed too great weight by the Bishops concerned; but they have; produced a great improvement, and they have produced that improvement without; causing any scandal, any schism, any great division of opinion, and without destroying any of the vital seeds of religion which have been so freely sown by clergymen whom they have had under them. Therefore, Sir, I think it is only fair to the Bishops to make, I will not call it, this halting defence of them, but to point out to my hon. friends, who, I am sure, appreciate what I have said, how difficult is the position of a Bishop when he finds himself face to face with the condition of things which he does not approve of, and which was created for him by the mistaken laxity of those who preceded him in office.
Let me say one word more. What I am now going to say about the Bishops no Bishop will say for himself. It is that surely we ought to do something to amend the law which throws the whole of the costs upon the Episcopal Bench. The right hon. Gentleman opposite says, and he alleges he has high authority for saying it, that the costs are trivial. I do not question his authority, but those whom I have consulted give me a wholly different view of the situation; and every Bishop who brings a case into 791 Court knows that he will largely diminish an income which, whatever hon. Gentlemen opposite may think, is none too great for the heavy calls made upon it. It is our bounden duty to remember that, because we shall never be reminded of it by the Bishops themselves; but I trust that, whenever we are in a position, as I hope we shall be soon, to deal practically with this subject, the aspect of it which I have just presented may not be excluded.
Now I come to the essence of my hon. friend's Bill. I shall say nothing about the later clauses, for everyone knows that it is a Bill for the abolition of the veto, and practically this is all we have to consider to-day. That is the backbone of the Bill. Now surely it was incumbent, upon the promoters of this Bill, and upon such defenders of the Bill as the right hon. Gentleman opposite, to bring before us cases in which the veto has been abused by the Bishops. Well, what is the reply? No cases of abuse on the part of any of the Bi-hops can, I believe, be produced. I think we should have some evidence that this veto has been misused; and there could have been no difficulty in producing unlimited evidence if that misuse had existed. It was only necessary for my hon. friend, and those with whom he has legitimate influence, if they thought that they had a flagrant and obvious case, to institute a prosecution, and if the Bishop had stepped forward and put a veto on that prosecution I think everybody would have said, "Here is an evident intention on the part of a particular Bishop, at all events, to use the veto for a purpose which never was intended—namely, to prevent the law from being invoked in a clearly proper case." Why has that not been done? I cannot imagine; I do not know. My hon. friend did not tell us that. No speaker in the debate has told us. I am utterly at a loss to understand how we improve the position of the Church by abolishing a veto which has practically never been used in the time of any Member of the Episcopal Bench.
§ MR. CHARLES McARTHUR (Liver pool, Exchange)
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
But if my hon. friend means, as I suppose he does mean, that the veto which he seeks to abolish has been exercised seventeen times during the time of the present occupants of the Episcopal Bench, he is mistaken.
§ MR. CHARLES McARTHUR
No. I mean that from the time that the Public Worship Regulation Act was passed until two years ago, twenty-three complaints were made, and of these seventeen were vetoed by the Lishops.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think my lion, friend will find that the statement of the Archbishop publicly made yesterday does not support that view, and any further investigation I have made on the subject entirely confirms it. We may take it that the veto has not been used>y the present occupants of the Episcopal Bench during their term of office; and therefore I say that we should have a proof of misuse before we abolish it. And may I emphasise that argument by asking my hon. friend whether in his view anything of the nature of illegal or extreme practices takes place in the diocese of Liverpool? I ask that because my hon. friend has personal experience; but I also ask it because there is a kind of implication running through this controversy that the Bishops who misuse this, veto belong to the High Church school, and that they misuse it in the defence of extreme ritualistic practices. Nobody has ever charged either the late occupant, or the present occupant, of the See of Liverpool with any sympathy with high ritualistic practices. I want to know whether in the diocese of Liverpool the veto has been used, and whether, if it has not been used, there are any illegal practices which my hon. friend desires to put down; and if there are such practices in the diocese, I want to know how they will be cured by abolishing the veto, unless my hon. friend thinks that the present Bishop is a person who would interpose his veto for the purpose of sheltering a delinquent.
§ *SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The Bishop of Liverpool himself has delivered 793 a charge, which has been quoted, and which contained the complaint of the existence of these practices and of the mischief they were doing.
§ *SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Yes. He says that—There has arisen oat of the heart of the High Church revival a boily of extreme men WHO, while holding to almost every Roman doctrine, contrive to satisfy their conscience so that they can honestly remain in the Church of England.And he further says that—The attitude of these extreme men is becoming a source of irritation and dauber, and inflicting untold injury to morality and religion. If by a simple and inexpensive process the clergy who are seeking to Romanise the Church of England could be deprived of their benefices, the evils now so much deplored by a great majority of the clergy and laity of the Church of England would he removed.That is the Bishop's charge.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman's interruption greatly strengthens my argument, as he knows. I My argument was that we all want to get rid of these extreme practices. The allegations of the supporters of the Bill are that the way to get rid of these practices is to abolish the veto. It is said that: the veto is used to prevent prosecutions, but evidence is not given to show that prosecutions were sought to be initiated. There was a sentence which fell from my hon. friend in his opening speech with I which I have perfect agreement. He said that it is a question of the spirit rather than of the letter of the law. So it is. You will never manage a question of spirit by merely strengthening your legal machinery. I put it to my hon. friend and to the House whether it really is simply a desire to see that every minute particular of the rubrics of the Church is followed in practices of this kind, or whether it is not a much deeper and stronger feeling namely, the fear that these rubrics are being used in a direction which would destroy the reformed character of the Church of England, and which justly frightens and alarms many people who are essentially Protestant. It is not a question of law simply, or of the law being kept or not; it is a question whether the law is being twisted: 794 for ulterior objects. If that is so, if it is a question rather of the spirit than of the letter, how will the mere dealing with the letter make it right? And may I emphasise this point by an illustration? Let us suppose two parishes side by side, one occupied by a gentleman of what are called advanced views, and the other occupied by a gentleman of more moderate views. And let us ask how this Bill, if passed, would affect the condition of those two parishes in the circumstances which I am going to explain to the House. Let us suppose that the clergyman of moderate views broke the rubric in some relatively unimportant detail. Let us suppose he did not read the Litany on Sunday. That is undoubtedly an ecclesiastical offence. If passions ran high, and the two parties in the Church were going to set to work to tight each other in the law Courts, he might be, and possibly would be, prosecuted for this offence. The right hon. Gentleman says that might be stopped by the Court on the ground that it was frivolous and vexatious. The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken in that. It is a distinct and undoubted breach of ecclesiastical law, and no Court could stop the prosecution on the ground that it was frivolous or vexatious. This clergyman whose case I am supposing, is maliciously prosecuted, and is. put to great cost and inconvenience by that prosecution. The mere fact that he admitted he had committed a breach of the rubric technically, and said the rubric ought to be followed, and that in future he would read the Litany every Sunday morning, would not save him. He would have to go before the Court, and to bear all the expense incidental under our present precious system of law to being brought before a Court.
Now, I will take the ease of his neighbour. When the Bill is passed, his neighbour sets to work and says, "Now they are going to fight us by, means of actions at law, how far can I carry out my anti-Protestant policy without coming into conflict with the law? As far as I can see, it would be in his power to do some of the things which I, at all events, most strongly object to. He might, and he probably would, in his expositions of doctrine, use words 795 which could not be taken hold of or brought before the tribunal, which went beyond the sacramental doctrine of the Church of England, and which, at all events, had the effect of educating his congregation in another and very different doctrine. He might persuade his congregation to be present during the Communion service without participating in it, so long as three communicants did receive the Communion. He might induce all the parents whom he could influence to bring their children to the ceremony. He might use incense non-ceremonially. There are nice distinctions between what are ceremonial uses and what are not ceremonial uses, and it would be extremely difficult for a Court of law to catch him out. He might—and this is worst of all, I think—by teaching, by precept, and by personal influence, encourage the utmost practice of confession. Which of these two men carries out the spirit which my hon. friend desires to see—the man whom you prosecute, or the man whom vou cannot prosecute; the man whom the machinery of the law if you deprive the Bishops of their veto—would enable any man maliciously to haul before a tribunal, or the man who sets his whole wits to work to get round the law of the Church of England?
When you are dealing with the spirit, to the spirit you must go; and it is only a spiritual authority which can do anything, in my judgment, effectually to keep the Church of England within the great traditional lines that have ever been before her. And remember this Bill deprives the Bishops of their natural and legitimate functions. How are you going to ask the Bishops to exercise that persuasive and paternal influence over the clergymen I have described if this House says it is not a matter for the Bishops, it is not a matter for the Archbishops: it is a matter for the common informer supported by the funds of this or that High Church or Low Church organization? My hon. friend has made an eloquent plea for the better representation of the laity and for increased power of the laity in managing the affairs of the Church. My hon. friend has my sympathy; but. I speaking as a layman, I say, at all events so far as I am concerned, I deny that I 796 am properly represented by the common informer, have always said publicly in this House, and I have always thought, that there ought to be such a reform of our ecclesiastical organisation as would give the laymen a legitimate place in their counsels. That legitimate place surely is not given by handing over to informers in a Court of law the work which should be done by the Bishops, by the clergy, by the laity of the Church. I do not mean to occupy the time of the House more than to say this: I do not know what the future of the Church is going to be; I look upon it with the utmost anxiety. But I am perfectly certain of two things—in the first place, that we must put down these illegal practices, and, in the second place, we must deal with them in a manner which shall not alienate a great body of opinion absolutely loyal to the Church with whom we differ, and who really dislike these practices as much as I we do. Having laid down that proposition, with which I am convinced even my hon. friend will agree, let me ask whether an attempt at legislation upon these lines is the best way of helping the authorities of the Church to carry out the great and difficult duties entrusted to them. We have a new Archbishop; an Archbishop who has been in. office but a few weeks; an Archbishop in whom I believe the whole country has the utmost confidence; an Archbishop who has made no secret of his views upon, these subjects. Are you really going to say that in the very first month of his tenure of the Archbishop's throne you are going to carry out a policy which makes the episcopal function almost a superfluity, and which will carry division and ruin, as I believe, into the organised ranks of the Church? I think it would be a most cruel thing to do. I agree that if in the last five years no progress had been made, if the earnest protest of this House in 1899 had remained fruitless and without effect, then perhaps it would have been necessary for us to plunge immediately into this great controversy. Sir, less has been done than I hoped, less has been done than I think perhaps we had a right to expect. But much has been done, more than can be shown by any of those lists of statistics scattered so freely abroad, which every 797 man who has an opportunity of closely watching the life of the Church will be ready to accept and to welcome. And while I admit that is to the good, have also to admit that I do think the present circumstances are of such a character that the question cannot be put on one side, or ought not to be put on one side, by earnest Churchmen without an attempt to find some machinery by which the processes of maintaining the law of the Church should be rendered easier and should be rendered more effectual. I could have wished that this Bill, and the Bill which we have also been discussing informally during the progress of this debate, could have been referred to a Select Committee of this House, and that in a cooler atmosphere and in circumstances more congenial to critical examination some effort should have been made to devise a scheme, not open to the objections to which have referred, to lay before the House. I understand that the authors of this Bill repudiate that course, and it is in their power to defeat it. Had they been willing to accept it, I, for my own part, would gladly have allowed this Hill to go to the Second Reading, on condition that ray lion, friend's Bill also went to a Second Heading, and that both were sent to a Select Committee upstairs. But, as I understand, the promoters of this Bill are unalterably opposed to that course, which I believe, would have been best in their interests, in the interests of the Church, and in the still greater and wider interests of religion. I cannot reconcile it with my conscience to give any support to the Second Reading of this Bill so long as it stands alone as the one policy recommended to this House; and with the utmost reluctance, and yet believing that I am doing the best for the very cause which my hon. friend and I have at heart, I shall feel bound to oppose it.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.798
§ MR. STOCK (Liverpool, Walton)
said he deplored and detested the action of certain clergymen who put the laws of the Church of England at defiance, but as a Churchman, and a Low Churchman, he could not view with entire approval the Bill under consideration, and on two broad grounds. First, because he thought that a question of this kind, affecting as it did the national Church, and therefore almost every class in the community, was surely a national question. Consequently, he was of opinion that a Bill of this kind, if necessary—and he believed that it was necessary—ought to be introduced by a responsible Minister of the Crown rather than by a private Member. Second, because he could not believe that any mere section of the Church would ever be allowed to legislate for the Church at large. It was his firm conviction that any legislation in regard to Church discipline to be of lasting good—and that was what the laity desired—ought to be some large and comprehensive measure which every Churchman of all shades of opinion could support, and ought only to be introduced by the Government of the day. He contended that a reform of this kind must come from within the Church, as well as from without it, in order to work smoothly and effectually. For these reasons he deeply regretted that the Government had not seen fit to bring in further legislation to enforce the existing laws of the realm. He frankly admitted what the Prime Minister had stated, that the Bishops and the Archbishops had done much more in the way of checking abuses than had caught the public eye. He had always had great sympathy and respect for all creeds and all forms of religion, but he had absolutely no respect or sympathy with those Churchmen who deliberately broke their ordination vows and still remained in the Church of England. Although he would have preferred that the two Bills should be I referred to a Select Committee, he was obliged to support the Second Reading of this Bill, because it was his sincere conviction, and the sincere conviction of his constituents, that some legislation was urgently needed to cause this lawlessness; in the Church to cease. Simply as a protest, and without committing himself 799 to the machinery of the Bill, and reserving full liberty of action on the Committee Stage, he gave his support to the Motion for the Second Reading.
§ MR. WHITE RIDLEY (Stalybridge)
If the debate has no other result, it will afford the House the satisfaction of knowing that perhaps for the first time everybody of all shades of religious opinion is united in agreeing that the state of affairs in the Church is serious, whether we are Extreme High Churchmen, Extreme Low Churchmen, or Moderate Churchmen. 1 for one, however, go further, and say that whatever we may do to-day, whether we pass this or any other Bill, it will not effectually stop the action of which we disapprove. It is not by passing a law in this House that we shall put an end to these practices. The real solution of this question lies in the hearts of the people, and in their willingness and determination that the laws of the Church shall lie observed. I think, nevertheless, it is most important that Parliament should take notice of this matter to-day, and that it should, as a protest against the state of affairs which undoubtedly exists in the Church at the present time, pass the Second Reading of this Bill. At the same time, though my name appears on the back of the measure, I very much regret that my lion, friends have seen fit to refuse a Second Reading to the Bill of the lion, and learned Member for Stretford. It seems to me the proper course—the course which would have ensured the most unanimity—would have been to have referred both these Bills to a Select Committee. There is nothing in either of the Bills so inconsistent with the other as to place it beyond the power of a Select Committee to unify them and produce a Bill which may secure the unanimous approval of every Member of the House.
§ SIR SAMUEL HOARE (Norwich)
One of the unfortunate necessities of a Bill of this importance being discussed at so short a sitting is that it renders it impossible for all who would like to take part in the debate to put their views forward, and to state why they are going to take the course they intend to take in the Division. I trust I may, however, be allowed to supplement the able remarks of the Prime Minister, and to add my humble words to the appeal which he has 800 made to the promoters of this Bill, and to the House in general, that the two Bills before the House shall be considered together. The Bill now under discussion has been alluded to in some quarters as not an honest Bill. I say at once I think it is one of the most honest Bills that has ever been brought before the House, and we are indebted to the promoters for the clear way in which they have put forward their case. We all more or less share in the object of the Bill. We realise that there are grave matters to be dealt with, and we are prepared—even those of us who have been opposed to legislation in the past, to consider legislation now. But if an Act of Parliament is to be passed by this House, it must be passed not as it were aiming at one section or another of the Church, it must be passed in such a manner and with such force that there will be general confidence in it by the whole Church when it has been enacted. Will that be the case if the Bill before the House to-day receives a Second Reading and is passed into law? I feel confident it will not. I feel very much it will aggravate the very difficulties which we are anxious to remedy. I fear it will make matters worse, and so as a humble but loyal member of the Church I will ask the promoters whether they are not willing to allow both Bills to be considered by a Committee upstairs. All sections of the Church, if I may say so, are much nearer to day than they were in 1895. The Bill which has been brought forward by the hon. Member for liver-pool is much less drastic and much simpler than the Bill of 1895, when there were many in this House who like myself believed that legislation would not carry out what we required, and therefore voted against it. But to-day we are ready for legislation, if we can be assured that it will, when carried, lie of such a character as to command the confidence of the Church.
I should be glad if to-day the members of the Church in this House could do away with those divisions which are weakening the power of the Church at the present time. Cannot we unite in action to secure an object on the desirability of which we are agreed? It seems to me that agreement is very near and very close. Cannot the laity speak out on this important and serious question? Cannot we show that while we are determined that there shall 801 be discipline in the Church we at the same time realise that with addition to discipline on the part of the clergy there must also be loyalty on the part of the laity? We have a heavy responsibility on us in reference to this matter. It is not possible to settle, a question such as this on a Friday afternoon; it can only be settled by the mature deliberations of a Committee upstairs, and I therefore implore the promoters of the Bill and the House generally to say, "If we do pass this measure, let it be complete; let it be one that will be accepted by the Church at large, let it be one which will further the work of our great Church and make it more effective in its religious, social and philanthropic work, not only for the sake of the Church, but for the sake also of the nation."
§ COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, Bootle)
Time is very short, and I will therefore only say a few words. I feel on an occasion of this kind that it is incumbent on me to state my reasons for the vote I am about to give. May I draw attention to the statement of the Prime Minister with regard to the liability which would be incurred by the Bishops for the expense of prosecutions inaugurated by them? I desire to point out that in the event of a Bishop allowing a layman to go forward with his case, not a single shilling of the expense would fall on the Bishop himself; and therefore his best way out of the difficulty will be for him to allow the case to go forward. I think I am justified in making this remark to the House because I think some misapprehension exists on that point. I have been assured by a high legal authority that the state of the law is as I have put it forward. The other point to which I wish to draw attention is this, that the 802 suggestion that the two Bills should be read a second time and be sent to the Committee upstairs for calm consideration is one which commends itself to my judgment. Had the promoters of the Bill consulted me—and they did not do me that honour—I should certainly have recommended that course. But if it is not adopted, I shall vote in support of the Liverpool Bill, as, if properly and thoroughly carried out, it will go far to settle the present difficulty.
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY (Devonshire, Honiton)
I desire very shortly to state that I agree entirely with what has fallen from my lion, friends. I came here prepared to support the second reading of the Liverpool Bill, as I believed my justification for that would-be found in the fact that this House is representative of the laity and the guardian of their interests. The country has great expectations from the House on this question, and it will be sadly disappointed if our discussion to-day results in failure to take action. I have earnestly striven to help bring about the arrangements for sending these two Bills to a Select Committee, but if the first Bill only is read a second time and carried, then I fear more harm than good may be done. Although I wish most earnestly to do so, I cannot give my support to this Bill unless the arrangement I have referred to is acted upon, for I believe that in the second Bill there may be found means for restoring order to the Church and bringing about the results we all so much desire. Very hard words have been spoken about the Bishops. We regard them as responsible for the discipline of the Church in the same way as we regard a commanding officer as responsible for the discipline of his 803 regiment. If he does not enforce that discipline he is removed. But we expect the Bishops to do this work when they have not the power to enforce their commands. I think the Bill of my hon. and learned friend the Member for the Stretford Division would do much to remove that difficulty. It is conceived in a fair spirit; it is capable of alteration and amendment so as to meet the difficulties suggested on the other side, and I therefore earnestly hope that even now, at the last moment, the promoters of the Liverpool Bill will consent to the adoption of the course which has been suggested.
§ MR. SEELY (Lincoln)
I rise to express my regret that the promoters of the Bill have not seen their way to accept the proposals which have been made to them to have both Bills sent to a Select Committee. They are losing a great opportunity. Those who, like myself, are very keenly interested in the Protestant character of the Church of England, hold that there is undoubtedly at the present time a certain amount of risk of injury to that Protestant character on account of the foolish action of certain clergymen belonging to it, and therefore we ought not to lose any opportunity of making arrangements by which such evils may be obviated. We have two Bills before us to-day; each contains good provisions. The Bill under discussion has its virtues, but it has also one fatal fault, in that it hands over religious questions to the uncontrolled mercy of the common informer. I have always thought the common informer to be about the worst product of modern civilisation, and I am not willing to consent to leave the Clergy of the Church of England at his mercy 804 without the provision of proper safeguards.
The Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Stretford possesses the virtue that it increases the power of the Bishops, a power which, as all who are acquainted with this question will acknowledge, largely requires strengthening. But that provision too has a fatal fault in that it interferes with the power of the civil Courts of the realm. Therefore it seems to me that to take these two Bills together and to send them to a Committee upstairs would have been a statesmanlike thing to do; worthy of the House and its Members who, although during elections take keen views on one side or the other, are, when they reach here, representative of the whole of their constituents, and should do their best to allay rather than increase ill-feeling. I hope that even at this eleventh hour the promoters of this Bill will take a statesmanlike course. If they do not, I shall feel it my duty to vote against them, although I am at one with them in the main object they seek to attain.
§ SIR JOHN DORINGTON
(Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury): I had the honour a few days ago of waiting with a large number of Members of Parliament on the Archbishops on the question of Church Discipline, our view being that some alteration of the law was needed to deal with a condition of things which was far from satisfactory. We felt that legislation would not provide the sole cure for the trouble, but that if the Bishops had not sufficient power we ought to try and give it to them.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Unless the right hon. baronet proposes to talk the Bill out, I shall not accept that Motion.
§ SIR JOHN DORINGTON
I have not that intention. I only wish to say that in the proposal of the hon. Member for the Stretford Division I believe the
§ solution most acceptable to moderate Churchmen is to be found.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 190; Noes, 139. (Division List No. 33.)807
|Agnew, Sir Andrew||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Newnes, Sir George|
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead)||Greene, Hy. D. (Shrewsbury)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Allen, Chas. P. (Glos., Stroud)||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Norman, Henry|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Hain, Edward||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Asher, Alexander||Hall, Edward Marshall||Palmer, Sir C. M. (Durham)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hamilton, Marq. of (Londondy||Partington, Oswald|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbt. Hy.||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm.||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Atkinson, Right Hon. John||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Pilkington, Lt.-Col. Richard|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Harwood, George||Price, Robert John|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Pym, C. Guy|
|Bell, Richard||Hayter, Rt Hon Sir Arthur D.||Randles John S.|
|Bignold, Arthur||Helme, Norval Watson||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Blake, Edward||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Hobhouse, C. E. H (Bristol, E.||Rea, Russell|
|Brigg, John||Hoult, Joseph||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Houston, Robert Paterson||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Brown, Sir Alx. H. (Shropsh.)||Howard, J. (Midd. Tott'ham||Ridley, Hon. H. W. (Stalybridge|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Caldwell, James||Jacoby, James Alfred||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Cameron, Robert||Johnstone, Heywood||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Campbell, Rt Hn J A (Glasg.)||Joicey, Sir James||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Kearley, Hudson E.||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Knowles, Lees||Rose, Charles Day|
|Cawley, Frederick||Labouchere, Henry||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Lambert, George||Samuel, Herbt. L. (Cleveland)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lambton, Hon. Fredk. Wm.||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Charrington, Spencer||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E. J.|
|Collings, Right Hon. Jesse||Lawrence. Wm. F. (Liverpool||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Corbett, A. Cameron(Glasgow)||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down. North)||Lee, A. H. (Hants, Fareham)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Cremer, William Randal||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Crombie, John William||Leng, Sir John||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Lewis, John Herbert||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lockie, John||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardign||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham||Spear, John Ward|
|Denny, Colonel||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Spencer, Rt Hn C. R. (Northants|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Lough, Thomas||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Lucas, Reg'ld J. (Portsmouth)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Edwards, Frank||Maconochie, A. W.||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Emmott, Alfred||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Stock, James Henry|
|Ferguson R. C. Munro (Leith||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Tennant, Harold John|
|Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||M'Crae, George||Thomas, Sir A. (Glam., E.)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||M'Kenna, Reginald||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Manners. Lord Cecil||Thomas, F. Freeman- (Hastings|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Markham, Arthur Basil||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||Middlemore, Hn. Throgmorton||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. E. M.|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin amp; Nrn||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S)||Moulton, John Fletcher||Vincent, Col. Sir CEH. (Sheffield|
|Grant, Corrie||Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Wallace, Robert||Whiteley, G. (York, W. S.)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u.-Lyne)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Wason, E. (Clackmannan)||Williams, Rt Hn J Powell-(Birm||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Wason, J. Cathcart (Orkney)||Willox, Sir John Archibald||Mr. Austin Taylor and|
|Weir, James Galloway||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)||Mr. Brand.|
|White, Luke (York, E. B.)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose||Mount, William Arthur|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Flower, Ernest||Mowbray, Sir Robt. Gray C.|
|Allhusen, Aug. Henry Eden||Forster, Henry William||Murphy, John|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Gardner, Ernest||Myers, William Henry|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Garfit, William||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Gibbs, Hn A. G. H. (City of Lond||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Gibbs, Hn. Vicary (St. Albans||O'Brien, P. J. Tipperary, N.)|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Percy, Earl|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W.(Leeds||Graham, Henry Robert||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Guthrie, Walter Murray||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Purvis, Robert|
|Bigwood, James||Hamilton, Rt Hn Ld. G.(Midx||Rankin, Sir James|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashfd||Reddy, M.|
|Bond, Edward||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Remnant, Jas. Farquharson|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Ridley, S. F. (Bethnal Green)|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middx.)||Heaton, John Henniker||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thomson|
|Bull, William James||Holder, Augustus||Robertson, H. (Hackney)|
|Burns, John||Henderson, Sir Alexander||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Seely, Chas. Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Cavendish, V C W (Derbysh.)||Hobhouse, Rt Hn H (Somrst E||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Howard, J N (Kent, Faver'hm||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Chapman, Edward||Hudson, George Bickerstern||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Joyce, Michael||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Colston, Chas. Edw H. Athole||Kenyon, Hon. G. T. (Denbigh||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Keswick, William||Sullivan, Donal|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Law, H. Alex. (Donegal, W.)||Talbot, Rt Hn J. G. (Oxf'rd Univ.|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monm'th)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Cullinan, J.||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Walrond, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H.|
|Delany, William||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Welby, Lt. -Col. ACE. (Taunton|
|Dewar, Sir T. R. (Tr. Haml'ts||Lundon, W.||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. Lloyd|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Macdona, John Gumming||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Dorington, Rt, Hon. Sir J. E.||Malcolm, Ian||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Milvain, Thomas||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Sir Francis Powell and|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Sir James Fergusson.|
|Fison, Frederick William||Morrison, James Archibald|
§ Bill accordingly read a second time, and committed for Monday next.