HL Deb 10 June 1805 vol 5 cc243-5

The order of the day for summoning their lordships, upon the Stipendiary Curates' bill being read,

The Bishop of London rose to move the second reading of this bill. He described the leading provisions of the measure, contended for the necessity of a regulation of the kind, and expatiated on the beneficial effects which would result from it. He described with great feeling and effect the miserable and degraded situation in which numbers of the curates of the Church of England are now placed, languishing in poverty and obscurity on their present paltry and inadequate stipends. He contended that the bill could not involve an invasion of private property, as that species to which it referred was not as a freehold property, but including serious and important duties which the incumbent was bound to perform, or to provide a substitute at an adequate salary; and he argued that no well-founded objections could apply as to the discretionary powers of the bishops. He insisted on the propriety and justice of allowing the curate who performed the duties, a stipend proportionate to the amount of the living; and concluded by recommending, in pathetic terms, the cause of the unfortunate curates to the peculiar care and protection of a British house of peers! The rev. prelate then moved, that the bill be now read a second time.

The Earl of Suffolk took the opportunity to state, that, according to information on which he could rely, the small addition lately granted to the salaries had not bonâfide been paid to them; even the full amount of the poor 75l. a year. He related an anecdote of a lady, who some years since bequeathed an addition of 20l. per annum to the 50l. which the, curate of a certain parish was paid; but, instead of paying the poor man this annuity in addition, the in cumbent docked his salary of an equal amount; he hoped no such practices would prevail in the cases under consideration; there should be some degree of publicity in transactions of the kind, and the value of livings, &c. should be reported to some official quarter. He was glad to understand, something of that kind was provided for in the bill. But, he observed, the situation of the curates alone should not be attended to; numbers of the poorer order of beneficed clergy were equally objects of consideration; and, of which his lordship related a striking instance, which he was a witness to in the North of England.

The Lord Chancellor, after declaring him self a warm advocate for the object of the bill, entered into a detailed consideration of several of its provisions, which he agreed were matters for serious consideration in a committee: he hoped, considering the late period of the session, no delay would take place. Some of the provisions of the bill were new to him; and due regard, he observed, should be had to the extent of the cure. Adverting to an observation which fell from the noble earl who spoke last, he said he should not turn advertiser for the complaints of curates.

The Earl of Suffolk, in explanation, said, he was indebted for much of the important information be had received on the subject, to what he had said in that way on a former occasion. He received more than 100 letters, most of them with names to them, though the general request of the writers was that their names should not be mentioned.

The Earl of Bridgewater made a few observations in favour of the bill; but thought it contained some provisions which were fit matter for future consideration and amendment.

The Marquis of Buckingham had the principle and objects of the bill warmly at heart. It was essential to follow up the imperfect measure of last year, and he had no fears as to the bishops' abusing the discretionary powers vested in them. There were, he agreed with some noble lords, certain parts of the bill worthy of serious future consideration, and susceptible of amendment; yet he seemed to say, the object of the bill was so desirable, it would be better it should pass with all its imperfections on its head, than to be totally lost.

The Bishop of St. Asaph enterted into some detailed considerations as to the merits of the measure, and adverted to some serious instances, in which the residence of the incumbent was thought fully as important, if not more so, than that of the curate. Much as he had the object of the bill at heart, he could not go the length of the noble marquis in saying that he wished the bill to pass with all its imperfections; but these, he hoped, might be got rid of.

Lord Auckland spoke generally in favour of the bill; the principal object of which, the securing the residence of a clergyman in every parish, he had greatly at heart.

Earl Fitzwilliam, though friendly to the principle and object of the bill, adverted to some parts of it, which he seemed to think very objectionable, and which should be matter for serious future consideration.

The Bishop of London shortly explained; after which the question was put, and the bill read a second time; and, after a short explanatory conversation between the right rev. prelate, the lord chancellor, and lord Walsingham, was committed for Thursday.—Adjourned.