said, that seeing several right reverend Prelates in their places, he would take that opportunity of moving for some Papers in relation to the revenues of the Church. He was glad to hear that at length, we were to have Church Reform; and he was glad to hear that the task of Reforming the Church had been undertaken by Ministers, for he was convinced that the Reform, to be useful and good, must come from the Government. It could not be expected that any useful Reform of abuses in the Church should come from the members of the Church themselves. He said this because it was proved by experience, from the Reformation down to the present time, that the Prelates of the Church had shown themselves more disposed to pro- 298 tect the many abuses of the Church than that a reformation should take place, and they had used all their influence and power, as belonging to the Second Estate of the Realm holding seats in that House, to prevent Reform. The abuses which he wished to see remedied were those in which the high Prelates were most concerned, deriving their revenues partly from them, and which, therefore, they were not likely to Reform. It was impossible that these Prelates could be ignorant of those abuses because they in their own character, derived part of their revenues from them, and they had enjoyed, as members of some Chapters part of the incomes which those bodies derived from clerical abuses. He alluded not only to those livings held by the Bishops in conjunction with their sees, and which were annexed to them from time immemorial, but to those livings which were held by Ecclesiastical Corporations, which deriving large revenues from them, allowed to the efficient minister of the parish a miserable pittance, scandalously inadequate to the duties he had to perform. He meant to move for an account, which would be of great importance, to show the distribution of the revenues of the Church; it was an account of the salaries and stipends which were given to the actual officiating ministers in those parishes, the tithes and incomes of which belonged to any Ecclesiastical Corporation. Those ministers were now paid as they were paid two centuries ago, and he would quote some instances of this, believing, at the same time, that there were many others. The first was the living of Silverton in Devonshire, the income of which was 600l. a-year, and the Ecclesiastical Corporation to which it belonged, gave the minister 60l. At Swimbridge and Langton, in the same county, a minister received 40l. to perform one service in each of these parishes, the revenue of which went to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter. The Dean had taken care, in renewing the leases, to get as large a sum as possible for himself; but he had given the officiating minister only 40l. The next he would refer to was Norton, which belonged to the Canons of Windsor, who paid 60l. to the officiating clergyman. At South Molton, belonging to the Canons of Winchester, the clergyman had received 60l.; he now received 80l., though this place contained a population of nearly 4,000 souls, and for this 299 80l. he had to perform all the clerical duties required by so large a population. He might mention a great number of similar instances, but it was unnecessary. There was the parish or township of Preston Holderness, in which an inclosure some years ago was given to the Sub dean of York, who took all this to himself, and allowed the vicar to scrape together what remained, amounting to about 60l. a-year altogether, including some small tithes which did not pay the expense of collection. These cases might be illustrated by others. He had last year brought under the notice of the House the case of Trinity College, Cambridge, which gave a minister 90l. in a living worth 2,000l.; while one of the colleges at Oxford gave a minister of such a parish 30l., which was made up to 70l. by the subscriptions of the inhabitants. If the Bishops had not the power, as was said, to remedy these abuses—if they could not dispose of these revenues, or order better stipends—they ought to apply to Parliament to obtain the power. It was their duty to see that there were no abuses, and if there were, and they had not the means to correct them, they ought to apply to Parliament. Of these abuses, as he had said before they could not be ignorant because they had profited by these abuses themselves. The King's Speech recommended an equitable distribution of the revenues of the Church. He hoped that this equalization would take place; he hoped that pluralities would be done away with, and he wished in addition, in order that ecclesiastical persons might not neglect their duties, that they might be confined to their spiritual functions. These were the important principles of Reform which he wished to see carried into effect. It might be interesting to see what the clergy had already done. What had they done to promote an equalization of Church revenues? He found, on looking back, that the only measure which had any tendency to equalize these revenues, was the measure for augmenting the salaries of the smaller livings; but that, instead of taking anything from the large livings, had been effected by grants from the public, to the amount of 1,200,000l. The addition to the smaller livings, which was the most important step he knew of for equalizing the revenues, had been supplied by the public, and had taken nothing from the wealth of the Deans and Chapters, whom he regarded as the friars and 300 monks of Protestantism. The next Reform of the Church, on which some stress had been laid, was remarkable. An old Act of Parliament existed, which was supposed to be beneficial in enforcing residence. A certain person who knew of the Act, found out that, by bringing certain qui tarn actions, he might get a great reward for himself, or enforce residence. But what had the Clergy done? When it was ascertained that this measure would be effectual in producing residence, the power was taken from the individual of bringing these qui tam actions by Sir William Scott's bill. That bill was brought in with the concurrence of the clergy, and for their relief by the then member for Oxford. It was not supposed to be good to enforce residence, and they were relieved from that by the Bill in question. Another useful Reform was doing away with pluralities. He could state openly that the Bill professing that was a mere delusion. He and others had endeavoured to make something of it, but the amendments they had proposed had been resisted. He wanted to limit the amount of income with which a plurality might be held; but the Bishops, who were the greatest pluralists, resisted that. The Bill, then, was a mere delusion, and it was dead-born. He recollected, too, the rumour which prevailed last year about the see of Derry. It was said, that the Government, when the see of Derry fell vacant, intended to limit its revenues; but that was opposed by the English Bishops. The Clergy objected to having the revenue of this overgrown see curtailed, and the project was given up. They were like certain other persons, who refused every bit-by-bit Reform, and he was rather afraid that they might find that this see of Derry was the East Ret-ford of the Church. The last year some symptoms of a desire for Reform were shown by the clergy of the see of Durham. They presented a memorial to their Diocesan in favour of that Reform; and what answer did they receive? Why, they were told, by a man less anxious for Reform than themselves, that he regretted that they should bring forward any proposition on that subject during these times of excitement, because it was more likely to do harm than good. The Bishop rebuked and reproved them for their zeal in promoting a Reformation of the Church. He was happy to find that it was now allowed that tithes begot animosity against 301 the clergy, and that a better mode should be adopted of paying them. Within the last two or three years, however, a Report had been made by the Commissioners of Real Property, in which it was stated that a term of sixty years should be the extent of legal claims; but that recommendation found no favour with the clergy. If their Lordships looked at page 24 of the first Report, they would find certain questions addressed to the right reverend Prelates. They were told that the Commissioners would be unwilling to recommend any measure till they had heard the opinion of the reverend Prelates, and they requested the Prelates to give their answers to certain questions which they propounded relative to the property of the Church. He asked the right reverend Prelates whether they had attended to these questions, and whether they had given them any answers? They were put two years ago, and he could find no answer which had been given to them. The Commissioners of Real Property had not received any further information relating to tithes. There had been a bill brought in by a right reverend Prelate, but it was, he believed, of a piece with other measures proceeding from the same source—not intended to effect much good. The noble Lord concluded by moving for "a return from all the dioceses of England and Wales, stating the livings, the tithes of which belonged to Deans and Chapters or other Ecclesiastical Corporations, and thereto annexed a return of the annual stipend allotted to the minister who served each parish in 1831."
The Bishop of London
said, however unpleasant it was to be exposed to the remarks of the noble Lord, he was glad that the noble Lord had broken ground thus early in his attacks on the Church, as it gave him an opportunity of giving thus early a contradiction to many of the statements of the noble Lord, and dispelling, he hoped, many of the delusions which were abroad respecting the Church. The noble Baron asked the right reverend Prelates if they had given any answers to the questions of the Real Property Commissioners? He was glad to have an opportunity of answering the noble Baron. He did not know what other right reverend Prelates had done, but he could state for himself, and he had no doubt that they had done the same, that he had immediately taken those questions into consideration, and had returned 302 such answers as be deemed proper. The same he had no doubt had been done by others; and it was hardly fair, hardly warrantable, in the noble Lord, because the Real Property Commissioners had not made any direct use of those answers, or had not founded any recommendation on the suggestions of the Bishops, that the noble Lord should, by adopting a sneer in asking the question, imply that the reverend Prelates of the Church had made no answers at all. The noble Lord accused the clergy of not having brought forward any measures of Reform in the Church, The noble Lord had first referred to the augmentation of small livings, which he said had all been derived from the annual grants of the public. He was not then prepared with a list of those ecclesiastical bodies which had augmented small benefices, but he knew that many had done so, and that many of those which received the great tithes had appropriated part of them to augment small livings. When the noble Lord said, that not much had been done, and referred to experience, he seemed to forget that it was only of late years that any expectation of improvement had been formed. The imperfections of the Church had only attracted the attention of the public within a few years; and it was only within that period that an impetus had been given to the clergy to enter into any investigations on the subject. At the same time, their Lordships must not suppose that this question had been suffered to rest, and that nothing had been done. On the contrary, great endowments had been made by ecclesiastical bodies and the holders of benefices for the augmentation of the poor benefices. He had observed, with regret, that the noble Lord who moved the Address, had used an expression which had pained him much at the time, and which he intended to notice, but he forbore, from considering the great length to which the debate ran. The noble Lord had talked of the growing abuses of the Church—but the word abuses he did not think properly applicable to the Church. There might be imperfections, blemishes, defects, in the constitution of the Church—all these he admitted; but there were no abuses which could be said to have grown up from the neglect or misfeasance of the present Prelates; and whatever defects there were in the Church were gradually diminishing, and to the im- 303 perfections a remedy was applying. There was no system without blemishes and imperfections, and every one of those which deformed the beauty of our Church were growing less and less every day. As for the augmentation of small benefices, a bill had been brought in two years ago by the Primate, to enable ecclesiastical bodies and Bishops to increase the value of the smaller benefices. That Act had been carried into effect, and the smaller benefices augmented. If the noble Baron had inquired into the subject, he would have found that to be the case; and the Deans and Chapters had not been backward in availing themselves of the facilities it afforded for that object. He might name the Dean and Chapter of Durham, the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, the Dean and Canons of Windsor, the Dean and Chapter of Ely, and other places might be added, all of whom had availed themselves, to a large extent, of the Primate's Act. With respect to pluralities, the noble Lord should not have forgotten that the Bill introduced by the Primate, if carried into a law, would have had an immediate effect in reducing pluralities, and would by this time have reduced the number of pluralities one half. That measure would moreover have reduced the power of the Bishops to grant dispensations. These instances showed that the Prelates did not neglect Reform; and if they were not at all times disposed to rush rashly and headlong into those measures which were recommended by others—if they, sensible of their responsibility and the importance of their situation, were not carried away by every caprice, but were bent on maintaining the dignity and usefulness of the Church, were they to be described as opposed to all Reform? In fact they were bound to act with prudent caution, while the suggestions of others had no other control than the laws of their own fancy. As to the bishopric of Derry, if it were true that the English Bishops had opposed the reduction of the revenue of that see, the Minister must know the fact; and he was sure that the noble Lord could have no scruple in stating it; and he would say, in the name of all his brethren, that the noble Lord was perfectly at liberty to do so. If the Minister stated the real fact, and not that fact which had been assumed by the noble Lord, the noble Lord would see how idle and vain were 304 the rumours on which he founded his remarks; and would probably take care, in fairness and common candour, before making an attack on the Church in future, to have some better ground for it than a mere rumour, for such attacks, so unfounded, could only have the effect of keeping up and exciting feelings against the Church even more than at present. He could say, that the exertions of the Bishops to remove the blots of the Church were, if not entirely successful, at least efficacious. Those blots were diminished, and one of the greatest blessings which could be conferred on a country was secured, by its possessing a respectable body of Clergy. That had been, in part, effected by the Bishops, and it was not, he thought, a trifling benefit. The time was come when still more important changes were necessary, perhaps, in the Established Church; but he had great confidence in his Majesty's Ministers, that they would not introduce any changes which would render the clergy incapable of performing their functions, or destroy that inequality in the Established Church on which much of its utility depended. He had thought proper to take the first opportunity of replying to the observations of the noble Lord; and he thought it was neither fair nor right to impute to the present bench of Bishops that they were unwilling to promote any Reform in the Church which would promote its efficacy. Of one thing he was assured, that the efficiency of the Establishment was not likely to be promoted, nor would beneficial improvement be furthered, by such observations as the noble Lord was in the habit of indulging in. For his own part, and he believed he could say the same for every member of the bench, there was no sacrifice he would not eagerly and gladly make, if it clearly appeared that it was required by the exigencies of the Church itself, and was necessary to its interest. With respect to the information required by the noble Lord, he hoped the noble Lord would withdraw his Motion, as all that information would be found in the Returns obtained by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Every one of those Returns would be found in that Report, and he did not know how the information could be obtained but by extracting it from those Returns. With respect to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners—and he was then speaking as one of them—he would 305 say, that they had taken great care to perform their duty. The Report would place in true colours before the House many of the circumstances of the Church, and would show that the property of the Church was greatly exaggerated. He was sure that any plan for the Reform of the Church must be imperfect which did not proceed upon that information. The Commissioners had obtained Returns from 11,000 persons, and those Returns they were now employed in arranging. The Returns embraced a great variety of matter, and till they were placed in order and made public, it would be only candid in their Lordships to suspend their judgment, and desist from those attacks which must be made, if made now, on very deficient information. He trusted that he had not exceeded his duty in appealing thus early to their Lordships, and he hoped also that the noble Lord would abstain, as far as his regard for public duty would allow him to abstain, from those attacks, which must be founded on imperfect views.
§ Earl Grey
thought that the answer of the right reverend Prelate had been so satisfactory that he had no occasion to address their Lordships; but he could not avoid saying a few words. He lamented then, as he had before lamented, the manner in which his noble friend thought proper to introduce subjects of this nature, and he lamented this on the present occasion, the more especially as his noble friend was aware that the Government, in which his noble friend, he believed, placed some confidence, was preparing to bring forward some measures on the subject. He must say that it would be in all respects more convenient as well as advantageous to his noble friend, not to precipitate the discussion of this question. He would ask his noble friend what good could result from such a proceeding? Could it be for the interest of the people to have exaggerated information spread amongst them, or could it be for the interest of anybody to prejudice this great subject by premature discussion? If ever there was a subject which required cairn and dispassionate consideration, this was that subject. He had the highest respect for the Church, and if ever he proposed any Reform in that body, it should only be with a view of adding to its efficacy, promoting the security of the Church itself, making it more respectable, and 306 placing it completely in safety, as far as that could be done by legislative measures. By these views he was governed, and by them only should he be guided in asking the House to support any measure he might introduce. He thought it better to avoid such discussion, and await the time when it would be proper, from a full knowledge of the subject, to enter into it. He appealed to what his noble friend had said, to show that the information was yet very imperfect. The answer of the right reverend Prelate had been complete, and it was not even necessary that he should confirm it. He must, however, state his belief, that never at any time were the clergy—the great body of the clergy of the Established Church—so respectable as at present; and never had they done their duty better. The heads of that Church had shown a disposition to remedy, he would not say the abuses—that was not the word—but the imperfections, the deficiencies of the Church as they found them out; and he should not do them justice if he did not make that acknowledgment. The right rev. Prelate had told their Lordships that the Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would be made when the information procured had been digested; and he agreed with the right rev. Prelate, that it would be impossible to discuss this subject till the information was obtained. With respect to his noble friend's observation as to the limitation of time for claiming tithes, a measure of that nature had already been brought forward by a noble and learned Lord whose loss they all regretted; it had passed both Houses, and was now actually the law of the land. There was another point on which he would say one word. His noble friend stated something about a rumour respecting the see of Derry. Now he wished, before his noble friend introduced such remarks, that he had felt it incumbent on him to have obtained some better ground for them than public rumour. Certainly he had felt that the revenues of the see of Derry were very large, and certainly he had had it in contemplation at the time that the benefice was to be disposed of, to introduce a bill reducing the revenue, and carrying the surplus to the fund of the first fruits. If his noble friend supposed that he had been deterred from carrying that plan into execution by the English Bishops, his noble friend must now learn that he had 307 been completely misinformed. It was thought better on consideration, in, which he concurred, that it should not be then done; other reforms were required, and it was supposed more consistent to defer that one alteration till the general Reform was effected. Upon that opinion he had acted. If it should be proposed, under any future circumstance, to reduce the revenue of the see of Derry, he was sure that the present Prelate would never think of setting up any claim of a vested interest, or demand that any exception should be made in his favour. He would not say more than to entreat his noble friend not again to introduce this subject, which could answer no good purpose, and could not even serve to attain any object he might have in view. It might indispose those who were now willing to admit Reform; so that his noble friend, by dealing in such discussions, would defeat his own purpose.
, in reply, contended that the admission of the right reverend Prelate, that the Church had not been active in Reform, because the subject had not attracted attention till lately, and because the Church had not received any impetus from without, completely proved what he had asserted. With respect to the Motion he had made, he knew very well that the Bishops had all the information which he required, in that voluminous mass of papers which were to be laid before the House at some time or other. But those Returns had reference to the whole revenues of the Church, while his Motion only related to that portion of tithes which was in the hands of Deans and Chapters and Ecclesiastical Corporations. He wished to use the greatest possible expedition in taking away the wealth from those who did nothing, and give it to those who did all the work. He wished to see salaries more equally and equitably distributed. He had been rebuked for finding fault with the high Church Dignitaries, and he considered this sensitiveness on their parts as a convincing proof that they felt they had not done their duty. The high Clergy had done nothing to remedy the abuses of the Church, nor would they; he was therefore most glad to find that the matter was taken up in other quarters, and not left to Churchmen, who would never promote Reform.
The Bishop of London
protested against the assertion of the noble Lord, that the 308 high Clergy were determined not to reform the abuses of the Church. That noble Lord appeared also to have a very erroneous conception of the opinions which he (the Bishop of London) had set forth on this subject in the last Session of Parliament. On one point he had said, that the Bishops would have to relieve the inequalities in salary experienced by the lower Clergy, out of their own pockets. Since that, they had been enabled to saddle these charges on the receipts of other benefices. By the powers of the Curates Bill—or Lord Harrowby's Bill, as it was sometimes called—they had been enabled to add 300,000l. to the income of the poorer Clergy.
The Bishop of Bath and Wells
suggested to the noble Lord (Lord King), that it would be much better in every point of view to delay the investigation of this subject till the papers had been laid before the House.
§ Earl Grey
said, that his noble Friend would find that the information to be laid before the House, would be arranged in the most distinct forms, and would be quite full in every respect. Every information and assistance had been afforded him by the right reverend Prelates, consistent with a view to the security of the Establishment. The noble Lord would find the Report to contain every information he could wish, in the most explicit, distinct, and fullest form; and particularly in the point which he now mentioned. The noble Lord might rest fully satisfied on this point, for he himself was; and there did not exist a man more anxiously desirous of the fullest information on the subject.
§ Lord Wynford
would assure the noble Lord, that if he would keep his paper in his pocket for one month, he would then have before him the fullest and most authentic information on the subject; but if that noble Lord persisted in his Motion, he would materially retard the production of this so desirable information. All that had been given in augmentation of the small livings had come out of the tenths and the first fruits, and not from the public.
said, what he wanted to know was the amount of the reservations. He had no doubt the Commissioners had full and authentic information as to the whole amount of tithes, but he wanted to be informed as to the reserve.
The Lord Chancellor
said, that if, on further inquiry, or from reference to the digest, the noble Lord should find that he was still right in what he seemed to suppose, then he would take upon himself to say, as one of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, that the noble Lord would find no difficulty in the pursuit of his investigation. But he could assure him of his belief, that the Return would be much more full than he seemed to anticipate from a compliance with his Motion. Every particular was stated in it. As to curates, there was a distinct statement of 9,600 persons, the amount of their salaries, and everything relating to them.
§ Motion withdrawn.