§ On Clause 32 (relating to the reduction of Bishoprics) being read.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that this was a clause to which, as it stood, there were very strong objections, but he thought that it might be so amended as, without injuring the principle of the Bill, to please all parties. It had been observed by the noble Earl, that, but for one or two obstacles, the principle of this clause might have been put into effect by his Majesty, in the exercise of his Royal Prerogative, of intrusting one See in commendam to the holder of another. There were objections to this, however, in the articles of the Union, and as regarded the transfer of the temporalities of the See thus intrusted. He (the Duke of Wellington) thought that all such difficulties would be obviated, the full principle of the Bill retained, and all parties satisfied, by the introduction into the clause of an Amendment "to enable the King to grant the Sees of Waterford 1085 and the others proposed to be abolished, as they fell in, to the other Bishops, but surrendering the temporal property attached to these Sees to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to be applied to the uses set forth in the Bill." He did not conceive that there could be any objection to this Amendment, which clearly would not make any alteration in the principle of the Bill. The noble Duke concluded by moving an Amendment to that effect.
§ Earl Grey
really could not see any material difference between the Amendment and the original Bill. It appeared to him only a different way of doing the same thing. There was no doubt but that sees had been granted in commendam by the King, but they had also been granted, in commendam by Parliament, and he thought this the more convenient and Safer way of the two, generally speaking. Ordering it, an Act of Parliament would leave no doubt of its being carried into operation; but the noble Duke's Amendment merely left it permissive in the Crown to make the grant, "if the Crown should be so minded." That was not the safest way of accomplishing the object Parliament had in view. Some future "King, his heirs, or successors," might not be so minded,—not that there was the slightest suspicion of such a contingency at present; he thought it, on this account, best to make things sure, and leave no room for contingencies.
The Earl of Wicklow
thought there would be little danger in leaving the grant to the King. The Act itself came before them solely on the ground of the King's Speech; there was no doubt of his good will towards it. What he wanted, was to satisfy the minds of the clergy of Ireland, which he thought would be effected by the noble Duke's Amendment.
The Earl of Rosse
said, that he had opposed the measure on the second reading, not from any wish to embarrass his Majesty's Ministers, but because he considered the Bill as a direct violation of the Act of Union. The noble Earl on introducing the measure; had stated that his Majesty was barred in some measure by the Act of Union, which recognized the number of bishoprics then in existence, from reducing them; and, consequently, that number could not now be reduced by an Act of Parliament, without a violation of the Act of Union. Noble Lords ought to recollect what they were about before they 1086 proceeded with this measure. The noble Earl Grey) stated, on a former occasion, that there was no difference between the Act of Union and any other statute. Had that noble Earl been as he (Earl Rosse) had been, a member of the Irish Parliament, he would have known that the Irish Parliament at least considered it in a very different point of view. They thought they had the faith of England pledged to its maintenance—they thought they had the faith of the British Parliament pledged to its inviolability—but they had been grievously deceived. Was it, he would ask, for the paltry consideration of pounds, shillings, and pence—was it for the sake of the revenues to be extracted from ten Bishoprics—that a solemn national compact was to be violated? He called upon their Lordships to consider well what would be said in that country, where a desire for a repeal of the Union was rapidly increasing. It was an important fact, which it was now idle to disguise, that both Protestants and Roman Catholics were joining in a cry for repeal. But what would be said by those who were agitating Ireland upon this subject? Would they not say, "the English Parliament consider the Act of Union—not as a national compact entered into between two independent nations, but as an ordinary act that may be altered at their pleasure—then why should not you view it in the same light, and demand its repeal?"—He did not mean to say, that at present such arguments would be sufficient to unite the people upon the question; but the time might come, when England was assailed by a foreign foe, or disturbed by domestic commotion, and then the people of Ireland might retort upon her and say, "You did not consider the Act of Union inviolable, why then should we?" The noble Earl who spoke early in the debate, on the second reading of the Bill, read a passage from the Act of Union in which it was stated, that "it shall be competent for the Parliament of the United Kingdom" to do certain things respecting the revenue of the United Kingdom. And why were these words introduced? clearly because without their introduction it would not be competent for the Parliament to interfere. Now he would ask, in the section of the Act of Union which regulated the rotation in which the Bishops were to sit in Parliament, did it say one word as to the competency of Parliament to reduce their 1087 number?—He defied any noble Lord to point out the delegation of any such power. Mr. O'Connell, or some such gentleman, whose wish it might be to agitate on this subject, would go through Ireland and say to the people:—"The English Parliament made a solemn compact with you, and now, for the paltry consideration of a few pounds, shillings, and pence, they violate it in one of its fundamental principles—the violation of it, on their part, has dissolved the compact altogether, and you are now as free to choose, as you were before it was originally entered into." It was not now, perhaps, that the force of such an argument would be felt, but assuredly the day would come when it might be used with effect. We (said the noble Earl) who opposed the measure at the time, objected to it because we saw it must increase the number of absentees. We saw that we should lose, by its being carried, the benefits arising from the residence of the principal proprietors of the soil—we saw there were other evils likely to flow from the measure; but we did not anticipate that we should lose our Board of Treasury—our Board of Customs and Excise—our Boards of Stamps, of Imprest Accounts—our Barrack Board—our Board of Inland Navigation—our Board of Works—and almost all our public establishments; but least of all did we anticipate that we should lose ten of our Bishops. Was it, he would ask, the way to cement the Union, to proceed augmenting loss after loss, and heaping degradation upon degradation upon that country? After the Irish had lost their Parliament and lost their officers of state, why proceed further, and heap the uncalled-for and gratuitous insult upon the country, of reducing the number of Bishops? They were about to reduce two of the Archbishops, and extinguish eight of the Bishops. It was not wise so to act, and the day would come when the country would have to rue it.—Suppose, at the time the question of the Union was under discussion in the Irish Parliament, that he had got up and said, the Union, after it has once passed, will be considered by the English Parliament as so much waste paper—or as nothing more than a Turnpike Act, capable of being altered at a moment's notice—would it not have been objected to him that he was but raising up imaginary results which could never be verified in reality? If his 1088 noble and learned friend opposite (Lord Plunkett) who fought under the same banner, on that occasion, with himself—if either of them had ventured to state, that within forty years of the passing of that measure, ten of the Bishops would be reduced; would any man have believed them? They were taught, at the time, to consider that the Act once passed, it was to be inviolable, and he trusted that the English Parliament, for its own sake, would pause before it ventured to touch the Act on which the Irish nation relied? The Act of Union recites the order in which the Bishops are to sit in Parliament, and it would be impossible to abolish those ten bishoprics without a distinct violation of the Act of Union. But would their Lordships stop there?—or would they not rather proceed with the Peers, who sit as representatives in this House? The Act of Union appointed twenty-eight as the number that was to represent the Irish Peerage; what security had they that the Parliament would not strike off ten from that number? Their Lordships were no more competent to do the one than the other—and it was evident they could do neither without being guilty of a manifest injustice towards Ireland. When Ireland entered into the compact, she was co-equal and co-ordinate with England; she possessed a Parliament as independent as that of England. Give her back that Parliament; but until that were done, their Lordships had not the power to alter a compact to which two nations were parties. In the present instance, not only the Act of Union, but the Coronation Oath would be violated. The Coronation Oath would become a mere slip-knot, to be evaded at pleasure; and if an oath of so solemn a nature could be violated, what, he asked, would be the effect upon taking of oaths throughout the whole kingdom? The sovereign's oath was taken in his legislative capacity. The King, in his executive capacity, was already bound; he could do no wrong—could, in fact, do nothing at all, acting as a mere instrument in the hands of his ministers. Such was the law of the land. Now, what was the meaning of the measure at present before the House? To bind the King to do something which he was not bound to do before. The noble Earl concluded, by again urging the House to act towards Ireland with justice, let the ultimate consequences be what they might.
The Duke of Cumberland
concurred in 1089 every word which fell from the noble Earl. So strong, indeed, was his feeling upon this part of the Bill, that had the noble Duke not moved the Amendment, he had intended to tender his protest against the clause. So firm was he in his opposition to the clause, that he would take the sense of the House upon it; for he considered it a violation both of the rights of the Church and of the Act of Union. The blame must be laid at the feet of those who had recommended to his Majesty this measure. The King was placed in a dilemma by his advisers, and he (the Duke of Cumberland) called upon the House to deliver his Majesty from that dilemma by rejecting the present clause.
The Archbishop of Dublin
said, that no one would be more unwilling than himself to legislate for the benefit of England at the expense of Ireland. But he would remind the House that the object of this measure was not to transfer any part of the Church property in Ireland, to England, it was professedly to benefit Ireland and Ireland alone. He would be the last who would support any measure, the object of which was to benefit England at the expense of any other part of the country.
The Earl Marquess of Lansdown
said, that the Amendment was nominally intended merely to alter the form of the clause, but in reality, it altered it in substance. The Ministers of the Crown were undoubtedly his Majesty's responsible advisers, and he (the Marquess of Lansdown) would tell the illustrious Duke, that they would not shrink from that responsibility. Neither would they shrink from advising his Majesty to carry into effect the whole provisions of this clause as opportunities for carrying them into effect occurred. The present was one of the utmost importance as regarded the people of Ireland, and the Church itself. The amendment made by the noble Duke was decidedly a matter of substance, and it went to throw that into uncertainty and doubt which at present was fixed and settled. It was on those grounds that he felt disposed to withhold his consent from the Amendment proposed by the noble Duke. He did not intend to follow at full in discussing the clause with the noble Earl. who had just spoken; but he begged to ask that noble Earl, whether, in recognising the Act of Union as they both did, the noble Earl could say, that diminishing the number of Bishops was a violation of that Act? A part of that Act says, that the Church of Ireland shall 1090 be represented by four Bishops in that House, who are to come in in rotation. Now, he would ask while that rotation was preserved as it was by the present measure, was the spirit of the Act violated? He maintained that not only it was not, but that it was preserved as pure as ever. Those who argue on the provisions of the Act of Union, should look into them, and they would find that they do not provide that the number of Irish Bishops should always continue the same, but that the number elected to represent the whole Bench in that House should be the same. In the election of the Irish Representative Peers, did the Act of Union stipulate that the number elected should continue the same? No such tiling. On the contrary there was a provision in it to the effect that the number of lay Peers should be diminished. The spirit of the Act of Union was completely preserved, when the measure provided for the rotation mentioned in that Act, and which Parliament was to preserve. The noble Earl had appealed to the disposition displayed by his Majesty's Government with respect to the interests of Ireland. Now he contended, that those interests were attended to, and when it was complained that offices established by the Act of Union were to be abolished, noble Lords might recollect that even as soon as three or four years after the Union of this country with Scotland, several useless offices were stripped off which became useless in consequence of the Union of Scotland with England. He considered the present Government were showing the best attention to the poor of Ireland, when they were endeavouring to assimilate the institutions of that country with those of England, and to place them on a similar basis. He would not enter into all the topics adverted to by the noble Earl, but he really could not consider as a serious argument the assertion that his Majesty was precluded by the Coronation Oath from concurring with the other two branches of the Legislature in placing the Irish church establishment on a basis that would be permanent, lie-cause it would be satisfactory, Lest his authority on the point should be disputed, he would refer to a speech made by a late noble Earl against the Catholic Emancipation Bill; it was a powerful speech against that measure, and after the noble Earl had expressed several strong arguments against the measure, he expressed his disdain for those arguments against it which arose 1091 out of the Coronation Oath. The noble Earl he referred to was the late Earl of Liverpool, and he was doing little more than using his words on a former occasion, when he said, that all those arguments which had been lately founded upon the Coronation Oath were a tissue of nonsensical assertions. With respect to the argument, that by the Oath the King; was responsible in his executive capacity and not in his legislative, and with respect to the conclusion that the noble Earl came to, that the Oath applied to his Majesty in his legislative and not in his executive capacity, or that the Oath was not good against this latter capacity, all he had to say was, that he was sine that in the arguments which Lord Liverpool, Sir Robert Peel, and others adduced against the Catholic Emancipation Bill, they did not mix up this argument of the Coronation Oath, which would in fact weaken the grounds upon which they resisted the measure. His object was, to make the present clause useful and satisfactory to the Church of Ireland—by providing a larger number of careful persons to serve it, and that those parts of the establishment which are useful now should continue permanently so, that the parts which were weak should be strengthened—he alluded to those particularly which related to the temporalities of the parochial clergy of Ireland, who were a most useful body, and to support whose usefulness he trusted he should be aided by their Lordships, as he should certainly be by the people of Ireland and of this country.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that he had already stated his motives for proposing the Amendment before their Lordships. He proposed it with no sinister and ulterior design, for he considered that, when once he present measure became the law of the land, no Minister would attempt to tamper with it, and he assured their Lord-ships that he, the humble individual before them would be the last, under any circumstances, to attempt to meddle with it. He certainly should be better satisfied with the measure if the principle were introduced into it upon which the Church hitherto existed, that the Bishops hereafter should, in the same manner as formerly, hold the proposed unions of Sees in commendam. In that way they had held Sees since the Church was established, and in that way he felt they should continue to hold them. He would not dis- 1092 pute what had been said by the noble Earl opposite on a former evening, that some of the Sees which had been formerly united were held by Act of Parliament, but he really believed that no such Act existed at the present moment, at least he knew of none, There might be more in the measure as it stood originally than there would be if his amendment were adopted; but he begged to repeat, that if the measure was passed into a law, no Minister could dare to alter it. Besides, he intended to propose another clause, that would render it impossible for any Minister, however bold, to prevent the measure from being put into execution. His proposal was made in the sincerest good faith, and with the sincerest desire to improve the Bill, in order that it might be more gratefully received by those on whom it would act, and he made that proposal without any view hereafter to prevent its execution.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
was sure that the noble Duke made his proposal without any insidious intention, and he concurred with the opinion of the noble Duke, that the measure ought to be made as beneficial in its effects towards Ireland as possible. He knew from, personal experience, that a strong feeling prevailed among the Irish clergy against having their Bishops appointed or taken away by Parliament, he would not say how far those feelings were well grounded, and whether they might not be founded on mistake, and on a confusion of ideas. But if they thought so surrounded as the clergy of that country saw themselves by Roman Catholics, who would reproach them with having Bishops appointed by Parliament, that alone ought to make the Protestant clergy feel deeply on the subject of having their Bishops so appointed. But they went further, and his real objection to the introduction of such a measure was, that it established a dangerous precedent, since it would enable Bishops to succeed one another, without any of the ordinary forms being gone through on the occasion. But the noble Earl (Earl Grey) said, he had Parliamentary authority for uniting, as the measure proposed to unite, Bishoprics, and the noble Earl mentioned Roll's Index, in which statutes were to be found respecting the union of the diocess of Cashel with Emly, and of Meath with Clonmacnoise. In consequence of that assertion he had caused books to be 1093 searched, and consulted the very best authorities, and he found that no such Acts were in existence. Consequently he could not admit the authority of Acts that where nowhere to be found. They were said to be private Acts of Queen Elizabeth, which was very probable, as he knew her to have been a monarch extremely jealous of the interference of Parliament in the affairs of the Church. He could not account for it otherwise, unless there was something peculiar as to the union of those Sees, to cause them to be treated in a private manner. he conceived, however, that there was no authority for arranging Bishoprics by Act of Parliament, and he should be well pleased if any other method could be found of accomplishing that part of the Bill, without trespassing on the King's prerogative.
The Bishop of Exeter
said, that after the great length of the speech he had spoken on the measure a few evenings before, he had but one or two observations to make, and one of them was called up by what a noble Marquess said about the opinion of a late noble Earl Liverpool) respecting the Coronation Oath. It was true that the Karl of Liverpool did declare at the time of the debates on the Catholic Emancipation Bill, that if it should be presented to the King, though he (Lord Liverpool) opposed it, still as a Minister he would not advise his Majesty to give his dissent to the Bill merely on account of the obligations of the coronation Oath. But in that very same speech the Earl of Liverpool said, that the Oath bound his Majesty in his legislative capacity, and that if anything like a union of Sees was proposed in Ireland, be would not advise his Sovereign to assent to it, since by the Coronation Oath his Majesty was bound to maintain the interests of the Protestant Church; and if his Majesty did give such assent, it would be a violation of the Oath. On the present clause it was not his intention, particularly after the example set him by a most reverend Prelate, to say anything against the general principle of sinking so many Bishops, further than to object to that part of it which appointed whether they were willing or not. Bishops, to the vacant Sees. By this clause Parliament could appoint the Archbishop of Cashel to undertake the duties of the united Sees of Waterford and Lismore, although it was notorious that the most reverend Prelate objected to the 1094 measure, and it was proved by a petition presented by him, that he was unwilling to take charge of the Sees imposed upon him by the present measure. The Legislature ought not to have the power of making, and, indeed, could not make the Bishop, who was now Bishop of A, become also Bishop of D, without the consent and will of that Bishop. With respect to the private statutes of Elizabeth, alluded to by the noble Earl, he had consulted Ware, a good authority in ecclesiastical affairs, with respect to the Union of Bishoprics under those statutes, and he found that when those unions in the time of Elizabeth did take place, it was in consequence of a vacancy; and the Act to unite the two Sees left it to the option of the Bishop whether he would accept the increased charge; but here no option was left to the Archbishop of Cashel—he must accept whether he would or not. He appealed to a reverend Prelate behind him, whether if he were the Archbishop of Cashel, with his weight of eighty-five years upon his shoulders—whether he would feel justified before God to undertake the performance of such additional duties. He was sure his reverend brother beside him would not consent. He begged to mention what happened to a right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Norwich, that right reverend Prelate refused a high situation in Ireland, because at his advanced age he considered that he could not discharge the duties of the office offered to him. That was good of him, and became his well-known conscientious character; but after refusing, would it not be monstrous for him to be compelled, by Act of Parliament, to take upon him additional duties? He had already alluded to his venerable friend beside him. Now if the present Bill should become the law of the land, and the Archbishop of Tuam should die before his venerable brother, he would be made to become, by Parliament, Bishop of Tuam, the largest diocess in Ireland, and perhaps as large as any in England. That the right reverend Prelate should be forced to become Archbishop of Tuam by the Bill, must be an oversight of the framers of it, and if the consequences of it should be such as he presumed they would be, he was sure their Lordships would repudiate it. By the Bill the Archbishop of Dublin would be obliged to undertake the duties of the diocess of Kildare, which was to be appended to his See. In the next place. 1095 the Bishop of Killala, whose feelings, as was notorious, were against the present measure, and who was prevented from coming to that House to raise his voice against it by physical infirmity—who was upwards of ninety years of age, and who had for many years discharged the duties of a large diocess, and still continued to do so, because he was so well acquainted with that particular diocess, would have if the proposed measure passed—he saw that he would have Tuam, and not, as he had erroneously slated, that it would be his venerable and reverend friend near him. So that Tuam, a diocess extending in length seventy-seven English miles, and in breadth sixty-three, and consequently larger than the diocess he (the Bishop of Exeter) held in this kingdom, would go to a right reverend Prelate now upwards of ninety years of age. The Bishoprics of Killaloe and Kilfenora were to be united with Ardfert. Now the diocess of Killaloe was one hundred miles in length, and the present Bishop was eighty years of age; and yet the diocess of Kilfenora was to be added to its duties. The fourth instance he should mention was that of the Bishop of Ossory. It was notorious that they, in that House, lost that right reverend Prelate's zeal and presence, on account of his extreme illness; and yet the present Bill, if it should pass, would fasten upon him, if he should survive the Bishop of Ferns, the additional duties of that diocess. Two dioceses would be added to the one he now held, and each of the same size with it. He contended that Parliament had no right, no authority, to make Bishops enter upon the discharge of duties which they would be unwilling to perform. With respect to Peculiars, he had heard of a Bill about to be introduced that would make Bishops charge themselves with the duties of the Peculiars within their own diocess. That would not be an argument to the objections he had just then raised; but on the contrary, those objections would be fatal to that measure, if it should be proposed. He had heard with great satisfaction the noble Marquess near him say, that it was the intention of the promoters of the Bill to make provision for the poorer clergy out of the revenues of the more opulent—that would be a change which he had no doubt would afford the most perfect satisfaction to the people of Ireland.
The Bishop of Clonfert
said, that the 1096 provision just spoken of would give the greatest satisfaction, and be productive of the most beneficial effects. But as to the proposed reduction of the number of Bishops, he certainly could not give that his support.
said, that those who acceded to the Amendment of the noble Duke, agreed to the principle, that the number of Bishops ought to be gradually diminished, and that was the principle of the Bill. It had been argued, that the change which the Bill went to effect would prove nothing less than an infringement of the Articles of Union, and a violation of the Coronation Oath. Upon this he had only to observe, the Amendment of the noble Duke was also a violation of both, and that upon that ground there was nothing to choose between the Amendment and the original clause, for the one was just as great a violation as the other. He, as well as his noble friend on the other side was in the Irish Parliament before the Union, and with his noble friend—whom he should still continue to call so, notwithstanding some political differences—he anticipated results from that Union which certainly had never been realized. Both of them had anticipated, that Ireland would have heavily suffered by the change. Fortunately, they had both been disappointed; and it would now become the duty of every man in the country to oppose to the uttermost any attempt to dissolve that Union; and he was sorry to hear his noble friend say, that there was a growing tendency in Ireland towards the dissolution of that Union. He much regretted to hear his noble friend make such a statement, for he was enabled to affirm from his own experience, that so far from there being any tendency of the sort, the feeling of the people was quite otherwise. The great body of the rational part of the community were desirous rather of cementing than of dissolving such a Union; regarding with decided hostility any such chimerical project as that of dissolving a connexion alike beneficial to both countries. It appeared to have been argued, that by the Articles of the Union, it was not competent to the Legislature to alter the share which Ireland was to possess in the representation of the country, or the number of seats enjoyed by Irish Prelates ill that House. It surely could never have been the intention of the Legislatures of both countries in that day, to bind 1097 themselves and their successors irreversibly. Had there even been any nation mad enough to contemplate anything so absurd It was perfectly true, that there were in the Union, as in every such measure, certain fundamental principles agreed upon; but be it remembered, that the present Bill did not touch the doctrines or the discipline of the Church, or the religion of the country, in any way whatever—it dealt with the revenues and the temporalities of the Church, but with nothing more; and he would take leave to say, that nothing would more advance the interests of that Church than alterations having a tendency both to improve the condition of the people and render them satisfied with the Church. In the present state of the public mind it would be in the highest degree dangerous to hazard the rejection of the Bill. It really was a most gratuitous assumption to take for granted that the Articles of Union stood in the way of any such measure as that then before their Lordships. Had they not dealt with the representation of the country? And if the Articles of Union could stand in the way of anything, it would be in the way of an alteration of that nature; but no man in his senses could deliberately persevere in urging such an argument. The Union with Scotland was quite as sacred as that with Ireland; yet the Union with the latter country destroyed the proportion between the several parts of the representation, and was as much against the letter—though not certainly against the spirit—of the Articles of Union, as any other change that had taken place from that time to the present. He would contend, therefore, that the Articles of Union formed no obstacle to the present measure.
§ The Earl of Harrowby,
after stating, that he wished to remind their Lordships of the real subject under discussion, observed, that the noble Duke near him had not pronounced any opinion as to the number of Bishops which ought to form the episcopal body in Ireland; he merely suggested a better mode for carrying the objects of the Bill into effect. There was one very serious and important consideration on the subject, to which, in an especial degree, he wished to direct the attention of their Lordships. There was a large and most valuable portion of the clergy of the Established Church, who entertained Strong and most conscientious scruples 1098 against submitting themselves in ecclesiastical matters to a Board composed partly of laymen, the nominees of the Crown. He was sure that the House would not unnecessarily or wantonly do anything to insult the feelings of that excellent body—a body which the Church in Ireland could ill spare at any time, and least of all in times like the present. He should vote for the Amendment.
The Lord Chancellor
said, that the Bill made the consolidation of certain bishoprics, as they became vacant, compulsory on the Minister's for the time being—it left them no option; whereas the Amendment of the noble Duke, would, if agreed to, permit the Ministers, if so minded, to recommend, instead of the incorporation provided for by the Bill, that the vacant bishopric be filled by some excellent and learned and pious friend of his, who fur good and episcopal reasons ought to be inducted into the vacant see. He contended that the Amendment of the noble Duke gave them no security whatever that any one bishopric would be abolished. It would leave that question dependent on who might be Ministers. The noble Lords who were now ready to consent to the consolidation of some sees, might not be always so disposed; und if they said, they should be always so minded, they claimed for themselves a greater insight into futurity than he was disposed to give them credit for; and assumed to themselves more sagacity than be attributed to them. The noble Duke might be always disposed to act in the spirit he had described; but if the law were left optional, could the noble Duke answer for whoever might be Minister? Could he answer for the illustrious Duke, should he have to advise the Crown? or would it be consistent with the opinions held by the noble Karl who spoke last, to advise the Crown to consolidate the bishopries? He eon-tended, that those who would vote for giving the power to the Ministry, must, out of common consistency, if they would act plainly, vote for the clause as it stood, which would do that by Act of Parliament which they would leave to be done or not to be done by the Ministers. It would be more wise, more straightforward, more open, to vote against the abolition of any one bishopric, than to reject the clause which would abolish it by Act of Parliament, while they would leave it to be abolished by the power of the Crown. 1099 The noble Lords might say, that, they would give power to the Crown to abolish the bishoprics, because they had no confidence in the present Ministry; but he could not understand that argument when used by those who would give any power to abolish them at all, and yet would vote for a clause which would place that power in the hands of the Crown, instead of voting for the clause which would abolish those bishoprics by Act of Parliament. One great objection against the optional clause proposed by the noble Duke was, that the country would have no security whatever, the people of Ireland would have no security, the Church of Ireland would have no security, that any reduction would be effected. It would be optional with the Ministry for the time—uncertain, slippery, delusive, illusory, not to say collusive; and he would warn their Lordships against it, and invite them to give it, as he meant to give it, his most decided opposition. Let their Lordships look at the situation in which it would place the King. With respect, for example, to the Coronation Oath, he would not then go into the arguments which had been stated on that subject; he had before given his opinion, and that opinion had been eon-firmed by all he had heard; but he might remark, that the opinion of the late Lord Liverpool, which had been referred to by a right reverend Prelate, was much stronger than that right reverend Prelate seemed to suppose it. He had gone to the fountain head, and he must say, that the language of that noble Lord was much more strong and expressive than had been quoted. The noble Lord had said, "As to the arguments on the Coronation Oath—they were all a pack of nonsense." He would not, he said, then enter into the arguments on the subject of the Coronation Oath; but if he embraced the opinions, concerning the obligation of that Oath, of the noble Lords opposite—if he were the firmest of all sticklers for that Oath,—he should not know how to vote for the clause of the noble Duke in preference to the clause as the Bill now stands. Why, the Coronation Oath, must, in that case, be continually violated—there must be a conflict on the subject of the Oath on the suppression of every bishopric—the Coronation Oath must be broken ten times—it would be violated whenever a bishopric became vacant. Why, if the Bill were a breach of the Coronation Oath, 1100 which he did not say, the Amendment of the noble Duke would only compel the frequent violation of it. Again, if it were left optional, the decision would not be the result of calm and deliberate judgment; But of intrigues at Court—of intrigues in the Cabinet, and in Parliament, and out of Parliament—it would not be the result of any principle, but it would he made a party and personal matter. Only this thing would be certain, that there would be much uncertainty—much inconvenience—and much injury to public business. Finally, and principally, he objected to the Amendment, because it would frustrate the great object of the Bill, it had been said, that the clause was creating a Bishop by Act of Parliament, which an Act of Parliament was unable to do. But certainly it was a most gross abuse of language to call the consolidation of sees, and the requiring one Bishop who was already there, who was consecrated, and already fulfilled the duties in one see, to fulfil the duties in another—it was a gross abuse of language to call that creating a Bishop by Act of Parliament; but even if it were so, the thing would not be without a precedent. Laws had passed making Bishops in the West-Indies and Canada, and there was now a Bill before the other House of Parliament, to the substance of which their Lord-ships had, in a Conference, given their assent, which went to create two Bishops in India. He did not understand, therefore, how those who had assented to that measure could object to this Bill, that it created Bishops by Act of Parliament. Some persons said, also, that several of the English Sees were too large, and some were too small. Perhaps they were he did not say, that some of the smaller bishoprics, particularly the Welsh bishoprics, might not be consolidated, and some of the larger ones divided, but those who contended for that were strangely inconsistent in objecting to this Bill, for how could any one See be divided, or any two be consolidated but by Act of Parliament? They both denied the authority of Parliament and demanded its interference. One more objection which had been made to the clause, and to which he would reply was, that it would throw very onerous duties on those Bishops who were to be called on to take charge of additional Sees, and it was compelling them to do 1101 these duties whether they liked it or not, and which they might be unable to perform. There was much said about the difficulties this would impose on the Bishops, but, whatever they might be, he wished their Lordships to remember, that the whole of them would be as completely felt, and all these objections as exactly applied to the Amendment of the noble Duke, as to the clause as it stood. But all the evils complained of might come in the course of nature. An old Bishop may grow infirm, and, in relation to his infirmities, the duties of the one See might be as onerous as the duties of two Sees to a young and healthy Bishop. But when he heard so much of the duties to be imposed on the Irish Bishops, he naturally looked to the number of benefices. He had heard something said of the Archbishop of Tuam having 11,437,000 he supposed souls; but no, they were acres, and acres, many of which, being mountain and bog, never would have any inhabitants; but though this Prelate had so many acres, the pastures or benefices he had to look after were only forty-three. And to these forty-three it was proposed to add, when the time came, thirty-one more, making in all, when united with clogher, only seventy-four benefices, while one diocess in England contained 1,100 or 1,200 benefices. He had never heard anybody say, that the Bishop of the diocess which contained 1,200 benefices, was overburthened with work. He for one thought the diocess might be too large, extending from the Thames to the Humber; but take the small diocess of Norwich, which had at least 300 or 400 benefices [The Bishop of London said, it had 1,100]. He was told there were 1,100; and would any man say, that the bishopric of Norwich ought to be divided? He had never heard that said, and never heard that the beloved, the adored, the venerated Bishop of Norwich, had complained that he had too much duty to perform, or that any person had complained of his duties not having been done. He did not feel, therefore, the force of that argument which was grounded on the additional duties to be imposed on some Irish Bishops. As respected the provision to be made in case of the Bishop of the See to which another was to be united, being aged and infirm, that was an objection which might apply to bishoprics at present without any additions, he would conclude by re-asserting, that if they agreed 1102 to this Amendment, they would go as near as they could to destroy the efficacy of the Bill. The Amendment would utterly nullify the whole principle of this great measure a measure so cordially agreed to by the other House, and which came before them so warmly recommended in the speech from the Throne. Every vole in favour of the Amendment involved the peace, the prosperity, and the safety of the Church.
§ The Earl of Harrowby
said, that after the long and desultory speech of the noble and learned Lord, he was sure that their Lordships would indulge him in a few observations in reply to it. He could not recollect all the epithets which the noble and learned Lord, fertile as he was in the accumulation of synonymes, had applied to his conduct, but he supposed they might be all expressed in the plain English terms, that his conduct on this occasion had been the contrary to fair dealing. Now, he would ask their Lordships, whether the attempt which he had made to preserve the regularity of the debate, and to state the real question before the Committee, could be said to be inconsistent with fair dealing? He would maintain that he had put the question on its right footing. His intention in supporting the Amendment was, to make the clause as little objectionable as possible. He had no desire or intention to defeat the Bill by a side-wind.
The Lord Chancellor
said, he had not characterized the conduct of the noble Earl as inconsistent with fair dealing; he had merely applied the terms which he had used to the grounds on which the noble Earl, and other noble Lords, supported an Amendment which, as it appeared to him, was proposed with the view, and which certainly had the tendency, entirely to frustrate the objects of the Bill.
The Bishop of London
would make this suggestion to their Lordships. The Bill as it stood placed at the disposal of Parliament, the temporalities of those Sees as they fell vacant. Why, then, should not Parliament at once make a prospective disposal of the temporalities of those Sees, leaving it to his Majesty, if he should think fit, to consolidate the Sees with other Sees as they fell vacant? He was quite sure, that if the Sees in question should be prospectively divested of their temporalities as they fell vacant, there would be no fear that his Majesty would not carry into 1103 effect the intention of Parliament in not filling them up.
§ Earl Grey
said, that after the speech of his noble and learned friend (the Lord Chancellor), which, though it had been characterised by a noble Earl as desultory, appeared to him to be one of the clearest and most convincing arguments that he had ever heard, he had no disposition to address their Lordships, feeling that he could not add anything to what had fallen from his noble and learned friend; but as this was a question of infinite importance—for he considered that it was a question absolutely decisive of the efficiency of the Bill, it appearing to him that if the Amendment should be carried, the Bill would be good for nothing—he wished to address a few observations to their Lordships. In the first place, he begged to repeat what had been just stated by his noble and learned friend, that the proposition made by the right reverend prelate (the Bishop of London) was of a totally different nature from that of the Amendment moved by the noble Duke. He did not see much objection to the right reverend Prelate's proposition, but he preferred the clause as it stood in the Bill, as being simpler and better. With respect to the Amendment proposed by the noble Duke, it was one that went to leave at the discretion of the Crown—that was to say, of the Ministers of the Crown—the future execution of this measure. The Amendment was, in fact, in its very terms, discretionary; for its words were, that "in case his Majesty shall be minded," &c. Now, the meaning of that was, that the measure should be carried into effect when certain circumstances arose, if the Minister of the day should so wish. It was said, that his Majesty would no doubt carry into effect the intentions of Parliament on those Sees falling vacant; but they must look to what changes might ensue in the course of time. It was very probable that they might have another King with other advisers—Ministers who would think it their duty, as they had hoard that night, to advise his Majesty not to give effect to a measure which, on its passing, they had denounced as a violation of the Coronation Oath. He considered that the effect of the Amendment proposed by the noble Duke would be to destroy the whole efficiency of the Bill. If other Ministers should come into office who considered the measure a breach of the Constitution—a vio- 1104 lation of the Coronation Oath—they could not, as honest men, assist in carrying it into effect; and, therefore, it was, that he should object to leaving it to the discretion of the Crown, to carry into effect such an important portion of the present Bill. He would repeat, that if the alteration proposed by the noble Duke in the clause should be adopted, it would, in his opinion, be fatal to the Bill. As to the case which had been supposed—of a See falling vacant, and the duties thus devolving on an old and infirm Bishop, to whose See the vacant See would be united—it was one for which a remedy could easily be provided. In framing the measure, he had really never imagined that any Bishop in Ireland would refuse to accept the duties of a See thus falling vacant. The case that had been supposed might be remedied by the appointment of a coadjutor, to perform the duties in the diocess so falling vacant, who should succeed the aged and infirm Prelate on his death, and have the superintendence of the two united dioceses.
§ The House divided on the Duke of Wellington's Amendment—Contents 76; Not-contents 90: Majority 14.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clauses to the 48th were agreed to; the House resumed; Committee to sit again.