HL Deb 03 April 1835 vol 27 cc777-9
The Earl of Rosebery

presented several petitions against the proposed grant for building churches in Scotland. The first was from Glasgow; the next from the county of Orkney. The latter also prayed for a Reform of the Church of Scotland. A third was from an island in the county of Orkney. He had also several petitions to present in favour of the Church. He was a strong supporter of the Church, but he was convinced that a majority of the people of Scotland, was opposed to the grant of public money for this purpose. This, too, was the feeling of all the Dissenters. In his opinion, the Government had acted very injudiciously in bringing forward, under present circumstances, any recommendation of this sort. He begged it to be distinctly understood, that he himself was not opposed to it, but it was clear to him, that all the Dissenters of Scotland, and many of the Churchmen of that country were opposed to the grant, and therefore it was that he called the measure injudicious.

Lord Kenyon

said, that he thought the noble Lord was mistaken, when he said that all the Dissenters in Scotland were opposed to this grant. There was, he believed, one description of Dissenters who did not object to it—he meant the Episcopalians of Scotland. They were Dissenters in Scotland, but they were in favour of the grant. They were most desirous of promoting the prosperity of the Church, and they therefore did not object to anything that would assist in attaining that object. The noble Earl had said, that the proposal of this grant was injudicious, but he must be aware of what was the origin of it. A large grant of a similar kind had been made to the English Church, and that had occasioned an expression of dissatisfaction in Scotland that none had been proposed for the Church of that country.

The Earl of Rosebery

certainly had overlooked the Episcopalians, for being himself a member of the Church of England, he did not advert to the circumstance that the members of the Established Church were in Scotland Dissenters. He did not know whether they were friendly or adverse to the grant, but perhaps they ought rather to be called seceders than Dissenters. Now he was positively informed, that almost the whole body of the seceding interest was opposed to the grant.

Lord Brougham

had petitions to present on the same subject. He agreed fully with the noble Earl (Rosebery) as to the objections to this grant being very general. When they were talking of Dissenters with respect to the Church of Scotland, they meant Protestant Dissenters, of all other kinds rather than Episcopalians. The Episcopalians, in fact, rather looked upon themselves as an offsett of the English Church, than as Dissenters in Scotland. Seceders they were not, for seceders differed from the Scotch Church—not so much in matters of doctrine, as in matters of discipline—and he agreed with the noble Earl, that the seceders were almost all of them opposed to the grant. He had petitions against this grant from the Town Council of the town of Kelso; from several magistrates of a town in Perthshire, and from the Town Council of (we believe) Banff. He believed there was a great alarm among the Dissenters in Scotland, at the prospect of being called on to pay these taxes in addition to those now borne by them. Undoubtedly if there was not sufficient accommodation in the Churches, as he believed there was not in the Churches of some of the large towns of Scotland, that accommodation ought to be afforded, but the burthen of affording it ought not to be imposed on the Dissenters.

The Bishop of Exeter

said, that as an English Bishop, he must, on behalf of the Episcopalians of Scotland, be allowed to correct an error into which the noble and learned Lord had fallen. The noble and learned Lord, in the most friendly disposi- tion, had referred to them, but had described them as Dissenters which was most inadequate and considered with reference to the antiquity of their Church was (though not so intended) most unjust and even degrading. If the noble and learned Lord recalled for a moment the history of the Episcopalians of Scotland, it would tell him that he had most inadequately described that body. The Episcopalians of Scotland were not an off-shoot of the Church of England—they were the remains of the ancient Church of Scotland, a church as ancient as that of either England or Ireland. He felt that he should but be disgracing himself if he sat still and allowed such an error to pass unnoticed.

Lord Brougham

had not said that the Episcopalians of Scotland were an offshoot of the Church of England, but only that they looked on themselves rather in that light than in the light of Dissenters. They were the Reformed Church of Scotland, with some peculiarities, indeed, and in some respects differing from the Church of England; but they were not an offshoot of that Church, but had a fellow feeling with it, and did not consider themselves Dissenters. They had, however, many differences, great and practical differences, from the Church of which the right reverend Prelate was an illustrious member, a Bishop he meant; and one of these was the difference—that the one was a most richly endowed Church, and the other as poor a Church as any Church could be. He did not think the worse of it on that account.

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