§ The Marquess of Bute presented Petitions from Greenock and a parish in Ayr in support of the Established Church in Scotland. The noble Marquess said, the petitioners expressed their hopes that the spiritual instruction of the lower classes of Scotland might be better provided for. To this subject his Majesty's speech referred, and he believed, that there was a general feeling in Scotland in favour of the proposed grant.
The Earl of Rosebery
said, the noble Marquess had informed them, that that part of the Speech from the Throne which related to the granting additional accommodation for those who attended the service of the Church of Scotland had been received with a great deal of satisfaction by the people of that country. This observation, however, he had reason to believe, was not well-founded. No person knew better than he did, that there was a considerable deficiency of accommodation in churches for the inhabitants of that country who were members of the Church of Scotland. He was so well aware of the fact, that in the last Session of Parliament he introduced a bill for encouraging the extension of accommodation in Churches in Scotland by voluntary contribution. But when the noble Marquess stated, that the paragraph in his Majesty's Speech recommending a voluntary grant for that purpose had been received with great satisfaction by the people, he for one, as belonging to that country, must take the liberty of dissenting from that statement. There was, on the contrary, a very strong opinion in that country on the subject—an opinion, certainly, in which he did not agree, and which amounted to a feeling of hostility against any plan of this description. The people of Scotland were not adverse to providing church accommodation by voluntary contribution, or by the application of any surplus fund granted for Ecclesiastical purposes; but he was very much deceived if a feeling quite as general, if not more so, did not exist against any grant of public money for such an object.
The Marquess of Bute
was perfectly aware, that there were in Scotland many 659 persons who advocated the "voluntary principle," but all he had intended to say was, that generally speaking, such as were attached to the Established Church highly approved of the proposed grant. With regard to the grounds of the objection referred to by the noble Earl, he thought no person had a right to quarrel with the nature of the grant before it was known out of what funds, or in what particular manner it would be made. He agreed, that there were too many who had shown themselves unfriendly to the Established Church, but he could not, and he did not, believe that the greater proportion of the members of that Church were unfavourable to the proposed grant.
Petition laid on the Table.