HL Deb 12 August 1836 vol 35 cc1170-2

The Marquess of Lansdowne moved, that the Church Temporalities Act Amendment Bill be committed.

The Duke of Wellington

approved in general of the objects of the Bill, but entertained some objections to some of its clauses, particularly to that clause which reduced the interest on mortgages of perpetuities from five per cent. to three-and-a-half per cent. He had no doubt that his Majesty's Government, and those who had brought this subject forward, entertained a supposition that by adopting this plan, they would obtain a more speedy payment of the money owing on the perpetuities, but he believed they would find themselves mistaken.

Their Lordships went into Committee on Clause 13.

The Duke of Wellington moved, that it be omitted.

The Marquess of Lansdowne

said, that the object of the clause was, to give greater inducements to the proprietors of perpetuities to come forward and purchase, by lowering the rate of interest to nearly the rate of interest in this country. He thought it right to give the strongest stimulus possible to induce them to come forward and purchase. But the Government had taken care, in holding out this inducement, not to postpone the payment of the principal to an indefinite period, by inserting a provision, obliging the purchasers to pay up the principal in fifteen years, by instalments, which would insure a regular supply of money.

The Duke of Wellington

remarked, that the clause did not force the persons who would mortgage the perpetuities to pay their instalments at certain periods, although it said that they should pay by instalments. The probability was, that no instalments would be paid till towards the end of the fifteen years. Under these circumstances he wished the clause to be struck out, and to leave the Church Temporalities Act as it stood, as he understood it had so far worked well.

The Marquess of Westmeath

observed, that if his Majesty's Government had so governed the country that English capital could creep into Ireland, he should have no objection to the clause, but, at present, he could not give it his support.

The Archbishop of Armagh

said, that the Commissioners found the money come in as fast as they had expected, and it would come in faster if it were not for the agitation of this question. If this clause passed, the effect would be, that all purchasers would lock up their money for fifteen years, and they would not be able to go on. They depended on the perpetuity purchase fund to enable them to carry on the ordinary purposes of building and repairing churches, &c.

The Earl of Ripon

remarked, that when he found the Commissioners, who were responsible for the execution of the Act, representing, in a formal way, that this clause would interfere with the object they had in view, he should give up any doubt he had in deference to their opinion.

Clause omitted.

On clause 27,

The Duke of Wellington

said, he hoped the House would not consent to the change which it went to introduce—a change of an important nature, and one to which he entertained a strong objection. The effect of it would be to deprive the cathedrals of their choirs. The proper way to secure the continued utility and efficiency of those bodies would be to place the funds at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners rather than at that of the Lords of the Treasury; he should, therefore, move its omission, being persuaded that it must lead to the eventual extinction of the choirs.

The Marquess of Lansdowne

would not consent to the omission of this clause, for it involved the broad principle of the continuance of sinecures or their discon- tinuance. He was no advocate for extinguishing the choirs, or in any respect diminishing the cathedral service, but sinecures he was resolved to do all in his power to abolish. The effect of the Bill, he contended, would be merely to collect together the funds which the vicars choral and minor canons now received for doing nothing, and apply them to the real uses of the Church.

The Archbishop of Armagh

said, that the Bill ought not to contain a clause for destroying all choirs merely because abuses might be found to exist in some of them; they ought to do away with sinecures, but they ought not to punish innocent parties. In his opinion, the best mode of getting rid of the difficulty would be to place those funds under the management of the dean and chapter, to be applied to the purpose of maintaining a choir.

Clause agreed to, with the understanding that it was to be amended on the bringing up the Report.

House resumed. Report to be brought up.