HL Deb 07 July 1843 vol 70 cc733-5

The Bishop of Salisbury, after presenting petitions against the proposed union of the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor, wished to call the attention of their Lordships to the subject with the view of projecting some mode of providing for a bishopric of Manchester without doing away with one of those Welsh sees. It was utterly unnecessary to go into statistical details for the purpose of proving the pressing necessity for the new bishopric. It could not be unknown, that although at the primary institution of dioceses and parishes their size was proportioned to the extent of the population, the stream had since then so altered that districts once scantily inhabited had now become the seats of densely-crowded populations. The increase of population in two counties of the diocese of Chester had been as follows:—

1801 1841
Chester 191,000 95,600
Lancaster 672,700 1,667,800

So that there had been an increase of upwards of 1,100,000 in forty years, and of more than 300,000 since the inquiry of the ecclesiatical commission; and it could hardly be questioned that about the time when the proposed measure could take effect the population of the diocese of Chester would be upwards of 3,000,000 and of the proposed diocese of Manchester 2,117,000. It would be, in his opinion, however, most unwise to attempt to stave off this evil at the expense of North Wales, inflicting a severe injury on one portion of the Church without any efficient remedy for the evil in another. Surely those who took any enlarged view upon the subject must, when they recollected that at the time of the Reformation there were only 5,000,000 of inhabitants in this country, and that now there were 16,000,000 see the necessity for introducing some new principle, sonic expansive power into the Church, to enable it to accommodate itself to the changes going on around it to discharge with renewed efficiency its duties, and fulfil effectively its sacred trust. With respect to some of the schemes that had been suggested with this object, one was the institution of suffragan bishops; and another, the elevating all existing bishops into archbishoprics, and the establishment. of new episcopal jurisdictions. He would assent to neither of these propositions. Certainly the former of them was the ancient mode of remedying the deficiencies in episcopal superintendence; there were suffragan bishops (to go to no more remote antiquity) at the time of the Reformation, and there existed a statute, the 26th of Henry 8th, for their provision; but they were only the deputies of the bishop, they had no original jurisdiction—they could only assist the bishops in subordinate and strictly ministerial functions; and if instituted at this time in populous parishes, although they could take part of the duties of confirmation, consecration, &c., the whole care of the diocese would lie on the principal bishops, with this further aggravation of a great existing evil—the diminishing the intercourse, at present unfortunately too small, between the bishops and the clergy. The division of the great dioceses was the true remedy for the evil; and his endeavour was to try to persuade their Lordships to take means for carrying the measure into immediate effect. fie thought the evil so pressing that they ought to take instant steps for creating the new bishopric, and not wait until one became vacant. The recent increase of the number of judges from twelve to fifteen seemed to him an analogous case. That addition to the ancient number was justified on the ground of necessity; he thought the same necessity now existed for making a correspondent addition to the number of bishops. The only real difficulty which stood in the way was that pointed out by a right rev. Prelate the other night, viz., the seat in their Lordships' House. Inasmuch as it appeared to be agreed upon all hands, that however just it might be in principle, still it was not desirable to increase the number of bishops having seats in that House, he conceived that it would be better for their Lordships to adopt the suggestion of a right rev. Prelate, not then present, and make it the law, that the junior bishops, whatever see they might be appointed to, should not have seats in that House until a vacancy occurred; that they should rise to that honour by seniority, and so there would be no increase to the number now in the House. He trusted that between the present time and the next Session of Parliament her Majesty's Government would give their earliest attention to the subject, as it was one of vital importance. He moved that the petitions do lie on the Table.

Petitions laid on the Table.

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