HL Deb 27 June 1843 vol 70 cc393-6
The Bishop of London,

in moving the second reading of the Church Endowment Bill, said, this measure, which he anticipated would be of great advantage to the Church and the country, had passed through the other House of Parliament with great unanimity, and he hoped would be received by their Lordships with an equal measure of favour. He did not contemplate any objection to the principle of the bill, which was to enable the Church to provide, from her own resources, more effectually for the spiritual destitution which prevailed so extensively in some parts of the kingdom. The operations of the ecclesiastical commissioners were too slow in their progress to supply an adequate remedy to evils which must otherwise exist in undiminished intensity; it therefore appeared advisable to take mea- sures for obtaining a more speedy and comprehensive corrective system. TO this end, it was proposed to anticipate the accruing funds of the commission, and to borrow on the security of the estates now in their hands, or which would come into their hands by the operation of the law, the sum of 600,000l. to be applied at once to the endowment of a considerable number of additional benefices in the most populous and spiritually destitute parts of the kingdom. He could not omit this opportunity of inculcating on those who concentrated population in vast masses in the manufacturing districts and used them as the means of accumulating wealth, the necessity of doing something for the education of the children under their charge, and the provision of pastoral care and superintendence for those who contributed by their own labours and privations, and those of their children to the accumulation of that wealth purchased at so great a sacrifice. Those on whose lands manufactories have been built, and let out, were equally bound to this duty, in proportion to their interests and means. Much good had been effected within the last few years, by the ecclesiastical commissioners, and with their assistance great progress had been made in supplying the spiritual wants of the metropolis, and of those districts of the country which stood most in need of increased pastoral care. lie had great pleasure in acknowledging that large landed proprietors, and others whose means enabled them, had come forward in his own diocese, and by liberal contributions to the endowment fund, or by erecting churches at their own expense had done much for the mitigation of a large amount of evil. He believed it to be the best policy for the Church to put forth its own resources in the first instance for the extension of its means of usefulness, in order that if, at some future time they should find that those resources were insufficient, and that there were still insuperable obstacles to the diffusion of religious knowledge, they might not find the Legislature indisposed to help them in the great work. As there was a considerable number of amendments to be made in the bill, he should propose to fix a day for committing it pro forma, when the amendments could be made and the bill printed to be afterwards re-committed

Lord Monteagle

said, that the bill could not be more appropriately introduced than by the right rev. Prelate who had made such exertions to promote Christian and religious instruction. There were some characteristics of this bill of which he approved, such as the encouragement held out to individuals to contribute by vesting the patronage of the Church in the persons who assisted in its endowment. If that principle were more generally adopted, religious instruction would have been more extended. The right rev. Prelate and the Ecclesiastical commissioners had done wisely in obtaining aid in this way. He would recommend more economy in the decoration of churches. The money expended in outward show in many of the new churches such as those in Marylebone and St. Pancras, might have been much better expended in providing actual accommodation for the church-goers. Many people, who would have cheerfully submitted to local taxation for the real purposes of church accommodation, felt repugnant to the idea of being taxed double and treble the necessary amount, for mere matters of decoration.

Lord Brougham

approved of the bill. He regretted that the zeal which animated religious parties in this country was not better guided by knowledge and more tempered by charity. His noble Friend (Viscount Melbourne) had done himself honour by taking the earliest opportunity to express his regret at the loss of the education clauses of the Factories Bill. Like his noble Friend, he had had many petitions entrusted to him, praying for the withdrawal of those clauses; but though lie felt much respect for the individuals who had signed these petitions, yet he could not concur in their hostility. He must be permitted to say, whilst alluding to that question, that the Church had gone a great way to meet the peculiar sectarian opinions prevalent in the present day, and he much regretted that these sects had not themselves manifested a spirit of concession. They had not, however, gone a single step towards the Church party, and the consequence was, that the important measure was lost. The prediction which be had made four years previously had then been fulfilled. Whatever zeal the religious parties of the country manifested for the promotion of religious education, that religious zeal was marred by either controversial acrimony or by a desire to obtain a victory over an opponent. He trusted that the measure before the House which established additional means of religious instruction, and which was founded, as the right rev. Prelate stated, upon the most unexceptionable principles, would be permitted to pass their Lordships' House. He hoped that the measure would be followed by others having the same object in view, viz., the dissemination of sound religious instruction amongst the large classes of the community.

The Bishop of London

said, that in the northern and eastern districts of the metropolis about forty churches had been built through his exertions, and if the noble Lord would go and look at those churches, he would not find any of them overloaded with unnecessary decoration. The churches to which the noble Lord had alluded were built by local self-taxation; and, of course, those who taxed themselves for that purpose were at liberty to indulge in their taste for decoration.

Bill read a second time.

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