§ The Earl of Powis
in moving that the Order of the Day for the resumption of the debate be now read, said, he would avail himself of this opportunity to state to their Lordships that it was his intention to withdraw the Bill for repealing the union of the Sees of St. Asaph and Bangor. Although an unusual course to take under ordinary circumstances with respect to a Bill which had received the sanction of their Lordships by their assent to its second reading, he thought in the present instance he was justified in taking this course, seeing the extraordinary situation in which he found himself placed in consequence of the Report of the Committee which, on the day he last addressed their Lordships had been appointed to search for precedents; and of the statement made since by the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington), that it was not the intention of the Government to advise the Crown to give its assent to the progress of the measure. It had been his duty to consider what course of proceeding would be most beneficial to the cause entrusted to his care, and most likely hereafter to secure the object he had in view. There were three courses open to him—either to withdraw the Bill or, notwithstanding the Report of the Select Committee to press it forward to its third reading, and be victorious in their Lordships' House, or to be beaten there upon the third reading — with the knowledge that in either of the two last alternatives, he would be ultimately foiled by the interposition of the prerogative. It must 592 further be borne in mind that, whichever course he pursued, and whatever might be their Lordships' decision, there was no doubt, after what had passed in the other House of Parliament, what would be the fate of the Bill if it got there. On the other hand, he had to consider that he possessed the vantage-ground of a decision of their Lordships in favour of the Bill, which would have been tantamount to its being passed, if it had not been discovered that the technical approbation of the Crown was usual with similar Bills. He had come to the conclusion that it would be unwise, knowing as he did that differences of opinion existed amongst those of their Lordships, who had honoured this measure with their support, upon the manner in which the question respecting the prerogative should be dealt with, to press for a further decision on the part of their Lordships; he felt this the more, especially as he was satisfied the question could not remain in its present state. There must be a further discussion upon it in the next Session of Parliament in which he would have the advantage of their Lordships' decision in favour of the Bill, and of there having been only thirty seven peers opposed to the measure. He considered the course which he proposed to take as the most desirable, and he trusted that those who had confided to him the advocacy of their cause, would consider it the right one. He the more expected such would be the case, as his decision had been taken with the approbation of those noble and right rev. Lords who had favoured him with their advice in the progress of the measure. There was also another consideration which he deemed of great importance. He was informed that there was no precedent, since the accession of the House of Hanover, of a notification that the prerogative would be exercised to check a Parliamentary proceeding, sanctioned by their Lordships' approbation, upon a subject which had been originally recommended to Parliament for its consideration It would have been open to him (Lord Powis) to have asked the House to allow this question to be referred to a Select Committee, but looking to the advanced state of the Session, and the probability there was that if this difficulty were got over, and a measure introduced in consequence, it would be lost in the lower House, he had thought it better to 593 take that course which was at once the most respectful to their Lordships, and at the same time by leaving this unusual, as he must call it, exercise of the prerogative in such a prominent point of view—the most likely to secure the ultimate success of his object. He would only add that this course was strictly in unison with all the proceedings on the Bill; he (Lord Powis) had endeavoured to avoid all topics that could raise party spirit or excite feelings of temper; he had endeavoured to conciliate all those who were anxious to promote the religious institutions of the country, let the difference of opinions on other subjects be what they might. The noble Lord then said, that before he concluded he must beg leave to notice what had fallen from a noble Baron opposite, who had affirmed that the people of North Wales were indifferent about the Union of the Sees of St. Asaph and Bangor and that bishops and deans and other dignitaries of the Church had been the promoters of the petitions for the Bill. This affirmation had produced considerable feeling in North Wales, and had been the cause of his having received a letter from Mr. Chapman the Mayor of Ruthin, desiring him to correct any impression which the noble Baron's statement had made, as respected that neighbourhood, or those amongst their Lordships who might be ignorant of the feeling of the Principality; he begged further to add, that this feeling of anxiety for the separation of the two bishoprics was not limited to North Wales, since he had received from the Chairman of the Quarter Sessions held for the County of Brecon, the following resolution, voted on the 1st day of the present month:Resolved, that the thanks of this Court be given to the right hon. the Earl of Powis and the right reverend the Lord Bishop of Saint David's for their able and manly support and advocacy in Parliament of the continuance as separate bishoprics of the dioceses of Bangor and St. Asaph and of the existing Church Establishment of Wales, by which they have evinced their sincere regard for the national feelings and best interests of an ancient, religious, and loyal people.This indicated that the feelings of South Wales were equally alive to the injury the Church Establishment would receive by perseverance in carrying into effect this universally obnoxious measure.
The Bishop of Salisbury
said, that the 594 unfair position in which the course of the debate had placed the supporters of the Bill, must be his excuse for addressing a few observations to their Lordships. He would beg to remind their Lordships, that after the noble Earl had moved the third reading of the Bill, the House was addressed in succession first by the noble Duke, and then by the two noble Lords opposite, each of whom advanced a variety of arguments against the Bill, in addition to that point touching the Prerogative of the Crown, in consequence of which the noble Earl had resolved, and in his opinion very wisely resolved, to press his Motion further on the present occasion. It was not till after the speeches of these noble Lords that the question respecting the Prerogative of the Crown was brought before the House by the noble Lord on the Woolsack in such a manner, as to induce their Lordships to appoint a Committee to search for precedents, and to adjourn the debate till the Report of that Committee could be received. After that Committee had reported that this Bill was of that kind, in which it had been the practice of the House not to entertain the measure without the consent of the Crown being signified in the first instance, and after the announcement of the noble Duke that Her Majesty's Ministers were not authorized to express that consent, he deemed it a wise discretion on the part of the noble Earl not to press his Motion to another division. But were the debate now to be dropped without further discussion, the supporters of the Bill would be placed in the unfair position, that all the arguments advanced by the noble Duke and the noble Lords opposite would go before the public, without any opportunity having been given to those who were in favour of the measure of meeting those arguments, and showing, what he believed they would be able to do, that they were not such as ought to prevent the success of the Bill. It was on this ground that he hoped he mlght be allowed to ask for their Lordships' attention, while he entered, though less fully, than under other circumstances he should have been disposed to do, upon a consideration of the objections which had been advanced by the noble Duke and the other noble Lords. The noble Duke, after urging strongly the point with respect to the prerogative, said there were four other reasons why this Bill ought not to be proceeded with, namely, that it would prevent the establishment of the Bishopric of Manchester, and the augmentation of 595 the Sees of St. David's and Llandaff—that it would interfere with the appointment of Archdeacons in the Dioceses of St. Asaph and Bangor, and prevent the augmentation of the poorer Benefices in those Dioceses. Now, he was prepared to show that three of these objections were without the slightest foundation, and that the fourth rested on very slender grounds; and he hoped, therefore, that he should be enabled to induce the noble Duke to reconsider his objections. With respect to the repeal of the late Act preventing the funds of the Bishopric being applied to the augmentation of parochial benefices in Wales, he begged to say, that by the existing law those revenues were strictly confined to the augmentation of poorer Bishoprics. Not one farthing could be applied to the augmentation of parochial Benefices, and therefore the repeal of this law could not iu any way interfere with the improvement of this class of preferment. The fund for the improvement of poor Benefices was distinct from that applicable to Bishoprics, and though the Dioceses in North Wales had been excluded from the operation of the 1st Act to 4th and 5th of William IV., he would remind their Lordships, that the Act of the 6th and 7th of Victoria made those Benefices capable of augmentation from the general funds of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and that they were now in the course of receiving it. The point as to the Archdeacons of Dioceses in North Wales was also settled by the Act of last year. The Act of the 6th and 7th Victoria, sec. 8, provided for the separation of the Archdeaconries of Anglesea and Bangor, from the Diocese of Bangor, and that of St. Asaph from the See of St. Asaph. Those Archdeaconries had therefore been already constituted, and more than this, persons had been actually appointed to fill them, and were now in possession of the offices and in the receipt of an endowment from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. None of these steps would be in any manner affected by the measure before the House; and the passing of this Bill, therefore, could not possibly interfere with those Archdeaconries. The third objection of the noble Duke against the Bill was, that it would prevent the augmentation of the Bishoprics of St. David's and Llandaff. Upon this point there was a slight appearance of ground for the objection, which however would be found altogether to vanish upon examination. In the Act which it was proposed to repeal there was no special connexion 596 between the consolidation of the two sees of Bangor and St. Asaph, and the augmentation of those of St. David's and Llandaff. It was true, however, that the Order in Council issued for carrying that Act into effect, after providing for the future consolidation of the Sees of Bangor and St. Asaph, and for the charge which was to be placed upon the consolidated Bishoprick, went on to say that an augmentation should be made to the Dioceses of St. David's and Llandaff out of the proceeds of that charge. And if it had stopt here, there would have been a good ground for the argument that the repeal of this Act would interfere with the augmentation of those Sees. But instead of doing this it went on to say, that the charge was to be so paid, "or out of other monies in the hands of the Commissioners," The proof that there was no necessary connexion between the union of the two Sees and the augmentation of the two Bishoprics was, that the augmentation of that of St. David's had already taken place, although the Union of the two Sees of St. Asaph and Bangor had not yet taken effect. It was paid out of such "other monies;" and inasmuch as the Commissioners had and would have ample funds for this purpose in their hands from other sources, the augmentation of the Dioceses of St. David's and Llandaff would be no more interfered with by the repeal of this Act than the establishment of Archdeaconries, or the improvement of parochial Benefices. The objection with respect to the effect of the Bill on the establishment of the new Bishopric of Manchester was of more importance than the others. He had before expressed his own opinion on this subject that the establishment of a Bishopric at Manchester was by far the most important part of the whole measure under consideration; and he expressly advocated the repeal of the late Act because he considered that there would then not be any obstacle to the immediate creation of the Bishopric of Manchester, instead of that delay which was now likely to occur, inasmuch as a Bishop could not now be placed at Manchester till after the vacancy not only of one, but of two Sees. It was true that it was his wish that the whole subject should be considered, and a more enlarged view taken of the wants of the Church in this respect; but if the single case of Manchester were to be alone taken into account, he did not see that the repeal of this Act need necessarily in any way 597 interfere with it. There was not in that Act itself any necessary connexion between the creation of the Bishopric of Manchester and the consolidation of the Sees of North Wales. The Act provided in one part for such consolidation; and in another part empowered Her Majesty to erect the new See. If that part which related to the consolidation were repealed by the passing of the measure now before the House, the other part, which provided for the creation of the new See, would still remain in force. It was true, however, that though the Act did not expressly connect the two subjects, the Order in Council, by which it was carried into effect, directed that the scheme for the creation of the new Bishopric should not come into operation till after the consolidation of the two ancient Sees. But then that very Order in Council contained an express provision that it should be lawful to amend it by another Order on the recommendation of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He therefore conceived that in the event of the passing of this Bill, all that would be necessary for the immediate establishment of the Bishopric of Manchcester would be the passing of a new Order in Council: or if it were thought right to give the express sanction of the Legislature, the introduction into the present Bill of a single short Clause declaring that the Order in Council should take effect immediately, intead of being delayed till the consolidation of the Dioceses of North Wales would be all that could by possibility be required. The noble Duke indeed had spoken as if other and complicated arrangements would be necessary; and as if an Act of the Legislature would be required in order to enable such new Bishop to take his seat in their Lordships' House. But he humbly conceived that this was not a question for the Legislature; but one appertaining to the prerogative of the Crown, and a part of that prerogative both more clear, and more important than that which had on the present occasion been guarded with such jealous care. He conceived that as soon as a Bishop was established at Manchester it would be competent to the Crown to summon such Bishop by Writ to take his seat in that Houee; and that this was a question which it would not be in any way necessary to bring before the Legislature. The noble Duke indeed spoke of organic change in the constitution of that House. But he did not see how an organic change would be effected more by the introduction of a spiritual than of a temporal peer. He 598 almost hoped the noble Duke would see there was less foundation for the objection he had raised against this Bill than he was led to suppose when he stated them to their Lordships. The noble Lord (Lord Monteagle) who spoke on a late occasion from the other side of the House very fully and earnestly against this Bill, had represented him as having admitted that impropriations were a great evil in North Wales. It was true that he had done so; but he had not confined his proposition to North Wales they were not less so in South Wales; indeed, they were not less so in every parish in England which unfortunately was subject to that calamity. But impropriations were not greater evils in the hands of Bishops than in the hands of other persons. If the whole subject of impropriate tithes were considered with the view of compelling the holders of them to make spiritual provision for the parishes whence they were drawn, he would gladly co-operate in any measure which would have that effect, but he would not be any party to a partial and unjust application of this principle, and that made with the express view of defeating a measure calculated to be greatly beneficial to the Church? On what possible principle could it be proposed to apply a different measure to the Diocese of St. Asaph and Bangor in this respect from that which was to obtain in all other Dioceses. In the event of the consolidation taking place, the Bishop of the created Diocese would be in legal possession of the temporalities of both Sees, subject to a fixed charge to be paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the augmentation of the poorer Bishoprics. On what ground then was this single Diocese to be dealt with differently from others, from one for instance, with which he had now the misfortune to be connected, the Diocese of Bath and Wells. But perhaps it would be said that they would apply the same principle of appropriation of tithes in the case of all the Bishoprics. Well then would they go a step further? would they admit the same principle in respect to the tithes belonging to Deans and Chapters? If so he would remind their Lordships that this was that very principle of the local appropriation of tithes, which had been strongly contended for by himself and others at the time of the discussion of the Cathedral Reform; but which had been strongly opposed, and pertinaciously resisted by the Ecclesistical Commissioners and the noble Lord opposite 599 who now in this particular instance, and for this particular purpose, was as eager to support it. It could hardly be said that Bishops were less fit holders of this species of property than other Ecclesiastical persons, not to speak of Laymen. On the contrary, if the diversion of tithes from the immediate parochial charge was in any case to be allowed, the evil was undoubtedly least in the case of Bishops, inasmuch as the support of the Bishop was part of the original purpose for which the tithes were given, and he might reasonably be supposed to be more likely than more indifferent parties to have a due care of the spiritual charge of the parish in which they arose. He would further remind their Lordships, if it were now to be maintained that Bishops were not to be allowed to hold this description of property, of the circumstances under which no small part of these tithes had come into their possession. These impropriate tithes before the Reformation, were chiefly in the hands of the Monastic Bodies, and passed to the Crown on the dissolution of those establishments in the reign of Henry VIII. They were restored by Queen Mary to the parochial clergy: but resumed by the Crown by Act of Parliament on the Accession of Elizabeth. But immediately afterwards in the first year of that reign, an Act was passed, perhaps the most iniquitous of any of a period which abounded certainly in no good precedents in respect of the mode of dealing with the property of the Church. By this Act on the ground that the Sovereign, as a lay person, was not a suitable holder of this property, but that it would properly be in the hands of Bishops, as spiritual persons, the Queen was empowered on the vacancy of any See, to seize whatever part of the manor or lands of the See she might think fit, and to make compensation to the Bishop out of these impropriate tithes. It was in this manner that no small portion of those tithes were forced upon the respective Bishops, and if they were now to be taken from them, it would seem reasonable that the State should restore the lands for which they were given, which were now in its possession as part of the property of the Crown. There was only one other subject to which he wished to refer; and that in consequence of some observations made by the noble Lord opposite who had both in a former stage of the Bill before the House, and again on that, the third reading spoken of this measure, as evincing a dissatisfaction with the general 600 existing state of the Constitution of the Church, and as designed to subvert it. The noble Lord had said that this Bill originated with those or at least, if it did not emanate from, that it expressed the wishes, and gave effect to the intentions of, parties who desired to dissolve the union between the Church and the State, with the view of establishing the supremacy of the Church over the State. But no authority whatever had been given for that assertion beyond the fact that the noble Earl in introducing the Bill had incidentally, in proof of one of the positions he advanced, quoted a pamphlet which advocated the revival of the Convocation. This would appear a somewhat slight foundation on which to rest such an assertion. Did the noble Lord mean to say, that the sitting of Convocation for dispatch of business, was incompatible with the union of Church and State. Were the Church and State not united in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, or in those of the Stuarts? Were they not united till the Ministers of the Crown, at the beginning of the last century, put a stop to the deliberations of the Convocation, in order to protect Erastianism and Socinianism in the person of Bishop Hoadley? It could not be necessary on his own part, or that of his right rev. Brethren who supported this Bill, and of the majority of their Lordships House to disclaim any intention of in any degree impairing the union between the Church and the State. But he did not less confidently deny that there was any foundation for such a charge against the general body of the clergy and other members of the Church who were in favour of this measure, They who discriminated the most clearly between the essential character of the Church, as a spiritual communion emanating from a Divine Founder, and its position in this country as a religious establishment in connection with the State, were not therefore insensible to the advantages of such an union. They knew, indeed, that there was a danger to the members of an Established religion—they knew that they were exposed to the temptation of valuing too highly external support—State endowment and civil privileges, and of too little realizing the higher and spiritual privileges belonging to them as members of a true branch of the Catholic Church of Christ. They knew that the true strength of the Church, its best support, its most abiding security, was that which was inherent in itself—that which man did not give, and 601 which man could not take away, that which was found in the purity of the doctrines taught—the apostolical order of the constitution inherited, and the piety and zeal with which the clergy discharged the sacred functions intrusted to them. The advantages conferred by the State gave increased means and abilities for carrying into effect those most important ends for which alone the Church was established and endowed; and if circumstances should bring about a dissolution of the connection between them, it would tend alike to degrade and unchristianize the State, and to cripple the energies of the Church, and impede it from carrying into effect those high objects which in the Providence of God it was destined to fulfil. But great as were the benefits which were thus recognized as flowing from the union of the Church with the State, if any one thing was calculated more than another to excite dissatisfaction with the relation which now existed between the Church and State, it would be to see the authority of the State and the prerogative of the Crown brought in over-bearing influence upon the Church—not for the extension and encouragement of its spiritual efficiency but to control and cripple it. It could not fail to create regret and dissatisfaction among the most attached members of the Church, to see that their Lordships were not permitted to proceed in the ordinary course of legislation with a measure like this—a measure not only called for by the unanimous voice of that part of the country to which it more especially related, but which with a rare unanimity, had obtained the suffrages of the whole body of the clergy, and so considerable a portion of the laity of the land—which had been introduced into that House in no hostile manner, but under auspices and in a spirit calculated to win for it a favourable reception—which was supported with but few exceptions, though these undoubtedly were of the greatest weight, by the whole body of the right rev. Prelates, and which their Lordships had affirmed by no inconsiderable majorities to be conducive to the public good. It could not but excite much regret that such a measure had been brought to such a conclusion as now appeared to be its fate. He had heard with great satisfaction the course indicated by the noble Earl, which was marked by that caution and moderation which had distinguished his whole conduct on this question; and he had no doubt he would find on another occasion the same concurrence and support which 602 had been already accorded to him by their Lordships. He earnestly hoped that Her Majesty's Ministers did not see occasion in a future Session to undertake the conduct of such a measure themselves, at least they would allow it to proceed in the ordinary course of deliberation through both branches of the Legislature.
The Earl of Mount-Edgecumbe
said, he had on the second reading of the Bill voted in accordance to the recommendations of the noble Duke. He had done so with a very doubting mind, but with a hope that as the arrangement with which the Bill was to interfere would not come into operation until the occurrence of a future event, there would be time for consideration on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers, and that the result of that consideration would be to render the Bill unnecessary. He had, however, another reason. He always thought it the duty of an individual, who could only aspire to the humble position which he occupied, to give to those who filled high offices in the State a steady and a consistent support. The only exception to that rule was, when the principle at stake was higher than the mere question, who might constitute, for the time being, the Government of the country, or where the question did not involve any system of Government. He considered it a great evil when the opinion of a majority of that House was, in the face of the country, overborne by the Government. He admitted that there were cases in which a Government would be fully justified in exercising such a power, where they conceived that the public interests would be prejudiced by the measure which was proposed; but he humbly conceived that such a necessity did not exist in this case, and he was confirmed in this opinion by the statement of a noble Lord opposite the other night, that there were in existence sums for the endowment of a bishopric of Manchester of which the Commissioners had not been aware; and therefore the objection that it would be a bad compliment to the Commissioners not to adopt their decision fell to the ground, because it was only proposed to fulfil the intentions of the Commissioners, and in a manner which it was but reasonable to suppose they would themselves have recommended if they had been aware of the existence of those funds. He thought it would be not more for the interests of the public, than of Her Majesty's Ministers 603 themselves, that they should reconsider this subject, and adopt such a decision as would render it unnecessary for the noble Earl again to introduce his Bill.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, he should not have said a single word on this subject, if it had not been for what had fallen from the right rev. Prelate, who had thought proper, in a manner which was not at all in conformity with Parliamentary practice, to refer to and go into what had been said in former debates on this subject, and to introduce not only the subject of impropriate tithes, which had been only casually referred to by a noble Friend of his opposite, but also other topics which had been mentioned equally by accident, and which had nothing at all to say to this question, the right rev. Prelate had also brought under review the arguments adduced by so humble an individual as himself, who, as the right rev. Prelate had truly said, could be but little conversant with the subject. He was not a Member of the Commission—he never had been a Member of it, and he knew nothing but what he had seen published in the Reports, all of which he had read very carefully. It was his duty to read those Reports and the Act of Parliament which he had referred to on a former occasion, and he had read them, and was acquainted with their contents, and he was able to state to the House that the Bill of the noble Earl, if passed into a law, would have the effect of repealing part of an Act of Parliament which was the very foundation of the powers that were given to Her Majesty by her Order in Council, and he on a former occasion entreated their Lordships not to agree to the Bill on that account, without the consent of the Crown to the discussion. With reference to the power of appointing a Bishop of Manchester, which subject had been again alluded to by the right rev. Prelate to-night, it was said that it could be provided for in another manner, by the use of the prerogative of the Crown, and by another Act of Parliament. He (the Duke of Wellingson) was not discussing another Act of Parliament, but he was discussing that Bill which was before the House, and the effect which it was likely to have, if agreed to, upon those arrangements which were to be carried into effect by Her Majesty's Orders in Council under the existing law. He referred to the power given to Her Majesty to carry into execution the recommendations 604 of the Commissioners by Orders in Council, and he then reminded the House that the Bill of his noble Friend would have the effect of destroying the very foundation of that power of Her Majesty. That was the course which he took on a former occasion when the Bill of his noble Friend was under discussion by their Lordships—it would, he repeated, affect the whole superstructure of that power to carry out the necessary arrangements under the existing law, and would tend to destroy all the machinery which had been provided for carrying out the recommendations of the Commissioners. That was the ground which he took when the subject was last before their Lordships—these were the reasons which he urged for not agreeing to the Bill. He represented on that occasion what the arrangements were which might be carried into effect without this Bill. Amongst other things, he mentioned providing for the parochial clergy in Wales; he mentioned Wales in particular, as more applicable to the case, but the power under the existing law applied to all the parochial clergy, and he stated that the law under which that could be done would be affected by the Bill of the noble Earl, if it were passed into a law. He had now a paper showing what distribution had been proposed of the revenues at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by Her Majesty's Order in Council. If their Lordships referred to the Reports they would find that very large demands were made upon the parochial funds — they would find that very large demands were made on account of those dioceses. In the dioceses of Llandaff and St. David's, for instance, the demands which were made on the parochial fund were greater in amount than the saving that would be affected by the union of the dioceses, and the demands for parishes in the dioceses of St. Asaph and Bangor were 3,181l. for St. Asaph, and 4,747l. for Bangor, on the parochial fund. It was true that the episcopal funds could not be applied to that purpose without the authority of an Act of Parliament, and it was true, as had been said, that it was at the disposal of the Government. That might be, if they could prevail on the other House of Parliament to agree to such an appropriation of the episcopal fund. With respect to the Bill of the noble Earl, he would beg to remind their Lordships again that its effect would be to 605 repeal a portion of the Act of Parliament, which was the very corner stone on which the whole system at present in force depended with respect to the power of Her Majesty in Council, and the appointment of a Bishop in Manchester, as well as with reference to the sees of Llandaff and St. David's. The right rev. Prelate who had spoken last had charged him (the Duke of Wellington) with ignorance of the Act of Parliament which was passed in order to carry into effect some of those arrangements to which he had alluded; but what he had before stated he would now state again, and if their Lordships referred to the Act of Parliament to which he had before directed their attention, and referred to the Bill of the noble Earl, they would find that he had stated correctly what would be the effect of the Bill of the noble Earl. Their Lordships were well aware that there were serious objections made at the time the Reports originated to the introduction of two Bishops, the Bishops of Ripon and Manchester, into that House, and he believed it was deemed necessary at that time to unite not only two dioceses, but four dioceses. It was true, as the right rev. Prelate said, that the exercise of the prerogative of the Crown, and a Bill in the other House of Parliament, could effect some of those purposes; but he (the Duke of Wellington) pointed out that very ground as an objection to the Bill of the noble Earl, namely, that his Bill would make it necessary to resort to the prerogative of the Crown, and a Bill in the other House, to effect an object which could, as the law now stood, be attained by an Order of Her Majesty in Council: if such a measure were really required, he begged to be permitted to claim for Her Majesty's Government the opportunity of considering the matter and of originating such a measure themselves, and not to be forced to bring it forward by a Bill brought into that House. The right rev. Prelate objected to the use of the prerogative of the Crown on this occasion. No one could have said less on that subject than he (the Duke of Wellington) had, and he had only mentioned it when he looked upon it to be absolutely necessary to do so. He stated last Session, when the Bill was before the House, that it would be necessary to have the consent of the Crown to the discussion of the Bill in Parliament, but he did not mention it until the Bill had proceeded through some of its stages. 606 On the occasion of the introduction of the Bill this Session, he allowed it to pass a second reading without saying a word on the subject of the necessity of the consent of the Crown to the discussion, and he did not bring it forward until he was asked by a noble Lord on the other side of the House if he had the authority of Her Majesty to consent to the discussion of the Bill. He had not spoken one would on the subject up to that time, for he thought it proper to allow their Lordships to decide on the second reading of the Bill. When, however, he was asked that question, he stated that he had no such authority — he did not wish to state it sooner, for he knew that it would be time enough to state it at any stage of the measure. When the Bill was about to be read a third time, he stated that he had not the authority of Her Majesty to sanction the discussion of the measure, and he urged their Lordships not to proceed with it without the sanction of the Crown, and he urged upon the right rev. Prelates to consider whether they ought not to refuse to pass a Bill, to the discussion of which Her Majesty had not given her consent. He urged them to consider whether, even supposing it was the greatest possible object to the Church to have the dioceses of St. Asaph and Bangor separate, it would be not advisable, even for such an object, to establish the precedent of agreeing to a Bill affecting the interests of the Church without having the consent of the Crown to its discussion. That was all he said on the subject—he said it was a matter of form, and he entreated their Lordships to consider whether they ought to adhere to it or not. Several noble Lords, however, considered not only that the form was important, but they considered that the substance as well as the form of it was important, and that it was most essential that the consent of the Crown should be obtained for the discussion of the Bill — indeed, his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack expressed a doubt as to whether or not he could put the question on the Bill, after it had been stated that the consent of the Crown was not given to the discussion on the Bill; and the subject was accordingly referred to a Committee, which Committee were required to search for precedents, in order to ascertain if the Bill belonged to that class of Bills with respect to which it was the usage of the House to obtain the consent 607 of the Crown for the discussion, and the Committee reported that it was of that class. The only use which was made of the prerogative of the Crown in this case was, in effect, that Her Majesty was not advised to give the consent of the Crown to the consideration of this Bill by the House; that was all that had been done in the use of the prerogative of the Crown; and it was, in fact, the House itself which took the course that had been complained of with regard to the Bill, and not those of whom the right rev. Prelate said that they were willing to take advantage of the prerogative of the Crown. It was the duty of the servants of the Crown to consider this case as they would consider any other case—it was their duty to consider whether the measure was necessary, or, if not necessary, what course they ought to take. When they considered the subject, and when they came to the conclusion that it would be likely to inflict injury instead of being useful, it was their duty not to advise the Crown to give its consent. He felt himself under the necessity of making these observations, and he should have allowed the Motion of his noble Friend to pass without any remark if it had not been necessary for him to do so in his own defence.
The Bishop of Salisbury,
in explanation, said he did not refer to a former debate on this Bill, but to a part of the present debate, which had taken place on a former occasion. He should exceedingly regret it, if he had used a single expression which could by any possibility convey anything but real respect for the noble Duke. He (the Bishop of Salisbury) felt that in so doing he should be doing that which would be offensive to every one of their Lordships. He did not accuse the noble Duke of ignorance of Acts of Parliament, but the noble Duke having been inaccurate in some portions of his statement, he (the Bishop of Salisbury), remarked that he might not be so conversant with the details of those matters as the right rev. Prelate was. He (the Bishop of Salisbury) could assure the noble Duke that nothing disrespectful was intended.
Earl Mount Edgcumbe
hoped Her Majesty's Government would reconsider the matter before the expiration of the present Session of Parliament.
said, it was evident that the means which Her Majesty's Government had adopted to defeat the Bill 608 was to inform the House that the consent of the Crown was necessary to its discussion. It was well known that that consent was necessary to the passing of the Bill into a law, but if the consent of the Crown were necessary to the discussion of the measure, then any debate on the merits of the Bill was utterly futile. No one could doubt that if the Government thought proper to advise the Crown to give its consent, that consent would be obtained. It was now admitted that not a single precedent could be got for making the consent of the Crown necessary for the discussion of the Bill. The noble Duke now said he did not press the prerogative of the Crown—that he did not mention it till the second reading. Certainly not, for Her Majesty's Government would not have adopted so unusual a course had they thought the Bill would have been thrown out on the second reading.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that on the second reading of the Bill last Session he had stated that he had not the authority of the Crown to sanction the consideration of the Bill, and before the Bill was brought in during this Session he had communicated to the noble Earl that the consent of the Crown could not be given to the discussion of the measure.
§ Lord Lyttelton
said, it was a very unusual course to refuse the assent of the Crown merely to the discussion on a Bill; but Her Majesty's Government wished to prevent it reaching the House of Commons, and they adopted a mere technical form in order to effect that object. It ought, in his opinion, to be considered a matter of course to allow the discussion. A noble Duke said the other night of this course, that it was a state trick and an unworthy manœuvre. He (Lord Lyttelton) would not go the length of repeating that, but he could not think it a very fair way of stopping a Bill if it could not be resisted on its merits, and he thought it was a proceeding not very worthy of this or any other Government.
said, the noble Lord appeared to be under a mistake with respect to the Bill. He, as a constitutional lawyer, denied that any Bill in that or the other House of Parliament could not be considered without the consent of the Crown. As a constitutional lawyer, he maintained that there was not any subject to the discussion of which the previous 609 consent, permission, or leave, of the Crown was required before either House of Parliament fully and fairly considered it. The Committee reported on quite a different matter from that; namely, they reported that this Bill was one of a class of Bills with respect to which it was the usage to give the consent of the Crown to the consideration before the Bill passed into a law; and in the second Resolution it was staled that the consent of the Crown was given at different stages of such Bills, and was not necessary at any one particular stage. It was of the highest importance to the privileges of the Parliament, and their constitutional power and freedom, that this matter should be rightly understood. He would maintain that there was no necessity, on the part of either House of Parliament, to obtain the previous leave and permission of the Sovereign in order that they might discuss any Bill. If that were not the law then there was an end to all their Parliamentary and constitutional freedom of discussion. Good God! did they not know that one of the greatest grievances which had been complained of in the ancient institution of Scotland was, that a Committee, called "the Lords of the Articles," had power previously to inquire and give their acquiescence before a measure was introduced and discussed, and yet those Lords of the Articles, who were Members of the Estates themselves, were looked upon to possess power which was an intolerable grievance, and repugnant to the freedom of debate—a power which was put an end to by the Revolution of 1688, and which never existed after, from 1688 to the period when the Union, in 1706, happily put an end to that very exceptionable body, the Scottish, in the same way that another Union at a subsequent period put an end to that much more exceptionable body, the Irish Parliament. The granting of the consent of the Crown to the discussion of such Bills had invariably been acted upon—it was one which was advantageous in operation, and its origin showed that it was founded upon a wise reason, and was calculated to be advantageous in effect. It was proposed originally with a view to prevent unseemly collision between the two Houses of Parliament and the Crown, as regarded giving a veto by the Crown to a Bill which had passed both Houses of Parliament. The refusal of the consent of the Crown to the discussion 610 of a Bill was a warning, as it were—a polite and courteous communication—yes, he said a courteous communication between the Sovereign, the guardian of the privileges of the Crown, and the two Houses of Parliament—one House the representative and guardian of the Aristocracy and the Church, and the other representing the Commonalty of the realm in order that there might be a previous notice that if they passed a certain Bill it would not receive the Royal Assent; and it would be evident to their Lordships that there must be many excellent reasons for a custom which had so great an effect in preventing any unpleasant collision, by withdrawing the Royal Consent to the discussion of the measure. It did not, however, he should remark, follow from what he said that because this had been the custom of Parliament, either House of Parliament had been therefore bound by it, for both Houses of Parliament had the undoubted right to discuss any measure that was brought before them; and there was no case in which any Member of the House of Commons or any Peer of Parliament could not introduce any question, and take the discussion on it without the consent of the Crown for such a discussion. He held it to be demonstrative to the clearest proof that there was no one case in which any Peer of Parliament, or representative of the people in the House of Commons, had not the undoubted and imprescriptible right of rising in his place, and making any Motion on any one subject which he pleased, and there was no one Motion on which he could not take a discussion, and in which the Speaker was not bound to put the question, except where the Statute interfered, as he should presently show it did in one case. By the 10th of George III.—the Grenville Act—it was provided that if a petition were presented complaining of the election of any Member, it should be laid on the Table without the question being put, and that was the only exemption in either House of Parliament as to the power to bring forward a Motion and of the Speaker to put the question upon it. No man could, after the passing of the Grenville Act, moot the question whether A. B. was or was not duly returned to Parliament in case of such a petition as that which he had described; and it must be laid on the Table as required by the Statute; that, in fact, went to prove, that in other cases, 611 where there was no statutory prohibition, the Speaker was bound to put the question, or else one single individual in the House of Commons could put an end to a subject by refusing to put the question; and if that were the right in the House of Commons, who select their own Speaker, how much stronger was it in their Lordships' House who did not choose a Speaker. Their Lordships did not choose a Speaker, and that was the reason that the Lord Chancellor had no power to preserve order given to him, each Peer kept order. Perhaps, however, he should better satisfy some noble Lords if he prefixed the syllable "dis," and said, that each Peer had a power to preserve order or maintain admired disorder as the case might be. His noble and learned Friend upon the Woolsack might, perhaps, wish he had the larger power of the Speaker in the other House; but boni judicis and he might, perhaps say boni oratoris est servare non ampliare jurisdictionem. [The Lord Chancellor intimated his dissent.] He was sure his noble and learned Friend had better be without the power. But as this House did not choose its own Speaker it was more necessary here than in the other House, that the Speaker should have neither eye nor ear (as an old Speaker in the other House once said) but as the House itself should direct. It was quite true, that in the other House no Bill on the subject of money could be entertained without the previous leave of the Crown—not that they had not a right to hear it, for it was their undeniable right to discuss the subject of granting money, but it was a wisely imposed self-restriction — a restriction which they laid upon themselves—that they should not receive applications for money, without the consent of the Crown. It was a wise and prudent, and salutary restriction, that they should not proceed further without the consent of the Crown, where its interests were concerned, but it was only a rule of self-restraint. He was of opinion, therefore, that they ought to follow usage in this case, though there was no rule of law to prevent them from proceeding with the discussion; and if he moved the third reading, his noble and learned Friend would be bound to put the question. If however, any extraordinary necessity arose for the exercise of their right, they were not debarred from using it; but he did not believe that any necessity existed in the present case for departing from that usage.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
entirely agreed with his noble and learned Friend upon the importance of this subject, and thanked him for his speech, because, agreeing with him, that there were rules of Parliament as well as laws of the country which were not to be found in written enactments, he thought it of the highest importance that some protest should be entered against this case being considered a precedent. It was an entirely new precedent, because, though undoubtedly the Committee had reported that upon such Bills as the present it had been usual to have the consent of the Crown before they could be passed, he defied any noble Lord to produce a Bill that had been stopped, and which the House had been precluded from passing before this one, for, virtually and practically, their Lordships were now stopped for want of the consent of the Crown. He would remind his noble and learned Friend how it was, that the word "usages" got into the Instruction to the Committee, and then into the Report of the Committee. The Government took a stronger view of the case than his noble and learned Friend had taken on the present occasion, because the Motion, as moved by the noble Duke, had the word "required" in it, [The Duke of Wellington: No, no.] Yes, at first; but at his suggestion the noble Duke happily inserted the word "usage," for if the word "required," had been used, it would have been necessary to take some step to have it expunged. The doctrine laid down on the other side of the House was, that their Lordships were precluded from proceeding, not only with this Bill, but all such Bills. But he asserted that while there was an absence of any such precedent, there were several precedents of Bills touching the rights of the Crown as nearly as this having passed. He would not, however, take that ground, because the laches or neglect of the Government or the House could not be pleaded as forming a good precedent. The noble Duke stated that last year he had alluded to the consent of the Crown being necessary; but not a word was said this Session, either upon the first or second reading of the Bill, and what was the consequence of that reserve? They were now called upon to slight the rights and privileges which that House had hitherto used, and they were precluded from giving effect to the opinion to which, after deliberation they had come. 613 And what was that for? He should not blame the Government if he saw that any injury was done to the Crown. That had never been argued. Who knew that if the Bill were passed, the Crown would be injured in its rights or patronage? But that was not the ground on which consent was withheld. What then? No other reason had been given than this—that it was the opinion of Ministers that the Bill ought not to pass. If the doctrine was laid down that whenever a Government were of opinion that a Bill ought not to pass, they were to withhold the consent of the Crown there was an end to the freedom of debate in that House. He was told that they might debate this Bill to the latest period; but was their Lordships' House a mere debating society, where they were to discuss questions and measures which they knew would never pass? With regard to the measure itself, he did not take an extraordinary interest in it, not having studied it much; but he should be disposed to vote for it upon the recommendation of the Ecclesiastical Commission. He wished now only to enter his protest against the conduct pursued in most unnecessarily raising a question between the rights of that House and the attention which ought to be paid to the Crown, which being a matter of much delicacy ought not to have been raised upon such grounds. The impression upon every man's mind in the country, must be, that Ministers wished to sneak behind the Throne, and under cover of the royal prerogative to prevent this Bill from going down to the other House of Parliament, because some of their right hon. Colleagues would be obliged to support it. Why not say that out in their Lordships' House as well as elsewhere? It was perfectly well known that the President of the Board of Trade was well inclined towards the measure; and it was as perfectly notorious, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer dare not disoblige his constituents at Cambridge. ["Hear, hear."] Let noble Lords who cheered him go to Cambridge and inquire, and they would soon be satisfied that such was the reason; and he defied them to produce any precedent of any Government having withheld the consent of the Crown in this way. He felt, therefore, quite justified in finding fault with Ministers. So little did the noble Duke know the ground upon which he might meet the right of usage, that it was 614 at the suggestion of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack that a Committee was appointed to find a precedent. The noble Duke did not know whether the Bill came within that class of Bills which rendered it necessary first to ascertain whether the consent of the Crown would be given. [Cries of "No, no,"] If that was not the case, why then did a Cabinet Minister propose the appointment of a Committee to inquire into what they already knew and were satisfied about? [A noble Peer: It was Lord Canterbury.] It was immaterial whether the Government itself or a noble Baron who was a friend to the Government suggested the Motion; it was entirely done by the Government. It was, therefore, too late for the Government to say now that this course had been taken only on the ground of injury to the Crown. He repeated his thanks to his noble and learned Friend for his speech, which would be referred to in future times. If the consent of the Crown was to be withheld whenever Ministers chose that a Bill should not pass, there was an end to the privileges of that House with regard to legislation.
§ The Duke of Wellington
explained that he was not the person who had suggested the word "required," and that all he did was to substitute the word "usage."
§ Lord Wharncliffe
said, his noble Friends never refused the consent of the Crown, nor ever said anything about it until his noble Friend was asked from the other side if he was empowered to communicate her Majesty's consent to the measure. When the question was raised, it was his duty to say that he was not authorized to give the consent of the Crown. The noble and learned Lord on the edge of the Woolsack (Lord Brougham) had given a most able exposition of the rights, both of the Crown and of their Lordships' House, well worthy their attention; but he could not speak so of the Address of the noble Marquess, who had stated that it was because some Minister could not vote against the Bill in the other House, that therefore the Government had taken this course to stop the Bill. How did the noble Marquess know that? Had the Bill passed, what was there to prevent the Chancellor of the Exchequer acting upon principle, perceiving the evils of the Bill, and voting against it? But the noble Marquess seemed to know more of the intention of his Colleagues than he did; for he said one right hon. Gentleman would vote for the Bill. He (Lord Wharncliffe) 615 knew nothing of that fact. The Act which his noble Friend now sought to repeal was the settlement of a great question, and it should remain undisturbed. It was a pity that this subject could not be discussed without stirring up other questions as to how many Bishops, or whether any, should sit in their Lordships' House. Such discussions were not calculated to advance the interests of the Church.
§ Lord Monteagle
said, he was the person who first called attention this Session to the question whether this Bill required the assent of the Crown or not, and that entirely without the knowledge or privity of any noble Lord opposite. He had acted only in accordance with what had happened in the antecedent year, when the noble Duke, not after the second reading had been agreed to, not after the question had been put to him, but after the noble Lord who had charge of the Bill had agreed to withdraw it—and then it was in reference to the future—took upon himself to suggest the question whether the assent of the Crown would not be necessary before such a Bill could pass? That was last year; and therefore he utterly denied that this prerogative of the Crown had been called into action to control an adverse majority. When the subject was first mentioned, it was not after an adverse decision; therefore the noble Lord had no ground to complain of underhand proceedings. He had hoped, indeed, that this suggestion made last year would have induced the right rev. Prelate and the noble Lord to withdraw the Bill altogether. No one would wish to deny the force of the exposition of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Brougham), but it must not be carried too far; after all, much must depend upon the wisdom and discretion of the House in the exercise of its rights—what was there, in fact, to prevent them from moving an Address to the Crown praying for the royal assent? That would be no surrender of their rights and privileges, which, he contended, had not been interfered with. At the same time, he thought that it would be convenient in cases where the consent of the Crown was necessary, for the House to be put in possession of that knowledge as early as possible. With respect to official convenience, or any possible difference of opinion among noble Lords and their Colleagues, he had no concern, but undoubtedly the statement made by the noble 616 Duke last year before any such occurrences could have taken place, as was supposed, was a sufficient answer to them. He had understood that the Bill would have a good effect among the working clergy in Wales, and a right rev. Prelate had informed him that the principle of the Bill was very good and ought to be applied to all England; but without the means he did not see how it could be carried out. He trusted noble Lords would consider that portion of the measure during the interval between this and the next Session. The cry in Wales both from the clergy and the laity would be very different from what it was if they saw the ecclesiastical revenues applied to the promotion of Christian instruction. Noble Lords should feel that the real object was to extend the number of bishoprics through the country. He thought that if such was the case, a Bill should be brought in expressly announcing that intention.
The Bishop of Bangor
said, that approving as he did of the course pursued by the noble Earl in not pressing the House to any further decision upon his Bill after the report from the Committee who had been required to report upon the question of the royal assent; he, at the same time, must express the great regret which he felt upon this subject. He was sure, too, that that regret would be felt by every person in the Principality of Wales, as he knew it to be by all with whom he had either conversed or corresponded on the subject. He felt certain that the intelligence of the manner in which the Bill had been disposed of would be received with universal regret. He had no doubt that Her Majesty's Government had acted under a strict sense of their duty to their Sovereign on the subject. If the Bill had been thrown out by a majority of their Lordships' House or the House of Commons, then his countrymen and neighbours would have submitted with regret, but without any strong feeling of disappointment; but when they heard that the Bill had been disposed of upon a formal and technical objection, they would feel the deepest sorrow at the matter. It could not be contended that the Bill affected the property or the prerogative of the Crown. He could not concur in what had been said by the noble Earl (the Earl of Powis) as to the statement made by the noble Duke during the previous Session, as he did not understand that any 617 such intimation as that mentioned took place. He was bound to say, that he was fully convinced that the measure adopted was one which would have no operation upon any other question connected with any bills that had already passed through the Legislature, and that it would not even affect the Cathedrals Bill, or the Act the two Clauses of which it proposed to repeal, with the exception of those clauses. It was a measure which tended to produce no organic change in the constitution of the country. It did not aim at revoking any Order in Council beyond this one. He could assure their Lordships that the question was one which was deeply felt by the clergy of his diocese from the first. The working clergy—as one noble Lord chose to call them, by an invidious distinction which he did not pretend to understand—the working clergy thought it much better to claim their bishopric than that there should be a division among the poorer clergy of the revenues of the diocese. As for himself, he had no personal interest in the Bill, since he would remain where he was during his lifetime. He certainly, however, felt deeply for his diocese, and he knew that all his clergy felt deeply upon the subject also. It was therefore that he felt it his duty to support as strenuously as he could the Bill which the noble Earl had presented with so much ability and zeal to their Lordships. In conclusion, he hoped that the Government would take the whole subject into their consideration for another Session, and that they would adopt a different view of it from that which they had at present unfortunately taken. He hoped that when again brought before the House Ministers would present no merely formal and technical obstacle to the Bill, and with that hope he would return to his diocese.
§ The Duke of Wellington
trusted he would not be deemed guilty of disorder by speaking again, if he rose to offer some explanation. He did give notice to his noble Friend (the Earl of Powis), when his Bill was under discussion last year, that it was a measure upon which it would be necessary to have the consent of the Crown. His noble Friend considered that intimation so conclusive that he had communicated with him (the Duke of Wellington) on the subject before bringing in the Bill in the present Session of Parliament. Upon the third reading of the measure he had intimated that Her 618 Majesty's consent could not be given to the Bill, but he then stated that it was not his intention to take the sense of the House upon the third reading; proving thereby that he only wished to put it to the House whether it was expedient for the House to proceed with a measure to which Her Majesty's dissent had been signified. No one felt a higher respect for the right rev. Prelate who had just spoken than he did, and nothing was more creditable to him than the attachment of his clergy to their Bishop. But that was not the question which the Government were called on to consider. They had to view the measure upon large and constitutional grounds; and in doing so they had determined that they could not advise Her Majesty to give it her consent.
said, that while concurring with the constitutional law upon the subject, as laid down by his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham), yet as the law now stood it was clear, that the consent of the Crown having been withheld, the Speaker of their Lordships' House could not put regularly the question that the Bill do now pass. He would suppose that it was in the power of Parliament to make such a regulation as his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) had contended for, and that it might take the initiative in matters affecting the prerogative and revenues of the Crown; yet it was still clear, from the usage on the subject, that both Houses had laid down as a rule, that unless the assent of the Crown was given, such a Bill should not pass. The usage of the House was the law of the House, as much as it was the "lex scripta Parliamenti," and the usage said, that there was a certain class of Bills which could not be passed without the consent of the Crown. Well, then, the Report of the Committee appointed to investigate the matter held that the present Bill was one of that class, and till the consent of the Crown was given, therefore, he maintained that it could not pass. He thought that the time at which in the progress of such a Bill, the Royal Dissent ought to be intimated, was a point which ought at once to be settled, and he should submit, that as the question resolved itself into a Standing Order, their Lordships ought to make a Standing Order that this class of Bills should not be entertained unless the Royal Assent was signified to them upon their second reading.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
stated that Ministers were quite willing to take upon themselves the responsibility of advising Her Majesty to withhold her assent from the present Bill.
§ The Bill was then withdrawn.