HL Deb 05 June 1845 vol 81 cc123-5
Lord Cottenham

moved, that the House do now resolve itself into Committee.

The Bishop of Exeter

, after adverting to the circumstances in which the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill of 1843 was introduced, amended, and finally withdrawn, said, that in this Bill it was attempted to give jurisdiction in spirituals to a Lay Court, which it was not competent for the State to give; and therefore he moved that the Bill be committed that day six months.

The Lord Chancellor

said he had given his assent to the second reading of the measure for it was impossible that he could disagree to the principle of a Bill, the clauses of which, so far as he saw, correspond with those of the Government Bill of 1843, and of that more limited measure which he had himself last year introduced, and which, having gone through a Select Committee, passed their Lordships' House unanimously, and was only abandoned in the House of Commons in consequence of the lateness of the Session.

Lord Brougham

suggested that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.

The Bishop of Exeter

would assent to that with all his heart; for when once the Bill was buried in the Select Committee, it would not be disinterred until next Session.

Lord Cottenham

had only interfered in the matter when he found that the Government did not themselves intend to propose any measure upon the subject during the present Session. The evil which this Bill proposed to remedy was admitted to exist by all parties; and after this Bill had been sanctioned by all the Members of the Government in that House, and had passed the second reading by the unanimous vote of their Lordships, it ought not now to be stopped in its course. The evil was admitted—ought he to be prevented from applying a remedy?

The Bishop of Exeter

, upon the understanding that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee, withdrew his Amendment.

Lord Brougham

explained, that he had not suggested a Select Committee for the sake of delaying, but because he thought it would expedite the Bill.

Lord Abinger

objected to the Bill. The Ecclesiastical Courts had subsisted for 700 years, and he thought the abolition of those ancient jurisdictions was uncalled for. He should support the Amendment for referring the Bill to a Select Committee.

The Bishop of Salisbury

said, he was never more surprised than when he read in the country a statement in the newspapers that this Bill had been read a second time without any opposition on the part of Her Majesty's Government. He rested his objection to the Bill on the argument so strongly put by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter) as to the necessity of maintaining this shadow of a jurisdiction. The rights of the Church were essential to the character of the Church. As to the testamentary jurisdiction of these courts, it was a question of popular convenience; but it rested with the advocates of the change to show that public convenience would be promoted by it without any accompanying evils. He concurred in opinion with those who recommended that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee.

After some remarks from Lord Brougham, the Bishop of Exeter, and Lords Cottenham and Campbell,

Lord Wharncliffe

thought it would be better to allow the Bill to go through its present stage, and that it should not be reported till an opportunity had been afforded of considering the details of the Bill.

Bill referred to a Select Committee.