HL Deb 22 June 1847 vol 93 cc788-97

On Motion, that this House do now resolve itself into Committee,


wished to observe, that he should he most anxious to support the Government in carrying this Bill in its main provisions, but felt a strong objection to one part of it, as it stood at present. The first clause stated that Her Majesty had issued a Commission for an inquiry into the state of the several bishoprics in England and Wales —"with special reference to the intentions therein graciously declared by Her Majesty, that a measure should be submitted to Parliament for continuing the bishoprics of St. Asaph and Bangor as separate bishoprics, and for establishing forthwith a bishopric of Manchester; and also, so soon as conveniently might be, three other additional bishoprics; regard being had to the circumstance, that Her Majesty did not contemplate the issue of Her writ to the new bishops to sit and vote as Peers of Parliament, except as vacancies should from time to time occur among the bishops of England and Wales, now so sitting and voting. Now, there was a grave doubt whether that was consistent with the law, and the privileges of the House. Lord Coke and Sir M. Hale laid it down that the Crown was bound, ex debito justitiœ, to issue a writ of summons to Parliament to every bishop quâ, bishop, not only in the case of bishoprics already existing, but of every one that might exist. Under these circumstances, he felt bound to say non-content to going into Committee, for regularity sake; but should not at the same time persist in any opposition to the committal of the Bill.


concurred in the right rev. Prelate's objection to the expression brought under the notice of the House; but, nevertheless, he did not think that the mere recital of what had been wrongfully done, would taint the enacting-portions of the Bill.


explained, that the recital had only reference to the intention of Her Majesty in issuing the Commission; and the second clause of the Bill provided the power of carrying that intention into effect. Therefore it was not contemplated that this arrangement should be made without the sanction of Parliament.

House in Committee. On Clause 2, enacting that the number of Lords Spiritual shall not be increased, being read,

LORD REDESDALE moved the omission of the clause for the purpose of inserting the following clause:— And whereas Doubts may arise whether Bishops of the new Sees to be established under the Powers of this Act, may not demand as of Right Writs of Summons to Parliament, be it enacted, pursuant to the Declaration of Her Majesty hereinbefore recited, That until Her Majesty shall be graciously pleased to summon to Parliament any Bishop holding One of the said Sees, no Bishop holding that See shall be entitled to demand as of Right a Writ of Summons to Parliament. He was induced to make this Amendment, both in reference to the prerogative of the Crown, and the privileges of the Peerage of that House. He thought it not right that the Crown should be deprived for the future of a power exercised by all Hoi-Majesty's predecessors; and, the right of issuing writs of summons being with Her Majesty alone, he wished to leave the Sovereign's prerogative untouched. With respect to the Peerage of this country, this was the first time it had ever been proposed to interfere with the right conferred by it. That House, it was true, had been at one time abolished altogether; but it had never been at any other period denied, that where the Peerage was conferred, there the right to a summons existed. There were precedents, undoubtedly, of parties guilty of offences, attainted, for instance, being excluded from the House; and there was an early instance of a Peer not being allowed to attend the House on account of poverty. But in these instances it was supposed that there existed some personal disqualification against the holders of the Peerage exercising their right. The second clause, however, of the present Bill proceeded upon a totally different principle. Supposing Her Majesty were to declare that the number of Temporal Peers in the present House was large enough for all purposes, and supposing it was proposed to enact by Bill that the number of Lords Temporal should not be increased, what would be thought of such a proposition? Yet it was quite as justifiable to restrict the number of Temporal Peers as the number of Spiritual Peers. He thought the precedent dangerous to the Peerage of the country. On these two grounds he had the strongest possible objection to the clause proposed by the Government. With respect to the addition to the number of bishops in that House, he believed that these four bishops might have been added to the number already in the House without the risk of incurring objections of any strength. He considered that those bishoprics which had been represented in their Lordships' House for many years ought not, under any circumstances, to be deprived of that right. The Bill, in its present form, would establish a most dangerous principle; and he hoped their Lordships would be of opinion that no restriction should be placed on the power of the Crown, and that they would assent to his proposal.


opposed the Amendment, the effect of which would be to alter most materially the character of the Bill. The object of the Bill was to enable the Crown to create a new bishopric of Manchester; but it was provided that in consequence of such creation the number of Lords Spiritual, who held seats in that House, should not be increased. The Bill would not deprive the Crown of any prerogative, for Her Majesty would still continue to issue writs of summons to the same number of archbishops and bishops as at present. He contended that it was open to Parliament to regulate the conditions upon which any now see should be created; and that the practice established with regard to Irish and Scotch Representative Peers was a precedent for the course Her Majesty's Ministers now proposed to take with reference to the Lords Spiritual. The second clause of the Bill provided, that when there was a vacancy among the Lords Spiritual, by the avoidance of any of the sees of Canterbury, York, London, Durham, or Winchester, such vacancy should be supplied by the issue of a writ of summons to the bishop who should be elected to the same see; but that if such a vacancy was caused by avoidance of any other see in England or Wales, such vacancy should be supplied by the issue of a writ of summons to the bishop who first did homage for his see, or for any other see in England or Wales, of those who had not previously become entitled to such writ. The Bill, therefore, would not interfere in the slightest degree with the prerogative of the Crown; and he hoped their Lordships would not sanction the alteration proposed by the noble Lord opposite.


observed, that the Government had announced their intention of proposing to Parliament an addition to the number of bishops; and they now proposed the creation of one new bishopric, and the number was ultimately to be increased to four. But the noble Marquess opposite had stated that he considered it essential that the number of Lords Spiritual at present occupying scats in that House should not be increased. He (Lord Stanley) doubted whether it was essential to the success of this measure that no addition should be made to the number of Peers in that House; but, even if that were the case, he could not but think that the Government had pursued a most objectionable course. The limitation of the number of Lords Spiritual which it was proposed to establish by this Bill, was not only an infringement of the prerogatives of the Crown, but he also considered that it was a dangerous invasion of the rights and privileges of all the Members of their Lordships' House, temporal and spiritual. he thought that if any large addition was made to the number of bishops, it must be by constituting bishops circumstanced very differently from those who now held that important office. If any very considerable increase in the number of bishops were contemplated, it would be absolutely impossible to act upon the principle laid down by this Bill; for, if a large increase were made in the number of bishops, and at the same time all the bishops except twenty-four were excluded from that House, they would probably exclude, for a considerable period at least, many of the younger and more diligent and active men. But if no large increase in the number of bishops were contemplated, if the total addition was not to exceed four, then he (Lord Stanley) said that the objection which might possibly be raised to so small an increase in the number of Lords Spiritual was of infinitely less weight and importance than the disadvantage of introducing the great practical anomaly of a certain number of bishops holding seats in that House, and a certain number—exercising in all respects the same functions, possessing precisely the same authority—being-contradistinguished from their brethren by the fact of their not having seats in their Lordships' House. Although the noble Marquess had said that this Bill would not affect the prerogative of the Crown, because the Crown had now only the power of calling twenty-six bishops to that House, yet it would clearly so far invade the prerogative of the Crown as that, by Parliamentary vote, it would prohibit the Crown from summoning an additional number of Lords Spiritual to sit in Parliament without the express sanction of Parliament in each individual case. He considered, however, that the Bill was most objectionable, as affecting the rights and privileges of their Lordships. The principle the Bill laid down was this—that while at the present moment every Lord Spiritual, as well as every Lord Temporal, had a right to demand a writ of summons, that right was, in the case of all bishops hereafter appointed, to be taken away. Why, they might as well deprive the sons or successors of any Lord Temporal of the right to sue out a writ or summons, and to demand a seat in that House, until the Peers had been reduced by deaths or other causes to a certain number. He (Lord Stanley) protested against such an infringement of the prerogatives of the Crown, and such an invasion of the privileges of the Peerage.


said, the noble Lord had objected to many parts of this scheme, but their Lordships had not heard what plan he would substitute for it. The noble Lord objected to the exclusion of the new bishop from the House; but as it was granted that the number of bishops should exceed the number of the episcopal seats in the House, it was absolutely necessary to make the rule of exclusion in some instances. But the present proposition would not go to exclude the bishop from the House at all. It merely provided that he should not be admitted till there was a vacancy for him. The noble Lord had told them that this proposition was a breach of the privileges of the House, and, more astonishing still, an infringement of the privileges of the right rev. Bench and of the House. There was no question that when a bishop was appointed to a new see, he was entitled as a right to receive a summons to the House; but that case did not hold good with respect to a new bishop; and it rested with the Crown to call him to a vacant seat when it occurred. He could not see, therefore, how the prerogatives of the Crown or of the Bench could be interfered with; nor could any precedent be drawn from the case of the Irish bishops. A new bishop was not a Member of the House at all. He did not see, therefore, how there could be any interference with the rights of the Episcopal Bench, or of the individual bishop. It had been attempted to draw an analogy between the members of the right rev. Bench and of the temporal Peerage, but it could not be maintained. Every Peer of the realm had a right to all the privileges of the Peerage, not only for himself but for his successors; and if any attempt were made to exclude him, he had a right to claim his rights for his successor; whereas you take nothing away from the bishop by depriving him of his seat. The whole question for the House to decide upon was, if the new bishops should all have seats in the House without any limitation as to numbers. The want of bishops was severely felt in every district; and it was for their Lordships to consider whether they should not supply that want without adding to the numbers of the episcopal seats in that House. It would he very injurious to introduce a system establishing a distinction in this respect between members of the same body; and the only plan they could adopt, as it was decided that the number of bishops should be greater than the number of seats, was, that the newly-chosen Prelates should he summoned to their Lordships' House as vacancies occurred in the Episcopal Bench. There was no resource but to adopt the present method. And was it the first time of adopting it? Not by any means. They had the precedent of Ireland before them. It was said that the practice there was established by compact; but this was a compact too. On every ground he thought this plan more free from objections than any other that could he devised, and he hoped their Lordships would look upon it in the same light.


altogether objected to the second clause of the Bill. He did not see why any bishop should be excluded from a seat in the House; and if the contrary principle were established, it could not fail to affect the privileges of their Lordships' House; for it was a matter of notoriety that when the cry was raised some years ago against the bishops sitting in the House, there was coupled with it some hints that their Lordships' House might also he represented by members of their own body. In the year 183G that House voted an Address to the Crown to admit the Bishop of Manchester to a seat in that House; and they were now about to advise Her Majesty to keep him out.


said, he understood the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne) to say that Her Majesty could not call to that House more than twenty-four Prelates, inasmuch as that number had never been exceeded, and that the authority of the Crown was bound by that practice. He ventured to affirm that such a declaration with respect to the prerogative of the Crown would be difficult to sustain; and he apprehended that the prerogative and the duty of the Crown, on the choice of any bishop, would be to issue a summons to him to take his scat in the House; it would in fact he an interference with the prerogative of the Crown to prevent the issue of that summons. Sir M. Hale expressly said that the right to a seat in their Lordships' House belonged as an inherent part to the office of a bishop, and that he was entitled to a seat in the great Council of the nation.


explained that what he had stated was that in point of practice the bishops never exceeded a certain number, and that it was not in the power of the Crown to add to that number without obtaining the authority of Parliament, because it required the power of Parliament to create any new bishop.


said, he was prepared to share the responsibility of the framers of this Bill, and was ready to give it his support. He could not but think that the right rev. Prelate who spoke last (Bishop of Exeter), arguing with his accustomed ingenuity, not to say subtlety, had furnished an irresistible weapon wherewithal to demolish his own argument, and that of the mover and supporters of the Amendment. The real question before them was, was this measure an infringement on the prerogatives of the Episcopal Bench? But there was as great an invasion made on the rights of the episcopacy by the Amendment as by this Bill. The right rev. Prelate contended that every bishop was entitled to a seat ex debito justitiœ in right of his office. It was then an invasion on that right for the Amendment to say, if the new bishop were made, that he should not at once take his place in the House on Her Majesty's summons. He thought it fair to say, however, that there was considerable weight in the objections stated by the noble Lord opposite to the mea- sure as it was now introduced; but he conceived, that under the circumstances of the very great difficulty attending the case, all they could do was to make a choice of those difficulties and select the least. It was most desirable that the number of bishops should be increased, without increasing the number of Spiritual Lords. If the number of bishops in the House of Lords was greatly increased, and the new bishops, on their call to the Upper House, voted on any question with the Government, it would lay them open to the charge of political subserviency. It was certainly a collateral advantage that the bishops should live for a considerable time in their dioceses, and be well acquainted with the clergy before being called upon to spend a great portion of the year in London. He doubted whether the Church could be adequately represented with a less number of Spiritual Peers than they had at present; but still he did not think it would conduce to the interests of the Church that the numbers should be increased. He was therefore prepared to give his support to the Bill as it stood.

Their Lordships divided on the question that the clause proposed to be left out, stand part of the Motion:—Contents 44; Not-Contents 14: Majority 30.

List of the CONTENTS.
The Lord Chancellor VISCOUNT.
DUKE Falkland
St. Albans BISHOPS
Lansdowne Salisbury
Clanricarde Norwich
Westminster Lincoln
EARLS. Bangor
Ducie Llandaff
Morley LORDS.
Fortescue Camoys
Clarendon Montfort
Auckland Sudeley
Grey Dunally
Minto Campbell
Devon Mostyn
Kingston Wrottesley
Cowper Portman
Granville De Mauley
Chichester Colborne
Stradbroke Beaumont
Scarborough Kenyon
Powis Bolton
Spencer Walsingham
List of the NOT-CONTENTS.
DUKE. Bandon
Richmond Malmesbury
MARQUESS. Mountcashel
EARLS. Strangford
Nelson Hereford
Exeter Stanley
Oxford Redesdale
Bath and Wells Ashburton
Paired off.
Duke of Bedford Earl of Ellenborough
Earl of Yarborough Marquess of Exeter
Lord Byron Lord Saltoun
Marquess of Donegal Viscount Canterbury
Earl Camperdown Earl Egmont
Earl of Eldon Earl Delawarr
Lord Wenlock Earl Orford
Lord Lilford Lord Bradford
Earl of Ilchester Viscount Beresford
Bishop of Durham Earl Brownlow
Lord Denman Lord Brougham
Earl of Effingham Earl of Wilton
Lord Stratford Earl of Eglintoun
Lord Foley Viscount Sidney
Bishop of Worcester Bishop of Gloucester

Resolved in the affirmative.

On Clause 3 being read,


said, be had an Amendment to propose, the object of which he should state shortly to their Lordships. In all cathedrals there were two foundations, old and new, the latter commencing in the reign of Henry VIII., and the former consisting of those which were not suppressed by the effect of the Reformation. A Bill had been passed some years since, the effect of which was, that while the Dean of York was reduced from 3,000l. to l,000l. a-year, the Dean of Norwich would be left in possession of his salary of 1,500l; that the Deans of Wells and Leicester would be respectively reduced to 1,000l. a-year, while those of Worcester and Rochester, being on the new foundations, would be left in the possession of the whole of their emoluments. While he presided over the diocese, a vacancy occurred for the deanery of Wells, and a Committee of the Ecclesiastical Board decided that 1,500l. a year—about the same salary as his predecessors enjoyed—was the allowance which he ought fairly to enjoy. This decision was adopted by a full board of Ecclesiastical Commissioners; and though the law officers of the Crown dissented from it, he still thought it the most just manner in which the reductions in ecclesiastical incomes sanctioned by the Act of Parliament to which he had referred could be carried out. He should, therefore, put it to their Lordships, as a matter of justice, that the recommendation of the Committee of the Board should be embodied in this Bill.



Amendment withdrawn.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed, and adjourned.

The following Protest was entered on the Journals against the Retention of Clause 2 in the Bishopric of Manchester, &c, Bill:—


  1. 1. Because when Parliament declares that the interests of the Church require an increase in the number of the bishops of England and Wales, it is an ungracious interference with the prerogative of the Crown as enjoyed by Her Majesty's predecessors to annex to the creation of such bishoprics the condition that the number of bishops sitting in Parliament shall not be increased, and to take away from Her Majesty, her heirs, and successors, the power of summoning to Parliament all or any of these bishops at any future period, if it should become Her or their wish to do so, thus permanently limiting the royal prerogative, under the pretext that Her Majesty has been pleased to declare, that, as at present advised she does not contemplate the issue of her writ to the new bishops, except as vacancies shall from time to time occur among the bishops of England and Wales now sitting in Parliament.
  2. 2. Because by this clause the writs of summons to Parliament, to which the bishops of the ancient sees of England and Wales are by law entitled, are to be suspended as each see shall become vacant, and as the right of the successive holders of such sees to such writs of summons is as much inherent in their sees as that of the Lords Temporal in their respective Peerages, the above-mentioned enactment constitutes a dangerous precedent, at variance with the principle of an hereditary Peerage, and contrary to the privileges as well of the Lords Temporal as Spiritual.

Back to