HL Deb 10 July 1856 vol 143 cc546-9

presented a Bill to provide for the retirement of the present Bishops of London and Durham, and said it was perhaps known to their Lordships that two distinguished members of the episcopal bench were unfortunately in such a state of health as to disqualify them for the discharge of their several duties, and that they had signified their wish to retire from their respective bishoprics. Under such circumstances it was but reasonable that provision should be made for retiring allowances for those right, rev. Prelates—he alluded to the Bishop of London and the Bishop of Durham. He therefore asked their Lordships to assent to the first reading of a Bill to effect that object. The measure was one to enable those right rev. Prelates to retire, and to make provision for them after the resignation of their sees. If their Lordships assented to the first reading, he would propose to take the second reading to-morrow (Friday).


said, that the principle of the Bill was one that demanded considerable attention. It was no doubt desirable that some general measure should be adopted to meet such contingencies; but the policy of passing a particular measure relating only to two sees, he thought was extremely questionable. In his opinion it was a dangerous precedent to lay down, and might be acted upon whenever an occasion arose of a bishop desiring to surrender his see; and it would be a far preferable mode of proceeding to introduce a general measure enabling members of the right rev. Bench, under certain restrictions, to retire when they felt themselves disqualified from performing their episcopal functions efficiently. He trusted their Lordships would not allow a Bill relating to particular sees to be brought hurriedly forward at a late period of the Session, and passed without that consideration which the magnitude of the subject required. If he were met by the argument that inconvenience would result from postponement, all he could say in reply was that the course which he recommended was open to less objection than, within a few weeks of the end of the Session, to pass a measure which ought to be maturely considered in all its parts; and, for his own part, before being called upon to agree to the second reading, he should like to have an opportunity of communicating with others on a subject of so much importance.


hoped that the noble Lord did not intend to offer any protest against the Bill. Even if the present Bill passed, he was quite sure that a general Bill upon the subject would be ultimately adopted. The present measure, however, was of an urgent character and demanded their Lordships' immediate attention.


thought that the right rev. Prelates ought to be placed in the same position in respect as to retire resent as Her Majesty's Judges, holding their office while able to discharge their duties, a liberal provision being made for them when forced by age or other cause to retire. There was, however, no doubt that great care should be observed in laying down a general rule upon this subject. He should rejoice to see a general measure brought forward, but all their Lordships must feel that it was urgently necessary for the Government to pass the present Bill. The manner in which the two right rev. Prelates had voluntarily come forward to tender their resignations, must raise them in the estimation of the whole community. The most laudable disinterestedness and praiseworthy conduct had been evinced by those two right rev. Prelates. It would not be fair to oblige those Prelates to wait for a general measure, and the delay would be felt as a disappointment to the whole community.


said, he did not wish to pledge himself to any particular course in respect to the present measure. He thought it would be most desirable that there should be time given to enable noble Lords who took an interest in the question to express their opinions upon the Bill on the second reading. There was much less evil to be apprehended from delaying legislation on the subject for six months longer than to pass without due consideration a Bill of this character, affecting only two particular sees. The result of this measure would, of course, be the placing the nomination of those sees in the hands of those who brought in the Bill. It was, in his opinion, most important that the object sought for should only be carried out by a general measure.


supported the Bill, which was but a measure of simple justice to the two right rev. Prelates who had made such voluntary sacrifices,


hoped that the noble Lord would not press for delay in the second reading of the Bill. If the noble Lord intended to move for any alteration in the measure, he would have the opportunity of doing so in another stage. At this late period of the Session he did not think it reasonable to seek for a postponement of the second reading. He quite agreed with the noble Lord that a general measure would be desirable if the Session were not so far advanced. Their Lordships owed it to those distinguished Prelates to pass the measure as speedily as possible. There were facilities for the carrying out the objects of the Bill in the case of the two right rev. Prelates which did not exist in the case of other Prelates. The retiring allowance for the Bishop of London, for example, could be made without trenching upon any fund at all; it would come out of the revenue which the right rev. Prelate was at present receiving. The Bishop of Durham was, to a certain extent, in the same position.


very much doubted whether the remedy now proposed might not establish a precedent of a serious character. He did not think that such a measure as this should be passed at so late a period of the Session.


saw no reason why the second reading of the Bill should not be postponed until Monday, at all events.

Bill read 1a.

Then it was moved, That the Bill be read 2a To-morrow.


said, he did object to the second reading being taken so soon. It was most monstrous for the Government to bring on a Bill at such a time as that, in the absence of so many noble Lords, and when there was not a single Prelate in the House. If he were to stand alone, he was determined to divide against the second reading being taken to-morrow.


said, that the Bill would only be placed upon the orders of the day for to-morrow.


hoped that the Bill would be postponed until Monday.


said, he was not prepared to pledge himself to the principle of the Bill without further consideration. He trusted that the noble and learned Lord would assent to the Bill standing amongst the orders of the Day for Monday.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn; and Bill ordered to be read 2a on Monday next.

House adjourned till To-morrow.