§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR rose to move the second reading of the Bishops of London and Durham Retirement Bill; and said that he should have supposed the measure would have been received with universal approbation if he had not received an intimation to the contrary on moving the first reading. The object of the Bill was to enable very important duties to be adequately discharged, which the present holders of the offices upon which the discharge of those duties devolved had earnestly represented their incapacity to discharge. The duties to which he referred were those which appertained to the important offices of the Bishoprics of London and Durham. The right rev. Prelates who had so long adorned those sees had gained for themselves, not only from those over whom they more immediately presided, but from the country at 815 large, an amount of approbation which could hardly be exaggerated. His right rev. Friend the Bishop of London, with whom it had been his good fortune to be intimately acquainted from his earliest years, had discharged his high duties with a singleness of purpose, with a disinterested desire to benefit those who were placed under his care, rarely equalled and never surpassed. In the discharge of duties so important, and which were sometimes so difficult, it was impossible that every act of that right rev. Prelate during his long tenure of office should have met with universal approbation; but he believed that commanding as he did a very large income and presiding over a very large diocese, no one would contradict him when he said that the whole of that large revenue and the whole of his time had been devoted to the advancement of the spiritual and temporal interests of those over whom he presided. The same observations were applicable to the Bishop of Durham. In one respect those two right rev. Prelates occupied different positions. The Bishopric of London was not what was called a "regulated bishopric," but the Bishop received the whole of the revenues of the see. The Bishop of Durham, on the other hand, who had been appointed to his see after the rule had come into operation, by which it was provided that he should pay a fixed sum out of the revenues of the see, calculated on the assumption that after such payment there would remain to him, a net income of £8,000 a year. It turned out, however, that the revenue left at the disposal of the Bishop of Durham greatly exceeded that sum, being about £13,000 a year, and the right rev. Prelate had, with great liberality, set apart a portion of this surplus to form a fund called the "Maltby Fund," for the benefit of his diocese. The Bishop of London had received the entire revenues of his see, which might be stated at somewhere about £18,000 a year, whereas if the Bishopric had been regulated the income would have been £10,000. The Bishop of Durham was very advanced in life, he was nearly blind, and quite unable to discharge the duties of his bishopric. The Bishop of London, although by no means so advanced in life as the other right rev. Prelate unfortunately had a severe paralytic attack last autumn, from which he had in some degree rallied, but he had come to the conclusion that it was not probable he should again be enabled to attend to his duties. Both those 816 right rev. Prelates in the course of last month communicated to the Government their desire to be allowed to retire from their offices, because they felt that they could no longer discharge their duties. The Government then had to consider what steps could be taken to comply with their request. He did not say that some general measure on this subject would not eventually have to be introduced, but there was great difficulty in framing any general measure. One difficulty was in reference to the regulated bishoprics, the incomes of which had been fixed at £4,500 a year; because that sum having been considered the proper salary for the office, it could not very well be charged with any sum as allowance to a retiring Bishop. The Government did not think it wise without further consideration and at this period of the Session to propose any general measure. But the case of the Bishops of London and Durham appeared to the Government in many respects exceptional. There was a great if not practical difference between the bishopric of London and other bishoprics, inasmuch as the duties attached to it were made more numerous and important. A similar observation was applicable to the bishopric of Durham, the metropolitan see of the north. The Government, in considering the course they ought to pursue, on receiving the representations he had mentioned from these right rev. Prelates, first inquired whether there was any law whereby their resignations might be effected without the aid of Parliament, and securing to them an income after their resignations. He believed there was no such law; but, at all events, the matter was involved in extreme obscurity, and, in fact, he had been able to discover no precedent of an actual resignation since the Reformation. In the middle of the last century Bishop Pierce wished to resign the see of Rochester, and long discussions on the subject took place between Lord Chancellor Northington and Lord Chief Justice Mansfield; the Lord Chief Justice being of opinion that he might resign, while the Lord Chancellor held that he could not. The doubts of Lord Northington appeared eventually to have been set at rest, but some difficulty was raised by the Crown, and the resignation did not take place. Again, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Archbishop Grindall, after resisting the attempts of the Queen to force him to retire, expressed a wish to resign; but, nevertheless, he died Archbishop of Canterbury. He was not prepared to say 817 whether resignations had not taken place in Roman Catholic times, under the rule of the Pope, but he thought their Lordships would feel that, considering the effect of the resignation would be to remove from their Lordships' House two of its most distinguished members, and they could find no precedent for so doing, it would have been exceedingly unwise for the Government to proceed in such matter without the consent of Parliament. There being the difficulty he had stated with regard to the general measure, there came the question how to deal with these exceptional cases. The revenue received by the Bishop of London being £18,000, while the income of the bishopric was fixed at £10,000, there would be no difficulty in providing a handsome allowance for the retiring Bishop. So again in the case of the Bishop of Durham; although he was a "regulated" Bishop, ample provision could be made for that right rev. Prelate out of the surplus revenues of the see. The Government thought there would have been reason to complain if, after such an intimation, they had remained passive spectators of the state of their dioceses. The Government had, therefore, introduced a Bill, which he asked their Lordships now to read a second time, and which relieved these two Prelates, according to the wish they had expressed, from duties which they were unequal to discharge. A charge upon the revenues of their sees would be created, which would, however, in each case leave a surplus for the Ecclesiastical Fund. It had, he believed, been contended that this sanction on the part of Parliament was of a simoniacal character, since it was, as it were, bribing these two Prelates to retire by offering them handsome allowances for so doing. This, however, amounted to saying that there were to be no episcopal resignations, unless the Bishop were prepared to resign without having the means of support for the rest of his life; which would be equivalent to saying that there was to be no resignation at all. The Bishop of London would retire upon £6,000 a year. With the respect which he felt for that right rev. Prelate it was extremely painful to him to discuss this subject. He had not heard the circumstance he was about to mention from the right rev. Prelate's own mouth, but he had been assured, and had no doubt of the fact, that the right rev. Prelate had never saved any money, except that he had insured his life largely. This necessarily 818 meant that to the end of life the person assuring must pay large sums to keep up these insurances: so that the Bishop of London could not retire without making provision for keeping up these payments; and he was informed that about one thousand a year would be exhansted in keeping up the insurances which he had properly effected for the support of his wife and family. He thought that no one would object to the amount of the retiring allowance if the principle were admissible. He knew that any resignation of a benefice must be accompanied by a declaration that there had been no corrupt bargain. But would any one contend that it was a corrupt bargain when a person receiving £18,000 a year—which he might, if he chose, continue to receive without doing anything for it—expressed his willingness to give it up if he were enabled to live in comfort for the rest of his life? He could not conceive anything less open to the imputation of a corupt bargain than such a surrender; and the same remark applied to the resignation of the Bishop of Durham. He knew that such an arrangement would not be tolerated in the case of a beneficed clergyman, who by the statute of Elizabeth was obliged to resign his benefice without receiving any consideration. But it would not be contended that what was done by an act of the Legislature could not be altered by Parliament when the occasion required. It was also alleged that the form of this Bill was not such as to be respectful to these right rev. Prelates. It could not be supposed that any disrespect was intended on the part of the Government; but it was said, that, although they had expressed their desire to resign their sees, the enactment declared that the sees had become vacant, when it ought to have declared them vacant upon their resigning. The Government, however, had no objection to introduce in Committee words to the effect that the Bishops should be held to have resigned upon resigning their sees to the Metropolitan, and upon their resignation being accepted by him. Anything that the right rev. Bench might suggest upon this subject would be adopted without hesitation by the Government. He had now to ask their Lordships to give a second reading to this Bill.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.
§ LORD REDESDALE
said, on the best consideration he could give the measure, and he had considered it attentively, the 819 only conclusion that he could come to was, that it was not expedient for the House to allow it to pass a second reading. The question was one of very great importance, and it was better that the short delay should occur which would be necessary for framing a general measure on the subject than that by adopting the present exceptional measure they should establish a dangerous precedent. The more facilities the two cases under consideration presented for a settlement, the greater was the danger as regarded a general measure in respect to future settlements; and he did not think the Legislature ought to act exceptionally in such a case. He was not opposed to the principle of retirements, but he could not help seeing its inconvenience in the case before the House, inasmuch as if it were adopted in the instance of Bishops, it would also, on the footing of justice, have to be adopted in the case of rectors, and, indeed, to be extended to the clergy generally. He could see no reason why an infirm Rector should not be enabled to retire as well as an infirm Bishop. The particular case in question came before the House, moreover, in a manner which the House should, in his opinion, hesitate to sanction. Here were two Bishops who placed their sees at the disposal of the Minister, upon condition that he made certain arrangements for their retiring allowances. Now, these were two sees, the occupants of which had seats in their Lordships' House immediately upon their appointment. There might be persons who would object, that the nomination to these bishopricks should be placed in the hands of the present Ministry. He (Lord Redesdale) was far from entertaining any such political jealousy; but the House would have to consider how far the political argument bore upon the subject. It was dangerous to admit the principle of separate dealing with the question, therefore, as it admitted of the imputation of motives. The noble and learned Lord (the Lord Chancellor) had said that there was no objection to making an alteration in the wording of the measure which would make the Bill express that the sees only became vacant on the resignation of the two right rev. Prelates; and, therefore, he (Lord Redesdale) would make no remark on that point further than to observe, that the admitted necessity of the alteration showed the misfortune of introducing a measure of such importance in the hurried manner in which this Bill had been 820 brought forward. There were one or two points of the measure which he would rather avoid discussing; but those points deeply affected the interests of the Church, and he could not allow any personal sensibility to preclude him from speaking out upon these matters. He entertained the highest respect for both the right rev. Prelates whom this Bill affected. He was on terms of personal acquaintance with both. He had a more intimate acquaintance with the Bishop of London, and no person could entertain a higher respect for that Prelate than he did. He was aware that no Bishop who had ever held the see of London had devoted the whole of his energies more unceasingly or with more success to the duties of the episcopate than had the Bishop of London. He believed that no Prelate who had ever held the see of London had to a greater extent promoted the spiritual good of those whom he presided over than the present Bishop. But this only induced him (Lord Redesdale) to express the deeper regret at the circumstances which had attended that Prelate's proposed resignation; and he believed that if all the facts were brought under the Bishop's consideration, and that he were afforded an opportunity of deliberately giving them his attention, he would, after having done so, regret the fact of the present Bill being on their Lordships' table as much as he (Lord Redesdale) should himself. He would shortly direct their Lordships' attention to what had already been done by way of legislation on the subject of resignations of church livings. Before the time of the Reformation, arrangements with regard to the resignation of spiritual benefices were common; and those arrangements included the granting of pensions or allowances out of the incomes of the livings. These arrangements gave rise to very great abuses; and by an Act passed in the 26th year of the reign of Henry VIII. it was provided that unlimited pensions should no longer be granted, and reservation was made that the amount of pension should not exceed one-third of the amount of the benefice. Notwithstanding this enactment, abuses were, he presumed, still found to arise; for in the 36th of Eliz. an Act was passed which rendered the making of any arrangements at all of that kind unlawful, that Act declaring that all such arrangements with respect to benefices should be considered corrupt in the eye of the law, and imposing a penalty amounting to double the 821 amount of the stipulated pension upon any party negotiating to receive such pension. Now, their Lordships would bear in mind that that Act was in existence at the present time, when the negotiation with respect to the sees of London and Durham was being carried on by the Government, notwithstanding that such negotiations were in direct violation of it. If they intended to do away with the statute of Elizabeth they ought to do so by a general Act declaring that, notwithstanding that enactment, such negotiations should be legal; but so long as the statute of Elizabeth existed a negotiation like that the subject of this special Bill was illegal. For this reason he thought, then, that their Lordships ought to discountenance the proposed measure. Another objection he had to the Bill—and it was one which it was extremely painful to touch upon—was, that he thought the amount of the retiring pensions excessive. He said this with extreme regret; but they should remember that they were establishing a precedent, and one which was, in his opinion, an objectionable and dangerous one. Let them recollect what arrangements of this kind ought to be under any circumstances. They ought not to be in any way in the light of bargains. There ought to be nothing of this kind. Men should not say, "Here is a see; I will resign it if you give me so much. I will not if you don't." The simple arrangement ought to be that a Bishop wishing to resign his see, should say, "I am incapable of longer performing the duties which my office imposes upon me, and I wish to resign. Give me enough to live upon—that is all I require." If it were conceded that such should be the guiding principle in these arrangements, then the question arose, upon what scale ought those retiring pensions to be regulated? Surely there ought to be some regulated scale. What scale had been adopted in the cases now before the House? Why, the smaller of those proposed pensions was larger than the income considered necessary for a Bishop in the full performance of his duties. The smaller pension—that proposed for the Bishop of Durham—was £4,500 a year, while the larger was £6,000. Yet, except in the case of the Prelates who might be called the three premier Bishops, the income of the acting Bishops ranged from £4,200 to £4,500 a year, none of them exceeding the latter sum. He had no hesitation in saying that this arrangement was of the character of 822 a bargain and partook of a simoniacal character. He thought, therefore, that he was justified in saying that the scale of pension, for which this Bill would set a precedent, was an objectionable one, and that, if adopted, it would throw difficulties in the way of future arrangements. On the whole he believed that it wast most desirable that this Bill should be withdrawn. The discussion of this measure in detail, though most painful to their Lordships, might in its results prove most useful; but he thought that the principle of the present Bill could not be defended, and under these circumstances he felt it his duty to move that it be read a second time that day three months.
§ Amendment moved, to leave out "now," and insert "this day three months."
§ THE EARL OF CHICHESTER
said, he could not do justice to his feelings without adding his testimony to the merits of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London, to his great ability, his great learning, and the urbanity of conduct which he had always displayed. He had had personal and official communication with him in many transactions, and he was therefore competent to bear witness to his worth as a Christian Minister, and the liberal and munificent manner in which he dispensed the large income of his see. It was not beyond the truth to say that the whole of that income, above the necessary provision for his family, had been devoted to the Church. He might speak in the same terms of the liberality of the other right rev. Prelate, who—though it was no doubt true, that he had received a larger income than had been contemplated by the Act of Parliament—had not only paid over £2,000 per annum to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, for the erection of parsonage-houses for the poorer clergy, but had expended the rest of his surplus income, as he (the Earl of Chichester) happened to know, for the benefit of the Church and charitable institutions in his diocese. When the future Bishops should be appointed under the regulations of the Act of Parliament, the immediate losers would be the poorer clergy, and charitable institutions of the two dioceses. With respect to the Bill itself, he should only observe that he regarded the retiring allowances proposed to be granted, as only reasonable and proper. He would now make some observations on the objections of his noble Friend opposite. His noble Friend had first stated that the only proper 823 remedy for such cases was a general measure. Now, he (the Earl of Chichester) agreed that if it were possible it would be better to pass a general measure to regulate the retirement of Bishops. This would be much more satisfactory. But a general measure not only involved difficulties requiring mature consideration, but from the nature of the case could not apply to the exceptional circumstances of the present retirement. Other retirements ought not to be made on the same terms, because, in a general measure, it would be most unjust to the Church to propose to make such large retiring allowances to those Bishops whose incomes had been regulated by Act of Parliament, and still less to Bishops appointed after the proposed measure. In these cases the allowances should be on a proportionately reduced seals. The main objection to the introduction of a general measure at this time was, that there would be no time to discuss it. Some persons wished that a general Act should be passed, rendering retirement in certain cases compulsory. It was argued that a Prelate too infirm to perform his duties might be the very last to be conscious of those infirmities. Now, he thought compulsory enactments open to great objection. Any Bill which should fix the retirement of Bishops without their own consent required that mature consideration which could not be given to it during the present Session. Upon what principle would it be applied to existing Bishops? The noble Lord had referred to the statute of Elizabeth which prohibited all trafficking in matters relating to benefices in the Church; but that statute had no reference to the present case—it referred only to negotiations between persons holding benefices and their proposed successors. But in the present instance there had been no trafficking, nor even negotiation between parties standing in that relation to each other, nor even between the two Bishops and the Government. He (the Earl of Chichester) had been the organ of communication between one right rev. Prelate and the Government. The right rev. Prelate communicated to him that he felt himself incapacitated from performing the duties of his office, and feared he should never be able to resume them, and was therefore desirous of retiring upon an annuity of £6,000. That was the simple statement made to him, which he communicated to the Government. He believed that the 824 other right rev. Prelate had made a precisely similar communication. With regard to the Bill before their Lordships, considering the meagre pay received by so many clergymen, he should not have felt inclined to approve of the arrangement as a prospective example; but, when they remembered that these two Prelates had entered into possession of these large incomes of £18,000 and £14,000 a year without any notice of their retirement being possible—that they were, in fact, entitled to consider those incomes as secured to them for life—he thought anything short of the pensions now proposed would be unjust. The sums proposed would be paid without any diminution of the income of their successors, and there would moreover be a balance over of £4,000 a year at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. In conclusion he might be allowed to remind their Lordships of the very great danger which would arise from a postponement of this measure. Both of these right rev. Prelates had, under their own hands, informed the Government that they were of opinion that they were disqualified from performing their duties as Bishops, and that they were anxious to retire. Would it be right to leave the Church in the two important dioceses of London and Durham, under the care of Prelates who had themselves owned that they were unfit to hold those two important posts? When the Bill came into Committee, he should probably bring an Amendment under the consideration of their Lordships for the purpose of facilitating the future decision of the see of London, a measure which he undertood had been for some time under consideration. He might also propose some alteration in the mode in which the sees should be declared vacant; but he should certainly give his vote in favour of the second reading of the present Bill.
§ THE DUKE OF CLEVELAND
said, he was surprised that some general measure on this subject had not been brought in before. He thought there could be no doubt that, when Bishops were incapacitated by infirmity or illness from attending to their duties, they ought to be enabled to retire, and ample provision ought to be made for them on their retirement. The only question was, what should be the amount of their pensions? Now, he was quite aware that this question was surrounded by great difficulties, but in his opinion the pensions should certainly vary 825 in proportion to the value of the sees, and to the incomes which the right rev. Prelates had enjoyed. With regard to the Bishop of Durham, he could say, from long residence within that see, and from his own personal knowledge, that a better, a more conscientious, a more charitable, and benevolent Prelate never sat on the episcopal bench; and, so far from agreeing with the noble Lord who had proposed this Amendment, that the pension proposed in his case was too much, he (the Duke of Cleveland) thought it was too little. Although, therefore, he did not object to this Bill, and meant to vote for the second reading, he should certainly move in Committee to raise the pension to the Bishop of Durham from £4,500 to £6,000 a year. When first raised from the see of Chichester to that of Durham, the latter bishopric came under the operation of a new law. It was then suggested that the Bishop of Durham should only have £8,000 a year, but the choice was left to him as to whether he would have a fixed income of that amount, or whether he would keep the revenues of the see, paying to the Treasury the sum of £11,500 a year. The Bishop knew nothing personally of the see or its revenues, but he took an opinion on the subject, the result of which was that he decided to keep the revenues of the see in his own hands, running the chance of what they might amount to for the future, and paying to the Treasury the sum just mentioned. Fortunately for him the revenues of the see increased instead of diminishing; but had the reverse been the case, his income would have been much less than the proposed fixed amount (£8,000). The bargain, therefore, was a perfectly fair one, and was one with respect to which the right rev. Prelate ought not to be assailed, as he had been in the public press, as well as in the other House by the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman). For his own part, he thought that the best plan to pursue would be to place the Bishop of Durham, as regarded a retiring pension, on the same footing as the Bishop of London, for he thought that the one Bishop was as much entitled to a pension of £6,000 a year as the other. It was better in itself to act liberally than to act illiberally, and from the very advanced age of the Bishop of Durham, it was evident that the difference in amount could not be a matter of any great importance. Feeling as he did that both Bishops ought to be placed on the same footing, he would, if he found that 826 he met with any support, submit a Motion to that effect in Committee.
THE BISHOP OF EXETER
said, that it was painful to him to have to oppose this Bill. The making a proper provision for the retirement of Bishops was an object which met with his earnest approbation; but he wished that the proposition had been made in another form. He did not then object to the retiring pensions, as proposed—on the contrary, they had his approval—but he must express his surprise that a measure of this kind, affecting the best interests of the Church of England, should have been brought forward without any communication with the Episcopal bench. He said this, because he was quite sure that neither the most rev. Prelate nor any right rev. Prelate would have given their consent to the measure in its present form. That some measure allowing retiring pensions to Bishops should be passed would meet with the approval of every, or almost every Member of their Lordships' House; and he was quite sure that none of the Members of the Episcopal Bench would desire to receive any unreasonable amount of retiring pension when he should become unable to fulfil his episcopal duties. He (the Bishop of Exeter) rejoiced to think that there was already in existence a scale of retiring allowances which might very fairly be applied to retiring Bishops—he meant the pension allowed to Judges under similar circumstances. Certainly their allowances ought not to be less than those given to Judges; and he would carry the matter out, and would say that a difference ought to be made in favour of the two Primates. He thought it would not be unreasonable to make their retiring allowances the same as that of Lord Chancellors.
But while he said this, he must beg to be understood, as altogether dissenting from the notion, that the consideration of money was the main principle involved in the present question. Supposing the Bill to be made unobjectionable, as to the amount of pensions to retiring Bishops, he should still object to it, in its present form, on other and far higher grounds. He objected to it, because of the manner in which the office itself of Bishop was treated by the Bill. That office was there dealt with as if it were the mere creature of the State—it was placing the episcopacy of our Church on the same level as the Episcopacy—if Episcopacy it could be called—of some Protestant State in Germany.
827 He must also say, that even if this were not the case; if not only the amount of pension assigned to the two retiring Bishops were unexceptionable, but also if in other particulars in respect to them the Bill were satisfactory, he should have much preferred a general measure which should meet the case of all retiring Bishops, to a Bill which was directed only to meet a specific case. Indeed, he had heard no reason why this Bill should not be postponed until such a general measure could be introduced. Sooner or later such a measure must be provided for the case of all Bishops, and, therefore, he thought that the Bill to be introduced should have provided generally for the necessities of the case.
He felt that the Bench of Bishops had some right to be astonished and dissatisfied with the course pursued by the Government in respect to this Bill. The Bill was brought in on one night, when scarcely a single Peer was present, and was read a first time; and the second reading was fixed for the night following. Fortunately the interposition of a noble Lord, who moved the rejection of the Bill, rescued them from that difficulty. But why should not the whole Bench of Bishops have been allowed full opportunity of considering a matter so intimately connected with the interests of the Church? The Bill had only been presented on Friday last—and they had had no opportunity of consulting on a measure so novel, and so deeply affecting the interests of the Church. Never before, in the history of this country, had a measure been introduced by which Parliament proposed to deal in so summary a manner with the affairs of the Church.
But the objections to the measure were, to his mind, insuperable. It was in direct opposition to one of the most sacred principles of the Church. A Bishop had no right to resign, and up to that moment had never pretended to resign, except with the authority of him from whom he had received his mission to exercise his office; nor could any other accept his resignation except the ordinary who had given the mission. In the case of the Bishop, that ordinary was the Archbishop; and, in like manner, no clergyman could resign his cure of souls except into the hands of the Bishop, who was bound to consider all the circumstances of the resignation as was the Archbishop in the case of Bishops, before he gave his sanction to it. This was the rule equally of the canon and the 828 common law, as he would show the House by reading the following extracts from Gibson's Codex—1. Resignation must be made to one who hath power to admit it—Renunciatio fieri debet in manus ejus qui habet poteslatem eam admittendi—and that is, in general, to the person who granted admission to the benefice resigned; and, therefore, donatives are not resignable to the ordinary, but to the patron, who hath power to admit. But there is one exception as to the Queen. If it be true doctrine that deaneries of the Queen's gift may well be resigned to the Queen, which is much to be questioned, wherever there is a Bishop, the immediate superior; because, however, the Crown hath the right of nomination, yet legal possession is not to be obtained—nor by consequence to be resigned—but by canonical methods.2. Resignation can only be made to a superior. This is a maxim in the temporal law; and is applied by Coke to the ecclesiastical law, when he says that therefore a Bishop cannot resign to a Dean and Chapter, but it must be to the metropolitan, from whom he received confirmation and consecration.He cannot, therefore, resign during the vacancy of the metropolitan see—when the Dean and Chapter are guardians of the temporalities—but must wait for the appointment of the new Archbishop.3. Resignation must be made in person, and not by proxy.4. No resignation can be valid until accepted by the proper ordinary. That is, no person appointed to a cure of souls can quit that cure, or discharge himself of it, but upon good motives, to be approved by the superior who admitted it to him—for it may be that he would quit it for money, or to live idly, or the like. And this is the law, as well of the State, as of the Church.The instance of Archbishop Grindal had been referred to, as a precedent for these political resignations. But that instance, properly considered, was conclusive on the other side; it showed, that an Archbishop could not resign to the Crown; for the Crown, although his immediate superior in all causes spiritual, was not at all concerned with the exercise of his authority in pure spiritualities. Queen Elizabeth required Archbishop Grindal to resign; he himself was eagerly desirous of resigning; but it was found, that neither the requisition of the Queen, nor the wish of the Archbishop—nor both together—were sufficient to effect their purpose. Whitgift, the designated successor, who was much better versed in the constitutional law of the Church, than either the Queen or Grindal, absolutely refused to accept the metropolitan see during Grindal's life, and his objection prevailed. Grindal died Archbishop of Canterbury. But the present measure sets at nought all these considerations, 829 and is utterly inconsistent with the constitution of the Church.
This matter of resignations was one of the most embarrassing things in administering the affairs of the Church, for there was too much reason to suppose that they were often founded on corrupt bargains, and he had, for himself, always exercised the greatest caution in accepting resignations; but this Bill, he feared, would be a declaration of the right of all ecclesiastics to make similar bargains. He was quite sure that the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London) had never seen this Bill—if he had, he would never have consented to it—he would have seen at once that it showed a determination to set at nought all the rules and principles of the ecclesiastical law, and to stretch to the utmost the interference of the State in the affairs of the Church. For what reason could be given for permitting Bishops to make bargains for resignation, which would not be equally applicable to Rectors, Vicars, Incumbents of every kind? To such a principle he (the Bishop of Exeter) had the very strongest objection, and would resist it to the uttermost. If a Rector had entered into any such bargain he would have rendered himself liable to ecclesiastical proceedings. No doubt it was desirable to provide for such cases as those of the two right rev. Prelates to whom this measure referred; but then the Legislature should proceed with a due regard to Church principles.
Then, as to the haste with which the present measure had been introduced—the wish of the two Bishops had not been known more than three weeks, and the Government had taken only a fortnight to decide on and draw up the present measure. But, what was the necessity for pressing on the measure with such haste? There was no necessity for passing it before the close of the present Session, because the season during which the Bishops had active duties—such as confirmations—was the earlier part of the year; in the latter part of the year, the duties of Bishops ordinarily consisted of such matters or ministrations, as could be performed by Commission. And, then, if the matter were deferred to next Session, the Government would have time to consider the best course to adopt—not merely to provide for the present circumstances of the sees of London and Durham, but the circumstances of the Church generally in this matter—by devising some measure which 830 should not be open to the objections of the present Bill, but such as might meet the exigencies of the case, without violating the recognised principles of the Church. He would not now recommend any particular course; but he would remind their Lordships that the Church itself was not without some provision for cases of this kind. From the earliest ages coadjutor Bishops had been appointed, who, taking their title from some town in the diocese, and with or without the right of succession, administered the affairs of the diocese, by virtue of a Commission from the Bishop—but the great principle of the canon law was, that the Bishop of the diocese retained, during life, full possession of his dignity and office. He, therefore, earnestly besought their Lordships, for the sake of the Bishop of London himself—not to assent to this measure. He (the Bishop of Exeter) was sure that it would embitter the last days of that venerable and admirable man—whose life had been spent, as it would be vain to expect from any probable successor—to find that the principles of the Church had been set aside, in order that he might receive this pension on his retirement.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
said, that he thought the apprehensions of the right rev. Prelate were very much exaggerated. At least, there would be no difficulty in modifying the Bill so as to provide that the resignation of his see by a Bishop should be into the hands of his Metropolitan. Until the Act of Elizabeth made it unlawful, it was perfectly lawful for a Bishop to resign his see and retire upon one-third of its emoluments; and in the present Bill Government were only going back to that time, and, in two specific cases applying that rule which had been until then general. The dioceses immediately under the consideration of the House were of so great importance that they ought not for a moment to be left without episcopal superintendence, and when the right rev. Prelates who now presided over them came forward spontaneously and declared their inability to perform the duties of their office, he thought no time ought to be lost in providing their successors. If a Commander in Chief were to make a similar statement, and tender his resignation, would there be a moment's hesitation as to what ought to be done? Would they not say that although they were opposed to the principle of resignation in the army generally, yet that here was a particular case 831 in which it was for the good of the country it should be allowed. If that were the case as regarded secular matters, how much more so ought it to hold in ecclesiastical affairs? In conclusion, he hoped their Lordships would not be led away by the terror of the Church being endangered, but would consent to read the Bill a second time, as it could, in Committee, be amended to meet the views of the right rev. Prelate.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, he had no hesitation with regard to the vote which he was about to give in favour of the Amendment that the Bill be read a second time that day three months; but he should give it with some regret, because of the possible inconvenience that might arise from the postponement of legislation, owing to the incapacity of these right rev. Prelates who presided over these important sees; because he was not unfavourable to the general principle of retiring provision, whether of Bishops or the inferior clergy: and because the discussion must be painful to the feelings of two right rev. Prelates eminently distinguished for their abilities and private virtues. The objection upon which he rested his vote was not that of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter), that the arrangement was in opposition to the doctrine of the Church, although he felt the weight of the right rev. Prelate's arguments, and was bound to say the Bill was framed in entire disregard of all Church principles and Church discipline. His objection was, that they were dealing exceptionally and with individual cases, where they should deal generally and upon broad principles. As yet he had not heard any sufficient reason to satisfy him of the propriety of the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government, and if he wanted proof of the extreme inconvenience of that course it was furnished by the speeches in defence of the Bill, which turned the whole of this important discussion into the consideration of the personal and individual merits of these two Prelates, the sacrifices which would be made by them, and the reasonableness of the terms of the bargain proposed by the Government. That a great question involving important points of Church discipline should be so dealt with afforded one of the strongest objections to this mode of legislation. But his noble Friend who had just sat down justified the dealing separately with these two cases upon the grounds of emergency and special circumstances. 832 With regard to emergency, although he did not know when the offer was made by the two right rev. Prelates, he believed the health of the Bishop of Durham and the health of the Bishop of London had for some weeks, if not for some months, been very much the same. He was reminded that six months ago the Bishop of Durham, so far from discharging the duties, handed over everything to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said, he received a communication from the Bishop of Durham in November last, stating that he was anxious to resign his see.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
Then, as far as the Bishop of Durham was concerned, no case of emergency could be raised; for, if communication of his readiness to resign was made to the Government in November, they had full leisure to consider whether they would introduce any Bill, or a special Bill, or a general Bill. But, if he were not mistaken, the subject of a general Bill had been under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. This question had not taken them by surprise—they had been looking for it; they had had a proposition upon the subject of a general Bill early in the Session, but they preferred to wait for an emergency, which in one case, at all events, was not unforeseen. But it was said there were special circumstances, and they could not deal with these right rev. Prelates as they could with any others who might succeed them. Why not? He admitted that they could not compel a person to resign on any terms they fixed; but he did not see why they should not deal with the case of the Bishops of London and Durham as they would with the holders of other offices, and he must say the illustration of the noble Earl (the Earl of Harrowby) upon that point was rather remarkable. The noble Earl asked whether it would be decent, in case a Commander in Chief became incapable to perform the duties of his office, to bargain very closely as to the sum of money for his resignation. Unfortunately, by a dispensation of Providence, within a very short time the case had occurred. The Commander in Chief found himself incapable of performing the duties of his office; but he did not go to Her Majesty and bargain what amount he should receive for resigning it—he at once resigned his office, and did not ask for any allowance for doing so. There had been a long discus 833 sion as to the reasonable amount of the retiring allowances, but he passed over whether it was a reasonable bargain. His objection was to any bargain. The law of England had for centuries prohibited anything in the way of traffic and bargain for the resignation of any office in the Church, and if it were not so there would be no necessity for this Bill. They were introducing an exceptional case for the purpose of violating the law, and all the arguments which were used against the system of special legislation in divorce cases applied precisely the same to this case, where, for the benefit of two Prelates, they were giving a licence to them to violate the fundamental law of the land. It was denied that there was any corruption in the matter. No one imputed corruption in a sense to make it dishonourable, but only as it was corrupt to require consideration of any kind for abandoning a spiritual office. He had no doubt there were many cases in which it would be generally advantageous for an aged clergyman to retire, on receipt, by arrangement with his successor, of a portion of the income; but the law said that was simony, and the Bishop would not listen to such a suggestion. The same might be said in the case of these Bishops as in the case of any private patron. The word "traffic" had been objected to. He believed his noble Friend the Chairman of the Committees did not use the word "traffic," but the word "negotiation." The noble Earl (the Earl of Chichester) said there was no negotiation. There was no protracted negotiation, because the first terms that were offered were accepted; but, in the sense of conditions laid down on the one side, and accepted on the other, for the purpose of doing a certain act, negotiations were entered into by the Bishops and assented to by the Government, and that description of negotiation and traffic was strictly prohibited by the law of England. It was said that it might be very desirable to have a general measure; but that this was a peculiar case in which no additional charge would be thrown upon the public funds. It appeared to him that if that argument were admitted it would interpose a most important difficulty in the way of that general measure which all desired to see adopted. If it was to be said that it was only in cases where there was to be a prospective reduction of income, and where there would be consequently a surplus from which to provide retiring pensions, 834 that introduced an insuperable obstacle to the adoption of a general measure. He thought, therefore, that this mode of dealing exceptionally with individual cases in violation of the law was objectionable in principle, and that any violation of the law of England was a much more serious matter than any possible inconvenience which might result from delaying for a few months a measure that would perhaps eventually be attended with some advantage. For those reasons, although favourable to the principle of retirement upon fixed rules, and although he entertained the highest respect and veneration for the two right rev. Prelates whose cases were immediately connected with the measure, he could not consent to the adoption of the Bill, which was nothing less than a violation of the great fundamental principle of the law of the land.
§ LORD LYNDHURST
said, that he rose simply to answer a question which had been put to him by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter). The right rev. Prelate said that resignation must be made to a superior, and that, as there was no superior to an Archbishop, an Archbishop could not resign. He (Lord Lyndhurst) had ventured to oppose that doctrine, and had said the resignation in the case put must be to the Crown. He had turned to the authority of Blackstone, and he found that that commentator stated that "resignation must be made to some superior. Therefore, a Bishop must resign to the Metropolitan; but the Archbishop can resign to none but the King himself."
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said, he was equally sorry and surprised to find the Bill before their Lordships opposed by many noble Lards who were known to be friendly to the Church and to the interests of religion; yet he was at a loss to know what could be less consistent with those interests than that two such dioceses as London and Durham should be left for an indefinite period without efficient episcopal control and superintendence. Those dioceses comprised a seventh part of the population of England, and the population of one of them, at least, would be allowed to be of a most important character; and the Bill now proposed was intended to remedy an inconvenience which, whatever attempts had been made to extenuate the evil, were greatly to be deprecated—for the most important and most anxious duties of a Bishop were those which could not be delegated to any one else—and to remove a 835 reproach which would otherwise lie heavily on the Church. Those of their Lordships who knew the character, the sensitive character, of the Bishop of London, would agree with him that nothing would be more certain to aggravate the pressure of disease, to embitter, if not shorten, what might remain to him of life, than the consciousness that he was accountable for duties without the power of performing them—duties of which he knew and had proved the importance and the value. It was from that responsibility that he sought to be relieved; and it would be a bad return for a life spent, if ever life was so spent, in the service of the public—he said the public, for their Lordships knew that his services were no less valuable in that House than in the Church—it would be an ungrateful return for a life so spent if he were now denied that retirement which his health required, and which he had so painfully earned. The resignation of a Bishop, for good and sufficient causes, was an acknowledged part of the constitution of the Church, although it might be that no case of such retirement had occurred since the Reformation. In regard to our own country, Lord Coke laid it down as a rule, which was confirmed by Gibson, Burns, and Blackstone, that a provincial Bishop resigns to his Metropolitan. It was, indeed, a mistake—he said it with all deference—to omit the mention of this legitimate method of resignation in the Bill; but the noble and learned Lord had promised to correct that defect in the Committee. Accordingly such resignation was provided for on the creation of Bishops for the Colonies, and there were now in this country two ex-Bishops—Bishops without sees, having resigned them into the hands of their Metropolitan the Bishop of Calcutta. He (the Archbishop of Canterbury) had recently accepted from the Bishops of New Zealand and of Toronto the resignation of a portion of their dioceses, intended to be assigned to other sees. It had been thought, as he understood, that the object of this Bill should rather have been attained by a general measure, regulating the conditions on which Bishops should resign their sees, than by a special Act for a single purpose; and, undoubtedly, a general measure of the kind was highly desirable, defining the condition on which a superannuated Bishop might resign his charge. But all would at once perceive that no future Bishop could ever be in the situation of the two Prelates who were the subjects of this 836 Bill. No future Prelate could ever have a life interest in an income like that which those Bishops were ready to resign. The amount of retiring salary had been objected to by the noble Lord who moved the rejection of the Bill. If the Bishop of London had thought himself at liberty to use his episcopal income for the purpose of making to himself a fortune or of aggrandizing his family, he might easily have become independent of any retiring salary. He (the Archishop of Canterbury) might say, without exaggeration, that if that Bishop had spared from his public and private charities the half of what he has, in fact, employed in supplying the spiritual destitution of his vast diocese, he might have provided against the present emergency. He hoped their Lordships would forgive the right rev. Prelate if he had been more careful to provide for his diocese than for himself or those who may surround him. He had thus briefly stated the reasons why he should give his cordial concurrence to the Bill, which he trusted would receive their Lordships' sanction.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, he should have contented himself with a silent vote upon this occasion; but for some remarks that had fallen from the most rev. Prelate who had just sat down. He would, in the first place remark, that throughout the discussion there had been a general admission of the principle of resignation, and it was therefore unnecessary for him to say one word in its favour. The most rev. Prelate had said that the present cases could never again occur, as the two particular Bishops were in a position in regard to income in which none of their successors would ever be placed. The fair inference from that argument was, that if this Bill were adopted, there could never be any other similar measure upon the same principle upon which this would have been passed. He feared it was too late to hope to pass a general measure this year; but, great as were the evils of continuing the present arrangements in these two dioceses, he would rather do that than expose every other bishopric in the kingdom to the risk of remaining without such a remedy as it was now sought to apply exceptionally. Sorry as he was to say anything which might hurt the feelings of any person, in this matter it was necessary to lay aside delicacy—and it must be notorious to the greater part of their Lordships that Dur 837 ham and London were not the only two dioceses in which a similar remedy was necessary. Why bring in a Bill to relieve the Bishops of London and Durham from their functions, and yet not deal with two other Prelates who were at this moment in precisely the same position? He should, perhaps, be told, "because they have not resigned." But why had they not resigned? They waited of course for a general measure on this subject, knowing perfectly well that a Bill would not be brought in specifically to meet their case, because the House of Commons would not grant pensions out of the Ecclesiastical Funds. The Government, however, were no doubt in hopes that the House of Commons would pass this Bill, because, though the proposed pensions were to be taken nominally and ostensibly from the Ecclesiastical Funds, those funds would not in reality be diminished, because by the arrangement which would be made a larger sum would be paid in than would be taken out. The question, then, was reduced entirely to one of pounds, shillings, and pence, and he looked upon the present proposal as one degrading to the Church, injurious to the Bishops, as well as to the various dioceses, and one which would present insuperable obstacles in the way of future legislation. The Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Norwich were, it was well known, in the same position as the two Prelates, who would be affected by this Bill. Whatever might be the fate of this measure hereafter, let it not be said that those who opposed it were responsible for the position of the two dioceses he had just mentioned. On the contrary, the responsibility would rest with those who brought forward such a Bill instead of adopting some scheme of legislation by which the case of all would be equally covered. He would not argue the point as to whether the proposed pensions were too much or too little. The question involved was, he thought, a very much larger one. He looked upon it as essential to the interests of the Church that power should be given for Bishops to resign when no longer qualified to discharge the duties of their office, and he believed their Lordships would be throwing great obstacles in the way of such a provision if they passed this measure into law. Although he should give his vote with great reluctance in as far as it would affect these two dioceses; yet, looking at the whole question from a larger point of view, he hoped their Lord- 838 ships would refuse their sanction to the second reading.
thought it would be much fairer to the Bishop of London, and more grateful to the feelings of that right rev. Prelate, to reject this Bill at once. The discussion of this question in the House of Commons could not be otherwise than painful to that right rev. Prelate, who, he (Lord Denman) believed, would find himself able to resume his duties. On broad grounds, he was of opinion that the country would receive a general measure with much greater satisfaction than an exceptional one.
THE BISHOP OF OXFORD
said, the ground upon which his vote would be given against the passing of this Bill was as nearly as possible what had been so well stated by the noble Duke who had just sat down and by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby). It was not because be underrated the evil which it was now sought to remedy; but he felt deeply that some measure was needed to meet the general evil which now existed in the Church arising out of the impossibility—for a moral impossibility it was—for those who held the episcopal office to lay that office down if they felt themselves unable to discharge their duties. There were different ways in which this evil might have been met. It might have been met by adopting the ancient practice of appointing coadjutor Bishops, or by proposing a general Bill which would enable Bishops to resign. Let their Lordships observe the greatness of the evil, in one point, which had not been noticed in the discussion. The amount of work in any office was naturally fixed, to a great degree, as regarded him who succeeded to that office, by the amount of work performed by him who retired; and as the present system prevented Bishops from resigning when no longer qualified properly to discharge their episcopal functions, the consequence was that the whole scale of episcopal duties was lowered by the continuance of this evil. Now, this being the case, their Lordships were asked to apply a doubtful palliative to those cases which, if you did not apply this palliative, might lead to the remedy of the whole system. The universal course of legislation in both House of Parliament showed that it was only when a particular evil arose which was too great to be borne that a general measure was passed, dealing with the general interests involved; and there were no such certain means of prolonging a bad system as by palliating those 839 particular instances which would justify the Government in dealing with the evil as a whole. With regard to his right rev. Friend the Bishop of London, that Prelate, during the time he had presided over his present see, had displayed a singleness of heart, an ability, a conscientiousness, and a power such as had been rarely exhibited on the Episcopal Bench; and it was when you found such a man, by God's visitation, rendered unable to discharge his duties, and willing to make provision for the discharge of those duties by another, that there arose one of those fortunate opportunities which would induce a conscientious Government to say, "Now is the time for breaking through the difficulties which will always beset such a question, and for passing a general measure to meet the evils now complained of." Could their Lordships doubt that, if this Bill were thrown out to-night, a general measure would be brought forward next Session? On the other hand, did their Lordships believe that if they passed this Bill such a measure would be introduced? Leave this particular evil unredressed for a few months, and what was it—great as it might be—compared with the general evil of placing the Bishops in such a position as to be unable to find assistance or to resign when age or infirmity told upon them? Let their Lordships pass this measure, however, and they would put off indefinitely the cure of this evil. For his own part the only object which he had in view was the redress of a great public evil, and he might inform their Lordships that at the commencement of the present Session. Her Majesty's Government had been placed in possession of a general scheme which would have applied to the general evil, and which would have included the two cases for which it was now proposed to legislate. That a general scheme was necessary there could be no doubt. He had himself received a letter from a right rev. Brother saying that he would gladly follow the example of the Bishops of London and Durham, if any provision, however slender, could be made for him. He asked their Lordships, therefore, as there was a great evil to be remedied, and inasmuch as the remedy for that evil was not withheld by those who opposed the present Bill, but by those who had neglected to bring in a general measure, to pause before agreeing to a course which would render it next to impossible to introduce a general scheme at any future period. As long back as last 840 November the Archbishop of Canterbury had pointed out to the Government the necessity of a general measure; but, notwithstanding the representation, it was only at the close of the Session that Her Majesty's Government introduced a particular Bill, and one of which the great majority of their Lordships had not considered the bearings. He begged their Lordships, therefore, to take time and to hear the case fully discussed before they formed their judgment, and not to adopt a plan which in his conscience he believed would prevent a satisfactory solution of the difficulty which existed, but to wait until the case was fully before them, and then conscientiously, deliberately, and decidedly to adopt means to remedy a great wrong.
§ On question, that "now" stand part of the Motion, their Lordships divided: —Content 47; Not Content 35: Majority 12.841
|List of the CONTENT.|
|Bath and Wells|
|Shaftesbury||Stanley of Alderley|
|List of the NOT CONTENT.|
|Colville of Culross||Sandys|
§ Resolved in the Affirmative.
§ Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Thursday next,