HL Deb 15 July 1856 vol 143 cc841-2

Die Martis 15° Julii, 1856.

Against Second Reading of The Bishops of London and Durham Retirement Bill. DISSENTIENT—"1. Because it is a most objectionable course of legislation to make laws which shall affect only particular cases, unless those cases are of so special a nature that but few similar instances can be expected. But the inability of Bishops to discharge the duties of their high office by reason of old age or permanent infirmity of mind or body is notoriously a matter of very frequent occurrence, and ought therefore to be provided for, not by private Acts affecting only certain individuals, but by some general law applying to all similar cases. 2. Because in the Bill now before the House, one of the most ancient and essential principles of the constitution of the Church is openly violated by declaring by Act of Parliament that the Sees of London and Durham 'shall become vacant,' without any reference whatsoever to the obligations of the Bishops of those Sees not to resign the high office in the Church of Christ to which they have received mission from their several Metropolitans, except into the hands, and with the express acceptance, of the said Metropolitans after duly considering the reasons for such resignation. 3. Because the Bill proceeds on a recital which implies, on the part of those Bishops, forgetfulness of the Church's law in respect to resignations made on any compact for money, or emolument, or advantage of any kind. The statement of this reason must not be construed into the expression of belief of the entire accuracy of that recital; on the contrary, justice to those venerable Prelates requires us to believe rather, that the persons who drew the Bill failed to state correctly the precise terms in which the said Bishops represented to Her Majesty their wish to retire. 4. Because an Act of Parliament professing to be founded on a transaction, which, if it were proved against any spiritual person, might probably be deemed corrupt, and be visited accordingly with severe ecclesiastical censure, could hardly fail to operate as a most pernicious stimulus to uncanonical and corrupt resignations by holders of benefices generally. That the practice of tampering with conscience in respect to such resignations, especially in connection with the law which permits the sale, not only of advowsons, but also of next presentations, prevails already to a fearful extent, there is too much reason to apprehend. The worst consequences therefore must ensue, if the Legislature itself, in the cases of any Prelates,—especially of any of those, whose high qualities and long-experienced services to the Church, would give more than common authority to their supposed example—shall appear to sanction such example by giving to it the force of law. II. EXETER.

House adjourned to Thursday next.