HL Deb 21 July 1856 vol 143 cc1090-3

Order of the Day for the House to be put into a Committee, and for Standing Orders, No. 37 and 38, to be considered in Order to their being dispensed with, read: Said Standing Orders considered and dispensed with: House in Committee accordingly.

Clauses 1 to 8 agreed to.

LORD PORTMAN moved the omission of Clause 9, which empowered a Bishop, upon application from the minister or churchwardens of a church, to direct that a portion, not exceeding one-half, of the alms or voluntary contributions collected in the church or otherwise during the year, should be applicable to the maintenance of the minister and service of such church. His Lordship said that this power to authorise the Bishop to divide the alms collected at the offertory for the poor or for other purposes was founded upon a totally new principle, to which he entertained serious objections. Those persons who had contributed money for any particular charitable object would not like to see it applied, under the authority of the Bishop, for an entirely different object. Take, as an example, this case—a minister is in want of money, he obtains the aid of a very popular preacher, and asks for alms for a charity for the blind. The topic is one to arouse the feelings of every one—a large sum is contributed—the minister applies to the Bishop to divide the alms of the year, and thus obtains a considerable sum which was intended for the blind. This scheme is a part of the new so—called "Sacerdotal system," and requires to be checked. He feared that the clause would either cause great discord between the minister and his congregation, or else put an end to almsgiving in churches altogether. As it is necessary to make any Amendments before the question on the whole clause is put, he would wait until the alterations about to be proposed were discussed, and at the right time he would move to omit the whole clause, for if this principle is once admitted it will be ap-applied to all the parishes of the kingdom, though it is pretended that it is only to be applied in certain special cases.


said, that the clause was in the Bill when it came up from the other House; but he did not like it then and he did not like it now. It had been introduced into the Bill in the Commons, where it was adopted without a division; and although he did not like it he did not intend to oppose it, because there were conflicting parties in the Church, and the introduction of the clause had tended to produce a harmony of feeling and to secure the passing of the Bill through the House.


suggested an Amendment which would meet the difficulty—namely, to add after the words "or otherwise" in the last line but one the words, "not collected for any special purpose."


strongly objected to the clause. If it were permitted that the money collected in the church should be appropriated to other purposes, without any person being consulted but the minister or the churchwarden, people would withhold their alms and the poor would suffer. No aid was so gratefully received or so usefully distributed as the money collected at the offertory, which was distributed by the clergy, who generally accompanied the gift with kindly and useful advice. He advised their Lordships to leave the arrangements for the minister to depend upon the spontaneous good will of the parishioners. The proposal of his noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury) would meet a peculiar phase of the objection, but would not cover the whole of the case.


thought it right to remind his noble Friend who had just sat down, and those other noble Lords who were not present on the Committee, that this clause must be considered, not on its own merits, but as taken in connection with another clause. Considerable objection had been, in the first instance, taken to the third clause; and that clause was postponed till the Committee came to the consideration of Clause No. 9. In all previous legislation on this, subject, it was required that where a district church was proposed to be established, there should be a certain positive endowment of £150 a year guaranteed in the first instance. But it was obvious that in populous parishes that would be found to be a very poor provision for the clergyman; and by Clause 3 of the present Bill there was a waiving of that preliminary provision of an endowment of £150; but to meet that state of things Clause 9 was introduced, for the purpose of providing that wherever the endowment did not exceed £200, there should be this power of applying one-half the voluntary collections to the maintenance of the clergyman and the service of the Church. This Bill had been most carefully and deliberately considered by the other House. It had gone through a Select Committee there, and had come up to their Lordships' House recommended by a large majority. It was a measure which must be taken as a compromise between persons entertaining different views in regard to Church property. The Bill had also been sent before a Select Committee of their Lordships' House, who had given the measure their most careful attention. Such being the circumstances under which the Bill now appeared before them, he thought they would be hardly dealing fairly with the House of Commons if, at the present period of the Session, they made such an Amendment in the Bill as would endanger its passage through Parliament. He, therefore, hoped their Lordships would view the measure as a whole, and not reject the clause immediately under consideration. He did not think the clause unreasonable in itself, but was prepared to accede to the Amendment of his noble Friend near him (the Marquess of Salisbury).


opposed the clause, which he considered the most objectionable feature of the Bill. The Amendment of the noble Marquess did not go far enough to remove his objection. He should move to omit the word "or," between, the words "minister and churchwardens," for the purpose of inserting "and;" for although he was opposed to the whole clause, he was anxious, if it could not be omitted, to make it less obnoxious by making the application to depend on the actions of the minister and both the churchwardens, one of whom would represent the parish.


thought that the clause was calculated to check parochial charities in all places where the Bill applied.


said, he knew many instances in which the church could not be supported at all if a portion of the collections were not carried to the use of the minister. He did not think such an appropriation could have a repressing effect upon charity. Although the clause was a new clause, yet it was a correlative of the novelty of the whole Bill itself, and was an attempt to meet the spiritual wants of the populations in new and ill-provided districts by voluntary contributions. He regarded the clause as absolutely necessary to the Bill, and if it was omitted he must withdraw his support of the measure.


could see no necessity for mixing up two objects—the support of the clergy and the assistance of the poor. He thought it would be better to leave persons to contribute to either without forcing them to contribute to the other, whether they intended or not. He thought it would be better to withdraw the clause.

After a few words of explanation from the Bishop of OXFORD and the Earl of DERBY,

On Question, that the word "or" stand part of the clause, their Lordships divided:—Content 20; Not Content 20.

As the rule of the House is, that when the division is equal, it passes, pro negante, the word "or" was omitted.


then moved to insert the word "and."

Their Lordships again divided:—Content 20; Not Content 20.

The word "and" was not inserted.


then said, as the clause is now made nonsense, he advised the House to reject the whole clause, and not be alarmed by the threat of the Bishop of Oxford, as the Bill will pass with out the clause, and in spite of the right rev. Prelate. He ventured to correct Lord Derby as to the history of the clause in the House of Commons. It was inserted at a late stage of the Bill, and was quite unknown to almost all the House, and was, in fact, a surprise. The Select Committee of their Lordships had differed on the clause.

Their Lordships then divided on the Question, "That the clause stand part of the Bill."—Content 20; Not Content 22: Majority 2.

The clause was consequently struck out.

Other Amendments made: Moved, That the Report of the Amendments be now received; objected to; and after short Debate, agreed to. Amendments reported accordingly; and Bill to be read 3a Tomorrow