§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE DUKE OF SOMERSET
, in moving the second reading of this Bill, said, that the principle of the Bill was simple abolition of the church rates without providing any substitute for them. He should not have undertaken the charge of the Bill if he had not already in the other House of Parliament voted in favour of its principle, and if he had not—after hearing the question frequently discussed during the twenty years that he had sat in that House, and various schemes suggested with great ingenuity for providing a substitute—come at last to the conclusion, at which many others had arrived, that the best course in the first instance was the abolition of the compulsory rate. The great number of petitions which had been presented from all parts of the country by himself and other noble Lords in favour of the Bill showed the strong feeling which existed in the country. These petitions came, not only from the great towns, from public meetings summoned by the Mayor or the chief local authorities, but there were a great number from small villages. From the western villages they were numerous, as from the small villages in Cornwall and Devon; and, indeed, in almost every county many villages had petitioned in its favour, and he scarcely knew any subject which had excited so much feeling throughout all parts of the county. The Bill came up from the House of Commons supported by a large majority, and year after year the question had been sifted there calmly and temperately, and with an earnest desire to arrive at a solution of it. Up to this time their Lordships had not committed themselves to any opinion on the subject; they were not pledged as the other House was, and they would, therefore, be all the better able to take an enlarged view of the question. For himself he knew of no conclusion that could be satisfactory which did not commence with the abolition of the compulsory rate. He believed, too, that the Government as a whole was not pledged to any particular line, and many of the petitions which he had presented were sent under the impression that this was an open question with the Government; and when the Bill was in the other House it was supported by a leading Member of the Government, who had not only voted, but had spoken in favour of the principle. 800 He very much regretted, therefore, the declaration which had been made the other night by the noble Earl at the head of the Government, that he intended to move that the Bill be read a second time that day three months, for he supposed this must be taken as an indication of the resistance of all the Members of the Government in that House. But the present time was peculiarly favourable to the consideration of the question—no future time could be so favourable;—hereafter their Lordships would be pledged one way or the other, and in deliberative assemblies it was always difficult to bring about a change of opinions, however much circumstances may have changed.
He would now briefly call their Lordships' attention to some of the attempts which had been made to settle this question. In May, 1855, a Bill was laid on the table by the most rev. Primate, which provided that henceforth church rates should cease for ever in any parish where they had been twice refused by the inhabitants in vestry assembled. This was an assurance to those who had petitioned their Lordships that the question would be fully and fairly considered. The measure, however, failed. Since the year 1834 almost every Government and every leading statesman in the House of Commons had declared their earnest desire to settle this question; and they had one and all dwelt with great force and eloquence on the mischief done by these parochial disputes to the interests of the Church, the cause of religion, and to the advancement of Christianity itself. Various proposals had been made to obtain this end. In 1834 Earl Grey's Government proposed a scheme, the principle of which was to abolish altogether that portion of the rate which was devoted to providing for the services of the church, and charging that part which was devoted to keeping up the fabric of the church on the land tax—in other words, to make it a charge upon the Consolidated Fund. But when that proposal came to be discussed there were found to be so many objections to it that it was abandoned. When Sir Robert Peel came into office he took an early opportunity of stating his desire to bring in a Bill for the settlement of the question; but he went out immediately afterwards, and his design was frustrated. In 1837 Lord Melbourne's Government brought in a scheme placing the charge for the fabric on the revenues of the Church, which it 801 was thought might be so far improved by good management as to bear it. But when that scheme came to be discussed there were found to be so many claims on the revenues of the Church that it was thought unfair to put this additional burden on them, and that scheme, too, was abandoned. Two equivalents, therefore—the land tax, or in other words, the Consolidated Fund, and the revenues of the Church—had been proposed and set aside as unfit. A great number of compromises had afterwards been suggested in the House of Commons. The first was to exempt the towns and continue the rate in the rural parishes only, but that scheme was found to be so objectionable that it was rejected. There was another scheme, to exempt Dissenters who declared them. selvers Dissenters; but there were many objections to that also, and especially that it would prevent them ever returning to the bosom of the Church. There was one point on which little or no difference of opinion existed. No person, he supposed, would wish to maintain the charges in church rates for the celebration of the services of the church. No churchman would wish that the sacramental bread and wine should be provided by the compulsory contributions of Dissenters. But to abandon that part of church rates would not produce peace. There would be the same contests about items for maintaining the fabric, the same disputes in the vestry, the same profanation of the church, and the same amount of litigation; and—no matter how the contest ended—the parish would be left in an unsatisfactory state, in consequence of the many passions—some personal and some religious—which had been called into play. It was stated by Dr. Lushington that there was no subject upon which there was so much litigation as church rates, and that in a country where the law was universally respected. They were told that there was no doubt about the justice of the principle that the majority had a right to tax the minority; but the application of that rule should be carried out with great caution, and particularly in questions of a religious nature. It was very different calling upon people to pay a church rate and calling upon them to pay a gas or highway rate. Dissenters said, "We know that gas is provided, and that it gives a good light; but we deny that the prelates and clergy of the Established Church can furnish us with light for the next world. We do not mind paying gas 802 rates, because we know we receive a benefit; but we hold that we ought not to be called upon to pay for that the benefit of which we deny." No doubt they were told that all parishioners were bound to maintain the fabric of the Church. But if there was a legal right to compel the people to pay for the support of the fabric of the Church, all the people had a right to be accommodated in the church—if the State, acting with the Church, had a right to tax the people, there was the concurrent duty imposed on the State of finding accommodation for all parishioners within the church. It was obvious and notorious that church rates were totally inadequate for the purpose; and, as there were thousands upon thousands of our countrymen who could not find places within the church, the Dissenters, therefore, said, "We ought not to be called upon to pay for a church which, even if we want its cannot accommodate us." The imposition of church rates was merely an arrangement suited to past times, when all men were of one religion; but it was not applicable to the present state of society, and was producing increasing discontent every day. The growth of dissent and the toleration of Dissenters had increased for the last 150 years, and opposition to church rates had increased also, until the people, calmed for a time by the prospect of church rates being abolished, now looked with great anxiety to the decision at which their Lordships had arrived. It was said that in the great majority of parishes church rates were paid; but it was fallacious to take the number of parishes and exclude the number of the population. It was idle to take parishes with a limited population, and compare them with parishes possessing an enormous population: the whole country must be looked at, and the number of petitions which he had presented showed the strong feeling which existed upon this subject. Since the Census of 1851 the importance of the question had greatly increased. That was the first report on the religious position of the people, and it showed what a vast amount of the population were totally unconnected with the Church. The spiritual wants of the people in many districts had been supplied by the Dissenters. It was stated in one of the returns that, while the number of churches was 14,000, there were not less than 20,000 dissenting chapels. These Dissenting chapels had been built without any aid from the State; yet the Dissenters 803 who had built so many chapels had also been taxed for the support of the churches of the Establishment. One objection to church rates was that the peace of parishes was left in a precarious condition, depending as it did upon the discretion of the churchwardens, who might propose a rate whenever they pleased, and thus create a disturbance. Was it worth while to levy a tax which only produced £300,000, and which cost so much irritation ha its collection? He undertook to say that if their Lordships looked at those districts where of late years no church rates had been collected they would find that more had been done for the Church, and that more new churches had been built in those districts than in any others. He had presented a petition from Boston, where no church rate had been levied for twenty years; no difficulty had been felt in meeting the expenses of the church, which were cheerfully raised by subscription; whereas during the time when church rates were levied, extraordinary repairs of the fabric of the Church—though greatly needed—church rates could not be obtained; but, since they had ceased, not only had the sum of £12,000 been raised for extraordinary repairs, but two new churches had also been constructed in the parish on the voluntary principle. A few years ago Parliament voted a sum of £1,000,000 for church building; but there had been given by the subscriptions of the public a further sum a £1,500,000 for the same purpose. Let their Lordships look at Scotland. In thirteen years the Free Church of Scotland had raised £3,000,000, being at the rate of £300,000 a year; and yet the advocates of church rates in this country were struggling to keep up a fight in every parish sooner than give up these rates. A statement of the existence of great spiritual destitution was not long since made by a right rev. Prelate, and a Committee had been appointed by their Lordships to consider the question. That Committee unanimously agreed that there were no adequate means of relieving the existing spiritual destitution, except by appealing to the voluntary principle. But, then, if the Church made such an appeal, let their Lordships look to the condition in which she was placed. She held out one hand for the munificence of the zealous and the other for church rates; showing that she distrusted her own principle, and was ready to fight and wrangle in every parish in the country for this miserable sum. In many 804 country parishes the return showed that the church rates varied from £18 to £15 and £7. Was it not idle to discuss whether the power of raising such a sum should be retained, when large numbers of our countrymen conscientiously objected to the mode in which these rates were levied? But then it was said the abolition of church rates would relieve the landowners from a charge which they now paid. In 1834, when a Bill was brought in to relieve the land, it was strongly supported by the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby); but nothing was said then about the unfairness of relieving the landowner. Indeed, if he wanted a strong condemnation of church rates, he had only to turn to the speech of the noble Earl on that Bill. He had, however, determined to give their Lordships no Hansard. In the present day no one defended church rates, and the only ground for opposing their abolition was that they did not know where to find the money anywhere else. He was speaking in an assembly of landowners, but he must say that the liberality with which their Lordships had given sites far schools and churches rid them from the imputation of wishing to get rid of church rates for the sake of relieving themselves. He did not believe there would be any difficulty in making that portion of church rates which had been applied to the maintenance of the fabric a charge upon the land. This must be a voluntary charge, because if Parliament made it compulsory the town populations would object to the charge: but as a voluntary charge he believed it might be raised. He believed that many landowners would willingly subject themselves to such a charge. But it might be said that this was only the first of a series of attacks that would be made upon the Church, but he was not of that opinion. Though many who now sought the repeal of the church rates might, from their feelings having been roused, be hostile to the Church now, be believed that when the cause of agitation was removed they would return to their good temper and good sense. With regard to the sentiments of Dissenters towards the Church, he believed that many misconceptions prevailed. The grievances which they complained of and the remedies they sought for were laid before the House of Commons in 1835, and they then stated that what they asked for was the abolition of church rates, a registration of births, deaths, and marriages, the celebration of 805 marriages without the intervention of the Church, admission to the Universities, and National education conducted in a fair and liberal spirit. Most of these things had been conceded. Parliament had of late years done much in the way of legislation for the great mass of the people of this country, and the people had reciprocated the benefits conferred upon them by their loyalty, their industry, and their obedience to the laws. He might refer to the recent Royal progress at Birmingham as a convincing illustration of the loyalty and good feeling with which the great body of the people were animated, and as one proof among many of the beneficial results which had flowed from past legislation. He asked their Lordships to deal with the church rate question in the same spirit in which they had dealt with other grievances that pressed upon Dissenters, and to make the removal of that impost the crowning act of their legislation in the direction of concession. There were other reasons why it was desirable at the present moment that they should settle this question. They were told on both sides of the House that a new Reform Bill was in progress. Any Reform Bill that was proposed must give the Dissenters, who were an active class of people, great influence with the constituencies. They were a class of people who were to be found in all the centres of our commercial, mineral, and manufacturing wealth, and they could have no Reform Bill that would not give to them great additional power. Was it wise, then, to leave this question pending as a source of bitterness and religious animosity in the minds of a class whose influence was sure to be very materially enlarged. On the contrary, it was most desirable that it should be settled, and he maintained that they would never be in a better position to settle it than now. They might find themselves in a much worse position hereafter. He would propose that their Lordships should adopt the principle of this Bill, but delay the period of its coming into operation, and he would enable landowners to charge their lands with rates, a thing which would be willingly done in many rural parishes. In regard to other parishes, where the great mass of the population were opposed to church rates, there the rates must go, and be regarded as a bad debt. In such places they were very much like some old manorial rights that existed in the country, which were of no use to the lord of the manor, and only 806 served to torment his neighbours. It was of no use to talk of church rates in such parishes as these. He was exceedingly anxious that this religious question should not be permitted to remain to embitter future controversies, and he asked their Lordships to remember that almost all great commotions of which they read in history had been mixed up with religious questions. He regretted, therefore, that the Government meant to meet his Motion with an Amendment to read the Bill that day three months. Before sitting down he would read a few words from a speech delivered by Lord Stanley in 1855 on this subject. He said:—I have voted for the abolition of church rates, and shall do so again. When the matter was first brought forward for discussion, in the Session of 1853, I thought, and many others thought, that a compromise would be possible, which, while equally relieving Nonconformists from the unjust burden to which they are subjected, would serve to mitigate, in no small degree, the opposition and the dislike to any change which were felt by the great body of churchmen. That plan was proposed by another member of Parliament; I supported it in writing, and I voted for it in the division; it was fully and fairly discussed; and the result of the discussion which then took place upon my mind was to convince me that, fair and equitable as that compromise might be in point of principle, it was encumbered and embarrassed with so many practical difficulties in the working as to make it difficult for it to be carried through the House of Commons, and to make it quite impossible for it to be successfully carried out. Well, then, I had only to choose between maintaining the law in its actual state, or voting for its total repeal. I thought it was a question, not merely of policy—not merely of expediency—but of justice and right; and I, therefore, could have no hesitation as to the course I should take. I am quite aware that in some districts, especially in the rural districts, inconvenience would be caused for a time by the withdrawal from parishes and congregations of that compulsory legal support to which they are at present entitled. I do not overlook that objection, and I do not underrate its importance; but I think the inconvenience in question would be only temporary: I think it would be more than counterbalanced by the termination of that strife and dissension which we have so long witnessed in connection with this question; and I think that the change is doubly important, not only on account of the intrinsic merits of the case, but because it will afford us the first trial, the first practical experiment of that principle of self-support in religious matters which, whether we like it or no, whether we approve it or no, whether we think it the best possible system or no, seems likely, perhaps certain, in the inevitable progress of public events, to be the principle of the next generation.Their Lordships saw what was to be expected from the next generation. Without going so far as the noble Lord from whom he has just quoted, he would still 807 say that it was in the highest degree desirable to terminate the controversy about church rates, and he trusted that they would hear from the Government some definite plan for the settlement of the question. If the question were not now settled, the result would be that the people throughout the country who were in favour of the abolition of church rates would continue to agitate it year after year, and eventually some other Government, finding itself pressed and hampered by it, would say to their Lordships, as had been said on a very recent occasion, that the feeling of the country was so strong upon the subject that it would be advisable for them to give way. This was no party question, and he would urge their Lordships, for the reasons he had adduced, to try and settle it now, once for all, in a calm spirit and in the best way they could.
§ Moved, that the Bill be now read 2a.
§ LORD ST. LEONARDS
said, in order to satisfy himself upon what grounds he could give his vote on this question, he had considered what really was the position in which they stood in reference to it in point of law. The noble Duke had pressed on their Lordships the necessity of settling the question once for all. Nobody desired to see the Legislature arrive at a fair settlement of it more than he (Lord St. Leonards) did; but the noble Duke's Bill was the most singular mode of settling it of which he had ever heard. It was literally a receipt without payment. The noble Duke said in effect —"I come to settle your bill; give me a receipt for it; but I decline to pay the money." That was the noble Duke's mode of settling this question. He (Lord St. Leonards) contended that there was not a man in their Lordships' House who held any species of property, the enjoyment of which was more sacredly guarded by the law of England than was the obligation to pay church rates. By the law of England church rates were a charge upon the land of England, and that law, at this moment, bound every man's property throughout the country. For centuries this had been a charge on the property of the country, and their Lordships were now asked to go back to the voluntary principle, and leave it to every man to pay church rates or not, just as he chose. Everybody admitted that the fabric of the Church must be preserved, but to maintain the fabric of the Church money must be 808 found, and who was to supply it? For ages the poor of this country had been furnished with regular and stated opportunities and facilities for hearing the Gospel preached without being called on to pay a single shilling, but now it was proposed entirely to alter that beneficent arrangement. It is the right of the poor at the expense of the rich: not depending upon bounty, but on an actual legal liability. He who improperly withholds his assent robs the poor. Your Lordships are asked to commit this spoliation for your own benefit. If their Lordships had now to provide for the maintenance of the fabric of the Church for the first time, he asked how they could do it more easily and effectually, and at the same time less objectionably, than by the system of church rates, which was now established by law. They did not want any new law for providing for the preservation of the fabric of the Church. It was an axiom of law that there was no right without a remedy. Here there was an incontestable right, but in many cases the remedy was gone, because the Church had no longer the means of enforcing it. Upon the general question he held it to be the duty of every good subject to give effect to the law as he found it for the benefit of the whole community. Their Lordships' estates were all charged with the payment of church rates for the benefit of the poor as well as the rich, and they were not at liberty to divest themselves or their property of that obligation. If they did, they, the landowners of England, would put millions of money into their own pockets at the expense of the poor throughout the country. Nobody disputed that the fabric of the Church should be maintained, and it could be maintained under the existing system of church rates. What was now proposed in lieu of it? Various propositions had been suggested. One was the voluntary system; another was the system of pew rents; and a third had been hinted at—namely, that the landed interest should be enabled voluntarily to charge their own estates for the maintenance of the fabric of the Church. As to the voluntary system, he would only say that it was entirely adverse to the Established Church as it now stood; and if their Lordships wanted to abolish the principle on which the establishment was founded, let them begin by putting an end to church rates. He regarded the present agitation as a mere 809 passing storm, such as was often raised, and which might fairly be met by a proper compromise. He hoped their Lordships would resist the demand, but at the same time would declare themselves open to a fair and reasonable compromise. With respect to the voluntary system—good enough in itself—he would remind the House that property had been bought and inherited subject to the charge of church rates, and why should that charge now be remitted upon the chance that those relieved would hereafter subscribe voluntarily? It was like asking a creditor to give a release from a debt upon a promise of future voluntary payment. Voluntary payment might be made for some time after this charge had been remitted; but in the course of a few years those payments would become unpleasant to many, and would entirely cease. The noble Duke had alluded to the large sums raised by voluntary subscription in Scotland during the last thirteen years, but it must be remembered that was done under peculiar excitement and was done in antagonism to the Established Church of the country. The noble Duke had also referred to the large sums raised in England for building churches, and he (Lord St. Leonards) admitted the voluntary system to be an admirable system when called in aid of an established rate. It came, like God's gracious gifts, to supply wants which we could not otherwise meet. The suggestion of pew rents to supply the deficiency that would be caused by the abolition of church rates he did not like at all. Estates were now charged by law for the maintenance of the Church, and their Lordships were asked to remit that charge altogether, for the benefit of the landowners. The charge was of a fluctuating nature, the extent of which was always in the breast of the majority of the vestry. It was suggested to repeal a portion of the Mortmain Act, and to allow landowners to charge their estates for the support of the Church. That would be introducing new difficulties into the titles and transfer of land, and the amount to be so charged could not be properly ascertained, because the amount of the rate was fluctuating from year to year according to the necessities of the time. Then they would be thrown entirely upon the voluntary system. Dissenters were said to object to church rates upon religious grounds, but he could not see what religion, in a proper sense, had to do with the matter. Church rates 810 were a charge upon property which Dissenters had bought, subject to that drawback. At present the rector was bound at least to keep the chancel in repair, and the vestry were bound to keep the fabric of the church in repair. Did their Lordships intend to relieve the vestry from their responsibility, and leave the rector still liable to his? Now, let their Lordships consider for a moment how the question stood with respect to Dissenters. In seeking to abolish church rates, the Dissenters must be regarded as desiring to introduce the voluntary system which prevailed among themselves, and which, so far as they were concerned, worked well, but which could not operate otherwise than disadvantageously in the case of the Established Church. To the Dissenter who made such a proposition he would say, "I am not disposed to impose upon you anything which is degrading, but if you demand the abolition of church rates and the adoption of the voluntary system you cannot expect to exercise the right of voting for a churchwarden or to be allowed the privilege of being eligible for appointment to that office." Dissent was allowed by law, and Dissenters leaving the Church had to provide themselves with another place of worship, and perhaps it was only fair that they should be released from the obligation of paying these rates; but the Motion of the noble Duke was a different thing from this altogether. It was a unilateral sort of thing—it was a sweeping measure for getting rid of church rates altogether. What right had Dissenters to ask the members of the Established Church to abolish church rates? Dissenters had a right to say there was a grievance, but they had no right to ask that church rates should be abolished. When they asked for what did not concern them, he knew they meant mischief. It was not a question of pounds, shillings, and pence, but it was a question of damaging the Establishment. The present measure was an attempt to introduce the thin edge of the wedge. While making that statement he must not be understood as entertaining towards Dissenters any other feelings than those of the utmost goodwill, and he might add that, in his opinion, the wisest and best members of that body had always shown themselves most anxious to support the Established Church. He objected strongly to any measure the tendency of which should be to introduce the voluntary system, which must damage that Church; 811 but, while he should, for the reasons which he had stated, oppose the second reading of the Bill, he was as willing as any man could be to meet in a spirit of the utmost fairness any proposition which, while maintaining unimpaired the rights of the Church and the privilege of the poorer classes to attend at divine service, should remove any conscientious difficulties by which the question was attended.
said the arguments which had been advanced by the noble and learned Lord against the Bill were not, in his opinion, of much intrinsic weight. The noble and learned Lord had stated that by law church rates constituted a charge upon land; but how, he would ask, could that be the, case when it was shown by a return which lay upon their Lordships' table that there were five hundred parishes in which the rate was not paid at all? The fact was that it was a charge which the majority of the inhabitants of a particular parish might or might not impose upon the land as they pleased, and of which the owners of property might rid themselves, provided they could get the majority to accede to their views. It could not, therefore, be a legal charge upon the land. But, passing for a moment from the arguments of the noble and learned Lord, he should contend that the reason which, above all others, should recommend the Bill to the notice of their Lordships was that which was founded upon the interests of the Church of England itself. If, in his opinion, it were calculated to operate in a manner prejudicial to those interests he should be the last to say a word in its favour, and it was because he thought that the contrary would be the result, and that it would be most inadvisable that the contest with respect to church rates should be any longer protracted, that be should give to it his cordial support. The noble and learned Lord who had just sat down seemed to think that Dissenters would always be Dissenters, and that occasional conformity had gone completely out of fashion. His own experience, however, did not tend to confirm the justice of that view, and he might add that one of his main objections to the continuance of the church rate was that occasional conformity was thereby rendered less common than would, under other circumstances, be the case. It was not for the interest of the Church that a broad line of demarcation should be drawn between Churchmen and Dissenters. He could not see that there 812 would be any danger of churches being neglected by the abolition of these rates. In many large towns where they were abolished—the churches were not only maintained, but built by voluntary subscriptions; and in many of the rural parishes the land was owned by one or two proprietors who would always have influence enough to raise voluntary subscriptions for the repair of the fabrics. In some rural parishes there might, perhaps, be a difficulty in finding money for that purpose, but there was an equal difficulty now; and where an ancient structure had fallen into ruin, either from the poverty of the parish or because it was too large for the wants of the parish, it was not by levying a church rate that it was repaired, but by the success of some zealous clergyman in raising voluntary subscriptions from the public at large. As the noble Duke (the Duke of Somerset) had clearly shown, all the compromises which had been proposed were entirely inapplicable. He hoped their Lordships, therefore, would take a large view of this question and not look merely to the petty sum now produced by these rates. By putting confidence in the voluntary principle and abolishing this obnoxious impost at once, they would attain an end which was of even greater importance than the sustentation of the material fabric of the Church, for they would do more than by any other measure to strengthen the Church in the affections of the people.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
said; that this question was now in a very extraordinary position; he had listened with very great attention to the discussion, and it appeared to him that the main topic which ran through the speech of the noble Lord (Lord St. Leonards) was nothing else than a plea ad misericordiam for Dissenters, while, on the other hand, the main argument on which the noble Duke who had moved the second reading of the Bill was upon the ground that it was unjust to tax Dissenters for the maintenance of the Established Church, and of tenets and opinions in which they did not concur; and the remedy he proposed for that was the introduction of a Bill which proposed to abolish church rates altogether. A cry was raised that a certain class of our fellow-subjects ought to be exempted from an impost that was obnoxious to their feelings and Contrary to their inclinations; and then, for the purpose of relieving them, it was proposed to sweep away the impost altogether, to exonerate a large class of persons and 813 a widely-extended sphere of property, including a vast number of persons who had never raised the slightest objection to it. He did not think that their Lordships' House, amongst whose high functions were comprised the remedy of evils and abuses, should be called to adopt a mode of redressing a grievance so unprecedented as this. He could not but think it a most extraordinary thing that the other branch of the Legislature should have passed a measure, not only doing that which was necessary to accomplish the object, but going even further. They had been told that they should be careful lest the question of church rates should become one of the Established Church; but it had already assumed that phase. If their Lordships were to pass a measure for the abolition of church rates, it would be nothing more nor less than to give a successful commencement to an attempt which had long been made with greater and greater pertinacity and encouragement of hopes of success on the part of those whose main object was to promote the separation of Church and State, and to place the Church on the same voluntary basis of support on which the Dissenting communities of this kingdom now stood. He would illustrate this by certain proceedings at a meeting of the "Liberation of Religion Society," on the 5th of May last, at the Milton Club, as given in their organ, the Liberator. The presentation of the report of that Society was followed by the remarks, among others, of a Mr. Robinson, of Bristol, who, having inquiredWhether, in the event of Parliament proposing to abolish church rates, on the agreement that the fabrics should be kept up out of the funds now in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the Society would assent?was answered by Mr. Miall that—In his judgment the Society might consistently do so. Such a change of the law would extinguish the taxing power of the Establishment, and dry up one of its sources of revenue, while the Ecclesiastical revenues applied to the purposes for which church rates are now levied would still be national property, and be capable of appropriation to secular purposes at a future time. As yet the Society could not secure such an appropriation, but in the meantime it was a gain if the application of the Ecclesiastical funds was so altered as to remove the burdens now imposed on the Nonconformist body.And that this was not the language alone of the Society in question, he would produce to the House a declaration of the policy of the Dissenters, as it appeared in their 814 organ, the Nonconformist, more than a year ago:—Of course we do not expect that our convictions on this matter can be safely thrust into a programme of policy. But, as we said before, a fundamental truth or two, stopping short of our ultimate aim, and yet broad enough to answer present need, will be found an indispensable feature of any manifesto which is designed to serve as a banner to the radical party, and as a source of inspiration and a bond of union to its members. They will never gain either unity, discipline, or courage, until they can dare to face the greatest anomaly of the age—the Established Church. It is the only remaining enterprise capable of inspiring enthusiasm. The policy which ignores that is but the play of Hamlet with the part of Hamlet left out.These were the sentiments of a numerous and influential party, which exercised considerable influence in the House of Commons, and who were likely to increase still more after the passing of another Reform Bill, to which the noble Duke appeared to look forward with considerable apprehension. The real question for their Lordships' consideration was this—Was the Church of England to be placed upon a voluntary basis? He was surprised to hear the remarks which fell from the noble Duke as to the feelings and sentiments which he assumed to pervade the Committee of their Lordships' House that was now sitting to consider the question of spiritual destitution. He (the Duke of Marlborough) was a member of that Committee, and it was certainly true, as the noble Duke had stated, that the general feeling of the Committee was, that a large portion of those funds which were necessary to meet the increasing spiritual necessities of the country must come from voluntary sources. But the funds which were expected from that quarter were for purposes of a permanent character, such as for the building of churches—expenses that would not occur again—and for these it was thought that an appeal might he made for voluntary aid. But with regard to those expenses that were temporary and transient, and continually recurring, voluntary efforts were clearly inappropriate; for them recourse must be had to an assessment that was fixed and constantly to be depended on. Let them consider what were the real rights of the question. He would not go into the question which had been argued with se much force by the noble and learned Lord (Lord St. Leonards), whether or not church rates formed a legal liability upon property. He admitted there was 815 difference between tithes and church rates—upon a permanent impost like tithes, and a rate which might be imposed or not by the action of a majority,—they could not be said to be precisely in the same position. He would also ask their Lordships to consider that the Dissenters had rights with regard to the Establishment, and which they could enforce by law. They had the right to call upon the clergyman to perform for him the offices of religion, and the clergyman was mulcted in heavy penalties if he refused. They had a right to sepulture in the churchyard, and this right they often enforced. As was so eloquently expressed by a right hon. Gentleman in "another place" (Sir James Graham), "At the time of death the voice of Nature cries 'let my bones lie beside his bones.'" Another right which was used by those very Dissenters who refused to contribute to the expenses of the Church, would strike their Lordships as extraordinary. He held in his hand a letter from a clergyman in a populous town, which stated that every householder in his parish claimed, but without any legal right, the possession of a pew; but their pews were let by Dissenters for considerable sums—from £1 to £3 per annum; and yet the same parties refused a church rate for the maintenance of Divine service. At the same time it must not be forgotten that the opposition to church rates had not, in all cases, arisen from Dissenters, but sometimes from members of the Established Church. Churchmen themselves had in former times great reason to complain of their operation, as in those cases where an outlying district from a parish church was erected into a separate parish; but the inhabitants of that district were, until a recent period, still required to pay rates for the mother church. He quoted from the evidence of the vicar of Stoke-upon-Trent, given before the Commission for the subdivision of parishes, that he was unable to levy a rate in his parish, not from the opposition of his parishioners properly so called, but because the inhabitants of some outlying districts, which had chapels of their own, would have to pay to the mother church, while their own chapels would receive no benefit. An Act was lately passed, chiefly through his (the Duke of Marlborough's) instrumentality, which exonerated these new parishes from rates from the mother church, and applied the rates of each district to its own chapel; and he was happy to find that in this very 816 district not only did the parishioners of Stoke now raise a rate for the mother church without opposition, but the inhabitants of these outlying districts, without hesitation, raised a rate for their own purposes. These circumstances made him feel that it was unadvisable to rush to a hasty conclusion, for he thought causes were in operation that would diminish the opposition to church rates. This question was not new to their Lordships. The matter had already come before them in their judicial capacity, and nothing could be fairer to all parties than the position in which their decision had placed it. That the question should be decided by a majority in the parish was in accordance with all the constitutional maxims of the country, and he believed that the effect of this decision, by leaving the matter to the vote of the majority, would be to popularise church rates. No doubt here and there the rate met with opposition; but he believed the noble Duke had greatly exaggerated the agitation to which the question gave rise. There had been church-rate contests in his own neighbourhood; but when they were brought to a close little or nothing more was heard of them. Even where the rate was carried, and the churchwardens proceeded to collect the rate, if a few refractory individuals were met with, it was found better to pass them over than to incur the trouble, expense, and of putting their case into the Ecclesiastical Court. He strongly condemned the proposition made by the late Government to extinguish church rates wherever the rate had been refused for years in succession, and characterised the scheme as a premium on agitation. He thought the advantage of the present scheme was this—that even after the rates had been refused for years a change of circumstances might occur, a more popular clergyman might be appointed, or one with more tact and wisdom than his predecessor, and under his auspices the collection of the rates might be resumed. But by the proposition of the late Government, the parishioners were agitated by being told that if they persevered in refusing the rate for five years the impost would be abolished altogether. He for one was quite willing to exonerate Dissenters, and that without branding them as Dissenters. As the noble and learned Lord had stated, he thought it would be quite enough that a man should come forward and state that he contributed to the support of some other church 817 or chapel, and that that should constitute his exoneration from the payment of the church rates. To this he would be disposed to add that such a person should not vote in vestry upon the levying or distribution of the rates, or for the election of churchwardens. In fact, he would introduce into the vestry the rule which obtained in every other assembly, that a man should not vote who did not pay rates. The reason why this plan of exemption had so often before failed was this, that it was usually coupled with exclusions which amounted to a virtual excommunication from the Church, to which he did not wonder that Dissenters objected. He trusted that the time was not distant when some reasonable and satisfactory arrangement of this question would be come to; but he trusted that their Lordships would always be resolved to maintain intact and inviolate the rights of the Established Church.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, that the noble Duke who had just sat down said, he feared this question was one which already affected the stability of the Established Church. He (the Duke of Newcastle) was happy to say he differed entirely from his noble Friend; but if he had unfortunately arrived at the same conclusions as his noble Friend, he should indeed tremble for the Established Church. However, so far from concurring with him in that part of his speech which was founded upon quotations made from what passed at some meeting intended to show that the opposition to the church rates had its origin in a spirit of hostility to the Established Church, he (the Duke of Newcastle) felt confident that a very large proportion of Dissenters who objected to the payment of church rates were not hostile to the maintenance of the Established Church. He thought the noble Duke had, in the course of his own speech, given the strongest possible reasons for believing in the impossibility of maintaining church rates, for though the whole of his speech was directed to the maintenance of a compulsory rate, he yet maintained the policy and propriety of preserving a difference between town and country; and he even went so far as to say that in places where a church rate was levied, and every man was liable to payment of the rate, those who objected should be allowed particular exemption, and should not be cited before the Ecclesiastical Courts, and made to pay. It was clear, therefore, that the noble 818 Duke himself had no confidence in the preservation of church rates as at present constituted. Exaggerated arguments were maintained equally on one side of the question as on the other. On the one hand, the question was treated by many—as, for instance, by the noble Duke (the Duke of Somerset), who had introduced the measure in a most powerful and able speech—as a question of religious liberty; on the other hand, the Bill was opposed by others who believed it to be a violation of the law of property. He (the Duke of Newcastle) could not believe that it was a question of religious liberty. Last night he had voted in favour of a measure he had uniformly supported, because he believed that the spirit and principles of their present system of toleration was in favour of every man enjoying the same civil rights: but he could not agree that that principle could be applied to the measure then before the House. In his opinion no man had a right to refuse payment of taxes on religious grounds; and the Dissenter had no more right to refuse to pay a church rate, legally imposed, than a Quaker had to refuse to pay a tax levied for the maintenance of a war to which he might be conscientiously and religiously opposed. But if this were not a question of religious liberty, it was a question which strongly interested the feelings of a large portion of the community, which their Lordships were disposed to respect. It might not be a question of right and justice, but it was a question of policy and wisdom, and upon these grounds it ought to be considered. It was in some respects a double question; first they had to settle the point whether they would maintain the present system of church rates; and secondly, if they maintained them, whether they would compel Dissenters to pay them. As regarded the second point, all seemed to be agreed that in some shape or other Dissenters were to be exempted from the payment of church rates. But how far his noble Friend could maintain the absolute exemption of Dissenters from church rates, and yet say that church rates stood on the same footing as other kinds of property, he (the Duke of Newcastle) could not understand. The two doctrines were irreconcilable. It was said that if they abolished church rates, tithes must follow; but that was pursuing a line of argument which he could not understand. How could he call that his property which any noble Friend had a right to give or withdraw at his option? How 819 could that be property in the Church which it was equally in the power of vestries to give one year, and to withhold the next? He maintained that there was a wide distinction between church rates and tithes. He now came to the question in which they found themselves, in reference to the Bill before the House. His noble Friend, who moved the second reading (the Duke of Somerset) seemed to feel that this was not quite the measure to satisfy himself or the House, and therefore he said he hoped the operation of it would be suspended for two or three years, if it should be read a second time. Now, he (the Duke of Newcastle) could see no good in such a proposition. No good could accrue to the Church by any such suspension; but, on the contrary, it would not be a compromise, it would create further difficulties, and would increase the irritation that already prevailed. It was not a fair way of dealing with the question, and some other measures providing some substitute for the church rates were necessary to be passed before, or at least concurrently with, this measure. If this Bill had come up to their Lordships two months ago, and there had been time to refer it to a Select Committee, he, for one, would have consented to vote for the second reading; but believing that it would be a delusion to suppose that it could become law in this Session, any attempt to pass the Bill this Session would only complicate matters, and therefore, he should not vote for the second reading. But, in consenting to vote against it, he hoped it would be one of the first questions which would be taken up by the Government at the earliest period in the next Session of Parliament; and, moreover, that it would be introduced in their Lordships' House. The question had been discussed over and over again in the House of Commons, and, though necessarily some irritation had been created, there was so much that was conciliatory in the speeches even of many of those who might be regarded as opposed to the Church, that he had the highest hopes of an arrangement being come to which would be satisfactory to all parties. He would briefly refer to some of the propositions that had been made for settling this question. In 1834, it was proposed to throw a portion of the church rates on the Consolidated Fund; but that was not a scheme that ever would be accepted by the country. As regarded the substitute of pew rents, he agreed with the noble Duke who spoke last that that was a most objectionable one. It would 820 act most unfairly on the poor; in the rural parishes it would be intolerable under any circumstances, and it would be, in his mind, a violation of the principle on which the Established Church was founded. As regarded anything like a registration of Dissenters, he knew that was proposed some few years ago with the best possible spirit; but he rejoiced that it was not adopted, as well in the interest of the Established Church as of the Dissenters; because he believed if they once imposed on a Dissenter the necessity of writing down his name as a Dissenter, from that time it would become a matter of honourable pride with him no longer to frequent the church or participate in its ordinances, and thus the breach already existing between the Church and the Dissenting body Would be widened; whereas he (the Duke of Newcastle) looked forward to the day when many of the Dissenters, now separated from the Church of England by comparatively slight differences of opinion, would be brought back to the fold. As to maintaining church rates in rural parishes and abandoning them in towns, that, he thought, was an impracticable and unstatesmanlike suggestion. What their Lordships wanted to do was to get rid of the heart-burning to which church rates had long given rise; but by abolishing church rates in towns and maintaining them in rural parishes they would be continuing the grievance in many parishes—for instance, those in Wales—where it had been especially felt all along. He now came to the proposition for permitting a charge to be imposed on the land by a relaxation of the laws of mortmain. He could not imagine that any man's title to his estate would be so complicated as the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord St. Leonard's) had said it would by a proposition of that kind, and he, for one, looked to it as one way of providing a fund which would be, to same extent, an equivalent for the system of compulsory church rates. He had every confidence in the voluntary principle, and that not merely because it had been found successful in those cases where church rates had been refused, but also because there was a better understanding and feeling in many provincial towns on the subject. But it was in the rural districts where, if they abolished church rates, the greatest difficulty would be experienced in providing a substitute. He would be perfectly ready to abandon them in towns, because he knew the Church would not there suffer from 821 their abolition; but in the rural parishes the case was different, and there, he repeated, the difficulty would be found of finding a substitute. He looked at this measure more in the light of an abstract proposition that church rates should be abolished than as a practical measure for providing a substitute for them, and it was for that reason, and that reason only, that he should vote against the second reading of this Bill. He entirely disbelieved that, as had been stated by his noble Friend (the Duke of Marlborough), the agitation for the abolition of church rates was an agitation for the abolition of the Church of England. He believed that those who supported the abolition of church rates looked on it, not as a stepping—stone to the abolition of the Church of England, but as a grievance from which they desired to be relieved; and he was confident that it was the interest, as he believed it to be the duty of the Church of England to meet them and endeavour to effect a settlement of this long-pending dispute.
§ LORD WENSLEYDALE
rose to be speak the attention of their Lordships, for only a few minutes, whilst he stated his strong objection to the measure proposed by the noble Duke, the total abolition of church rates. It had been suggested tonight, and on other occasions, that some other measure might be adopted, to provide for the support of churches. He thought it possible that some provision might be made that the repairs of the fabric of the church might be charged on all the owners of the lands in the parish—leaving the congregation who frequented the church to provide the sacramental elements and all other things necessary for Divine service. The repairs to be from time to time made and the charge for them imposed by an equal rate; not by the churchwardens, for they might be Dissenters, and possibly leave the church unrepaired, or, on the contrary, might be members of the Church of England, who had a taste for expensive renovations. Perhaps some body of elected ratepayers, analogous to the Board of Poor Law Guardians, might have the power safely delegated to them. But the measure proposed by the noble Duke would entirely put a step to every chance of a compromise. Whether the abolition was immediate or suspended till the end of two, five, or seven years, as suggested by the noble Duke, what possible hope was there that the House of Commons would ever con- 822 sent to an intermediate measure? It is entirely out of the question. Not so, if the law remains unrepealed, and an opportunity be thus given to devise some reasonable plan for effecting this object. The noble Lord said, that it was highly desirable that their Lordships should clearly understand what the existing law was. I have necessarily, said his Lordship, paid to this subject the greatest attention, having had, as a Judge, the duty of giving my opinion in all the several cases which have occupied the Courts for several years past, with respect to the Braintree church rate. I assisted as a Judge in the Court of Exchequer Chamber when it was decided, on a writ of error from the Court of King's Bench, that the churchwardens had no power to make it, if the vestry would not; and again, when that Court of Error held, by a majority, that a minority of the vestry could make it, if the major part refused to do so; and lastly, when this House asked the opinion of the Judges, and finally reversed that decision. On the argument of the first of these cases, I sat with my late lamented Friend, Lord Chief Justice Tindal, who delivered the opinion of the Court, and laid down and explained the whole of this branch of law in the clearest and most satisfactory manner. I may take upon myself, therefore, to state with perfect confidence what that law is. With all deference and respect to my noble and learned Friend opposite (Lord St. Leonards), he is not perfectly accurate in stating that at common law every man's estate is subject to the burden of church rates, though, practically, from very early times it has been so: but that remark induced a noble Friend of mine, who spoke after him (Lord Wodehouse), to state that the burden of church rates was not imposed by the common law, but by the voluntary act of the vestry. My Lords, it was undoubtedly a mistake of my noble Friend. In the full and satisfactory judgment to which I have referred it was distinctly laid down that there was at common law not an option but an absolute and binding legal duty on every parish to repair its church; and no Judge, in the course of the long discussions which have taken place in these late years, has even intimated a doubt on this subject. This legal obligation is analogous to that of parishes to repair all highways within their limits, save such as individuals are bound to repair ratione tenurœ, or a township by custom, or others 823 specially exempt. It is analogous to that of counties who are bound to repair bridges, with similar exceptions, and the mode of performing this duty, in every one of these three cases was the same. The inhabitants of the district so liable were to meet, and by common consent make a bye-law, which, when reasonable, was binding on all. It might be, in early times, by providing that the repairs were to be made by one contributing carts or horses or materials, or personal labour, so that the burden of repairing a road or bridge should be equally distributed. So in the repair of churches, a like bye-law might be made; and instances are to be found in the old books of special provisions of the same nature, but for many centuries the only mode adopted at the vestry meetings, because the only mode now practicable, is by an equal pecuniary rate, With respect to roads and bridges, the mode of performing the common law obligation by parishes and counties, has, from the more frequent occurrence of the necessity, been regulated by the statute law. But, as to churches, the common law liability, in almost all cases, continues. In all cases of roads and bridges, if the common law obligation to make repairs was disregarded, the remedy was by indicting the inhabitants for a misdemeanor, and in imposing an adequate fine on them to secure the repairs. But in the case of a parish not performing its duty in repairing the church, no indictment was maintainable—an interdict was the remedy, which, before the Reformation, was all powerful; but after that event, as is pointed out in a pamphlet published some years ago on the question of church rates by my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, this remedy became idle and useless, In the time of Lord Kenyon, an attempt was made to enforce the making of a church rate by mandamus; but it was held, and it must now be considered, that the non-repair of churches is not only matter of ecclesiastical cognizance, but exclusively so; and the Court of King's Bench has no power to enforce the obligation by mandamus, unless the rates have been pledged for money borrowed by virtue of an Act of Parliament, in which case that Court will enforce the payment of the rate by applying that remedy. If it had been decided that the repairs of the church could be enforced by the common law remedies, I believe that the payment of this rate would have been regularly made, and we should 824 not have had those disputes which unfortunately in late times so extensively prevailed. But, my Lords, notwithstanding the want of these means of enforcing the performance of the undoubted legal obligations, attaching to every parish, it is not to be assumed that there is no remedy. The Ecclesiastical Court will proceed to punish those who are contumacious, in refusing to concur in making a church rate. Upon a clear case presented to the Court, showing that the party complained against totally refuses to perform his duty, the offender may be punished by writ de contumace capiendo, and imprisoned for six months; and there are instances of the exercise of such jurisdiction since these disputes began, and within a very few years. But this remedy is expensive, and beset with difficulties; and how can it be effectual where in some populous parishes five or ten thousand would have to be proceeded against? Practically, therefore, the legal obligation, though undoubtedly existing, may be said to be more capable of being enforced; but still every one ought to obey the law, and is not morally excused from obedience by the chance of impunity, any more than a person would, who should commit a more serious crime, when he knew it would be easy to escape punishment. It has happened on more than one occasion that I have had to attend meetings convened for the purpose of raising a church rate, where I reside in the country; they were attended by some very respectable Dissenters; a few objected to church rates, as contrary to Scripture; others, who did not feel that objection, yielded to the argument that there was a legal obligation, and that they ought to obey the law, though there was a difficulty in punishing the offence of disobedience. I cannot help thinking, that if it was generally well understood, that there is an absolute legal duty to contribute to repair the church; and that there is not, as a great many suppose, a mere voluntary power by law which the vestry may perform or decline, at their discretion, to provide for the repair of the church, there would not be the difficulty which in many places, unfortunately, occurs.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords—I confess I looked with some anxiety and some curiosity to see which of your Lordships would have the courage to press upon our acceptance a Bill the effect of which would be to deprive the Church of England of a large amount of property to which she is entitled—not by virtue of any 825 law, but by a prescription older than any law, dating from the earliest history of the Church in this country—and to prevent a majority of the inhabitants of any parish from rating themselves for the purpose of a great national as well as personal object, and to make the Church of England, as far as regards the maintenance of its fabric and the support of its worship, entirely dependent upon the voluntary principle. My Lords, I must confess the noble Duke (the Duke of Somerset) exhibited as much ability as courage in undertaking the hopeless task—for hopeless I trust and confidently believe it will be—of seeking to induce your Lordships (although, unfortunately, the other House has been induced partly to sanction it) to deprive, without compensation and without equivalent, the Church of England of that which I believe to be essential to her maintenance, and which is unquestionably one of her most indisputable rights. Upon what principle or plea does this Bill proceed? The preamble states that,Whereas church rates have for some years ceased to be made or collected in many parishes by reason of opposition, and in many other parishes the levying thereof has created litigation and ill-feeling.What then?—Therefore be it enacted that in the vast majority of parishes where there has been neither resistance, nor opposition, nor ill-feeling, but, on the contrary, a general readiness to pay rates, it shall not be lawful for the inhabitants in vestry assembled to discharge that which by law is a solemn duty and obligation upon them.It was said, I think by the noble Duke who spoke last but one (the Duke of Newcastle), that there was a broad distinction between the question of church rates and that of tithes, inasmuch as the former was a voluntary, while the latter was a compulsory payment. For my own part, however, I can see, so far as the principle involved is concerned, no distinction whatever between both those charges—with the exception, perhaps, that the church rate is fluctuating in amount while the amount of the tithe is fixed, and that the latter is recoverable by means of any easy legal process, while there is considerable difficulty in enforcing the payment of the latter. It is quite true as had been stated by the noble and learned Lord who has just addressed the House, that although practically speaking church rates do not constitute a direct tax upon land, yet that their payment involves a personal obligation in the case of every inhabitant of a parish, 826 which obligation can be enforced only by having recourse to the means which a person may happen to possess in the parish; in other words, to the land of which he is the occupier. The rate is, therefore, to all intents and purposes, as much as the poor rate or any other rate, or as tithe itself, a charge upon property. It is, moreover, a charge which when one buys or sells property always enters into the question of the value at which it is to be estimated. My noble Friend behind me stated a case in which some generations ago a member of his family purchased the tithes of a particular parish. Those tithes were estimated at a certain amount, and he obtained them at a lower price than he otherwise would, because, in virtue of his becoming proprietor of those tithes, and therefore the lay rector of the parish, he would have to defray the expenses connected with the repairs of the chancel of the Church. Now, let me suppose that my noble Friend's ancestor had paid a sum of £2,000 less than their real value for those tithes, in consideration of his having to devote a sum of £100 per annum to the maintenance of the chancel, and that, being a Dissenter, he should, after the bargain had been concluded, turn round and say, "To keep up this chancel would be to act in opposition to my conscientious feelings. True, I have purchased those tithes for a sum lower than the estimated amount because I undertook this obligation, but I beg to be excused for adhering to the terms of our bargain, because I do not happen to be a Member of the Church of England." What, I ask, would your Lordships say to conduct such as that? Would such a plea be listened to either upon the principles of law or morality for a single instant? Church-rates, then, I contend—a charge though it may be fluctuating in amount, yet capable of being estimated by striking certain averages—one a distinctly recognized charge, which the Church of England has a right to receive upon the one hand, and which every landlord throughout the country is bound to pay upon the other, as a debt upon his estate from the liquidation of which he must not hope to escape upon the plea of conscience. For my own part I must confess that, while disposed to look with the utmost indulgence upon the claims of Dissenters in relation to this as well as to other questions, I am nevertheless inclined to look with very great suspicion upon those conscientious scruples, 827 the result of yielding to which would be to effect a saving of money in the case of those by whom they are put forward.
My Lords, it is nevertheless a matter which admits of no doubt that the circumstances in which the Church stands to the great body of the people have undergone considerable alteration since the period—if, indeed, the period can be fixed—at which church rates were originally instituted. In the early days of our history the parochial system was in itself complete and entire. All the persons in a parish being of the same religious persuasion, every inhabitant was by ecclesiastical authority, which was then all powerful, obliged to contribute to the due performance of Divine service and to the maintenance of the fabric of the Church of which he was of necessity, a member. Unfortunately the increase of the population in many parts of the country has greatly out-grown the parochial system and the parish churches have become in many instances inadequate to the accommodation even of that portion of the community who may be considered as desirous of frequenting them. This inability of the Church to receive those who might otherwise be drawn to her has no doubt been one of the great causes of the propagation of dissent. Then, again, partly out of consideration for the feelings of Dissenters, and partly influenced by other motives, the course of our recent legislation has tended very much to break through that bond of union which, in accordance with that system to which I have adverted, subsisted between the Church in each parish and its inhabitants in earlier times. The Church in its original intention was connected with every individual in the parish, not only for the purposes of weekly or daily worship, but for the celebration of the three most important events which are bound up with human existence. In the parochial church every individual received the rites of baptism. Under its sanction he entered into the solemn obligations of married life. Within it he received, or was entitled to receive, the rites of sepulture according to the service of the Church of England. As dissent, however, has increased, and the population of the country has outgrown the means of religions worship afforded by the Church, recent legislation has tended to diminish the closeness of that connection in relation to all those ties which formerly prevailed. We have recognized the scruples of Dissenters, and have admitted the celebration of the 828 rites both of marriage and of baptism to take place in places of worship other than the Church, provided they be duly licensed for that purpose. We have partly upon sanitary grounds, partly from other considerations, constructed cemeteries and public burial-grounds, apart from the grave-yards attached to the parish churches, thereby removing one of the closest and most sacred of these bonds which bound the population of a particular locality to the parish church. I do not mean to say, my Lords, that each and all of those changes might not have been called for by the interests of the community—that remark I should especially apply to the case of constructing new cemeteries, a measure which sanitary considerations render essential, more particularly in large and populous towns. But while I make this admission, the fact remains undisturbed, that the operation of recent legislation tends to dissociate the bulk of the members of the community from their respective parishes, and, as a consequence, to render them disinclined to contribute to the support of the Church. I am, my Lords, very far indeed from saying that I look upon the law relating to church rates as being at the present moment in a satisfactory state. I must at the same time observe that the right of the Church to receive those rates and the obligation of the parishioners to pay them, in my opinion, admits of no question. That being so, it would, I cannot help thinking, be an act of gross injustice by a single sentence in an Act of Parliament, without equivalent and without compensation, to deprive the Church on the one hand of its rights, and to exempt the parishioner from his obligation upon the other. I have said, however, that I do not think the question of the payment of church rates is in a satisfactory position. There are two classes of difficulties by which it is surrounded. The one involves the the ill-feeling with which payment of church rates is attended, and the legal obstructions which stand in the way of levying the tax when it is proposed. The other class comprises the still more serious question of how those parishes are to be dealt with in which the majority of the vestry is unwilling to impose a church rate. In the latter case no practical remedy can be provided, no rate can be enforced; but does not that fact, I would ask, considerably weaken the case of those who advocate the abolition of church rates, inasmuch as the tax does not depend upon an arbitrary levy to be paid by all the 829 inhabitants of a parish, but upon the voluntary choice of the majority, who assess themselves? If their Lordships were to sanction the principle that no individual should be subject to any charge of which he himself did not happen to approve—if you were to say that no majority is to have the power of imposing any pecuniary obligation on the minority—you strike at the root of the whole system of taxation of this country. Within certain limits and for certain purposes of importance the majority as to taxation must have the power of binding the minority, and I have not heard any one—not even the noble Duke (the Duke of Somerset)—contend that the maintenance of the fabric of the church and the celebration of Divine worship are not objects of paramount national importance, and that it is not necessary to raise at regular and stated periods sums of money for the purposes to which church rates are at present applied. On the contrary, he frankly admits that, but he says that these objects may safely be entrusted to the voluntary principle. The noble Duke went on to enforce his views by referring to what took place in Scotland upon the disruption of the National Church there, and in London, when, upon the earnest remonstrance of the late Bishop of London, a great effort was made for the increase of church accommodation here. I have a great respect, my Lords, for the voluntary principle. I would trust to it willingly for any sudden and immediate effort which the wants of a particular district might call for; but I have not at all the same confidence in that system when the object to be achieved is one which will require regular and steady funds, year after year, to the amount required for the maintenance of our churches. I am sure that all those who have had to deal with public subscriptions, either for the building of a church, the establishment of a hospital, or any object of that sort, will bear me out in saying that, while there is comparatively little difficulty in obtaining large sums for an immediate and pressing object, there is the greatest difficulty in keeping up a steady list of subscriptions. If a great effort is to be made under a great stimulus, such as arose from the jealousies caused by the disruption of the Church of Scotland, and the eagerness of the Free Church to place itself at once on a level with the Church of Scotland, and to provide kirks and manses for their clergy; or such as that which took place when the late Bishop of London raised 830 great subscriptions for building a large number of new churches in London, the voluntary principle may be fairly relied on; but you cannot trust to it with the same confidence for the purpose of maintaining steadily, year after year, an object which you may have had little difficulty at first in setting on foot. No one contends that there is in itself any injustice in calling upon any one to discharge the obligation into which he entered when he inherited or bought his property, particularly when there is this further security—that he cannot be called on to discharge it unless by the decision of a majority of those parishioners who, equally with himself, are interested in maintaining the church. The case of Dissenters has been put prominently forward in support of this Bill. I am quite ready to admit that in this crusade against church rates there are not only many members of the Church of England combined with the Dissenters, but also many Dissenters who are not influenced by any feelings of hostility to the Church so much as by an hostility to an impost which they look upon as a grievance. Nevertheless, I cannot conceal my firm conviction that a large proportion of those who are carrying on this agitation against church rates are doing it from a political-religious principle, and for the purpose of shaking the power and influence of that Church to which, as Dissenters, they are opposed. I know that there are many Dissenters who are not only not hostile to the Church, but who would be sorry to see her weakened; and, on the other hand, I know there are large masses of political Dissenters, the leaders in this crusade, who are animated by a spirit of the most deadly hostility to her, and who, relying on the support of conscientious Dissenters and honest but deceived Churchmen, are endeavouring, under the pretext of getting rid of an obnoxious impost, to lower and despoil the Church, and to compel her to rely on the voluntary principle only. As I said before, I conceive that the payment of church rates has always been a matter of positive obligation, to be measured by a pecuniary sum, which was inherited or acquired with the property which any man possesses, and I cannot, in point of principle, concur with those who contend that a Dissenter, as a Dissenter, has a right to be relieved from it. No doubt it may be annoying—no doubt it is—to have to contribute to an object from which one conceives he derives no personal benefit, or to 831 which one may be personally opposed; but it is an annoyance to which a great many other persons besides Dissenters have to submit. To use a personal illustration—at this moment I pay tithes to a Roman Catholic—on a portion of my own property the great tithes are owned by a Roman Catholic; but what would be said if I were to declare that I had conscientious scruples against paying tithes to a Roman Catholic, and should therefore refuse to discharge my legal obligation to him? The result would be, that I should put the tithe into my own pocket; and, under the pretext of preserving my own conscientious scruples, I should reap the benefit in my pecuniary interests. But what is the difference in principle between the two? None at all: but the tithe can be by law enforced against me, and the church rate cannot be practically enforced against the Dissenter. I admit, though not as a question of strict right, that I should be willing to stretch a point, and if possible to come to some arrangement which would relieve the honest, conscientious Dissenters, who pay for the maintenance of their own places of worship, and who, though they do not sit in our parish churches are compelled to contribute to their maintenance, from the obligation of contributing to church rates. But, then, surely, I may ask for some equivalent. I may ask, in the first place, that the person who claims that exemption should claim it on the ground that he desires no benefit from the services of the Church, to whose support they refuse to contribute. But then you turn round and say, "Oh, that is what is called 'ticketing' the Dissenter—it is obnoxious to the Dissenter and prejudicial to the Church." But if The Dissenter claims exemption as a Dissenter, how can I possibly give him that exemption except he proclaims himself to be such? He must either have exemption because he is a Dissenter, or he has no ground whatever in point of conscience to stand on. If every person were exempted from payment of church rates on the simple ground of entertaining conscientious objections to them, I am afraid that the list of the exempted would be very much extended, and that it would include many who had no possible claim to exemption. Again, if Dissenters are exempted, have we not a right to require that they should cease to have any voice in levying the rate—that they should forego any claim upon the services of the Church, and that they should have no voice in the election of 832 churchwardens? And how are we to give Dissenters the exemption on the one hand, or subject them to these restrictions on the other, unless they put forward their claims? My Lords, it appears to me that the question has now gone through the process of exhaustion. The noble Duke has gone through every proposition connected with the law on this subject from the most distant day, and has shown that, conclusively to his own mind, there are serious, if not insuperable, objections to each of them. He has put aside payment out of the Consolidated Fund; he has put aside the question of the Land Tax, which, in point of fact, is the same thing; and he has put aside calling on Dissenters to claim exemption as Dissenters from the legal and legitimate payment of a legal obligation on their property. I have heard it suggested that there should be levied in every parish not a church rate, but a worship rate, to be applied according to the option of each person to any place of worship within the parish. To that proposition there are objections of a various and conflicting kind. There is naturally, on the part of members of the Church, an objection to become contributories to places of worship different from their own, and which they are not under any legal obligation to maintain. But there is also the objection raised against this proposition, which I should have thought would be most unobjectionable to Dissenters—that there is a class of Dissenters who object to any compulsory payment at all, and who consequently would as strenuously resist levying a rate for the maintenance of their own as of any other place of worship. Because they desire to rely upon the voluntary principle they repudiate any notion of a general rate, to be levied on the land of the country to maintain all descriptions of religious worship within the district, according to the wish of the person subscribing. No doubt, the objection may be raised on the part of the Church of England, that it is placing it on a level with any other sect and denomination—a position they would not willingly take up, and one not very consistent with the position of an Established Church. Such, however, is the principle which prevails in many parts of the United States of America, and I believe no difficulty arises in regard to it. A worship rate is levied, and every person is at perfect liberty to say to what denomination he desires his quota, which he is compelled to contribute, to be applied. In 833 this country, however, those who advocate the voluntary principle would refuse to levy any rate, even though it were impartially and indiscriminately raised.
My Lords, in the speech with which the noble Duke opened this discussion, after supporting the principle of absolute and Unrestricted abolition, he somewhat surprised me, first by a proposition that the operation of the Bill should be postponed for a period of four or five years, which I think is more objectionable than the Bill itself; and in the next place by a proposition that a charge should be voluntarily levied upon land equivalent to the amount of church rates. Undoubtedly, if the noble Duke were able to carry a proposition that there should be a fund levied in the first instance by voluntary subscription of charges on estates, equivalent to the average amount of the existing church rates, it would require the most serious consideration of your Lordships and of the other House of Parliament. But such a proposition is wholly at variance with the object of the present Bill; and, moreover, if the noble Duke ever looks forward to such a result, the surest and most certain mode of defeating it is by passing the present Bill, which abolishes unconditionally the existing payment. According to the proposition which the noble Duke makes, we should really be recurring in a short time to the same difficulties under which we at present labour. The noble Duke proposes that we should have power to charge a certain portion of our estates with a certain amount of money for the payment of church rates in each parish or district. Be it so. But supposing that the noble Duke or I were to sell that portion of our estates, and the person who purchased were a Dissenter, we should come back to precisely the same position in which we now are. We should come back to it, I grant, with this advantage, that it would be a fixed and positive charge, and there would be no possibility of a refractory vestry refusing to levy the amount, because, being a charge upon property, it would require no interposition of a vestry, and could be enforced by law. I do not say that the difficulties could not be overcome. On the contrary, I think if there be a mode in which it is possible to come to a practical solution of this question, the only mode in which I can conceive it is to be looked for is in some such proposition as that shadowed out by the noble Duke, but extended and carried further than the noble Duke proposes; that is the only mode 834 which I can see—namely, by voluntary action, in the first instance, imposing a permanent liability, and not trusting to the permanent operation of the voluntary principle. Every other proposal that I know of has been already refuted in the course of this discussion. The supply from the Consolidated Fund, the exemption of Dissenters on their declaring themselves to be Dissenters, the levy of a general rate for the services of all religious denominations—all these have been brought forward and refuted and summarily repudiated. I confess that, anxious as I am—and I ant most anxious—to see the present law put upon a different footing and made more satisfactory both to those who have to receive and those who have to pay, I am too sensible of the difficulties which surround this question to venture to give to your Lordships any distinct or decided pledge that I will undertake to produce a measure upon a subject which has baffled some of the ablest statesmen. It is a question which must be approached with the greatest caution and deliberation. It is a question, moreover, in which some advances must be made both on one side and the other, and before we proceed to offer some suggestions for a compromise there ought to be fair and reasonable grounds for believing that the compromise so offered will be accepted. But if there be a mode in which it is possible gradually but permanently to put an end to the present system—I do not mean to say in every place, for there are places, particularly in large towns, where it would be impracticable—but as regards the bulk of the country, if there be any effective means of providing for the abolition of the church rates, it must be by a voluntary commutation. I see no other possible solution. There would be difficulties, no doubt, in fixing the amount of average upon which the commutation should be based, because from their nature church rates are fluctuating. But of this I feel confident, with regard to a great number of rural parishes especially, where the sums levied are not very various in amount or very extensive in character, there would be a great prospect of extensive commutation taking place if the option were given to landowners within the parishes to commute either by means of a permanent charge upon their property, or by payment down of a certain sum towards a fund of sufficient capital to meet the annual charge. The amount required in the rural parishes would be comparatively small. Take the average parish of 835 £6,000 a year. The average rate is 2d. in the pound. Consequently it would amount in a parish of £6,000 a year to 1,000 shillings, or £50. And I cannot but think that, looking to the great number of parishes which are on this small scale, there would be found a large number in which the proprietors and inhabitants would be willing to contribute either by subscription of capital or by charge on their property to give security equivalent to the annual value of church rates. I think further that many persons who object to church rates, many persons even who dissent from the Church, would be willing to contribute once for all for the purpose of raising capital to redeem church rates. I do not say this with entire confidence with regard to all the great towns and all the parishes of this country, but I believe the principle of voluntary commutation is the only system to which you can by possibility look with the prospect of escaping from the great difficulties which surround this question—with the prospect, on the one hand, of removing the dissatisfaction caused by the present system, and, on the other hand, of maintaining, as we are bound to maintain, the rights of the Church, not for the benefit of the Church itself, but of the community at large, and more especially of the poorer part of the community, upon a stable and permanent basis. I may refer in illustration to the several new parishes which have been formed under the Church Building Acts. By 1 & 2 Will.IV., c. 38, it is competent to persons to build district churches, but one of the conditions is that, apart from the endowment for the payment of the minister, there should be a repair-fund of 5 per cent upon the cost of the church charged upon the lands, buildings or houses within the district, and another 5 per cent charged upon the pew rents in the church. There is, therefore, a capital suns of 10 per cent upon the outlay on the church, which is invested as a permanent sum for the repairs of the church. Whatever course may be adopted I am quite sure it will be necessary carefully to consider and to limit any alteration in the law as to the precise objects to which church rates are applicable. But the limitation of these objects., or any commutation of church rates, or any less objectionable mode of carrying out a great national object, would be utterly hopeless if your Lordships should accept the Bill of the noble Duke; because it is clear to demonstration that if you loot to the prospect of a commutation, or to 836 voluntary payments, or if you rely upon yourselves or your neighbours, or the districts, your motives will be defeated if you do away with the legal obligation for which that commutation is introduced. If there. fore you have any hope or expectation that we may come to a compromise or agreement upon this most difficult question if you think it possible to introduce any terms that may be satisfactory to the Church and conciliatory to the Dissenters (and I am most anxious to do that which is conciliatory to them on this question)—if you have any hope that we may place this matter upon a satisfactory, and above all upon a just footing, it will be incumbent upon your Lordships to reject the proposition of the noble Duke for the absolute and unconditional repeal of church rates. I know not whether it may be possible to come to some arrangement. I cannot pledge the Government to introduce a measure upon a subject on which so many Ministers have failed; but I should gladly hail any indication of a desire on the part of the Dissenters to meet the Church half way upon this subject. As long as they stand aloof and say they will be content with nothing but the absolute and unconditional repeal of the church rates they tie up our hands. It is impossible for us to propose anything if they are immediately to repudiate it as a partial, unjust, and unsatisfactory instalment; and we are then compelled, in self-defence, to fall back upon that which, however imperfectly, does maintain that which it is most important to preserve—the maintenance of the fabric of the church and a due provision for its services. I think that in the interest of the Dissenters themselves, and in the interest of those who desire to see this question settled upon fair and natural grounds, it is most important, not only that the Bill of the noble Duke should be rejected by a considerable majority, but that it should be rejected by so large and overwhelming a majority that it should be clearly hopeless to carry a Bill for the unconditional and absolute repeal of church rates. Your Lordships will therefore hold out the best inducement to all parties to come to an understanding by rejecting this Bill. I will venture to say to the Dissenters on the part of the Church—and I believe I may add on the part also of the Government—that we will meet them with the most conciliatory and friendly; feeling, but that unless some prospect is held out to us that we shall be met by them in the same spirit, we must maintain 837 the law as it stands. I will only again remind your Lordships that the larger the majority against this Bill the better prospect there is of bringing all parties to a reasonable, fair, and impartial consideration, of this most important and most dimcult question. My Lords, I move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ Amendment moved, to leave out ("now,") and insert ("this Day Three Months.")
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, after what has already passed in this debate, and especially after the speech of the noble Earl who has just sat down, I feel that I not only rise under great disadvantage, but that it is superfluous for me to rise at all. Still, I believe your Lordships will allow that in the situation which I have the honour to hold, I could not be silent on this occasion, or hesitate to bear my testimony and my belief that it is essential to the permanent welfare of the Church of England that there should be a legal provision for the sustentation of its fabrics and the maintenance of its services. I believe, moreover, that with regard to nine-tenths of the parishes in England, nothing more would be necessary than to render such a payment legally assessable and practically recoverable. A great deal has been said and written on the voluntary principle. The Church, it was said, would be no loser by what it gave up. It would gain in good will what it lost in money. My Lords, this sounds very plausibly in theory, but it would be very unsatisfactory in practice. It may be good rhetoric, but bad policy. For what is the voluntary principle in practice? What is it but the dependence of the clergyman upon his parishioners for the repair of his church and the expense of his services? He is at once reduced to a servile and unworthy position, a position which must materially weaken his influence and his usefulness. I do not believe that it would affect his faithfulness—that he would be less ready to correct error, or to rebuke with all authority and doctrine,—but it must be owned that his faithfulness might often become very inconvenient, and subject him to great embarrassment. My Lords, it would be unwise, even if it were not unjust, to render the condition of the great majority of the clergy less desirable than it is. As regards its worldly advantages, its temporal remuneration, in three cases out of four it offers a less prospect of recompense than any other profession in which the same amount of education or of talent is employed. Certainly they are not 838 temporal advantages which are expected by a large proportion of those clergymen who are now labouring in the cause to which they have devoted themselves with a zeal and diligence unknown at any former period; because the inadequacy of their recompense in a worldly point of view is compensated by the sacredness of the object in which they are engaged and by the general respect in which the great body of the clergy are held. My Lords, most of your Lordships, in your respective neighbourhoods, must have known and experienced the value of such a class of men, in which the United Church of England and Ireland, I believe, stands alone of all the Churches of Christendom. My Lords, we little know the risk we run if we sanction any measure which may tend to lessen the respect, to destroy the independence, Which the clergy have hitherto enjoyed; and we shall do this if we make them dependent upon the voluntary offerings of the people for the decent sustentation of their church and their church services. Your Lordships are not unacquainted with the class of characters with which they would often have to deal in those many rural parishes where no resident proprietor is to be found to set an example of liberality, or to supply the deficiencies of others. My Lords, I hold it to be certain that such a change of system must continually tell upon the class of men who devote themselves to the ministry of the Church. Men will be content to be inadequately paid for their labours; they will be content to be more poorly provided for than many of those who are, in education and station, far beneath them; but they will not be content to be habitually begging of their people for what their people will be ready to believe is, in fact, to benefit themselves. My Lords, I think it certain that if no legal provision is left for the repair of our churches, another generation will see many of those churches in a state of dilapidation and ruin. But I confess that I think that the lowering of the character of the Christian ministry no less certain and no less to be deprecated. I fear that this may not be a cause of anxiety to many of those who have excited the present agitation; but it ought to be well considered by your Lordships, who are guardians alike of the religious as of the temporal interests of the land. Still, my Lords, I am by no means of opinion that church rates should remain as they are, I believe that I speak the opinion of those around me when I say that we should gladly welcome any proposal which would be 839 likely to settle this difficult question, and consider any offer of compromise which was not entirely on one side, and was not merely concession. There are matters respecting the distribution of church rates, and the charges laid upon them, which require to be regulated, and which have tended to excite a feeling against them among many who are not dissenters from the Church; and that Government will deserve well of the Church and of the country which shall devise and carry into effect a measure which may restore harmony to our vestries and tranquillity to our parishes, and at the same time establish what is indispensable to the maintenance of our religion—a legal provision for the fabrics and the services of our Church.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, it has been said, and said very truly, that the great majority of your Lordships are not committed to any opinion on this question; but there are some exceptions to that statement. Those who have been connected with almost any Government that has existed during the last twenty years, have been so far committed to the opinions of some of their colleagues in "another place," as that they may be said to have agreed that the present state of the law upon this subject is indefensible, and ought to be altered. But the question has now assumed another phase. We find now, for the first time, that the other House has declared by a large majority in favour of the total abolition of church rates; and a Bill, having that object in view, has been sent up to your Lordships' House. I can assure your Lordships that I have carefully and conscientiously considered the course which it is my duty to take on this question, not merely with reference to the public advantage, but with regard particularly to the advantage of the Church of England, with which the interests of the public are intimately bound up; and I have come to the conclusion to vote for the second reading of this Bill, believing that the passing of the measure will be most advantageous to the Church itself. I think it hardly necessary to go into any abstract discussion as to the mere justice or injustice of church rates—I look more to the state of the law, and to the practice as it exists under that law. The law has been laid down to-night by a great authority on all such questions—the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord St. Leonards); but I must confess that I was somewhat surprised at the definition of the law given by 840 the noble and learned Lord. He told us that the right of property in church rates stood exactly in the same position as the right of property which your Lordships have over your estates, or anything else that you may possess. Now, there is something serious in such a definition as that. There appears to be no doubt whatever that, by the common law of England, there is a right on the part of the Church to the maintenance of the fabric of the churches, and that the mode of such maintenance is by the means of church rates; but, on the other hand, if the rate is not granted, there appears to be no practical remedy whatever; and the result is that the right possessed by the Church is, in many places, utterly inefficacious for any practical purpose. [A noble LORD: In not more than 5 per cent.] The noble Lord refers to the number of parishes; it is not so in reference to population. I must say I can conceive nothing that would give an uncompromising opponent of church rates greater pleasure than to be dragged into the Ecclesiastical Courts for non-payment of his rates; but the truth is, that practically such measures for enforcing payment are never resorted to. This being the state of the law, what is the case with regard to facts? These are in many respects most unsatisfactory. In an enormous number of parishes church rates are practically abolished. [A noble LORD: No!] The noble Lord says "No;" but I must repeat, nevertheless, that in a large number of parishes church rates have, to all intents and purposes, been abolished, and the number of such parishes increases every day. Do any of your Lordships believe that things will remain exactly as they are now? It cannot be denied that there is an active movement against church rates, and that this movement has been a spontaneous one. ["No, no!"] A noble Lord seems to doubt the accuracy of this statement, but there can be no doubt that the movement has been to a great degree spontaneous, and at this moment an organization is applied to the question which, whether right or wrong, is likely to increase the number of parishes in which church rates are not levied; and this not only in the large towns, but among the rural parishes also. I think therefore that the longer your Lordships delay in settling this question, the more difficult you will find it to deal with. Printed papers have been circulated, showing the best means of getting quit of the rate in parishes where it is levied, and a calculation has been made to show that on an average 841 something like three years will suffice to bring opposition to a successful issue. Now, is this a state of things which you ought to encourage by leaving matters as they are? Different proposals have been made to meet this evil, and the one proposed in the Bill of my noble Friend is to abolish church rates altogether, and leave the fabrics of the church to be maintained by voluntary efforts. I confess I am not so much afraid of this reliance on the voluntary system as some noble Lords who have spoken on this occasion. The noble and learned Lord said voluntary effort might be equal to one great occasion, but was not fitted for permanence; but I do not think the noble and learned Lord was very happy in his illustrations. It is rather extraordinary that no one instance has been mentioned of churches falling out of repair in those numerous parishes where church rates have been abolished. I believe it is the case that churches are better maintained in those parishes where rates have been done away with, than in those where they continue to be levied in the old way. For these reasons I cannot believe that in a great and wealthy establishment like the Church of England—comprising among its members the most wealthy in the land—it would be found, except in rare instances, that the fabric of the church would he allowed to fall out of repair if left to the operation of the voluntary system. At the same time I think it would be much more desirable if some arrangement could be made, or some machinery devised, for effecting a compromise. I will not go into the various attempts that have been made to settle this question. The most rev. Primate himself brought in a Bill that went to a great extent to the extinction of church rates without compensation; but in that Bill there were provisions which must have led to great agitation in parishes. The noble Earl has to-night thrown out hints of a plan on which I do not wish at this moment to give any decided opinion, but which I fear could not lead to any satisfactory result. Much stress has been laid on the character of the opposition to church rates. It has been admitted that hostility to the Established Church does not characterize the whole of the opponents of church rates, and that, with regard to a great number of Dissenters, that hostility does not exist. The noble Earl has sought to discredit the motives of the Dissenters in their opposition to church rates, by stating that there were cases in which conscientious objections were mixed up with 842 pecuniary zeal. I believe that the infinitesimally small portion of the £250,000 a year which the Dissenters have to pay does not in the slightest degree influence them in their opposition to the church rates. I am ready to admit that there is a portion of the Dissenters who are on principle diametrically opposed and hostile to the Established Church, and that some of the advocates of this measure support it with the view of weakening the Church. But is it quite certain that by rejecting this Bill your Lordships will be taking the best course to neutralize that opposition? I do not agree with my noble Friend that it is advisable to pass this measure and suspend its operation. The speech of the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) shows that he has carefully considered this question; and what I would wish to see would be this—that your Lordships should give a second reading to this Bill, and then, whether you went into Committee here or referred it to a Select Committee, where no party feeling would be observed, if the Government would introduce Amendments which might meet the question, your Lordships might come to a more satisfactory conclusion than by hastily rejecting the measure, without even a pledge front the noble Earl that he himself will bring in a Bill on the subject next year. I shall, therefore, vote for the second reading of this Bill; and I do so most conscientiously, believing that it is of the greatest importance for the Established Church and the peace of the country generally, and that the sooner we can arrive at a settlement of this difficult question the better for all parties concerned.
THE BISHOP OF LONDON
said, the great exertions made by his revered predecessor towards the building of churches in London had been alluded to, and a noble Earl (Earl Granville) who had spoken, stated he fully believed that exertions of that kind were not merely such as were made once for all, and then collapsed, but might be continued easily from year to year. Now as a matter of fact there was no great difficulty in building those churches, but there had been infinite difficulty in maintaining them. At this very moment the clergy of Bethnal Green were obliged to have recourse to every means of supplicating the community to provide supplies for keeping the churches in that part of the metropolis in repair, and some of those churches were not in good repair even now, though so shell a time had elapsed since they were built. It would 843 be in the poor districts especially that the greatest difficulty would be experienced in maintaining the churches without the assistance of the law. He conceived this to be a question which materially concerned the poor. Their Lordships had heard it said during this debate that the objection to the church rates was one raised by the poor; but he was there to contend, on the contrary, that the real poor of this country—the labouring poor—were not the persons who made any objection to church rates. And if the question were put to them it would be found that the really poor well understood that it was not their pockets, but the pockets of the classes above them, that would be relieved by the proposed abolition. He knew the noble Earl who had just spoken was perfectly sincere when he said he believed the measure before the House would be conducive to the welfare of the Established Church. He could not doubt that the object of all who had taken part in the debate was to bring about as speedily as possible a settlement of this question; and he was sure that their revered Primate expressed the sentiments of the whole Church when he said they were all anxious to have the question settled. It certainly was expedient that it should be settled. Year after year the Church saw the secession of friends who had, in past times, supported church rates. Some of these secessions, indeed, were not easily to be accounted for. A right hon. Baronet, formerly a near neighbour of his in the north, and kind friend, professing himself much attached to the Church, had lately elsewhere somewhat astonished his friends by voting for the total abolition of church rates, and assigning as his reason what certainly appeared a somewhat strange ground, namely, that he (the Bishop of London), had announced at a meeting at Islington, that the prayers of the poor were acceptable to God whether offered in a cathedral or in the open air. He could not exactly see the logic of his right hon. Friend's argument. He thought it rather hard that the clergy should be exposed to this dilemma. If they were careless, of course their means of maintaining the Church ought to be done away with—if they were zealous, they ought still to be done away with, for their zeal might prove mischievous. Probably the right hon. Baronet had been reading Hume's Essays, and thought of that philosopher's argument in favour of Church endowments, that they were to be maintained, that by them we might bribe the 844 useful indolence of the clergy. And therefore the right hon. Baronet thought that if the clergy could not be indolent, but ventured to descend into the arena with the Dissenters, and preach the Gospel to the poor, therefore, the support of the State ought to be taken away from them. He (the Bishop of London) could not say whether such were the arguments that had influenced his right hon. Friend, but whatever influenced him, his sudden conversion to the principles of total abolition was ominous. It showed that there was no time to be lost in settling the question, for there was no saying who might go next. But there were various ways of settling the question. One, for instance, was that of totally doing away with church rates, without providing any substitute for them. But surely it was only common sense to keep what they had got, until they found something better. Far be it from him to say that it was the wish of those who petitioned for the abolition of church rates to destroy the church. He believed that a large body of the Dissenters had no hostility towards the Established Church which they knew to be now, as in time past, the bulwark which defended them against what they feared far more than the Church itself. There had been, some time ago, a good deal of discussion on Papal aggression, and upon that occasion the Dissenters felt they must rally round the Established Church in order to protect themselves against the power which that Church was then engaged in repelling. There had been times when the Dissenters, with the Established Church, had to take strong ground against those who would have subverted our constitution and our liberties, and especially our religious liberties. The Dissenters, he believed, did not forget 1688, nor were they unwilling now to support a Church which was regarded by them, by the Presbyterians of Scotland and the north of Ireland, by the Protestant communities of the Continent and of America, as the great bulwark of Protestant truth throughout the world. There was a kindly feeling, he was happy to say, on the part of a great body of the Dissenters towards the Established Church. There could be no doubt, however, that this question did unite political as well as—if he might say so—religious Dissenters. He could not himself see why any man should object to pay taxes because he did not approve the mode in which those taxes were applied. He paid willingly his quota towards the support of Maynooth, and there were many large pro- 845 prietors in the northern part of this island who paid without scruple towards the maintenance of a Church of which they were not members. But, although there was no claim of justice for the abolition of church rates, people might work themselves into the belief that they had such a claim, and such he believed was the case at present. It was important to separate religious from mere political Dissenters—those who conscientiously, though without good ground, thought church rates unjust, from those who regarded the question of church rates as a convenient ground on which to assail and weaken the Church: therefore it was desirable to settle this question. He regretted much that it would be impossible to effect such settlement during the present Session. The Bill now before the House did not appear likely to conduce to any settlement. It was as the Church of the poor that he appealed for the Church of England, and he besought their Lordships, for the sake of the poor, not to take a step which would injure that Church. The Bill would cause to the Church a loss of £300,000 a year; and although the Committee to which the noble Duke had referred had come to the conclusion that the assistance of voluntary efforts was necessary to meet the spiritual wants of the country, yet that assistance was required not in substitution but in aid of the legal provision now made. It was a strange misrepresentation of the decisions of that Committee to say that it advised the Church to depend altogether on voluntary support. Voluntary support was needed to aid, not to supplant other means. The fact forced on the attention of the Committee was the laborious manner in which the clergy exerted themselves, in spite of the discouragement of very slender means. Would they now diminish those means by throwing so heavy a burden on the clergy? This Bill would deprive the Church of England of £300,000 per annum, the greater portion of which would pass into the bankers' accounts of the landed proprietors of England. It was quite certain that the mere occupiers would not benefit by the abolition of the charge, and he was sure that there was not the slightest desire on the part of the landed proprietors of this country to relieve themselves of this charge, but rather to assist the Church in the great duties it had to perform.
§ EARL GREY
My Lords, I wish to say a few words, chiefly in reply to what has fallen from my noble Friend (Earl Granville). Having listened to the whole of 846 this protracted debate, I must express my great satisfaction at finding that, even among those noble Lords who support the second reading of this Bill, there has not been one who has ventured to say that it is a just course to pursue that a provision which has been made from a time beyond legal memory for the maintenance of churches should be swept away to the profit of the landowners of England. It is quite true, as the right reverend Prelate who has spoke last (the Bishop of London) has said, that the labouring poor are not in favour of this Bill, for it is they who are chiefly interested in the maintenance of our churches. We have heard it said that this Bill is an injustice towards the Church of England. That is not a proper way of describing it. I should describe it as a measure of injustice, a measure of robbery, against the labouring poor of the land. The labouring poor of this country are entitled to have their churches maintained by the land of the country, and yet that legal obligation is now proposed to be swept away without any compensation or substitute being provided. What is this but undisguised spoliation of the poor by the rich? The poor do not pay these rates, but they profit by the result, and their highest interests are concerned in the maintenance of the churches of the land. In none of the speeches which I have heard this evening has it been contended that if church rates were abolished it would be unnecessary to provide a substitute for them by some new scheme of legislation. But what, let me ask, my Lords, is our prospect of having any such scheme carried into effect if we should pass this Bill? The noble Duke near me (the Duke of Newcastle) advises us to introduce a clause into the Bill to suspend its operation for a certain number of years; but as that proposition has been conclusively disposed of by the noble Earl opposite I need not further advert to it upon this occasion. The noble Earl who spoke last but one (Earl Granville) has also a project by which be seems to think the difficulties of the case may be met. He does not ask your Lordships to pass this Bill; he merely desires that it should be read a second time, and then referred to a Select Committee. I confess I do not see what advantage would be likely to arise from the adoption of that course, while it appears to me to be open to the serious objection that, by assenting to the second reading of the Bill, we should, as it were, be passing sentence upon the existing state 847 of things, and thus cause the levying of church rates to be beset with greater difficulties than at present exist. Indeed, my Lords, I think we seem to be admitting somewhat too easily that there is an absolute necessity for doing something in this case. I entirely concur with the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) that it would be highly desirable to place the law of church rates, if it were possible to do so, upon a satisfactory footing. There are many objections, I am ready to admit, to be urged against the law as it stands; but I am not very sanguine as to the feasibility, if we abolish that law, of finding an alternative. The only scheme, indeed, upon which I should be at all inclined to place any reliance is that which was shadowed forth by the noble Duke on the cross benches (the Duke of Marlborough) who proposed that all persons should be exempted from the payment of church rates who could prove that they paid something in the shape of an equivalent to some other place of religious worship to which the poor could resort, while they at the same time were prepared, in case they claimed the exemption, to waive their right of voting with respect to matters connected with the affairs of the Church. By acceding to that plan we should not be robbing the poor, while we should not at the same time be depriving the adherents of the Church of the right to rate themselves for its support. But while this scheme appears to me to be less open to objection than any of the others which have been submitted to our notice, I must confess I for one am not prepared, at all events until I see more clearly than at present the way to obtain an adequate substitute for church rates, to surrender the position which we now occupy. Let us for a moment consider the objections which are urged against the continuance of this tax. The question of its justice has been so ably argued in the course of the discussion, that I shall not trouble your Lordships with any observations upon that point. But it is said that although the charge may not be absolutely unjust, yet its payment is productive, in many instances, of considerable hardship. Now, in what does that hardship consist? Some years ago I admit the levying of the tax involved a real hardship, inasmuch as it was formerly supposed to be the law that when the majority of the ratepayers of a parish refused to impose a church rate, it might be levied by the authority of the churchwardens, with a minority of the rate- 848 payers. Now, however, it is clearly laid down that no such tax can be levied if the majority of the ratepayers should be opposed to its imposition. If, upon the contrary, the majority should approve such a proposal, they might levy the tax; and was it or was it not, he would ask, reasonable that they should possess that power? In order to supply an answer to that question, he should wish their Lordships to bear in mind what took place with reference to the imposition of taxes for other purposes. A few years ago a Bill was passed into a law enabling two-thirds of the ratepayers of particular districts to levy rates for the establishment of public libraries. To those libraries many persons objected, upon the ground that the Act under the operation of which they were established contains no provision for carrying out in connection with them a system of religious education. Those persons are, therefore, placed upon the same footing with those who object to the payment of church rates, and would be equally justified in resisting the will of the majority of the ratepayers. Again, it is said that church rates give rise to much dissension; but that is inseparable from the system of local self-government, which has a necessary tendency to produce party spirit and difference of opinion on every subject to which it is applied, although beyond question it is upon the whole, a most invaluable principle. The objections to church rates are chiefly in great towns, where, in fact, the maintenance of them is of little importance. But if the rates were abolished in country parishes, there would be great difficulty in obtaining a regular annual provision in place of them by voluntary subscriptions. Every one who has had anything to do with annual subscriptions in country places will readily acknowledge the truth of this. But, my Lords, I have been led into saying more on these points than I had intended. I rose originally simply for the purpose of declaring my opinion that this is a Bill to which your Lordships ought not to assent. I acknowledge that the present state of the law is defective, and I would willingly share in any attempt to amend it, but I cannot consent by a summary and unconditional abolition of church rates to forego the advantages which we at present possess, and for that reason I shall give my vote against the second reading of this Bill.
said, that when he was in the House of Commons no one dreamt of abolishing church rates without providing some equivalent, and it appeared 849 to him that to adopt a different course now would be most unjust and impolitic. It would, in short, be setting a most alarming precedent. There was no doubt whatever as to the obligation of the parishioners to keep their church in repair; but the means of enforcing that obligation had failed. Before the Reformation the parishioners who refused to do their duty were cut off with bell, book, and candle; but the remedy provided by the civil Courts had not proved so efficient as that mode probably was. He was not prepared to say that church rates were property in the sense that tithes were; but they exactly followed the analogy of an obligation to repair a road; and to pass the Bill, therefore, would materially weaken the security of property. The noble Duke admitted that some further legislation would be necessary; but surely legislation ought to precede the abolition of the rate, and not to follow it. He (Lord Campbell) hoped the noble Earl at the head of Her Majesty's Government would take the whole subject into his consideration, for he could not agree with the noble Earl who had last spoken that the law was at all in a satisfactory condition, and he was anxious, therefore to see a remedy provided at as early a period as possible.
§ THE EARL OF GALLOWAY
said, that he had listened with attention and interest to the speech of the noble Duke (the Duke of Somerset) who had introduced the subject before the House, which had appeared to him able, temperate, and judicious, according to the views of the noble Mover, though he differed from them. He (the Earl of Galloway) only wished to remark on one of his observations. The noble Duke, when advocating the voluntary principle, had adverted in its favour to the great success which had attended the Free Church movement in Scotland after the disruption, and had quoted the large sums which had been collected by the voluntary zeal of those who had left the Church. Over that success, he (the Earl of Galloway) was enabled to rejoice—to the extent to which it had been used to make up for the deficiencies of the Establishment—for the Christian good of the people. But the noble Duke had made no reference to the Established Church of Scotland. That Church was in a very different position from the Established Church of England. In Scotland, a very large proportion of the cost of the building and repairing of the churches of the Establishment, and of the manses and parish schools connected with 850 it, was borne by a dissenting body—namely, the Scotch and English Episcopalian proprietors of that country. He had never heard of their objecting to the rate which by law was payable by them for the maintenance of the Presbyterian Establishment, with whose system of church polity and form of worship they differed. But once let Parliament enact the abolition of the church rate in England—on the admitted plea of relief to the Dissenters—and he could not conceal from himself that the ground of an argument would be laid for similar relief to Dissenters from the Establishment in Scotland. He wished the House not to misunderstand him, or suppose that in saying this much he was desiring for himself relief from the rate in Scotland, which, as a legal charge. he had ever cheerfully paid; but he did think that what he had said was material to the question before the House, and to the consideration of time religious good of the country, being certain that defalcations in the Establishment would not be adequately supplied on the voluntary principle.
§ LORD PORTMAN
said, he was strongly of opinion that the time must soon come when this question must be settled. He thought the best mode of arriving at this conclusion was by dividing the church rates in reference to the two purposes to which it was applicable—the expenses attending the services of the Church, and the expenses of maintaining the fabrics. For the former of these he was satisfied the offertory, or other periodical collection, would provide sufficient funds; but for maintaining the fabrics the church-rate system had proved ineffectual, and it was necessary to have recourse to some new system. The property of the country was liable by common law for the maintenance of the old parish churches, but it was not liable for the maintenance of the new district churches. And the ill-considered recent statutes had led to great injustice. Before any new law can be passed, all these Church Building Acts must be studied. At that late hour it would be too wearisome to recount their varieties. He believed that sufficient funds would be forthcoming if some such system as that which had been hinted by the noble Earl at the head of the Government were adopted—namely, a system of endowment for the maintenance of the fabrics of the churches, and he thought it would be well if such endowments were connected with the diocesan system; but the plans of the noble Earl would not be sufficient, He (Lord 851 Portman) believed that the Churchmen and the Nonconformists would easily agree as to the maintenance of the fabric, if the objectionable charges for washing surplices and such paltry details were provided by Churchmen; for the churches are generally regarded as works of local value, to say the least of the feeling, and are often restored by money subscribed freely by Nonconformists, who will not pay compulsory church rates spent on the service Of the Church. He believed that in settling this question, not only was it necessary to consider the differences between Churchmen and Nonconformists, but also between different sections of Churchmen. If he saw any hope that the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) would bring in a Bill next year embodying some such principle, he (Lord Portman) would vote against the present Bill. He did not at all desire to see the church rates abolished without provision being made for the maintenance of the churches, but he voted for the second reading because he thought that some pressure was necessary both on the Government and on the right rev. Bench to induce them to move towards a settlement of the question.
THE BISHOP OF OXFORD
said, his noble Friend who had just sat down had completed the cycle of those remarkable arguments by which this Bill had been suported. The noble Duke who moved the second reading was in favour of the total abolition of church rates, but shrunk back from putting into practice his own principle, and so proposed that when the total abolition had been carried, it should not take effect for some years to come. The noble Earl who followed him was also for the total abolition of church rates, but then he was so merely that those rates which were abolished might be remodelled in some new form, in which they might be more easily collected.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I said nothing of the sort, I vote for the second reading, in the hope that, when in Committee, the Government may propose Amendments.
THE BISHOP OF OXFORD
That was precisely what he said. The noble Earl supported this Bill abolishing church rates, in order that when in Committee a plan may be introduced for their easier collection. Then his noble Friend who had just sat down supported the Bill, but still he would keep up the church rates for the support of the fabric.
§ LORD PORTMAN
Not by church rates.
THE BISHOP OF OXFORD
Well, at any rate, his noble Friend would keep up some rate, though he voted for a Bill which abolished all. He did not mean to enter into the main question at that hour, but he believed that unintentionally there had been a misstatement of the real grounds of the objections entertained in some places and by some persons against church rates; and as their only hope of a real adjustment of the question lay in their right understanding of it, he was anxious that what were the true objections should be plainly and thoroughly understood by the country. He believed there were many Dissenters who had no desire for the destruction of the Established Church: they were men who, from lack of room, or it might be from the lack of all clear statements of Gospel truth, and from the absence of all manifestation of Christian warmth, in their parish church, had been led to wander to other places, and to other pastors, and who, finding elsewhere that support of their own spiritual life for which they craved, had learned to love those bodies, external to the Church's visible communion, to which they owed so much. These men were often counted amongst Dissenters, and esteemed themselves as such, because, unhappily for themselves and for us, they had thus become separatists; but these were not the Dissenters who were now leading the attack upon church rates. They, too, might be drawn in and take part in such opposition, but they did not originate it, and, if left to themselves, they would not continue it. But those Dissenters who led this assault on church rates did, and many of them he believed quite conscientiously, object to a Church establishment altogether. Far from thinking it unkind to say so, he believed it was the only justification of their conduct. They believed conscientiously in the sight of God that an established religion prevented the up growth of true, pure, and vital religion, and that in over-setting the established religion of the land they were honouring the cause of God and of godliness. In alleging this he wished it to be distinctly understood that he brought no charge against these men, They were many of them men of great reasoning powers, and just as much entitled to hold their opinion as he was to hold his. He had no unkindly feeling against them. He differed widely from them, but such difference need not breed ill will, and ought not to do so. He honoured the open, straight. forward, and ingenuous manner in which, 853 without subterfuge or disguise, they stated their opinions. They were gathered into a Society with the professed purpose of putting down the Established Church in this country as an established religion; and their views were exposed in a pamphlet he held in his hand, in which the course of the present agitation was indicated. It was written twenty years ago, at a time when there was some intention on the part of the Government of the day to commute church rates into a charge upon other ecclesiastical revenues; and as he read the following extract which it contained from a newspaper representing the views of the political dissenting party at that time, let the House remember these were not his views, but theirs; they were the candid, open statement of what their real object was in fighting against church rates.Let no one mistake the church-rate question for the church question. The church question is not yet mooted. But we give notice to Churchmen that as far as we are concerned, we shall not the less earnestly seek for the separation of the Church from the State, because we have got rid of church rates. We are quite aware that the separation question will be put to sleep for years among Dissenters by granting that measure—but we shall not be quiet if they are. It is neither the abolition of the church rates nor the exclusion of the Bishops from the peerage, that will content us—we require the Church of England to be reduced to what she is, one of the Sects, because we believe it will diffuse a greater amount of truth and righteousness.For this extract he was indebted to a pamphlet written at the time, and containing much important matter of the same character. But, whilst he gave these men credit for the honesty and courage of their avowal, was it wise or just, he would ask their Lordships who differed, as he himself differed, from those who had this destruction of an established religion as their leading object, was it wise or just in them to yield to the demands of such men, who honestly stated that in demanding the abolition of church rates they only meant to use it as a stepping-stone to the further demand for the separation between Church and State? He was as anxious for an adjustment of this question as any man. But then it must be a fair and reasonable, and not a mere one-sided adjustment, which would necessarily be full of injustice; and he would at once say that he held it would be the height of injustice to allow those who refused to maintain the Established Church to take part in the distribution of her funds, to elect her office-bearers, and to claim a share in those secular offices which exclusively belong to her members. Nor did he belive that any difficulty would 854 be found in discovering the proper terms for such an adjustment, if men only set themselves honestly to the work. He thought a practical lesson might be learned on this subject from the sister country of Scotland. There, in spite of all the heartburnings that had been caused by the secession from the Church, the payment of the Church cess had never been disputed, because it was paid by the heritors of the parish, who taxed themselves, and who managed the fund themselves. He thought something of the same kind might be done in this country, if the vestry for church rates was made to consist only of the owners of property, and of occupiers holding proxies to act for them. One word more. If this Bill were passed, and church rates abolished, the proceeds of those rates would go into the pockets of the owners of property. He knew their Lordships did not desire for their own benefit any such confiscation of funds which now went to maintain Churches and services for the poor; but in the nature of things it must be so, for the rent would be increased by the amount of the church rate saved; so that the farmer would be doubly taxed; he would first have to pay his church rate in increased rent, and then he would pay his share of the voluntary subscription, by which alone, under the proposed plan, the churches could be maintained. One word only he would add, and that was a warning to all Protestant Dissenters from our Church, that if the Establishment were destroyed the Dissenters would be the first to suffer. The various sects were held in peace with one another by the overshadowing influence of the Establishment. All the Protestant sects of England would suffer by the destruction of the Establishment, and the only body that would profit by it would be the intrusive Papacy. In saying this he begged again to say that he would heartily rejoice in any proposition conceived in the spirit of Christian love and Christian fairness, by which this question might be amicably and for ever adjusted.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said, that he could not allow the discussion to close without protesting against the ungenerous and unfair imputation of the right rev. Prelate who had just spoken, that the agitation of the Dissenters of this country on this question did not arise from a conscientious objection to church rates, but that this question was put forward as a covert and indirect attack on the Established Church, If the abolition of church 855 rates was robbery, as some had contended, the noble Earl at the head of the Government was guilty, for he had abolished the church cess in Ireland, and that abolition, far from injuring the Irish Church, had contributed to its greater stability. With the single exception of the noble Earl near him (Earl Grey) there was hardly a noble Lord who had spoken to-night who had not expressed his serious anxiety with regard to the present state of the law, and almost every one of them had proposed some great or important alteration in it with a view to relieve the Dissenter from this impost. But finding that almost every proposal for a compromise was impracticable, he thought the best course he could take was to give his assent to the second reading of the Bill.
§ THE DUKE OF SOMERSET
, in reply, said that, seeing the course which the majority of their Lordships seemed inclined to take, and that there must be another Bill introduced next Session, he felt that it was unnecessary to trouble their Lordships with another word.
§ On Question, That "now" stand part of the Motion? their Lordships divided:—
§ Contents—Present, 30; Proxies 6:—Total 36.
§ Not Contents—Present 109; Proxies 78:—Total 187—Majority 151.857
|Somerset, D. [Teller.]||Foley, L. [Teller.]|
|Abingdon, E.||Granard, L. (E. Granard)|
|Cowper E.||Londesborough, L.|
|Ducie, E.||Manners, L.|
|Durham, E.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)|
|Portsmouth E.||Mostyn, L.|
|Belper, L.||Rossie, L. (L. Kinnaird.)|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)||Skene, L. (E. Fife)|
|Camoys, L.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Chesham, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Congleton, L.||Talbot de Malahide, L.|
|Dartrey, L. (L. Cremorne.)||Vivian, L.|
|Dorchester, L.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)|
|Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)||Lovat, L.|
|Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Canterbury, Archbp.||Beaufort, D.|
|Chelmsford, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Marlborough, D.|
|Newcastle, D.||Durham, Bp.|
|Rutland, D.||Gloucester and Bristol, Bp.|
|Bath, M. [Teller.]||Hereford, Bp.|
|Camden, M.||Lichfield, Bp.|
|Exeter, M.||Lincoln, Bp.|
|Salisbury, M.||Llandaff, Bp.|
|Airlie, E.||London, Bp.|
|Amherst, E.||Manchester, Bp.|
|Bathurst, E.||Oxford, Bp.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Ripon, Bp.|
|Cadogan, E.||Salisbury, Bp.|
|Dartmouth E.||Abinger, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Aveland, L.|
|Derby, E.||Bagot, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Bateman, L.|
|Ellesmere, E.||Braybrooke, L.|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Grey, E.||Calthorpe, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||Campbell, L.|
|Harewood, E.||Colchester, L.|
|Harrington, E.||Crew, L.|
|Hchester, E.||Crofton, L.|
|Lanesborough, E.||Delamere, L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||De Tabley, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Digby, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Dinevor, L.|
|Mansfield, E.||Downes, L.|
|Nelson, E.||Farnham, L.|
|Pomfret, E.||Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)|
|Rosse, E.||Grantley, L.|
|Sandwich, E.||Grinstead, L.(E. Ennis-Killen.)|
|Shrewsbury and Talbot E.||Kenyon, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Ker, L. (M. Lothian)|
|Stradbroke, E.||Kingston, L. (E. Kingston.)|
|Westmoreland, E.||Lyttelton, L.|
|Wilton, E.||Melros, L. (E. Haddington.)|
|Clancarty, V. Clancarty.)||Raglan, L.|
|Combermere, V.||Redesdale, L.|
|De Vesci, V.||Sheffield, L. (E Sheffield.)|
|Exmouth, V.||Sondes, L.|
|Hardinge, V.||Southampton, L.|
|Hill, V.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore) [Teller.]||Templemore, L.|
|Melville, V.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss)|
|Torrington, V.||Willoughby, de Broke, E.|
|Bangor, Bp.||Willoughby de Eresby, L.|
|Bath and Wells, Bp.|
|Chichester, Bp.||Wynford, L.|
|Derry and Raphoe, Bp.|
|Northumberland, D.||Belmore, E.|
|Richmond, D.||Beverley, E.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Brooke and Warwick, E.|
|Winchester, M.||Buckinghamshire, E.|
|Abergavenny, E.||Cawdor, E.|
|Aylesford, E.||Desart, E.|
|Ellenborough, E.||St. Asaph, Bp.|
|Erne, E.||Winchester, Bp.|
|Essex, E.||Worcester, Bp.|
|Ferrers, E.||Ardrossan, L. E. Eg'intoun.)|
|Hillsborough, E. (M. Downshire.)||Ashburton, L.|
|Home, E.||Blayney, L.|
|Howe, E.||Castlemaine, L.|
|Huntingdon, E.||Clanbrassill,(E. Roden)|
|Manvers, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)|
|Mount Cashell, E.||Clifton, L. (E. Darnley)|
|Onslow, E.||Clinton, L.|
|Orford, E.||Clonbrock, L.|
|Poulett, E.||Cloncurry, L.|
|Romney, E.||Denman, L.|
|Rosslyn, E.||Dunsandle and Clanconal, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Feversham, L.|
|Shaftesbury, E.||Forester, L.|
|Tankerville, E.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Verulam, E.||Gray, L.|
|Doneraile, V.||Heytesbury, L.|
|Lifford, V.||Howard de Walden, L.|
|Maynard, V.||Kilmaine, L.|
|Sidmouth, V.||Middleton, L.|
|St.Vincent, V.||Sandys, L.|
|Strathallan, V.||Scarsdale, L.|
|Carlisle, Bp.||Sinclair, L.|
|Cashel, &c., Bp.||St. John of Bletso, L.|
|Exeter, Bp.||Wenlock, L.|
|Peterborough, Bp.||Wigan, L. (E. Crawford and Balcarres.)|
§ Resolved in the negative.
§ Bill to be read 2a on this day three months.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past One o'clock, A.M., to Monday next, Eleven o'clock.