HL Deb 10 August 1860 vol 160 cc1093-7

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into a Committee on the said Bill.


said, that great difficulty had arisen from the intimation contained in the printed papers of an Amendment which was about to be moved to this measure. That Amendment was very complicated, and in his (the Bishop of London's) opinion, if persisted in, would make it most undesirable to go on with the Bill. He begged their Lordships not to proceed with the Committee until they had considered the effect of the proposed Amendment on the whole character of the Bill. The Amendment required all recommendations of schemes for altering salaries—


rose to order. It was irregular to discuss an Amendment of which notice had been given by anticipation.


said, he would confine himself to the question before the House, namely, whether or no they should go into Committee. The proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Commission were greatly dependent on Orders in Council, which would have to be issued from time to time to regulate salaries where the dignitaries of the Church were affected by this Bill. These Orders in Council were of various kinds. First, there were Orders in Council which had to do with the salaries of the Deans, and these had to be regulated in many instances when a vacancy took place. There were only three Deans, so far as he knew, whose salaries were settled by Act of Parliament—namely, the Dean of Durham, the Dean of Westminster, and the Dean of St. Paul's. All the other deaneries were left undetermined, and with respect to many of them it was necessary to have an Order in Council to settle, when a deanery became vacant, what salary was to be received. If the income was below £1,000, Parliament had empowered the Ecclesiastical Commission to raise it to £1,000; if above £2,000, Parliament had empowered the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to reduce it to £2,000. In many instances it was necessary that they should use their discretion to settle what was to be the limit between £1,000, the lowest, and £2,000 the highest sum allowed. This was a complicated and difficult matter, scarcely understood by any of their Lordships; ho was not sure he distinctly understood it himself, and he had even very grave doubts whether it was understood by the noble EARL (the EARL of Chichester) who represented the Ecclesiastical Commission in that House. It depended on the construction of various Acts of Parliament, one of them being an Act enabling the Commissioners to lease mines. If Parliament was to be asked every time a deanery became vacant what should be the salary assigned, and if, also, as now proposed, Parliament were called on in every instance when a bishopric became vacant to revise the arrangements as to income, the whole character of the Bill would be changed and rendered most objectionable. Unless, therefore, the Bill were retained in its original shape, it would not be keeping faith with his right rev. Brethren who had gone to their dioceses for the performance of their important duties on the understanding that this Bill should be proceeded with in exactly the same spirit in which it had been laid on the table. Therefore, it was that ho (the Bishop of London) maintained that if the proposed Amendment was to be persisted in, the House ought not to go into Committee. Moreover, if he might be allowed for one moment to allude distinctly to this Amendment, he would warn the noble Lord who represented the Ecclesiastical Commission (Lord Chichester) that the proposal now made would be fatal to all those voluntary arrangements which he hoped to effect under this Bill. Certainly no Dean and Chapter, and probably no Bishop would voluntarily commute their interest in their estates, if, as was now proposed, the whole financial arrangement in every case was to be discussed in Parliament. They would naturally prefer remaining in quiet possession of their estates. Recent debates were not likely to encourage ecclesiastics voluntarily to bring their affairs under discussion in the other House of Parliament; and, therefore, the proposal now made would render all that portion of the Bill which referred to voluntary arrangements quite nugatory. No doubt a great misapprehension existed with reference to these Orders in Council. He was not a little startled last night to hear the noble EARL (the EARL of Derby) state with such clearness as almost to convince the most unwilling, what in his view had been the deliberate judgment; of Parliament against fixing the income of one Deanery by Order in Council at the rate at which it was now fixed. But he would venture to submit to the noble Earl that the best way to judge of the intentions of Parliament was to look at the Act. Recollections as to what occurred while a Bill was passing into an Act might be vague—in this case they were contradictory. It certainly was proposed in the other House some years ago that the salaries of Deans should be limited to £1,000, but by the deliberate voice of Parliament that clause, he believed, was struck out of the Bill into which it had been introduced. If it were argued from words used in debate, or Amendments made on former occasions, that Parliament wished thus to limit Deans' incomes, similar arguments might prove that it had no such intention. The only safe course was to judge by the words of the Act. He put it, then, to the noble Earl whether it would be wise to give the sanction of his great support to an Amendment which broke faith with those who had given their consent to the Bill in its present form, and would introduce complications the end of which it was impossible to foresee.


said, the statement which he had made the evening before, and to which the right rev. Prelate had just alluded, was based on what had previously fallen from the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Chichester).

Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

Clauses 1 to 37 agreed to.

Clause 38 (Trustees empowered to sell Estates held under Lease).


moved the addition of words enabling trustees, with the sanction of the Court of Chancery, to invest money which they had received from the sale of leaseholds in the purchase of other leasehold estates, instead of in the funds.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 40 (Compensation to Officers of Ecclesiastical Corporations).


called attention to the case of parochial clergymen who had been deprived of the burial fees forming part of their endowments by the Act which prohibited intramural interments, and justified their claim to compensation by a reference to former instances in which it had been granted by the State.


hoped that the Amendment would not be pressed at the present moment.


said, the case of these gentlemen was a very hard one. It was their misfortune to be clergymen; if they had been lawyers they would have received very good compensation.

Clause agreed to.


moved the addition of a clause requiring all recommendations of schemes whereby the salaries of any ecclesiastical dignitaries may be altered or increased to be laid before Parliament six weeks before they receive the sanction of the Order in Council. At present the law in this respect was in such a state that no one could exactly say what it was, and it was very desirable, therefore, that no act should be done without Parliament having cognizance of it, and having the opportunity of addressing the Crown upon the subject, if it thought necessary.


said, he could not support the clause. Parliament in its wisdom had assigned certain functions to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and it was scarcely reasonable to require that it should be consulted on every exercise of those functions.


objected to the inconvenience of a clause which invited the House of Commons to discuss every increase of salary to a dignitary which was recommended by the Ecclesiastical Commission. The result would be to turn Parliament into the Executive body of the Ecclesiastical Commission.


agreed that there would be difficulty in adopting such a clause as that proposed, especially as it was admitted that the matter was for the discretion of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; and beyond this it was said that a check to any improper augmentation was to be found in the Orders in Council; but ho understood that in point of fact the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were virtually irresponsible. He thought that it would be well if the Government, acting through the President of the Council, were responsible. If the noble Earl would say that there should be an Order in Council in every case of augmentation, he should be perfectly satisfied.


could not take upon himself to say what should be the precise mode in which the matter should be undertaken; but he thought that the Commissioners should bring under the consideration of the Government any case which required their consideration.


only wished that there should be a real responsibility cast upon Her Majesty's Ministers.


said, that if he could find any one to divide with him, he should certainly divide the Committee; but if those from whom he expected support refused to give it, he should not, of course, go into the lobby by himself. He should be satisfied if the Council, not only considered the legality, but the expediency of these augmentations.


promised to provide what security he could for these Orders in Council being considered, though he could not pledge the Government to any particular decision upon them.


hoped the noble Lord would not press his Amendment, as he thought everything he sought had been obtained by the discussion.


said, that with deference to their Lordships, they understood very little about the matter.


hoped that next Session a Bill would be introduced to define the powers of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

Amendment negatived.

Remaining Clauses agreed to.

The Report of the Amendment to be received on Monday next.