HL Deb 18 June 1860 vol 159 cc550-2

, in rising to put the question of which he had given notice, Whether Her Majesty's Government intend to bring in any measures founded on the Report of the Commission for inquiring into the Condition of Cathedral and Collegiate Churches (1852), or the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords for inquiring into the Deficiency of Means of Spiritual Instruction and Places of Divine Worship in the Metropolis and populous Places (1858), said that these were strong instances of a practice too common in these days, by which important subjects were examined and reported, or with the utmost diligence by Royal Commissions or Parliamentary Committees, but nothing further was done in the matter. The two bodies to whom the Question referred had applied themselves with great diligence to the investigation of the subjects. The recommendations of the Cathedral Commissioners alone occupied six folio pages, and in every case their recommendations were proper matters for the consideration of the Legislature. If these recommendations were shelved it would be an extraordinary instance of waste of labour upon a difficult and important subject. The subject of spiritual destitution was one of a different kind; and on this point there could be no doubt that the Report of the Committee of their Lordships' House which sat about two years ago had had considerable effect in diffusing information through out the country. The Committee also had made various recommendations, one only of which hade been taken up, namely, that relation to the union of benefices, a subject on which a Bill had been introduced by the right rev. Prelate near him (the Bishop of London); they had suggested that an alteration should take place in the law relating to pews and the sale of livings under the patronage of the Crown; also that power should be given to tenants for life to leave property for churches and parsonages in the same way as was now done for purposes of education. These and other minor recommendations were made by the Committee, and there were also in the evidence of Archdeacon Sinclair recommendations of various kinds on the same subject. He did not ask for legislation on these matters this Session or in any particular Session, but he wished to know whether the Government could hold out any hope that in a future Session they would be prepared to carry out any of the recommendations to which he had made reference.


said, he need hardly remind his noble Friend that it would be hopeless to hold out the expectation that legislation with the purpose of carrying out the resolutions and recommendations of the voluminous Report of this Commission could be initiated at so late a period of the Session as the 18th June. Indeed, his noble Friend had acknowledged that he did not put the question in the hope that any legislation could take place in the present Session, but rather with a view to ascertain whether the Government, in a succeeding Session, would be ready to take up the question. He, however, thought that in matters of this kind, except under very peculiar circumstances, it was not desirable that a Government should pledge themselves as to the course of legislation they intended to propose in an ensuing Session. Such a course he held to be neither politic, wise, nor just. The Report of this Commission was very voluminous and complicated, many of its recommendations were at variance with the course of legislation for many years past, and great caution was required in dealing with such a large subject. Two points recommended in the Report of the Commission had already become the subject of legislation—first of all, that which referred to the union of benefices, and, in the next place, that provision which enacted that where surplus funds were paid into the hands of Ecclesiastical Commissioners the locality from which they were drawn should have the first claim upon them, if its spiritual necessities were not already provided for. With regard to the first of these, his noble Friend was aware that a Bill had been brought in on the subject by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London), which had passed their Lordships' House and was now in the Commons; and, as regarded the second point, a Bill had been brought into the other House by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in which there was a clause to enable the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to meet local deficiencies. This clause would, he hoped, meet the views of his noble Friend on that subject. At any rate, he was unable to hold out to his noble Friend any hope of further legislation on this subject during the present Session.