HL Deb 20 May 1867 vol 187 cc762-5

Order for Committee read.


said, that whe the Bill was before the House on the last occasion, he was not aware of a circumstance which went far to strengthen his case. That circumstance was that, on the 21st of February, 1865, the following Resolution was unanimously agreed to by both Houses of Convocation of the Province of York:— That a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to take into Her Royal consideration the need which exists, from the vast increase of the population of England, for an increase in the English Episcopate, and humbly to submit that there should be constituted three additional Sees—two in the Province of Canterbury—namely, at Southwark and at Bodmin or Truro; and one in the Province of York—namely, at Southwell. When the Report upon the Bill was brought up, he should again raise the question of the income of the new Bishops, upon which he had been defeated on a previous occasion by a majority of 1 only, and he was not sure that all the noble Lords who voted knew what they were voting about.

House again in Committee.


said, that as far as he was aware, the only point in the Bill that remained for consideration was the last clause, upon which two Amendments had been proposed—one by a right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Oxford), and the other by the most rev. Primate. In his opinion, the clause might well be passed as it stood; but as he was anxious to pass the Bill, he should be willing to accept either of the alterations proposed.


said, that having found great difference of opinion to prevail among his right rev. Brethren with regard to the Amendment he was about to propose, he should be glad if his noble Friend (Lord Lyttelton) would allow the question to be postponed. He might, perhaps, bring forward his Amendment upon the Report; but he required further time to confer with the Bishops upon the subject.


said, he was glad to hear the most rev. Primate propose the postponement of the Amendment, which appeared to him to be open to grave objection, inasmuch as it would give every Bishop the power of appointing a suffragan to assist him, instead of their being appointed only in case of age or infirmity. He desired to see a moderate increase of the Episcopate; but he believed the proposal of the most rev. Primate would be fatal to the Bill.


concurred in the suggestion for postponing the question until a future occasion, seeing that it was one which required a very great deal of care in its consideration.


wished to know whether it was intended that the suffragan Bishop on his appointment was to have full and entire authority in the see. If that were so, he asked in what respect would this arrangement differ from the appointment of the Bishop of a diocese, and what possible motive could there be for continuing the Bishop if the whole of the episcopal functions were performed by another person? If, on the other hand, the suffragan was to exercise co-ordinate authority with the Bishop, and was not to supersede the authority of the Bishop, he wished to know which was to prevail in the event of a difference of opinion arising between them?


said, he was glad that the most rev. Primate had thought fit to postpone his Amendment, because there were various intricate matters connected with it which should be very thoroughly considered before the subject came directly under the notice of their Lordships. With regard to the question of the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope) he thought there would be no difficulty in the point to which he had alluded. According to the Act of Henry VIII. and according to the proposal of the most rev. Primate the suffragans would act under the commission of the Bishop of the diocese, and this commission would distinctly state what the functions of the suffragan were to be. There were Episcopal acts which could be as well performed by men in old age as in the vigour of youth, while, on the other hand, there were certain acts which could only be performed by men of great bodily vigour. He thought that when the Bishop was advanced in years he should be empowered to appoint some person to discharge the duties which he was unable to perform. With regard to the other points which had been urged, he might mention that he presumed the Act which abolished pluralities would hold good in spite of the Act of Henry VIII.; and therefore he was not of opinion that there was any danger of re-establishing pluralities by the reference made in the clause to the Act of Henry VIII. The suggestion of the noble Earl at the head of the Government, with others, would receive the greatest attention from the right rev. Bench. In most cases the necessity for a suffragan would arise only where a Bishop was disabled by old age or infirmity; there were other cases, however, which might well be provided for in dealing with this question. Their Lordships were aware that the Continent of Europe was nominally under the charge of the Bishop of the metropolis. Some time ago the Southern part of the Continent was withdrawn from his superintendence by the establishment of the see of Gibraltar; but the other portions of the Continent were still supposed to be under the see of London, and the Bishop exercised a certain amount of superintendence over the chaplains of the Continent. One great difficulty had arisen in connection with this branch of duty. Of course it was impossible for the Bishop of the metropolis to hold a triennial visitation on the Continent, and the consequence was that confirmations had not been regularly performed. Arrangements had been made to meet the difficulty by taking advantage of the occasional visits of the colonial and other Bishops, and the expenses had been partly borne by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and partly from other sources. Why should means not now be taken whereby these purposes might be more effectually attained than they had been in former years? The Act of Henry VIII, was passed by persons whose knowledge in ecclesiastical matters was not to be despised. It had received the sanction in later times, among others, of Bishop Gibson, a famous authority on ecclesiastical law, who expressed his regret that the system of acting by suffragans had been discontinued. He hoped his noble Friend would consent to give time in order that the whole subject might be carefully re-considered by the episcopal Bench before it was again submitted to their Lordships.


said, he thought it very well worthy of consideration whether it would not be better to take the assistance of the Deans and Archdeacons in the various dioceses in preference to the appointment of suffragan Bishops? He had ventured to draw up clauses with that view, which he ventured to recommend to their Lordships' attention. The Bishops now availed themselves very largely of the assistance of colonial Bishops who had served in the colonies and had come home. Bishop Anderson, he understood, had largely assisted the Bishop at the head of the metropolitan diocese. He thought it would be much preferable that the Deans should be constituted Assistant Bishops, and as such should perform such duties, and such duties only, as the Bishop of the see deputed to them. Whether it would be better that the House should now resume, and take up this clause again in Committee, or whether his clauses should be dealt with on the Report, he thought there was no pressure as to time, that should prevent them from dealing carefully with the whole of this important subject.


said, he was very sensible of the great advantages derived from the care and attention which had been bestowed on this subject by noble Lords and right rev. Prelates. He was only anxious to consult the convenience of the House in the course which should be adopted. He hoped a day would be named when the right rev. Bench would be prepared to state what recommendation they would make for the acceptance of the House, and that no further delay would then take place.


suggested that this clause might be omitted in the meantime, and the clauses of the noble Earl (Earl Grey) be brought up on the Report.


hoped his noble Friend who had charge of the Bill would consent to the Chairman reporting Progress. On the Report only one speech could be made, which on a matter of detail might not be very convenient.

House resumed; and to be again in Committee on Monday next.