HL Deb 09 June 1868 vol 192 cc1298-301

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, the object of the measure was to meet certain difficulties in the way of army chaplains discharging their duties at military stations in Great Britain and Ireland. At some places, where the Church accommodation was insufficient, garrison chapels had been built, in which Divine service was performed by the army chaplains, who were commissioned officers, appointed by the Secretary of State. Some parochial clergymen, however, objected to these chaplains as intruders into their parishes, and a recent decision in the Consistorial Court at Dublin had established the correctness of this view. The object of this Bill was to enable the army chaplains to legally continue their services. It was, therefore, proposed to empower the Crown, with the consent of the Bishop of the diocese within which a military station shall be locally situate, to set out a precinct or district and declare the same, for the purposes of this Act, to be a Royal peculiar, and extra-parochial district. Provision is made for the due registration of the scheme in the diocesan registry. The Secretary of State was to appoint any army chaplain to perform functions in the peculiars; any chapel erected within the precinct and duly consecrated was to be held to be, for all ecclesiastical purposes, an extra-parochial chapel; and where any unconsecrated building was certified to the Bishop as intended to be used by the military for Divine worship according to the forms of the Established Church, the Secretary of State had power to appoint an army chaplain to officiate therein; and power was also given to the Crown to declare the Bishop of any diocese to be the dean of these Royal peculiars, and to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction therein.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a" —(The Earl of Longford.)


, in the absence of the most rev. Primate, said, he desired briefly to advert to some of the clauses of the Bill, which seemed to require further consideration, and which in his judgment it was most desirable to refer to a Select Committee. Of course it was right that every possible facility should be given to the chaplains of Her Majesty's service; and he frankly owned it was extremely inconvenient that any parochial clergyman should have the power of interfering with their ministrations. At the same time, he thought it was rather reversing the principles of our legislation to constitute Royal peculiars, especially when it seemed to be perfectly clear that simply by the constitution of extra-parochial districts all the difficulties that had arisen might be readily removed. But the present measure went further even than the re-establishment of what experience had shown to be unsatisfactory and anomalous. The general authority of the Bishop of the diocese was unnecessarily suspended; for, according to the provisions of the Bill, it by no means followed that the Bishop of the diocese would have any spiritual authority whatever within these Royal peculiars, though they really were within his diocese, as any Prelate might be appointed by the Secretary of State to exercise authority in them. This might lead to considerable difficulty, and he appealed, therefore, to the noble Earl to consent to the Bill being referred to a Select Committee.


said, he was aware of the difficulties that beset the subject; but at the same time he thought it clear that the military chaplains should be enabled to perform their duties without obtaining the assent of the clergyman in whose parishes troops may happen to be. These chaplains are officers bearing Her Majesty's commission, and they ought not to be interfered with in the performance of their functions. The state of things to which the decision of the Dublin Court had given rise was one that could not be allowed to continue, and he thought the present measure well adapted to effect the purpose it has in view, and he could not see the slightest necessity for referring it to a Select Committee.


inquired whether it was intended that one of the existing Bishops should be made the dean of these peculiars, or whether a new Bishop would be consecrated for the purpose. For his own part, he thought we had too many unattached Bishops already. It was also well worth consideration whether the Bishops should not have the superintendence of the peculiars in their respective dioceses. He begged to remind the House of the cost frequently involved in enforcing ecclesiastical discipline, and trusted Her Majesty's Government would take care that the Dean of the peculiars should be freed from the risk of incurring such enormous expenses.


said, he understood this Bill to be intended to remedy the difficulties that had arisen respecting the powers of army chaplains, and also the inconvenience which had arisen from their not being practically under any Bishop— for not being licensed by a Bishop, they did not look up to the Bishop of the diocese in which they might happen to be for guidance and assistance. His right rev. Brother (the Bishop of Gloucester) suggested that they should be placed under the charge of the Bishop of the diocese where they might happen to be placed. Practically, however, he thought with the Government that there would he much difficulty in carrying out such an arrangement; and he was disposed to think that it would be better to place the army chaplains under the charge of one Bishop; and he did not think any difficulties in the way of adopting this course had been suggested which might not be met in Committee of the Whole House.


said, he did not think there was any necessity to refer the Bill to a Select Committee. It had been carefully considered, and had been in the hands of the two Archbishops. He was disposed to be of opinion that the more convenient course in respect of licences would be that suggested by the right rev. Prelate who had just addressed their Lordships. That point could be considered before Committee on the Bill was taken. There was no intention to appoint a new Bishop under this Act; and although Bishops could not be protected from legal expenses, it was hoped that no such cases would arise under the arrangement non-proposed. He believed there was no doubt that as the power of appointment was vested in the Secretary of State for War, the power of removal would be his also.

Motion agreed to: Bill read 2a, accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.

House adjourned at half-past Five o'clock, to Thursday next, half-past Ten o'clock.