HL Deb 07 June 1869 vol 196 cc1280-1

wished to ask the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies, If it be the intention of Her Majesty's Government to propose any measure for the exemption in future of Bishops of a free Protestant Church from the Penalties of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act? On the supposition that the Irish Church Bill became law he presumed there would be a cessation of all appointments to bishoprics in Ireland; and it was therefore important to know what, supposing that to be the case, would be the status of Irish Protestant Bishops not appointed by Her Majesty. In the Ecclesiastical Titles Act there was a clause specially exempting the bishops of the Scotch Episcopal Church; and, though some persons he was aware, regarded this clause as unnecessary, its insertion showed that great doubt existed in the matter, and he feared that the Bishops of a free Church in Ireland would be subject to the pains and penalties of the Act. Now, it was obvious that, whether established or disestablished, the Protestant Church there must preserve its organization and dignitaries, including Bishops with territorial titles, and therefore a similar provision to that with regard to the Episcopal Church of Scotland ought to be introduced. It was true that the Act had never been enforced against Roman Catholic Prelates, and that proposals had been made for its repeal; but the majority of the Select Committee of this House, of which he was a Member, reported against such repeal, and he believed it would be distasteful to the great majority of their Lordships. Surely the Government if successful in their Irish Church measure would deem themselves bound not to place its Bishops in a position loss favourable than those of the Episcopal Church in Scotland. The Irish Church, it was said, would become a free Church, untrammelled and unfettered by the State; but it ought not to be saddled with a disability to carry out its proper organization, or, as the only alternative, be obliged to violate the law and disregard the authority of the British Crown, a course painful to all loyal subjects, but especially so to those who, like Irish Episcopalians, had been the main stay through seasons of peril, of that law and that authority.


concurred with the noble Lord that, in the event of the passing of the Irish Church Bill, some such measure for the protection of Irish Bishops as that suggested by the noble Lord would become necessary.