HL Deb 01 July 1872 vol 212 cc414-7

Order of the Day for receiving the Report of the Amendment, read.

Moved, That the Report of the Amendment be now received.—(The Lord Bishop of Carlisle.)


said, he regarded the Bill as one which invaded the principles of lay patronage in ecclesiastical livings. Under the provisions of the Bill a corporation sole—that is in plain English a bishop or a rector in perpetual succession, and not as limited now to the individual named in the deed—might become the trustee of trusts already existing, as well as of those which might hereafter be created. If corporations sole were allowed to become trustees of benefices, they would—or, at any rate, might—absorb the whole control of them, because they would be the electors of the successors to all the lay vacancies in the trust, and might fill them all with corporations sole; while, at the same time, corporations were peculiarly disqualified for the office of trustees, seeing that they were neither liable nor responsible for the discharge of their duties. The Bill was uncalled for under the existing system of trusteeship; there was no mischief done, nor was there any real grievance to redress. The operation of the Bill ought, at any rate, to be simply prospective, and should not be permitted to apply to trusts already in existence. He begged to move that the Report be received that day three months.

An Amendment moved, to leave out ("now") and insert ("this day three months.")—(The Lord Portman.)


said, the noble Lord (Lord Portman) had misapprehended the meaning and working of the Bill as much as it was possible for them to be misapprehended. In the first place, the Bill had been introduced in order to remove doubts which had been raised by counsel as to the validity of certain trusts for the exercise of ecclesiastical patronage. The noble Lord said there was no grievance to remedy; but he could assure their Lordships that in his own diocese there was a practical grievance which stood in the way of the formation of a "Peel district." In his diocese certain wealthy inhabitants had subscribed money for the formation of such a district. They wished the incumbent to be a member of the trusts by virtue of his office, and also that his successors should in the same way be members of it. This was the wish of the persons who had subscribed the money, and not the Bishop's wish. Under the Act of 1843 it was provided that those who subscribed for such a trust might have a corporation sole as trustee; they might have the Bishop himself, or the incumbent; or they might have a number of individuals to act as trustees; but the moment subscribers said—"We shall have both a corporation sole and a number of individuals for trustees," the lawyers stepped in and said—"You may not do it." That might be good law, but it did not appear to him to be good common sense. To remove such an anomaly was the object of the Bill now before their Lordships. It had been drafted in the office of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and it had received the approval of the Earl of Chichester, who was so well known in connection with that Commission. If the Bill did not pass, serious consequences would ensue, because a number of trusts which now existed, and which had been framed in ignorance of the law as it was now said to be, would be declared unsound, and both the Bishops and the patrons would be placed in a very embarrassing position. He hoped their Lordships would not interrupt the progress of the Bill.


concurred with the right rev. Prelate, in thinking that the noble Lord misunderstood the scope of the Bill.


suggested that if the opinion of the House was to be taken by a division, it would be better to take it on the third reading, and after Notice. He had a good deal of objection to the Bill, because it would it would vest the trust in a corporation sole. If the trust were vested in an individual Bishop or an archdeacon, in whom the subscribers had confidence, it did not at all follow that they would have the same confidence in his successor. It might, perhaps, be better to have a fresh election of such a trustee by a majority of the survivors. He did not know whether the explanation of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Carlisle) might not remove the objections to the Bill, and in order that this might be ascertained he suggested the postponement of the division.


protested against their Lordships dividing against the Bill without Notice.


said, the Earl of Harrow by had given the right rev. Prelate Notice that he would oppose the measure.


replied, that he had not by any means understood that the rejection of the Bill was to be moved.


said, that he had no doubt as to the occasion of the Bill, but whether the present measure was open to objection or not was a fair question for discussion. The Bill was no doubt introduced to remedy what had occurred in the past, and to provide for the future. He did not then intend to discuss the merits of the Bill, but if it was to be discussed it ought to be done after full and careful deliberation. He thought it would not be right to reject the Bill at a stage as to which no Notice of objection had been given; and, therefore, he would support the reception of the Report, leaving himself open to adopt what course he thought best on the third reading.

Amendment (by leave of the House) withdrawn: Then the original Motion agreed to; Report received accordingly; and Bill to be read 3a on Thursday next.


gave Notice that he would then move that the Bill be read a third time on that day six months.