HL Deb 13 June 1872 vol 211 cc1663-4

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, that by the ancient law of the Church it was absolutely illegal to demand any fee for the celebration of any sacrament of the Church, because it was said they ought to be administered freely. In more modern times, however, fees had in some in- stances been demanded for administering the sacrament of baptism, and in other cases for registering it. A consequence was that a large number of children remained unbaptized, because their parents were too poor to pay the demands which were made upon them. Now, these things ought not to be, and this Bill proposed to declare these fees unlawful. The Bill recited that whereas doubts have been entertained whether in certain churches and chapels of the Church of England, under the authority administration of the sacrament of baptism, or for the due registration thereof, and it is desirable to put an end to such doubts; and it declares that henceforth it shall be unlawful for any minister, clerk in Orders, parish clerk, or any other person to demand any fee for the of certain local Acts of Parliament, certain fees may not be demanded for the administration of the sacrament of baptism, or for the registry thereof. He understood that there would be an objection to taking away any vested interest, even in such a matter as this and that in some cases the incumbents of parishes had been endowed by statute with the fees now proposed to be abolished; and therefore, if it should be found expedient, he would add in Committee that this Act should not apply to prevent from taking fees the holder of any office who might at present be entitled to demand them.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord Bishop of Winchester.)


said, that in Archbishop Tenison's time there was the practice of charging fees for registration in the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and from thence the custom passed to other adjacent parishes, in one case at least, by virtue of an Act of Parliament. In the present day, however, such fee was never demanded from any poor person. Besides the incumbents, who were not anxious to maintain these fees, there were parish clerks who had vested interests, and it would be a great inconvenience that they should be deprived of them. He, therefore, trusted that if their Lordships accepted the Bill, they would adopt a proviso to protect these interests.

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