HL Deb 15 June 1874 vol 219 cc1569-76

(The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.)

Committee (on Re-commitment).

House again in Committee (on Recommitment) (according to Order).


, who had given Notice of new Clause to follow Clause 22:— And whereas with regard to the following acts relating to public worship in the Church of England, namely,

  1. 1. The side of the table at which the minister ought to stand during the prayer of consecration in the Communion Service;
  2. 2. The use of the words of administration of the Holy Communion otherwise than separately to each communicant;
  3. 3. The use of hymns during divine service;
  4. 4. The celebration of Holy Communion during the time of evening service;
  5. 5. The preaching of sermons otherwise than as a part of the Communion Service;
  6. 6. The daily use of the Morning and Evening Service;
  7. 7. The use of the Commination Service,
doubts have been entertained as to the construction of the rubrics applicable to some of such matters, and it is not desirable that the clergy and laity of the said church should be disquieted by litigation as to any of such matters, be it enacted, that no proceedings shall be taken under the provisions of this Act on account of such matters, or any of them; provided that as regards hymns the hymns used shall not have been prohibited by the ordinary, and shall not be used at a time prohibited by the ordinary; and that as regards daily Morning and Evening Service this enactment shall not apply in any case in which the ordinary shall have directed daily service to be used in any particular church, said, he wished, before stating to their Lordships the course he intended to take with regard to the Amendment standing in his name, to say a few words as to the precise scope of that Amend- ment, and what were the real objects he had in view when he gave Notice of it:—because it appeared to him a considerable amount of misapprehension as to that scope and as to his object prevailed not only out-of-doors, but, as he ventured to think, in that House. He did not think that arose from any want of clearness in the terms of the Amendment, because they were very precise, nor from anything in the masterly and statesmanlike speech of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack on going into Committee, in which he had stated the exact aim and precise limits of his proposition. The scope of the Amendment was this—that, as regarded certain transgressions of the rubrics, no proceedings should be taken "under the provisions of this Act" against any clergyman who should have been guilty of those transgressions. His Amendment was strictly limited to "proceedings under this Act." His object was this. It appeared to him that under the provisions of this Bill as originally proposed, there might be a considerable amount of unnecessary and merely vexatious litigation; and in order to prevent clergymen from being disquieted for practices which they had observed in laxer times, he was anxious that the sharper powers of this Act should not be put in force against such clergymen by spiteful persons. He did not propose that no penalties whatever should attach to those who transgressed the rubrics. He did not propose that, because it appeared to him that if a statute of the Imperial Parliament provided that no penalty should attach to the transgression of a certain rubric that statute would completely repeal the Act of Uniformity, so far as regarded that rubric, and if a statute might do away with the coercive jurisdiction of the Church as regarded one rubric, it might do away with it in the case of all the rubrics; and thus Parliament by an Act repealing all penalties for breaches of the Prayer-book might set aside the use of the Prayer-book altogether. What he proposed was this—that when the Bishops of the Church, who were responsible for the observances of the rubrics, said they had not power to enforce the law, and applied for a more summary process, infraction of certain rules, rubrics, and canons was not to be dealt with under this pro- cess. He did not propose to legalize any breach of rule, rubric, or canon. The effect of his Amendment would be, as regarded the matters specified in his Amendment, to leave every clergyman guilty of an infraction in exactly the same position as that which he would have occupied if this Bill had not passed. He had been accused of the wicked sin of legalizing what the Church did not legalize, and he had been warned that a consequence of his sin might be the secession of members from the Church. The fact was his Amendment would not legalize anything; but it would prevent persons from carrying on a war of reprisals for transgressions of rubrics which had occurred in the interregnum of a laxer administration of the law. The difference between proceedings under the ordinary Ecclesiastical Law and proceedings under the Bill as it was when introduced would have been similar to that between ordinary process and summary jurisdiction in civil law. He had now to consider whether he would proceed with this Amendment or not. The first consideration was that the Bill was now by no means the same Bill as when he gave Notice of his Amendment. Their Lordships had declined to create a number of small Diocesan Courts, in which there would have been a cheap and speedy, if not perhaps a perfect, administration of justice. Instead of such tribunals, there was to be one great Court, and one Judge. Then, the Bishops were to have a discretionary power; and there was to be a wholesome sedative to vindictive proceedings in the shape of security for costs. All these things lessened to a great degree the necessity for his Amendment—in fact, the same necessity for the Amendment no longer existed. Again, he had been favoured with a great many communications from all parts of the country on the subject of his Amendment, which had given rise to an excitement he had little expected. He found from these communications that there was a very general concurrence of opinion in favour of Excipienda; but when he came to the question of what should be the Excipienda he found no such concurrence. Each clergyman wished that there should be Excipienda in favour of the practices in which he himself indulged, but that there should be none for those of his neighbour. Everyone was equally anxious to be himself excepted from prosecution, and equally jealous of the power of prosecuting his neighbour. While all were for peace and a neutral ground, none were agreed as to what should be the terms of peace and what should be the neutral ground. This being so, and considering the alterations made in the Bill, the Amendment did not appear to be now necessary. If a clergyman said—"I will be prosecuted, and no one shall interfere to prevent a prosecution against me," he was unwilling to step in to save him. Another reason had operated to induce him to withdraw the Amendment. It was that he found his list of Excipienda much extended by Notices given by noble Lords, and he began to fear that it might be made much longer in the other House. One noble Earl had given Notice of an Amendment to include the use of the Athanasian Creed—a proposition which would have had his strenuous opposition. Another noble Lord desired to have the Service for the Visitation of the Sick included, though that Service formed no part of the Public Worship of the Church. This Bill applied only to acts done in churches and churchyards, and he had never heard of the Service for the Visitation of the Sick being recited in either. He shrank from making the subjects of some of these Amendments topics of discussion in that House; but he trembled at thinking that they might become the topics of discussion in a House in which expressions might be much less guarded, and many of the Members of which were less well-affected towards the Church than were most of their Lordships. Then the question of time had its influence with him. At first he was in favour of postponing legislation on the whole matter; but the passion and panic existing at this moment had entirely changed his opinion on that point. From what he saw of the tempers which had been already elicited by this Bill, he confessed he did not think it would be safe or wise to wait for a year longer and run the risk of violent meetings and counter-meetings and demonstrations and counter-demonstrations in the meantime. Whoever would take such a responsibility upon him, he for one dared not do it. Even in the interest of that revision of the rubrics, which he hoped would soon come about, he was anxious to see the Bill passed this Session. Having now stated his reasons, he hoped that noble Lords who had been very severe on the indiscretion of Bishops would be of opinion that he was not making an unwise use of episcopal discretion when he declined to move the Amendment.


said, that he did not question the discretion of the right rev. Prelate in withdrawing his Amendment, but he thought he should have given earlier Notice of his intention. Such Notice might have been conveniently given on Friday last, instead of which many noble Lords had come to the House this evening under the belief that the Motion, as it stood on the Paper, would come on for discussion. As the right rev. Prelate had given up his Amendment, the one of which he (Earl Stanhope) had given Notice would fall to the ground. His Amendment, it would be remembered, referred to the Athanasian Creed, which he (Earl Stanhope) desired to include in the list of cases, respecting the disuse of which no further controversy was to be raised. He retained his opinion that the compulsory use of that Creed in the public services was injurious to the best interests of the Church, and kept aloof from its pale many who might otherwise be anxious to enter it. Such being his view, he desired now to state that he should certainly bring on his Amendment in case the right rev. Prelate, or any other of their Lordships, should renew the Motion which had been announced for this evening.


thought the right rev. Prelate had adopted a judicious course. His Amendment would have placed the Bill in the greatest possible danger. He now hoped that the Bill would go down to the other House and become law this Session.


moved, after Clause 22, to insert the following clause— The following rules shall he in force with respect to the introduction of changes in the mode of performing Divine Service in churches:

  1. "(a.) The incumbent shall make no change in the mode of performing Divine Service actually in use in any church till after he shall have given one month's public notice of his intention of doing so.
  2. "(b.) If within one month after such notice shall have been given any of the parishioners shall present a memorial to the bishop of the diocese against the proposed change, it shall not be carried into effect until the bishop shall have had an opportunity of considering the subject.
  3. 1574
  4. "(c.) If the bishop shall be satisfied that the objections urged against the proposed change are reasonable, he shall have power at any time within two months of the memorial being presented to him to issue a monition to the incumbent prohibiting him from carrying such change into effect.
  5. "(d.) If any incumbent shall, without giving the required notice, change the mode of conducting Divine Service in use in his church, the bishop shall have power, on complaint being made to him by any of the parishioners, to issue a monition to such incumbent, warning him to revert to the mode of conducting the service in use before the alterations complained of.
  6. "(e.) The bishop shall have power to enforce monitions under this clause by the same means as are provided by this Act for the enforcement of other monitions."

On Question? Resolved in the negative.

Clause 23 (Limitation of proceedings against incumbents) amended and agreed to.

Clause 24 (Archbishops shall frame rules, orders, &c.) struck out.

Clause 25 (Places exempt from the operation of Act.) The clause proposed to except from the operation of the Act, the chapels of the colleges and halls in the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham; the University church of any of the said Universities when used by such University; and the chapels of the Colleges of Westminster, Winchester, and Eton.


moved an. Amendment, in line 41, to insert after "Eton"— ("Any private chapel, free chapel, or proprietary chapel. Any chapel coming under the provisions of section 31 of "The Public Schools Act, 1868," and section 53 of "The Endowed Schools Act, 1869. Any chapel coming under the provisions of "The Private Chapels Act, 1871."")


pointed out that there was a great difference between private chapels and proprietary chapels. The latter were under the Bishop, but his noble Friend might put up any ornaments he pleased in his private chapel; no one would have any authority in the matter. The noble Marquess' exception was therefore entirely unnecessary.


believed the noble Duke had correctly stated the law, and that the service in a private chapel being for the use of the household, the Bishop had no authority over it. It was otherwise, however, with regard to proprietary chapels. The Act of 1871 had been purposely so drawn as to enable private chapels to be used as public places of worship under certain restrictions, and he objected to their being excepted.


said, that they had in framing this Bill followed the Act of Uniformity as closely as possible. The act of consecration did not of itself make a place public for the public worship of the people. Proprietary chapels came under that Act because they were places of public worship.


said, his recollection was that the chapel of the College of Westminster was mentioned in the Act of Uniformity, and he therefore doubted whether the provisions of this Bill would not apply to it. If the most rev. Prelate would say that the Bill should apply only to places of worship connected with the cure of souls, a distinct principle would be laid down which all could understand. The grievance which the Bill was intended to remedy would arise only in presence of a congregation who had no other place of worship to go to, and whose feelings would therefore be injured by the acts objected to. If this was not so—if Westminster Abbey was excluded from the Bill—he should like to know why Westminster should have an exemption which was not to be extended to St. Paul's? Was the Dean to be left to do anything he pleased—to read the Athanasian Creed, or not to read it at his pleasure?


wished to know whether it was really intended that Westminster Abbey should be excepted from the Bill?


said, there was no intention whatever to except Westminster Abbey from the operation of the Bill, although it might be the chapel of Westminster School. The school might at any time be separated from the Cathedral and the chapel might then be distinct from the Abbey.


asked whether Westminster School had no other chapel than Westminster Abbey.


said, that having had the honour to belong to Westminster School some 40 years ago, he could answer his noble Friend that Westminster School had no other chapel. The Abbey might therefore be called the chapel of the School of Westminster.


understood it was intended to keep Cathedrals out of the Bill altogether—he should vote for that exclusion with his whole heart and soul.


said, that on referring to the Act of Uniformity, he found that the chapel of the College of Westminster was mentioned in it.


would move that the chapel of the College of Westminster be excluded.


proposed that the clause be postponed till the Report.

On Question, Whether the clause stand part of the Bill? Resolved in the Negative.

Clause 6 (Interpretation of terms.)

Amendments moved; some agreed to; others disagreed to.

Page 3, lines 3–5, moved to leave out— ("Or, if not resident as aforesaid, is owner or tenant of lands or tenements in the said parish.")—(The Earl Nelson.)

On Question, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause? Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 67; Not-Contents, 23. Majority, 44.

Resolved in the Affirmative.

New clause added (Rules for settling fees under this Act.)

The Report of the Amendments to be received on Friday next; and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 96.)