HL Deb 25 June 1874 vol 220 cc390-414

Order of the Day for the Third Reading, read.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 3a."—(The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.)


said, that he had supported—or rather he had not opposed—the Bill, for a reason which seemed paradoxical, but was sometimes sound, that he thought it would in some respects work badly. He indeed thought the machinery it proposed to set in motion not the best. He regretted the loss of the ancient judicial power of the Bishop, and did not see the necessity for setting up any new tribunal. If the proposal had been simply that the Bishop should act with his Chancellor, who should be a good lawyer, and that there should be one single appeal to the new Court of Appeal about to be created, that would have been enough. Still, he did not doubt it would so far work fairly well; nor could he dissent from those who condemned those clergymen who set at defiance the law of the land. As he understood it, they held there were two supreme laws in the country, one of the State, the other of the Church. This question was raised about what was known as the Purchas Judgment, which was said to be bad law. It was open to anyone to say that—he himself believed that the judgment in the Purchas Case was not good law—being inconsistent with what had been declared to be the settled law. It was stated that it was a judgment obtained by fraud, and in an undefended ease. Well, all that, if it were so, might form a ground for getting the judgment reversed. But these persons went on to say that because the law was bad, they would not obey it. Now, that was rebellion. Of course it might be said that sometimes rebellion was justifiable, and the case of Hampden and the Ship Money might be cited. But that was one of those cases which were said to be "justified by success;" and it had always been held by casuists that they could not be drawn into precedents. Until a judgment was reversed it was law and ought to be obeyed. He was aware that that judgment did not proprio vigore bind all the clergy, but only if they were required by their Ordinary to obey it; but that was not material, as the clergy in question declared they would not in any event obey it. Now, in regard to many of the points of dispute, be could not but think that if St. Paul were among us now and heard the disputes raised upon them, being matters of ornament and ceremonial, we might say of him, as he said of some in his day, "Would he not say that ye were mad?" It was admitted that position was only symbolic; and no symbol could be essential. He was ashamed that, in the presence of the Roman Catholic Members of that House, and of the Dissenters outside it, such questions should be discussed among Churchmen in a manner which exposed the Church and religion to the attacks of scoffers. As to remedies, he believed the true remedy was to "grasp the nettle" and enter on a revision of the law. He had said that he thought the Bill might do good because it would work badly; meaning this, that they were attempting to put in force a law which was intricate, inconsistent, partly obsolete; and it would force on them the necessity of further measures. He was glad to hear that the question of the revision of the Rubrics was to be again referred to Convocation by Letters of Business, and if this Bill passed it would bring on the question of Convocation itself and lead to the reform of that body. Years ago he expressed his opinion as to the necessity of such a reform, both in the interest of the clergy, which Convocation imperfectly represented, and of the laity, which it did not represent at all. In his opinion, the proper way would be to amend the law by allowing large liberty in both directions. No doubt there would be need for discretion as to what should be allowed within the limits, for what might be legal might not always be expedient. But that discretion should be in the hands of the Bishops, and, he thought, should be largely exercised according to the feelings of the congregations. Take the case of two churches in Marylebone, St. Andrews' and All Saints'. It would be tyranny to interfere with them—they did no harm to others, and for themselves they were the best judges. He could not but express his earnest hope that this Bill would not be administered in a one-sided way. It had been assumed by many persons that it must be unilateral; that it was to be used only against the "Romanizers;" and the most rev. Primate had told them that this was a great crisis for the principles of the Reformation. Those principles—that was, those of the English Reformation—they all wished to uphold, but they were not by any means what some ultra-Protestants in those days supposed. Whether the Bill worked well or ill, it would, he thought, tend to bring about a more perfect measure.


My Lords, the question which it will be my duty to put in a few minutes to your Lordships will be, "That this Bill be now read a third time;" and at this stage of the measure I should think I departed widely from my duty if I attempted to enter into arguments or criticism as to the merits or the demerits of this Bill or of any one of its details. But I cannot but think it may be useful if I delay your Lordships for a short time while I call attention to another consideration with reference to this measure. I have seldom seen a measure passing through Parliament the effect and scope of which seem to have been so much misunderstood and misapprehended out-of-doors as have been the effect and scope of the one now before your Lordships. I am not altogether surprised that this should have been the ease—for this is a measure which has been altered very largely from time to time during its progress through the House. I do not say that to impute blame to anyone in regard of this Bill. I believe it was almost a necessity in a case of this kind; and the forms of Parliament contemplate and provide for changes in a Bill during its progress through both Houses of Parliament. When a Bill passes with but little change, I think it generally happens that the absence of change proceeds from a want of interest in the matter with which it deals; and I am not surprised that in a Bill dealing with a question which so deeply interests public opinion, large changes should have been made during its progress through your Lordships' House. But although your Lordships have been aware, from the materials at your command, or from your presence on the various occasions when the Bill has been under discussion, of the nature of the Bill itself, and of the various Amendments which have been made in it, your Lordships must bear in mind that the same opportunity of acquiring knowledge on those points is not enjoyed by various classes out-of-doors, and especially by persons in distant parts of the country. I believe that views were taken up out-of-doors on this measure in its early form, and that views were taken up out-of-doors of the various Amendments which were founded on entire misapprehension; and, further, I feel convinced that considerations applicable not to the Bill in its present shape, but to the Bill in its original form, and applicable not to the Amendments which had been adopted, but to changes which were proposed and not adopted, continue to influence the minds of those who are not fully aware of the nature of the alterations which have really been made in the Bill. I do not, therefore, my Lords, propose to enter into the question whether the changes that have been made in this Bill are expedient or inexpedient. The object I have in view is to call your Lordships' attention to what the Bill is now with reference to the state of the law. I observe the statement made, and frequently repeated, that this Bill contains an attack or an assault on doctrine. I do not know whether that supposition would be or would not be correct if some of the changes which were proposed had been adopted by your Lordships; but I think I am right in stating as to the Bill in its present shape that it is an entire misapprehension to suppose that in any part, from beginning to end, it deals with doctrine. No offence is created by this Bill either as to doctrine or as to ritual. One clause, and only one clause, contains a reference to acts which are illegal, and your Lordships anxiously considered every word of that clause, and required that it should only be an expression of acts which are now illegal, and should not create any new illegality. And that clause, so far from touching doctrine, touches nothing but the question of ritual, and the question of the structure and adornments of churches. So much for the statement that the Bill is an attack on doctrine. Another statement is that the Bill alters for the worse the status of the clergy of the Church. Under the present law clergymen are subjected to certain legal processes for certain offences, and the statement that the status of the clergy is altered by this Bill would mean that some new and unprecedented mode of dealing with those offences, and a mode of which the clergy have a right to complain, is introduced by this Bill. Now, the Bill appears to me to be simply one by which the procedure is changed to a considerable extent; and I am at a loss to understand the argument that the clergy are possessed of any vested estate in the delays, or expenses, or cumbrousness of the present legal machinery, and can on that ground fairly resist any change. That was not the view of the clergy when the Church Discipline Act was passed; and if that argument had any weight now I do not see why the laity might not equally pretend, with regard to civil proceedings, that they had a vested interest in whatever imperfections existed in the law, and why they might not refuse to assent to any alteration whatever. Let me now point out to your Lordships what has been the nature of the procedure to which the clergy have been subjected for the last 34 years, and then ask your Lordships to compare them with the changes made by this Bill. The procedure under the Church Discipline Act, passed in 1840 for dealing with ecclesiastical offences, is twofold. The longer course of procedure is this:—Under the Church Discipline Act proceedings may be taken against a clergyman who is supposed to have committed some offence against the ecclesiastical law upon the motion of any person whatever. The Bishop may commence proceedings either by his own mere motion or on the application of any other person; and the proceedings may be taken, too, without any security being taken for the payment of costs. The Bishop may, indeed, if he is called upon to proceed for his own protection, ask the person who puts him in motion to give him some security for his costs; but, as far as the person proceeded against is concerned, no security whatever can be demanded. Then, the Bishop has a discretion, as he has under this Bill, as to whether or not he will proceed. Supposing him to proceed, the first step in the longer process is to issue a commission of inquiry, one member of the commission being the Vicar-General, another an Archdeacon or a Rural Dean within the diocese, and the remainder being persons whom the Bishop may think fit to appoint. These five persons are to hold an inquiry, to summon and examine witnesses, and to report merely whether there is a primâ facie case for proceeding further. If the person charged is reported against, he can either submit, and the Bishop may sentence him, and the matter is at an end; or if he does not submit, the next stage is the hearing before the Bishop, which is not the hearing in the Consistorial Court which the noble Lord at the Table (Lord Lyttelton) just now lamented the loss of, but a special hearing before the Bishop and three Assessors, one of whom is to be an Advocate of five years' standing, another the Dean of his cathedral, church, or his Archdeacon or Chancellor, and the third any person whatever. The Bishop has not to pronounce his decision by his Assessors, as in the Consistory Court, but if he pleases, may decide against the will and judgment of the Assessors. The third stage is an appeal to the Provincial Court in which the diocese is situated; and the fourth and final stage is an appeal to Her Majesty in Council. There is no security taken for costs and these four hearings, with all the attendant expenses. Now, it may be said that these four hearings are in themselves a protection of which a clergyman ought not to be deprived. But there is another and shorter course which may be taken under the Church Discipline Act. The clergyman has not a right to all these stages, because the Bishop may dispense with the inquiry before the Commissioners and with the hearing before himself, and at once send the case to the Provincial Court, from which there would be, as before, an appeal to the Queen in Council. Those are the two courses which may be taken under the Church Discipline Act; but I must say a word more with regard to the Act itself. Your Lordships have heard in this House about the enforcing a decree pendente lite. Now, there is a provision in the Church Discipline Act which may perhaps have escaped your Lordships' notice, but which, I must confess, I have never read without a feeling of profound amazement—for, as far as I am aware, it is a provision which is utterly unknown in any other branch or part of our law. By this provision the Bishop may at any time after proceedings have commenced, and while the guilt or innocence of the person accused is still undetermined, of his own mere motion absolutely inhibit and suspend the clergyman from the performance of the whole of his functions, may turn him out of his church and out of his parish, may replace him by another clergyman, whose recompense is to be defrayed out of the profits of the benefice, and may issue a sequestration of the revenues. The Bishop has this power absolutely if he can bring himself to think that scandal would ensue from the clergyman continuing to exercise his functions, or that the ministration of the clergyman while the charge was undetermined would be useless. Now, that is the culminating provision of the Church Discipline Act, to which the clergy have been subjected for the last 34 years, and from which they will be liberated by the passing of this Bill. Now, let me ask your Lordships to compare this with the provisions of the present Bill. Under this Bill what I may term official complaints are to be made. The Bishop is not to proceed, as under the Church Discipline Act, on the motion of any person, but he must be put in motion either by the Archdeacon, the Rural Dean, the churchwarden, or by three parishioners of the parish, whose combination is of itself a proof of the interest they take in the affairs of the parish; and they are even then to make a special declaration provided in this Bill. The Bishop is to retain the discretion he at present possesses, as to whether he will proceed or not; but if he declines to proceed he must give his reasons in writing. Security for costs is to be required by this Bill as it stands. Then, there is to be a hearing before the Judge to be appointed under this Bill, and that Judge is charged with the duty of simplifying the facts and reducing them to a special case which will become a statement of the matter at issue between the parties. If any one is not satisfied an appeal is provided. The clause, however, provides that if at an earlier stage the parties are willing to accept the decision of the Bishop without appeal the matter may thus be settled. With regard to the execution of the appeal, the Ultimate Court of Appeal has the right to suspend the execution of the decree if it thinks fit. I have gone over these points of difference in order to compare the present state of the law with the change effected by this Bill. Perhaps I may be asked, what, in substance and in words, the changes proposed by this Bill really amount to? I have endeavoured to put before my own mind what will be the operation of this Bill and I find that it effects four cardinal changes. In the first place it secures authority and uniformity of decision arising from one permanent first-class Judge for the whole Kingdom, acting where necessary on the spot, in place of a number of shifting and inferior Diocesan Judges or Assessors. In the second place, the Bill secures the removal of the Bishop out of the arena of contentious litigation with his clergy, and the limitation of his judicial office to cases of consensual jurisdiction in the nature of arbitration. Thirdly, the Bill secures the confining of litigation, where it must be resorted to, to one original hearing before a competent Judge, and an appeal to the highest tribunal. And lastly, the Bill provides for the simplification of procedure and lessening of expense, by substituting for the old and cumbrous ecclesiastical machinery the simple procedure of a special case, and judgment upon it. These are the four cardinal points sought to be established by this measure. Your Lordships may entertain different views upon these matters, and I can understand the clergy and laity to take different opinions upon some of these points, but what I cannot understand is that those who contend that these provisions are wise or unwise, expedient or inexpedient, should regard them as attacking in any way the doctrines of the Church, and that there is here any attempt to lower the status of the clergy. Whether this Bill may or may not work with that advantage which those who support it expect, it is impossible it can be productive of any injury to the Church.


said, he regretted that this Bill should have been brought forward at that moment, for it had led to much irritation among the clergy, and much misunderstanding of its object and scope among the clergy and the laity alike. It could not be wondered at, considering the excited state of public feeling out-of-doors, and the time chosen for the introduction of the Bill, that it should be supposed to interfere with doctrine; or that it was intended in some degree to supersede the Clergy Discipline Act. Certainly, if the Bishop of Peterborough's clauses had been agreed to, it would have had both these effects, and have gone a long way to undermine the union between Church and State. His object, however, in rising, was not to oppose the Bill, but to deprecate hasty and untimely legislation. He would remind their Lordships that some years ago Convocation desired to remedy the cumbrous machinery and costly processes of the Ecclesiastical Courts, and therefore it was not fair to say that the clergy wished the present procedure to be maintained. During the recent discussions, two remarkable cases, illustrative of the lawlessness of the clergy had been brought forward—one by the most rev. Primate who brought forward the case of the altar cards, and the other quoted by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) from a book recently published. Now, he (Earl Nelson) was informed that both the altar cards and the book were the production of one and the same clergyman—the Rev. Orby Shipley—who, he was told, was not a leader in this movement, and was not a beneficed clergyman of the Church. This Bill, therefore, would not touch him. No doubt there had been a great deal of indiscretion and apparent lawlessness among certain of the clergy; but he thought it right to say they had some justification in the Ornaments' Rubric, which declared that "all the things that were in use in the second year of Edward VI. should be retained." But as there was no definition of what things were lawful and might be retained, some of these clergymen maintained—and they were logically correct in their argument—that those things which were of use in the old Church, and were not forbidden by the rubrics of the new, were now lawful. There had been some alterations in the Prayer Book, but that rubric remained unaltered, as it stood at a date immediately subsequent to the Reformation. This was historically true, and it was only right that it should be known that those clergymen who were called lawless really had a rule and law to guide them in this matter. He was glad to hear that those clergymen who had taken extreme views, and even the gentleman in question, had signed a declaration stating their willingness to obey the rubrics as they were explained by the Synods of the Church. Many a clergyman of moderate view, whom he met at meetings of Church Societies, regarded the Purchas Judgment as being merely ad hoc for the particular tiling, and not as laying down any new law for the Church. He had pointed out to those gentlemen that the clergy would have occupied a better position if they had obeyed the judgment, and then protested against it; but from what he had heard during the discussions on this Bill, he must say there was a great deal to justify the view they had taken of that judgment and its interpretation of the law of the Church. It was a judgment pronounced in an undefended case, and could not be received as a proper interpretation of the law until another judgment or the same judgment was given in a defended case. There was, therefore, something right at the bottom of their supposed lawlessness. He must say a few words as to his altered feeling in regard to the Bill. It had been introduced in a crude form, without consulting the clergy, and in a manner to irritate their feelings; but, although the most rev. Primate did not seem very willing to submit the Bill to Convocation until his request had been backed up by the noble Duke below, and by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, it had been submitted to Convocation, and the amendments proposed by Convocation had been accepted. By these Amendments the Bill had been very greatly altered—it was, in fact, a new Bill from that which had been laid on the Table. He was happy to find that when Letters of Business were asked for by Convocation, the Government at once expressed their willingness to ask the Crown for them, and he only regretted that they had not been asked for at the beginning of the Session; and the Lord Chancellor had stated that if they had been asked for they would have been granted. That would have enabled them to pass a measure dealing with the whole subject of Church discipline, and in a way which would have received the assent of the clergy. Unhappily, it had been otherwise. But if the right rev. Bench guided Convocation in this matter wisely, he believed the time for conciliation had not gone by. He thought that if a few concessions were made to meet the wishes of congregations, the Bill would come into peaceable operation; and he thought that if the Bill of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London)—the Prayer Book (Rubrics) Bill—were passed, there would be a good opportunity to provide for many things which had been referred to their by Lordships during the discussions on the Bill. The noble Lord who usually sat on the cross benches (Earl Grey) had stated that what he wished was, not so much that what was illegal should be put down, as to prevent the introduction of things which were inexpedient to unwilling congregations. He believed Convocation was the only body that could properly make regulations defining or altering the rubrics. It was said that Convocation did not properly represent the clergy, and did not represent the laity at all. But just as an unreformed Parliament might so far represent the people and reform itself, having regard to public feeling, so Convocation, as the constitutional body representing the clergy, would take care to find out the views of the clergy; while, with regard to the laity, he did not think any harm would arise even if Convocation, as at present constituted, should propose a sensible amendment and explanation of the rubrics; because the laity of the Church were represented by Parliament, and nothing that Convocation did could have effect without the approval of Parliament. He had to thank their Lordships for the kind manner in which they had heard him now, and during the wearisome debates in Committee on this Bill. His opposition had not been factious. A great number of the clergy had petitioned against the Bill, and he had received many representations urging him to take the course he had pursued. He would add, as something had been said about reprisals, that the High Church party would not be a party to any reprisals unduly to enforce the law, because they felt that, in evangelizing the mass of the people, a too strict uniformity would be likely to hinder the special work which the Church had in hand.


said, he congratulated their Lordships that this discussion on the third reading of the Bill was passing through a quieter atmosphere than those on some previous stages. So far as he was personally concerned, he would be almost entirely satisfied to leave the question on the footing on which it had been placed by his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack. Nothing could be calmer, more impartial, or, he might say, colourless as regarded feeling, and nothing could more truly and fairly represent the facts of the case. He desired to state that when the Bill first came before the House he was one of those who felt considerable doubt and difficulty in accepting it as produced by the right rev. Bench. He overcame his scruples out of deference to the quarter from whence it proceeded. Coming from the most rev. Primate, who spoke, of course, with the greatest authority, backed by the almost unanimous opinion of the Episcopal Bench, it was impossible not to read the Bill a second time. The Bill had since undergone great modification; scarcely a vestige of its original structure remained; it was now merely the ghost of the past. There was hardly a single clause in the Bill that remained as originally introduced. He was amazed, therefore, at what had been said out-of-doors against the Bill—because it was clear that the Bill was now merely a Bill for the discipline of the Church—a Bill which differed very slightly indeed from the Church Discipline Act which had been in force for so many years, only the provisions of this measure were not so stringent. When, therefore, he saw the letters which were written and the complaints which were made with regard to the Bill, he was reminded of those fights in the Middle Ages where, in the midst of the heat, confusion, dust, and turmoil, a great noise was created, great alarm spread far and wide, but very few wounds were inflicted, and no lives lost. He was quite content that the Bill should go down to the other House, if it only had the effect which his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack stated it would have—of simplifying procedure and cheapening the expense, which was no doubt very great, and sometimes intolerable. With respect to the issue of Letters of Business to Convocation, he certainly had no fault to find. Their Predecessors in office had set the example, and set it wisely. He was free to confess that, apart from Constitutional considerations, Convocation seemed to him a body of men who, having devoted their lives to the consideration of theological questions, were at all events as fit as any other body to take into consideration and express their opinion on these matters. A few days since he happened to come across a Report drawn up by a Committee of Convocation on these very questions of ritual. It was most temperately and impartially expressed, and if Convocation addressed themselves to their present task in the same spirit they exhibited in 1866, they would render good service, for which they would deserve the gratitude of Churchmen in general. But he must add one caution—that, in removing the responsibility of this matter from the broad shoulders of Parliament to Convocation, they would have a harder and more difficult task, from his point of view, than Parliament would have had. Parliament could only have dealt with it by relaxing some of the civil penalties attaching to particular acts which touched no man's conscience, and could not have affected the decision of the Church; but when Convocation dealt with the subject, they must look at it from a theological point of view, and the difficulty would be considerably enhanced. He hoped that Convocation would deal with the subject in a prudent and impartial spirit, in a spirit of forbearance, and under the influence of that law of charity which was above all rubrics, and which could only lead to a wholesome result.


said, he was glad to observe the change which had come over the tone and temper of some men's minds upon this subject, who began to perceive that there were real evils to be remedied, and that the remedy now proposed, whether efficient or not to cure all those evils, was certainly not one of too severe and drastic a character. It would not become him to express any anticipation of what might occur elsewhere. No doubt his noble Friends opposite would be able to exercise—and he trusted would exercise, so far as was consistent with their duty—the influence belonging to their position over the course of events. All he would say—and he was bound to say it—was this—if this measure was to fail, he rejoiced that the responsibility for its failure would not rest with their Lordships. His noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack had made it quite unnecessary for him to say anything in explanation of the true character of the measure or of its provisions as they then stood. To him it seemed no reproach to the wisdom of the most rev. Primate that he should have introduced the Bill in a form very different from that in which it would leave their Lordships' House. If he had not introduced the Bill in that form and according to the advice he had received, there would not have been the advantage which these discussions had procured; during which the most rev. Primate had manifested no disposition to reject any Amendment, no matter from what quarter it came, provided it tended to the improvement of the measure. The noble Earl (Earl Nelson) had seemed to remonstrate with the most rev. Primate for the language used by him when introducing the Bill; but it seemed to him (Lord Selborne) from the beginning that the most rev. Primate had no choice but to endeavour to grapple with the difficulties of the subject. The Bill was, and was meant to be, impartial in its operation; but if it was the truth that the existence of certain particular excesses and disorders was the real cause which made the introduction of the Bill necessary, the most rev. Prelate had no choice but to say so. If no serious attempt had been made to remedy those disorders, reproach would justly have been cast upon the rulers of the Church. What answer could have been given if, the present law being found insufficient, no application had been made to Parliament for the necessary powers? The great and long forbearance which had been shown by the right rev. Bench, with reference to the growing evils with which this Bill was intended to deal was not appreciated in the way it should be. It was not until after great agitation of the public mind, and abundant proof of the reality and seriousness of the evil that the right rev. Bench had asked for additional powers to apply a remedy. They were compelled to recognize the fact of the existence within the Church of an active, aggressive, and revolutionary party—not the High Church party—on the contrary, one which to him seemed to be the lowest of the low—of a party which certainly did not hide its light under a bushel, consisting of men who were active, aggressive, open in speech, open in action, and distinctly revolutionary. This rendered it impossible for those who were responsible for the protection of the Church against revolution to acquiesce in the continuance of such a state of things without attempting to put an end to it. He had been surprised to see there had been so much alarm and dissatisfaction in reference to the introduction of this Bill, on the part, not of those only who were disloyal to the Church, and who had aggressive and revolutionary objects, but from a large number of the very best clergymen in the Kingdom who had no intention of violating the law. It had been to him a matter of real astonishment that they had been under those extraordinary misapprehensions on the subject of the Bill which had been so clearly corrected by his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack. If he seriously thought that the things which had been written and spoken during the last month or six weeks about this Bill represented the true state of mind of the general body of the clergy, he should be greatly alarmed for the future of the Church; for it might, in that case, be inferred that the clergy were opposed to every judicial authority which could interpret the laws of the Church—to every executive authority which could apply the laws of the Church—and to every legislative authority which could alter or strengthen those laws; and that the clergy, whether they broke the law or not, had a vested interest in the power of breaking it. That could not be, he was sure, the real mind of the clergy. He could hardly believe it was the real mind even of those who did deliberately break the law, and who doubtless justified what they did in the manner in which reformers and revolutionists were always in the habit of justifying their measures. They thought that the law was bad, and they felt themselves justified in resorting to all the means in their power to introduce and force the changes which they desired; that was the case in most instances of ecclesiastical or political revolution, but it was going further than that to constitute ourselves the sole interpreters of the laws under which we lived, and to think that we had within ourselves a plenary dispensing power for any violation of them. To him it would be most alarming that the state of things which had called for this Bill, or the state of feeling he had described, should continue and grow; because it was now more than ever important that the Church of England should retain and augment her power and influence. There never were greater opportunities, or more serious evils to be encountered, and in the presence of the common enemy the whole energy of the Church ought to be concentrated and devoted to the great duty which lay before her—that of counteracting the new forms, and increasing confidence, of unbelief, vice, and social disorder. If only the clergy would address themselves to these things, the Church of England had yet sufficient strength to prevail over all her adversaries. As to Disestablishment, some of the revolutionary party had said they wished for it; but it was doubtful whether they had all its consequences present to their minds, and if they had not, he would recommend them to read the last proceedings of a well-known Society which had disestablishment for its object, and which, when it came to the question of terms, openly declared that it would not think of allowing the old parish churches and cathedrals to remain in the hands of the disestablished Church. He would ask the more moderate clergy to consider what they were doing, if they maintained an attitude of opposition to the law, inconsistent not only with the actual relations between Church and State, but with every principle upon which an Established Church could be defended. The great majority did not wish the Church to be disestablished—there might be a small minority who thought it would be a good thing—but he should like to know whether they considered that in a disestablished Church they would not still be prevented from having their own way. Did they think that the laity of the future disestablished Church would solve these questions by allowing unlimited and universal licence to every clergyman, with or without the consent of the Bishop? No man in his senses could ever dream of such a thing. Therefore, those who looked forward to disestablishment with such an object would not realize their expectations. As had been remarked, this Bill did not touch any question of doctrine: but doctrines were, in some men's minds, associated with practices the legality of which were questioned. Now, those doctrines must be believed and understood by those who held them, either as being, or as not being, the doctrines of the Church of England. If the latter, he supposed no man could pretend to justify the attempt to introduce or support doctrines not those of the Church, by practices contrary to its laws. He would assume their belief in, and conviction of, the lawfulness and truth of those doctrines; but, if so, he would submit to them they could not be strengthening doctrines which were really true and important, and consistent with the teaching of the Church of England, by endeavouring to put them upon a foundation of sand—upon practices, forms, and ceremonies, resting on their own judgment, on their own authority, and against the law. By so doing were they not discrediting the doctrine for the sake of the practice? And was there not great risk that in the public mind the discredit which attached to those practices, and to any doctrines of a questionable kind, which might be, rightly or wrongly, associated with them, might extend more and more to other doctrines and other practices, which really and truly were those of the Church; and might thus increase the alienation of mind of large bodies of the people from the Church and from the doctrines of the Church. "We sometimes heard of large congregations which were attracted by these practices; but his own conviction was that for hundreds who might be attracted by them thousands were repelled. He should heartily rejoice if, by means of this Bill or any other means, these evils could be corrected, and corrected in time.


said, the noble and learned Lord had spoken with great surprise of the language which had been used, and the angry feelings which had been raised against the Bill out-of-doors, and had justly remarked that there was nothing in its provisions which could justify either one or the other. But if this language had been used, and those feelings had arisen, it was in consequence of speeches which had been made, and he regretted to think that the speech just delivered would not tend to calm the feelings which the noble and learned Lord disapproved. His noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack commenced the discussion in a speech which he hoped would have had the effect of dissipating many illusions and of calming many angry feelings; and he earnestly trusted that the denunciations of certain parties in the Church which the noble and learned Lord opposite had thought it right to utter would not mar that beneficent effect. Of the Bill itself it was impossible to speak too lightly. To say that it did not justify the angry invectives which had been directed against it, was to say very little. It was a Bill of which it was hardly possible to predict that it would do either much harm or much good. In the House of Commons a form was in use of giving a special title to a Bill before it left the House, and the Question was put, "that this be the title of the Bill." If such a form was in use in their Lordships' House, he would be inclined to move that the title of this Bill should be, "A Bill to give £3,000 a-year to the Dean of Arches, and to reprint certain minor portions of the Clergy Discipline Act." That he believed to be, with but slight exaggeration, a description of the Bill. But was it necessary, in order to pass a Bill like that, to denounce those clergy against whom so much feeling had been aroused? The most rev. Primate, in introducing the Bill, spoke of himself as about to effect a pacific and benevolent revolution. Was it necessary to use language of such excess in order to characterize a Bill whose provisions would be so slight, whose action so mild? If it had rested merely on the provisions of the Bill—if these special denunciations had not been levelled at a particular class of the clergy—we should have had none of the violent feeling which had been exhibited out-of-doors. It was not the first time their Lordships had dealt with this subject. Two or three years ago the noble Earl who had left the House (the Earl of Shaftesbury) introduced a Bill with a similar view, though somewhat stronger in its provisions. That Bill was supported by the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville), who represented the Government of the day, and by the most rev. Primate. It was less mild than the present Bill, except that it did not contain that which to his mind was the vital provision—the veto of the Bishop. It passed through that House by large majorities, and was taken down to the House of Commons; and yet, though there seemed every prospect of its passing into law, and though there were many debates on it in that House, they had none of those angry meetings, those violent invectives, those excited feelings, which were roused by the present Bill; and why? Because the Bill had been introduced simply to amend the law, and not with the professed intention of attacking a special Party in the Church. His noble and learned Friend opposite spoke of this Party as very small, very revolutionary, and as having very little in common with the High Church party. Their Lordships, however, should remember that all denunciations of this party were founded on non-observance of the rubrics. But every clergyman in this country who could understand the rubrics was conscious that in some points, great or small, he did not accurately observe the rubrics he was bound to obey. Nobody knew, therefore, against whom this measure was intended to be directed—everybody believed that he himself, on account of his little omission in the rubrics, was struck at by the Bill; that it was intended to introduce discord into his parish, hitherto harmonious; and that his liberty—which had really not exceeded the bounds of discretion—would be fettered by rigorous and novel applications of the law. Therefore, dislike of the Bill had spread much wider than even the nature of its original provisions justified; and those provisions, in the passage of the Bill through the House, had been so modified that no just apprehensions ought to be excited by them. But their Lordships would only prevent apprehension being excited, and secure a calm consideration for the provisions of the Bill, if they treated it simply as an amendment of the law. If they placed themselves in the position that the law ought to be cheap and procedure easy, they would require no further justification; they would have no heat or bitterness to contend with, and no apprehensions to calm. But, if they made this Bill a "flag," it would be treated as a "flag"—if they made it represent the anger of one Party in the Church against another Party in the Church, they must expect it would pass only amid the most bitter and angry discussion. Something had been said about the passage of the Bill through the other House without angry discussion. Though the Bill was harmless, he believed its passing would do more harm than good. He was speaking only his own individual opinion, but he believed the passage of the Bill would excite evil passions rather than calm any angry controversy. But, be that as it might, the only chance of passing the Bill through the House of Commons this Session, or any Bill analogous to it in any future Session, was to abstain from making attacks upon any special Party, and to treat it merely as it ought to be treated—as an amendment of the law.


said, he must rise to express his surprise at the speech they had just heard. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) having risen in the character of a peacemaker, had made, he ventured to think, one of the most remarkable speeches he had ever heard, coming as it did from the Member of a Government of which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack was also a Member, to whose assistance the passage of the Bill through this House in its present shape was really due. To charge the most rev. Primate with having created irritation in the Church because he was absolutely obliged to explain to their Lordships the evils which existed—evils which no person in their Lordships' House was more anxious than he (Earl Granville) was himself to allay by a measure which should be comprehensive in its character—evils, too, which were more likely to bring destruction on the Church than anything else that could be imagined—was most extraordinary. In his opinion it was the absolute duty of the most rev. Primate to explain those evils. It would have been a want of respect to their Lordships to introduce a measure of this character at all unless the most rev. Primate had been able to justify it by showing the existence of particular evils which a perfectly fair and impartial measure—and it was admitted on all hands that the present Bill was merely intended to facilitate procedure and to cheapen law, though he hoped it would put a stop to those extreme ritualistic practices which had given rise to such angry feeling throughout the country, and which had been so disadvantageous to the Established Church—would be likely to correct. He hoped their Lordships would not follow the example set by the noble Marquess. He could not but think there was some unfairness on the part of the noble Marquess in making what appeared very much like an appeal to "another place" to reject a Bill supported by large majorities of their Lordships' House, and whose passage through the House owed very much of its success to Her Majesty's Government.


concurred in the surprise expressed by his noble Friend who had just sat down at the speech of the noble Marquess who preceded him, and he entirely denied that the Bill was either an unimportant one, or one not urgently called for by a notorious and very serious evil. He asked whether any man denied the accuracy of the statements made by the most rev. Primate who introduced the Bill as to the existence of a lawless spirit among a section of the clergy? Did anybody deny that there practically did not exist at present machinery for enforcing the law which these persons habitually broke, and that they were therefore able to continue to act in distinct violation of the law? To pass a Bill which would provide a cheap and speedy mode of enforcing the law as it stood was one of the most important objects to which legislation could be directed; because quite apart from the inherent mischief of some of those practices which were so powerfully and so justly condemned by his noble and learned Friend (Lord Selborne) the mere fact of allowing a law to exist and to be continually broken went to the very foundation of law and order, both in Church and State. He rejoiced to believe that the Bill as it was now about to pass would prevent this lawlessness for the future; and he for one must give the tribute of his most hearty thanks to his most rev. Friend for introducing the measure. Although undoubtedly considerable changes had been made in some of the machinery of the Bill, he thought the most rev. Primate would confirm him when he said that as it now stood it was precisely in accordance with those views which he stated in bringing it forward. The most rev. Primate on on that occasion stated that his object was not to change the law, but to provide a means of enforcing it. It was but natural that in the course of the discussion of so difficult a subject, alterations and improvements in the mode of accomplishing that object should be suggested. He maintained, however, that the original principle of the Bill remained untouched, and that it would confer great benefit on the country.


said, he was much gratified to find that their Lordships had, after so many discussions, come to the conclusion that this Bill ought to be read a third time and sent to the other House. Their Lordships—and especially himself and his right rev. Brethren—were much indebted to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack for the clear and able statement he had made as to the scope of the Bill—because he believed the scope of the Bill had been greatly misunderstood. He could scarcely allow that this was owing to the crude and unsatisfactory manner in which he and his right rev. Brethren introduced the measure; but they were quite accustomed in various capacities to have their proceedings criticized, and he should never object to any amount of criticism on the particular course which he might feel it his duty to pursue. This Bill was introduced not rashly, but after very serious consideration in a larger meeting of Bishops than he had ever before seen assembled. There was scarcely a dissentient voice among them as to the necessity for taking such steps as had since been taken. They felt that the country required that the Bishops should move in this matter; and of course it was not an easy task to construct a measure on so complicated a subject and to submit it to their Lordships' House. If, therefore, changes had been made in the Bill it was only what he and his right rev. Brethren expected. Their business from first to last had simply been to guard the principle of the Bill—which was to introduce, instead of the present cumbrous, unwieldy, and expensive machinery for executing the law, other machinery which should be speedy, inexpensive, and effective. The proposal he made certainly differed from that which their Lordships were now adopting in some important respects. The Bill originally proposed that there should be only two steps in these cases—the one a trial before the Bishop, the other a trial before the Supreme Court of Appeal—whereas the Bill in its present shape, while acknowledging the propriety of there being only two steps in the procedure, declared that the first should be before the Archbishops' Judge, and the other before the Supreme Court of Appeal. It might, perhaps, be asked why it was not in the first instance proposed that the Archbishops' Court should take cognizance of all these cases. Their Lordships were aware of the great extent of business now referred to this Judge, who would be expected to visit the localities in which cases arose, and to be ready at any time to give information and make a statement of the law when appealed to by the Bishop. Well, the only Judge who was available when the Bill was introduced received a salary of only £5 per annum, or thereabouts, and could not be asked to perform fresh duties for so insignificant a remuneration. Therefore, in one sense, he did not object to the title proposed by the noble Marquess who said this was a Bill to give £3,000 a-year to the Archbishops' Judge. He should be glad if this proposal were made elsewhere, providing only that funds were provided for the payment of the salary. Some misconception had arisen on the subject of the payment of this Judge. A Return had been moved for by a noble Earl who was not now present (the Earl of Shaftesbury) respecting the fees paid to the various officers of the Episcopal Courts throughout both Provinces. The noble Earl had always maintained that those fees amounted to £70,000 a-year; and he himself believed they would be amply sufficient to defray any expense which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners might for a time be put to in order to pay the salary of the Judge. It was true the Bill for the present merely provided that a portion of these fees should be paid over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; but he could not help being sanguine enough to suppose the day was not far distant when they would all be paid into one central fund, which would enable the Commissioners to recoup themselves for any temporary outlay they might have made for the salary of the Judge. Therefore, he did not think there was any danger of the poorer clergy ultimately suffering in consequence of the salary which, in the opinion of their Lordships, the Judge ought to receive. If a Judge were appointed who would command the confidence of the Country, the Bill would be neither useless nor dangerous. Moreover, he agreed with the statement made by his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack as to many other advantages which would flow from this measure. It was the duty of the Episcopal Bench to see that the constitution of the Church was in no way invaded by the alterations proposed; but some persons might suppose that the position of a Bishop, who, under the Church Discipline Act, was entitled to hold a Court, was in some degree altered by the present measure, inasmuch as he only retained the power of deciding such cases as might be referred to him by the agreement of both parties. Thirty-four years had elapsed since the passing of the Church Discipline Act, and during the whole of that time there had been only four instances in which a Bishop had sat as Judge in his Court, as he was allowed to do by that Act. Therefore, his right rev. Brethren could not be said to have given up a privilege which had been much exercised in the Church in times past. He had very little doubt of the truth of what had often been said in the debates on this Bill as to the imperative necessity of revising the rubrics. One of his right rev. Brethren (the Bishop of London) had laid before their Lordships a Bill on that subject; but he thought his right rev. Brother had no intention of pressing for a second reading of that Bill during the present Session. He thought it would be a most serious matter to allow Convocation to alter the rubrics from time to time. He earnestly hoped that the Bill now before the House would be able to bring about a final settlement of the matters in dispute—for he believed the degree of excitement that had been called forth was absolutely dangerous to the Church of England. For so much of that excitement as was said to have been caused by his introduction of this measure, he did not blame himself. On a calm review of the speech which he made on introducing the measure, he did not think that it tended to cause excitement, and his great desire with reference to this measure was not to hurt the feelings of any Party. Heat might have been caused by a misapprehension of the objects of the Bill, but he believed that if any heat had been thus caused it would soon disappear, because he had the greatest confidence in the loyalty and good sense of the clergy of the Church. He was quite certain that when the report of the speeches of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, and of the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Selborne) were read, many of those who were opposed to the Bill would look upon it in a different light. This matter ought to be settled, and the sooner it was settled the better it would be for the Church of England. He earnestly trusted that their Lordships would give a third reading to the Bill, and that it would become law this Session. And if it became law, he was quite certain that it would be loyally accepted, and would be neither useless nor dangerous.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 3a accordingly; Amendments made; Bill passed and sent to the Commons.