HL Deb 06 June 1882 vol 270 cc220-3

Amendments reported (according to order).


said, that having made his protest against the Bill on the second reading, believing that the measure would encourage lawlessness in the Church, he did not propose to offer opposition to it on the present occasion. He desired, however, to move an Amendment similar to that brought forward by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, and in- troduced into the Public Worship Act (1874) Amendment Bill, an Amendment enabling the ecclesiastical authorities to deprive contumacious clergymen of their livings. He did not see anything in the circumstances of the Bill of last year to warrant the addition of this provision, which was not to be found in the circumstances of the present measure.

Moved, after Clause 2, insert the following Clause:— (Party not to be released from further observance of justice.) Such party or person shall not by reason of his discharge in manner aforesaid be released from further observance of justice in the suit in which he has been pronounced in contempt: Provided always, that no further proceeding shall be taken in such suit unless the bishop of the diocese certify in writing under his hand that the party or person has since his release from custody had an opportunity of submitting to his admonitions and has failed to submit to the same. And upon such certificate being filed in the registry of the Court in which such suit shall be depending (whether the same shall have been instituted under the Act for better enforcing Church Discipline passed in the fourth year of Her present Majesty, or under the Public Worship Regulation Act, 1874,) the said Court shall issue against such party or person, being an incumbent within the meaning of the Public Worship Regulation Act, 1874, for the purpose of enforcing obedience to the monitions or monition, orders or order, previously made in such suit, an inhibition, which shall have the same force and effect in all respects as if the same had been a second inhibition issued within three years from the relaxation of an inhibition under the thirteenth section of the Public Worship Regulation Act, 1874; and from and after the time when such inhibition shall have been duly served upon such party or person, or after the expiration of the time (if any) during which the effect of such inhibition may have been postponed by the bishop, pursuant to the power in that behalf given to him by the said thirteenth section of the Public Worship Regulation Act, 1874, every such benefice or other ecclesiastical preferment held by such party or person as is mentioned in the thirteenth section of the Public Worship Regulation Act, 1874, shall become void in the same manner and with the same effects and consequences in all respects as if such inhibition had been a second inhibition duly issued under and by virtue of the thirteenth section of the last-mentioned Act: Provided also, that in any case in which such inhibition shall have been issued, no further signification of any sentence of contumacy or contempt shall be made against the same party or person with a view to the issuing of a writ Do contumace capiendo under the provisions of the Act passed in the fifty-third year of King George the Third, intituled 'An Act for the better Regulation of Ecclesiastical Courts in England, and for the more easy recovery of Church Rates and Tithes,' or of any Act amending the same."— (The Lord Oranmore and Browne)


said, he had not receded from the view he held on this point last year. The law must be enforced, and disobedience to it could not be by that House allowed, whether in an ecclesiastical or any other matter. But this Bill was differently framed from the one of last Session, both in other respects, and particularly because it contained a provision under which the released clergyman would be liable to be imprisoned again if he should again be guilty of contempt or contumacy, and if the promoters of the suit should apply for it. Besides, this Bill was only a temporary one, and was intended merely to provide a remedy for an imprisonment of unreasonable duration until the Commission now inquiring into the Ecclesiastical Courts had reported upon such alterations as they might recommend to be made in the law, and until Parliament should have had an opportunity of considering such recommendations. This Bill would practically apply to only one special case, and there was no reason to apprehend that any other case would have to be considered while the measure remained in operation. The effect of the Bill would simply be to release the clergyman referred to; and if he, after his release, repeated his contumacy, he must immediately be put in prison again, if the promoters of the suit thought fit to to press for it. There was nothing in the Bill which permitted contempt and contumacy to pass unpunished, although it was true that no other punishment but imprisonment could be inflicted under it. On a former occasion, he (the Lord Chancellor) had stated, that the inhibition in the case of the Rev. F. S. Green was issued on the 16th August 1879, and consequently, that, unless he complied with the provisions of the Act, he would be deprived at the end of three years—namely, on the 16th August next. Since he made that statement he had seen an opinion expressed by others, that the three years should run from the monition, which was in this case issued on the 27th day of June, 1879; and, therefore, that the three years would expire on the 27th of this month. But the clause was very singularly worded; it spoke of the inhibition as "remaining in force" for three years from the date of the monition. It ought not to be construed loosely against the subject; at all events, there was room for serious difference of opinion as to its true construction: and he would recommend that, for all practical purposes, the later date should be considered the correct one.


said, that the present Bill did not in any way interfere with the provisions of the present law as to proceedings being taken against a clergyman for contumacy. It simply had reference to the question whether or not a certain clergyman, and any others whose cases might correspond to his, should be released from prison, and was designed to remedy the evils that had arisen from the unexpected application to modern cases of the hitherto forgotten Act of George III. The Amendment, which he hoped the noble Lord (Lord Oranmore and Browne) would not press, complicated the matter, and was a new departure in reference to the mode of dealing with the offence of contumacy.

Amendment negatived.

Bill to be read 3"on Tuesday next.