HL Deb 16 February 1888 vol 322 cc532-7

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that it agreed to a certain extent, but not entirely, with the Bill presented last Session. That Bill was not pressed to a second reading because a committee of the Lower House of the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury was appointed to consider and report upon it. Their report was considered by a committee of the Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury, who consulted him upon the subject; and the result of the consultation was that the report of the committee of the Lower House was substantially adopted as the basis of the Bill of which he moved the second reading. There were, consequently, considerable differences between the present Bill and that of last year. It was necessary to say something about the history of the subject. In 1879 he introduced into this House a Bill to enable cathedrals of what was called the "new foundation"—that was those that were founded by Henry VIII.—to revise their statutes. These cathedrals were governed by statutes which they had no power of altering in any substantial manner, and it seemed to him that this was a position in which no corporate body ought to be placed. Having suffered as the dean of a cathedral of the new foundation at Ely, he felt strongly on the point. By the Bill of 1879 he endeavoured to revive an Act of Parliament passed in the reign of Queen Anne which dealt with the subject. It was not much used during her reign, with which it expired; and his wish had been to confer upon the Sovereign something like those powers which were given to Queen Anne, and which died with her. When he proposed the second reading of the Bill, Lord Beaconsfield, who was Prime Minister at that time, objected to it on the ground that it dealt only with cathedrals of the new foundation, and he stated that the difficulties which had come to his knowledge had related chiefly to cathedrals of the old foundation, referring, no doubt, to the case of York Minster. His Lordship then intimated the intention of the Government to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the advisability of legislation for cathedral foundations, both new and old. A commission was accordingly appointed; it was at first presided over by the late Archbishop of Canterbury, and afterwards by himself. The Commission completed their labours, making, as they were directed by the Commission, a Report upon each cathedral, and also a Report embodying certain general recommendations. The Bill of last year was, in effect, the translation of the Commission's recommendations into the form of an Act of Parliament; the present differed from it in several respects. One difference, to which he would subsequently refer, was a very important one. The centre and backbone of the present Bill was that it should be competent for the dean and chapter of a cathedral, with the consent of their visitor, to lay a statute before the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, if they approved of the statute, should lay it before Her Majesty in Council, that it should be laid on the Table of the Houses of Parliament for three months, and that if it were not appealed against by any person affected by it, and if no Address to Her Majesty against should be presented by either House, it should be lawful to Her Majesty to approve it, and then it should have full effect as a lawful statute of the cathedral. The machinery was simple, and he believed it would be effective. He would now specify two or three points in the Bill which required notice. There was an omnibus clause which contained special provisions as to certain cathedrals. It was considered that an ordinary statute could not effect some of the objects to be attained by that clause; but any of its pro- posals could, in Committee, be amended or omitted. There was, also, no reason why any cathedral body should make use of the clause unless it desired to do so. Clause 10 proposed an exchange of patronage in cathedrals between the Bishops and the Crown. It seemed to him that both these forms of patronage were exceedingly valuable. It was desirable that the Crown should retain patronage in cathedrals; but the objection to the existing condition of things was that in some cathedrals the Crown had all the patronage and in some it had none, while in others the Bishops had all the patronage and the Crown had none. At Carlisle, for example, he had the patronage of all the canonries, while at Norwich the Bishop had not a single stall in the cathedral at his disposal, and it was the same at Bristol and at Gloucester. The Bill proposed that a scheme should be prepared by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners which should adjust this inequality, and that in every case the Bishop should have at least one stall in his cathedral, and that the Crown should be compensated by having in exchange a stall in some other cathedral where now the Crown had none. The object of Clause 13 was to remedy a difficulty which was universally acknowledged as to the interpretation of the 3 and 4 Vic. c 113 s. 44, with regard to dean and chapter patronage. The difficulty was to put an intelligible meaning upon the clause; and there was no recognized or uniform interpretation of it. It was, therefore, proposed to repeal the clause entirely and to substitute for it one to which it was thought there could be no objection. The 12th clause saved the powers which any dean and chapter might lawfully possess of making statutes. The 13th clause provided that a statute under this Bill should not vary or supersede any provision of the Parish of Manchester Division Act, 1850. There had been a great deal of difficulty with regard to the Cathedral Church of Manchester. The dean and chapter were some time ago involved in a law suit, the result of which had been to settle that the number of persons employed in the cathedral as arranged by the original charter could not be altered. Therefore, the Cathedral of Manchester, with its large endowment, was now fixed with the most absurd and inadequate choir of four men and four boys. There had been negotiations between the rectors of Manchester and the dean and chapter on this point, and he was in hopes it would have been possible to introduce a clause into this Bill which would hare produced harmony and peace. In fact, a clause was laid before him, but it was objected that it had not been agreed to by both sides, and when it was put before the parties he found they did not agree at all about the matter. Therefore there was no alternative but to omit the clause altogether, and to leave Manchester, so far as this Bill was concerned, in its present unsettled state. He did not see in his place a noble Lord who had taken great interest in the matter (Lord Egerton of Tatton), who might possibly be disposed to insert in the Bill a clause to deal with this difficult point. For himself he should only be too glad if it were possible to settle the Manchester difficulty by a clause in this Bill. The important difference between this Bill and that of last year, to which he had promised to refer, was that this was entirely a Permissive Bill. Last year it was proposed that if deans and chapters did not reform their statutes within a certain time it should be competent for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to frame statutes. His own opinion was that there would have been no hardship in that arrangement; but, as others thought it was better to leave the matter entirely optional, he was willing to concede the point, believing and hoping that public opinion would supply any coercive power that might be needed. If his Motion for the second reading of the Bill were agreed to, he did not propose to take the Committee stage for a month, so that all concerned might consider the various points raised by the Bill. The passage of the Bill through their Lordships' House would be an easy thing; the difficulty would arise when it reached "another place." He hoped, however, that when it left that House it would not be overlaid or strangled in the House of Commons.

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


said, the Government did not desire to offer any objection to the Bill, and he thought that there could be no objection on the part of their Lordships to read it a second time.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Friday the 16th of March next.