HL Deb 11 May 1888 vol 326 cc8-26

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee (on Re-commitment), read.


in moving that the House do now resolve itself into Committee, said, he desired to make a short statement as to the changes made in the measure. In the first place, the Bill was now strictly limited to the neglect of duty and offences against morality. Whatever appeared, even indirectly, to go beyond those matters had been struck out of the Bill. The second change which had been made in its provisions was the omission of the one which re- quired the presence of the Bishop and his assessors in a Court which was to try the matter of fact whether the moral offence charged had been committed. The sentencing in the graver cases was still reserved to the Bishop. The third change was that the function of the Commissioners, now called assessors, would be limited to trying questions of fact. It had been objected to the original measure that it would entail the disadvantages of having two additional trials; but he could not understand how the procedure laid down by the Bill could have been so greatly misinterpreted. It had provided that there should be an appeal to the Provincial Court and again to the Judicial Committee on the sentence and on points of law, but not on the verdict on the facts. The appeal against "sentence," which could only mean appeal against amount of punishment, had been misinterpreted, as if it meant appeal against verdict. There could not have been any such thing under the Bill as two trials of question of fact. It would be for the Court, not for the Bishop, to grant a re-hearing on special prescribed grounds only. But one rehearing of facts by the same Court would be preserved, if, for example, new evidence were produced. By the adoption of the system of assessors they at once secured any advantage of the old commission of inquiry, saved expense, and got rid of other objections. The reduction in the expense would be a substantial one, seeing that the witnesses would be examined on the spot, and only once. The cost of appeal upon questions of fact, which was the great source of expense under the present system, would no longer have to be incurred by either party. He knew of one recent case in which the cost of the trial had been about £300, and the cost of the appeal was thrice that sum. Moreover, when a case was sent, as now, direct to the provincial Court, it involved the discrimination of facts, and not of law only, by the single man. Decisions of fact by one mind, however capable, were unsatisfactory, and were increasingly felt to be so. Nevertheless, if both parties consented, there could be no objection to a case going to the provincial Court, and this was accordingly left possible. The expenses of a hearing under this Bill could scarcely exceed those of the present commission alone. Again, the Bill provided for a scale of costs, and yet again for the taxation of costs. On the whole, therefore, the costs entailed by the proposed procedure under the Bill would be far less than they were under the existing system. He begged to move that the Bill be re-committed.

Moved, "That the House do now resolve itself into Committee upon the said Bill."—(The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.)


in moving that the House resolve itself into Committee that day six months, said, he did not know that it was necessary for him to apologize to the House for having taken in this case a step which he had never before taken during the 15 years he had had the honour of having a seat in that House, and he should not have taken the step of moving the rejection of this measure unless he thought that the Bill involved a most objectionable and mischievous principle, which was not only objectionable in theory but was bad in the interests of order, of justice, and of religion. He did not deny that there were many things in the present Church Discipline Act that ought to be amended, and any proposal to amend them in the right way would meet with his hearty concurrence. The objection he felt to this Bill was that it exempted particular classes of persons from the ordinary operation of the law. In former days, no doubt, the supremacy of the Crown was maintained and defended by ecclesiastics as part of the attributes of the Sovereign. In the days of the Tudor and Stuart Monarchs ecclesiastics were much in the habit of defending and justifying the most execrable tyranny in the name of religion and of "making gods of Kings." That kind of supremacy had disappeared, and in its place was now recognized the supremacy of the State and of Parliament. The law of the Church was the law of the land; but under the Bill, if it became law, no offender against that law, however extreme and grave the offence he had committed—whether adultery, drunkenness, or profligacy—could be brought to justice unless the Bishop thought that he ought. According to the Bill, after persons had been brought to justice and sentence had been pronounced by the Court, it rested with the Bishop whether or not that sentence could be carried into effect. What would be thought if corruption among lawyers was to be punished by an Act which should enable any Judge upon the Bench to shield from the operation of the law any practitioner who was made the subject of attack? Yet that was practically what was done by this Bill as regarded the Church. It might be said that persons in the condition of Bishops might be trusted to exercise properly the power entrusted to them. But Bishops, like other classes of men, were not exempt from human failings. He might say that he knew of one case where, if this Bill had been law, no proceedings whatever would have been taken against a person who dared not face the horrible charges brought against him. It should be remembered that this Bill was directed against moral offences only; but to exempt any class of persons from the consequences of their crimes was to violate the first principles of justice. It was undoubted that questions of doctrine and ritual were the most important to the Church at the present time, and the greater part of the proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Courts consisted of that class of cases. Why were those questions not brought within the Bill? Was it that the present procedure with respect to doctrine and ritual was satisfactory? He could not think so; but if it were satisfactory, why change the tribunal in respect of morals? If it were not satisfactory in the case of morals, why should not the change also be made in regard to I doctrine? He could state a few facts from which everyone might form his own judgment. A great number of suits had been instituted on points of doctrine and ritual. The expenses of those suits had been enormous. In one case the expenses on one side alone amounted to £3,000. The judgments were, in many cases, unsatisfactory, and, moreover, they were evaded often-times upon pleas which were purely technical, which sufficed to prevent the operation of the law in a particular instance, but which settled nothing for a the future. A good deal of dissatisfaction arose as to the state of the Law of Church Discipline, and especially as to the composition and conduct of the Court. It was the practice of that Court that no member of it ever attended unless he was summoned, and no mem- ber was ever summoned unless he was selected by the Lord Chancellor of the day, or occasionally by the Lord President. In one instance a Judge was excluded from interfering in a particular case by the special interference of a particular Lord Chancellor. He was told that the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) when President of the Council, gave directions that when any question of ecclesiastical interest arose, all the Judges should be regularly summoned by the Registrar; but so inveterate was the habit of interference that in a famous case the Lord Chancellor intimated to Sir Alexander Cockburn and himself that he could do without them and that they had better stay in their Courts. Such things were manifestly wrong. No Court ought to be so constituted that the members of it had not the absolute right to attend the deliberations and the hearings of suits, and certainly no Court should be constituted so that it could possibly be said that the Executive Government interfered with its action. He recollected it being said that it was an intrusion on the liberties of the Church that these Courts should sit and act by the authority of the State. In that House, however, he need hardly point out that such a contention was groundless. In this country no tribunal could ever profess to affect the property or position of a subject except under the authority of Parliament. No one could read the Statute Book without seeing Statute after Statute dealing with these Ecclesiastical Courts, and especially the two great Courts now represented, one absolutely, and the other, to some extent, by the Privy Council. It was clear, therefore, that those two Courts were Courts of absolutely statutory creation. Then the High Commission Court, which was the strongest ecclesiastical tribunal which ever existed in this country, was created, and afterwards abolished, without the smallest reference to Convocation or to the clergy in any shape or form. It was reserved for the Public Worship Regulation Bill and for a decision of their Lordships' House to clothe the Bishops of the Church of England with a power of interfering with the process of the law. He did not wish to go into the details of the clauses, but had noticed the general objections to the Bill—the confusion which it presented of the functions of Judge and jury or assessors, and the powers given to the Bishop. These were matters which must be discussed in Committee if the Bill went into Committee. There was, however, one question upon which he would like to say a few strong words. Unless he had misunderstood, there was, save in the particular circumstances referred to in the 7th section, absolutely no appeal whatever in matters of fact. He trusted that the House would not pass a Bill which contained a principle so alien from the present law, so perilous and unjust to persons whose characters and reputations might be vitally affected. He remembered an appeal from a judgment which, if this Bill had been law, would have been final, in which the most telling argument for the appellant was the reading of the judgment appealed from, so wrong-headed, absurd, and monstrous was that judgment. To leave the Bill as it was in this respect would make it a most unjust and oppressive measure. If he had said a word disrespectful or improper of those from whom it was his painful duty to differ, he asked their pardon. He stood there for law against personal will, and wished to see the clergy made, like other subjects of the Queen, obedient to the law, and he earnestly hoped that the discipline of the ancient and glorious Church of England, which undoubtedly was not perfect, would not be made any worse by the passing of this Bill. He begged to move that the House resolve itself into Committee on this day six months.

Amendment moved, to leave out ("now"), and add at the end of the Motion ("this day six months").—(The Lord Coleridge.)


said, that he was placed in some difficulty in dealing with the speech of his noble and learned Friend, who, both personally and by the office which he held, was entitled to great respect whenever he addressed the House on any question, particularly one relating to law. Undoubtedly it was competent for any noble Lord to take the course taken by his noble and learned Friend, though it was not usual when a matter had received any amount of deliberate consideration at the time of the second reading. He should be most unwilling, in a case of this kind, to reject at this stage a Bill promoted by the most rev. Prelate. But he acknowledged that, if his noble and learned Friend had stated good grounds for reconsidering the decision on the second reading, he had given good reason why he was not present on that occasion to move the rejection of the Bill. But had his noble and learned Friend really stated grounds which would go to the rejection of the Bill if the House were now on the second reading? He had made a speech very able and interesting, which contained much matter deserving of serious attention. But a large part of the speech had been addressed to matters which were not within the Bill and were not germane to the question whether it should be permitted to proceed. The Bill was one for providing a more satisfactory mode of trial in particular cases, cases of immorality or neglect of duty by clerks, which for certain reasons, good or bad, it had been thought right to separate from the trial of questions of doctrine and ritual. One objection of his noble and learned Friend was that this separation had been made. But the object itself was one which it was most desirable to attain. There could be no better proof of the intolerable cost which might be involved in the present mode of proceeding than the instances given by his noble and learned Friend, in which the costs of one suit had reached the figure of £14,000. Some of their Lordships might probably be familiar with other cases in which the cost had been enormous. What was his noble and learned Friend's objection to the principle of the Bill? It was that it was an attack, either open or covert, upon the supremacy of the Crown, of which his noble and learned Friend had given a just and happy definition. He had always thought that all mystification about the supremacy of the Crown, as distinguished from the supremacy of the law, was under a Constitutional system of Government unreal and absurd. He agreed with his noble and learned Friend that the supremacy of the law ought at all hazards to be maintained, and if the Bill had attacked that supremacy he should think it a most serious objection. If there was any such attack in the Bill as it stood, it was certainly covert and not open. In fact, so far as the supremacy involved anything in the nature of Prerogative, it was expressly saved. Then what was there else in this Bill to interfere with the supremacy of the law as distinguished from Prerogative? The Bill itself, if it became law, would regulate the manner in which a certain part of the law of the land was to be administered. If the law was administered in a manner itself unexceptionable, it would be not an exception or derogation from, but an example of, that supremacy; for it would be an Act of Parliament regulating, by the authority of Parliament, the manner in which for the future this part of the Ecclesiastical Law is to be administered. His noble and learned Friend found fault with the Bill because it expressly exempted Bishops from its scope. But as the law at present stood Bishops could not be proceeded against by the same machinery which was applicable to those subject to their jurisdiction. Certainly the machinery of this Bill could not well be applied to the case of Bishops. There had been cases in which Bishops had been deprived for criminal offences. He remembered the case of a Welsh Bishop who was deprived in the reign of James II. or William III., but in that case proceedings were taken by means of special commission. Whether that was a proper and suitable mode of procedure was not now a matter for discussion; but this, at any rate, was quite clear—that any existing possible mode of dealing with Bishops who might be guilty of offences against the Ecclesiastical Law remained untouched by this Bill. It might or might not be desirable to provide by legislation some further mode of proceeding against Bishops, but that was no ground for objecting to this Bill, which only dealt with the machinery in proceedings of a certain kind against ordinary clergy-men—a machinery manifestly not applicable to the case of Bishops. His noble and learned Friend, as he understood him, also took exception to the Bill because of the power with regard to initiation, and also with regard to sentences, which it gave the Bishop. It was quite true that the Bill provided that upon complaint being made to the Bishop, he should only take proceedings when satisfied "that proceedings under this Act ought to be taken" on such complaint. But that was not a change in the present law. Under the Church Discipline Act, as had been decided by a judgment in this House, the Bishop was not compelled to institute proceedings unless he thought fit to do so. He thought it would be unreasonable and intolerable that a Bishop should be compelled to proceed against any clergyman of his diocese against whom any charge of immorality, however manifestly groundless or trumped up, was brought. Before the Church Discipline Act, there was no doubt a rule with regard to the person making the complaint giving security for costs. But that was not the law or practice now. At present the Bishop was personally liable for the costs. It was said that the Court could deal with the costs, but the person who instituted the proceedings might be unable to pay the costs. It would be monstrous that upon a complaint made against a clerk the Bishop should be compelled to proceed, though satisfied that there was no primâ facie case and no real foundation for the complaint. The Bishop would, of course, act under a sense of responsibility, and they might rest assured that the person who made a valid complaint, upon which a Bishop refused to proceed, would not be slow to appeal to that most potent of all Courts, the Court of public opinion. This, he thought, would be good security against a Bishop improperly refusing to take proceedings. He could understand that if it were a matter of doctrine or of ritual, a Bishop who was supposed to sympathize with the doctrine or ritual complained of might be considered unwilling to proceed in respect of such complaint; but he could not imagine that any one would suspect a Bishop of connivance or sympathy with drunkenness or other acts of gross immorality, or accuse him of a desire to shield any person against whom a primâ facie case of that kind had been made out. But if his noble and learned Friend thought the Bishop ought to be bound to proceed whenever complaint was made, it was surprising that he did not wait until the Bill was in Committee, and then move an Amendment to carry out his object. His noble and learned Friend also took exception to the power given to the Bishop as to certain sentences, and appeared to argue that the Bill enabled the Bishop to throw his shield round a man and refuse to pass sentence though he was found guilty. But that was not so. If a sentence of suspension, or anything less, were passed by the Court, the Bishop could not overrule it. It was, no doubt, quite true that a more severe sentence, such as a sentence of deprivation, was to be passed in, the Bishop's Court, by the Bishop himself, and not by his Chancellor, though in the provincial Court it might be passed by the Official Principal of the Archbishop. This, whatever might be the reason, was now, and had been for above 200 years, if not always, the settled law and usages in such cases. It had been recognized by such Judges as Lord Stowell and Sir John Nicholl. What the Bill provided was strictly agreeable to that law and usage. If the Court considered that the case required a sentence in excess of suspension, the Court would remit the case to the Bishop for sentence, with an intimation of their opinion, and with their finding of fact and the evidence. The Bishop in such case would exercise his judgment, and pass, or not pass, a sentence of deprivation. His noble and learned Friend had said it was a great hardship that there was to be no appeal on the question of fact. He hoped that their Lordships would not forget what the state of our Criminal Law was. If a man was found guilty by a jury of murder or any less crime, which might materially affect his position, his person, or his character, there was no appeal except on a matter of law. There might, no doubt, be recourse to the Prerogative of Mercy vested in the Crown; and this Bill recognized that Prerogative, to say nothing of any other power of mitigating punishment that might exist. But they had not at present, in ordinary criminal cases, any Court of Appeal on the facts. It was a much disputed question whether they ought or ought not to have one; and the difficulties were so great that no one seemed to have been able to overcome them up to the present time. And as to any other question of fact tried, in a civil case, before a jury, there was not any appeal in the proper sense of the word. There must be an application for a new trial, which must be based on a special ground, either some matter of law, or that the verdict was against the weight of evidence; and it was not the disposition of the Courts to overturn verdicts simply because the court from which the new trial was asked might have come to a different conclusion from that which the jury had arrived at. This Bill would allow a re-hearing of the question of fact, if the Court were satisfied that there were special grounds for granting what would, in substance, be a new trial; and, although it was true that, in these ecclesiastical cases, there was at present a general right of appeal upon the facts, it was productive of great, and often very unnecessary, expense, and he thought the re-hearing, on special grounds only, much better. His noble and learned Friend had touched upon some other points which he humbly thought were outside the Bill, and not germane to the present measure. He had asked why the Bill was confined to morals and neglect of duty. Some good reasons might, he thought, be given for that. The necessity of dealing with that class of questions was a matter about which people in general were quite agreed; and if the Bill was good in itself it might be fairly hoped that it would pass through both Houses of Parliament without encountering those difficulties and storms which arose out of popular animosities connected with parties in the Church. Again, Parliament in 1874 had thought fit to deal separately and specifically with questions of ritual, and had provided a special and peculiar machinery for that particular class of cases. They might think, and think rightly, that questions of doctrine were of enormous importance; they would, on the other hand, probably be equally convinced of the difficulties of raising them judicially. Everyone would probably agree that the existing limits of liberty in the Church of England, on the one side or on the other, ought not to be curtailed; and, therefore, there would be no great disposition to facilitate procedure in that particular class of cases which related to doctrine. Whether that ought to be so or not he did not say. With regard to what his noble and learned Friend had said about the Judicial Committee, nobody knew better than his noble and learned Friend did that they were not over-manned with respect to judicial strength, and that it was convenient to make some arrangement as to who should attend in one Court and who in another. He did not believe that arrangements of that kind had ever been made, or proposed to be made, in the Judicial Committee or elsewhere, for the purpose of constituting the Court in a particular manner with a view to the decision of particular cases; than which, if it were indeed done, nothing could be more scandalously improper. To suppose that any Lord Chancellor could, with such an object, send messages to such men as the late Chief Justice Cockburn and his noble and learned friend, requesting them not to attend, would imply not only misconduct, but folly amounting to idiotcy. The only possible motive for the communications which had been mentioned was that those learned Judges might not be unnecessarily withdrawn from their own Courts, to their own inconvenience or that of the suitors in those Courts, when it was known that the Judicial Committee would be attended by a sufficient number of Judges, whether they were there or not. The Judicial Committee might or might not be a good tribunal; the present was not a convenient time for arguing that point. But no one who wished to remodel the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council or to abolish it, would ever think of introducing such a proposal into a Bill of this kind, to which it did not appear to be at all germane. In conclusion, while he admitted that some of the observations made by his noble and learned Friend suggested points which might be fairly considered in Committee on the Bill, he maintained that they furnished no sufficient ground for refusing to go into Committee on the measure.


did not think that the noble and learned Lord who had just sat down had displaced any of the contentions of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Coleridge) who moved the rejection of the Bill. The noble and learned Lord was not present when the second reading of the Bill was moved and carried without opposition. All that happened on that occasion was that he made a speech about the Bill, and while he knew there was no use in throwing it out, he thought it desirable that their Lordships and other people should understand a great deal more about it than otherwise they would have learnt. It happened that last year he found a right rev. Prelate moving the Committee stage of a certain Bill, at the second reading of which he had been unable to be pre- sent. On hearing that, and a remark or a question by a noble Lord opposite, he rose and said he did not think that the Bill was understood. The result was that, when the Lord Chancellor put the Question, only one "Content," from the right rev. Prelate himself, was heard; while, on the other side there were a good many "Non-Contents." The result was that the Bill died, although it appeared in the Votes every day until the end of the Session. Their Lordships had been told that, when this Bill was in Committee, it would be remodelled. He had hoped that it was going to be modified to such an extent that he could accept it. He knew that in certain quarters he was represented as an obstructive of measures of this kind; but he believed he was the first drawer of a Bill for amending the defects of the Church Discipline Act and the Public Worship Act, which may be seen in the volume of evidence of the Ecclesiastical Courts' Commission five years ago. It might be bad, or it might be good; but one thing was quite certain, that it was a great deal more simple than this Bill, and was not complicated with sections and subsections. Further experience and the reading of the evidence of the Commission had induced him to alter his views on some points, especially on the veto. He had no idea, until after reading the evidence, of the extent to which the veto was carried in depriving parishioners of the rights of the Church of England in having their service conducted according to law. That was one of the things which made a deep impression upon his mind. The veto had been abused; it was liable to be abused. Even the noble and learned Lord who spoke last had admitted that it was liable to be abused in ritual and doctrinal cases. Lord Stowell had said most emphatically that it had always been the law that anyone might promote the office of judge against clerical offenders. People forgot that the parishioners had an interest in prosecuting moral offenders among the clergy, and that this was a very different thing from prosecuting a thief. That was a matter for the Queen or the Attorney General, who can issue a nolle prosequi, to deal with as representing the entire public; but the present question was a different one. The parishioners had a right to prosecute their clergyman if he either commit immorality or con- ducted his service illegally. He agreed that it was a hardship for the Bishop to prosecute the clergyman at his own cost; but it was the Bishops' own doing in the Clergy Discipline Act of 1840. Before that Lord Stowell said that the Court was open to everybody. He did not wish the Bishops to do that work; he wanted other people to do it; they had the moral right to undertake it. And, now again, it did not appear to be perceived generally that the Bishops had got rid of the necessity of undertaking the suits themselves, and being liable to costs, and yet they insisted on retaining the preliminary veto, and demanded a final one besides, if they did not like the Judge's sentence, which was a distinct usurpation of the Royal power, and, in fact, a dispensing power, unknown to the law. It was true that the Queen, acting by her officers, could pardon a man who had been convicted; but was that a reason why the Bishop should be authorized to do the like? The Bishops claimed, under this Bill, powers that they had never had before, not even under the Act of 1840, to interfere with the sentence of their own Courts. So that there were two invasions of the Royal supremacy in this Bill. Another peculiarity showing how badly the Bill had been prepared, and modified since, was the provision that if a clergyman were convicted by any Court, say, by two Justices, who very often made mistakes, the Bishop had no veto. By the first operative clause of the Bill the trial must go on. The man might be innocent; yet he had the right to do everything except to prove that he was innocent; he might bring what evidence he could in mitigation of punishment, which is, ipso facto, confessing that he is guilty. But why should a man charged with having committed an offence be precluded from proving, not that the sentence ought to be mitigated, but that no sentence ought to have been passed upon him at all? Nothing is easier, for instance, than for a woman and a confederate to get a bastardy order against any man, and the Justices must decide according to the evidence, which the defendant may have no means of refuting; in fact, from the nature of the case, it is most difficult to do so. As the Bill was framed, a case had to be sent to the Bishop, not where he had to take action, but where he had not to take action. He had brought these matters under the notice of the House merely to show how little the machinery of the Bill had been attended to, notwithstanding the measure had now been before the House for two months. Another clerical aggression was that their Lordships were asked by this Bill for the first time to ratify a canon by law. Such a thing had never been done before. Canons of the Church had often been overruled by our Courts of Law and by the Legislature; indeed, more than half of the 141 canons had been thus disposed of, or are absolutely illegal and ultra vires; but in no single instance had a canon been ratified by the Legislature. It was asserted that this 122nd canon might be merely a declaration of the ancient law; but, fortunately, the Convocations themselves had left on record a refutation of that hypothetical justification. For, in 1571, a canon was drawn up and passed by the Convocations; but the whole Code was refused by Queen Elizabeth, which declared that the Chancellors might not pronounce a sentence of excommunication, but that they might deprive; whereas in 1603 they enacted that the Chancellors might not deprive, but might excommunicate. Therefore, the Convocation—that is, the Bishops and clergy—had themselves proved that this canon was an aggression and a novelty, besides being contrary to the Acts of Uniformity and the great Heresy Act of 13 Eliz. c. 12. Chancellors having followed it without argument proves nothing. Decisions, even of the highest Court, without argument, had been overruled in two great ritual cases after argument. It seemed from this Bill, too, that the Archbishops and their provincial Judge might run a race with each other which is to deprive, though the Privy Council had decided, after argument, that the Dean of Arches was the proper person to do it. So the Bill overrides both Acts of Parliament and legal decisions and the oldest testimony of the canons themselves, merely to please the High Church clergy and set up some episcopal supremacy, including the power to alter as well as to pronounce the sentence, or to act either as executioner or dispenser of pardons. Another reason why this Bill should not be further proceeded with at the present moment was that the Bishops were only showing half their hand, because it was well known that they had another Bill behind, which had been nominally "presented," but seen by no one but themselves. Before the House made any concession with regard to the measure now before them they should insist upon having the fullest information with regard to the other Bill. It was useless to talk about costs. Litigiousness was the cause of costs. Unless they cut off justice they could not cut off costs in cases where people were litigious. Broadly speaking, without going into the details of the Bill, which was exceedingly ill-drawn, these were the reasons why he entirely agreed with the noble and learned Lord that the Bill ought not to be allowed to go further at this time. The Church Dislipline Act, passed by this House in 1838 and 1839, and spoilt by the Bishops in 1840, as he had explained on the second reading of this Bill, was framed by the strongest Commission, appointed in 1832, that had ever sat to consider such questions, and it ought not to be lightly set aside. Although he had put down Amendments to the Bill, he was strongly of opinion that the Bill was of such a character that it would be useless to go into Committee upon it. The question would then be left for another Session, when there would be an opportunity of bringing in a proper and thoroughly simple Bill to deal with it.


said, that if the most rev. Prelate who had moved the re-commitment of this Bill required any excuse for having divided the subject of morals from ritual and doctrine, it was furnished by the speeches of the noble and learned Lord Chief Justice and the noble and learned Lord who had just sat down. If two such speeches could be made upon a subject upon which it could hardly have been supposed there would be scarcely any difference of opinion, he would like to know what chance of passing a Bill would have had which involved the delicate subjects of doctrine and ritual? In the speeches of each of the noble and learned Lords the mischiefs which they had portrayed had been in a great measure connected with questions arising out of ritual and doctrine. It could not but be admitted that it was unfortunate that in the case of a man who had been convicted before a Temporal Court of any offence against the moral law, the whole proceedings should have to be begun again before the Ecclesiastical Court and at great expense. He did not understand that the Lord Chief Justice was satisfied with the present condition of the law in that respect. As the law now stood, the Bishop had to prosecute, at his own expense—and sometimes the expense was enormous—a person unfit to remain in the Church; and this Bill provided a remedy, at all events in a large class of cases. It would provide a comparatively cheap, facile, and expeditious mode of getting rid of persons whom both the laity and the clergy desired to have put out of the Church. All the rest of the criticism which had been passed upon the Bill was more or less criticism upon the machinery by which the admitted evil was to be remedied. If questions having regard to supremacy and to right of veto arose, there was nothing to prevent any noble Lord moving in Committee to strike out the provision which gave the Bishops the right of veto in certain cases. There could be no doubt that the present state of the law with regard to immorality by the clergy was extremely unsatisfactory; but in consequence of the Bill containing a provision to which he objected the Lord Chief Justice moved to reject the Bill, instead of moving to strike out the objectionable clause. He had been unable to discover in the Bill anything of that spirit of ecclesiastical aggression in which the noble and learned Lord (Lord Grimthorpe) so evidently believed. The object of the Bill was to facilitate the expulsion from the Church of those clergymen whose conduct the general body of the laity and clergy alike condemned, and he trusted their Lordships would agree with the Motion made by the most rev. Prelate.

On Question, resolved in the negative; Then, the original Motion agreed to; House in Committee accordingly.

Clause 1 (Short title) agreed to.

Clause 2 (Sentencing clerk found guilty by civil court).


moved an Amendment the effect of which would be to provide that the Court which tried a man should pronounce the judgment and sentence as was done in all other Courts.


in opposing the Amendment, said, the real purpose of the clause was to provide that in cases such as were contemplated further on in the Bill, the Bishop should have a voice in settling the sentence. The Bishop was only called in where the sentence exceeded admonition or suspension.


said, he would point out that a parallel might be found in criminal information cases, where a Judge often pronounced sentence from the notes of another Judge or of the magistrate who tried the prisoner.

Amendment negatived; Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 (Complaint against clerk for criminal offence or neglect of duty).


asked, what was the meaning of a "criminal offence against ecclesiastical law?"


said, that offences against ecclesiastical law were offences concerning doctrine and such as were inconsistent with the duty and position of the clergyman—neglect of services prescribed by the law and like offences.


said, that under the present law a clergyman was bound to read the service every day in church. Some persons might think that hunting was unsuitable in a clergyman. Would a clergyman who hunted twice a week come within the definitions of the Bill?


said, that hunting was not an ecclesiastical offence. No doubt, such offences as refusing to bury or marry would be included.


said, he should like to know whether there was any criterion of what amounted to a neglect to visit parishioners?


said, that on that point he would refer the noble Lord to the Pluralities Act Amendment Act of a few years ago.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining Clauses agreed to.


said, he begged to move the insertion of a new clause, to put the Isle of Ely under the archidiaconal jurisdiction of Ely. In consequence of some quarrel in the Middle Ages, the Isle of Ely was the only part of the county of Cambridge which was not subject to the jurisdiction of the Archdeacon of Ely. He moved the clause at the instance of the Bishop of Ely.

New Clause agreed to.

Moved, "That the Bill be reported to the House as amended."


said, he thought something should be done to protect Bishops against the cost of proceedings under this Act, and he hoped the Government would consider what could be done in this direction.


said, this Bill would certainly diminish the costs of such proceedings. Even under the present law he had, by trying the case himself with assessors, got rid of a peccant clerk without any expense.


said, Her Majesty's Government would consider, before the next stage of the Bill, whether some clause could not be inserted to meet the point suggested by his noble Friend.


said, no provision as to giving security for costs would be of any avail, as parishioners would not give such security, and the effect would be that the immoral clergyman would not be prosecuted at all.

Motion agreed to: Report of Amendment to be received on Tuesday next; and Bill to be printed, as amended. (No. 108.)