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Ecclesiastical Preferments

Volume 49: debated on Thursday 11 July 1839

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having moved the Order of the Day for the second reading of the Cathedral and Ecclesiastical Preferments Bill,

said, that when last year a bill, nearly similar to the present, came before the House, it was said, that if the Government succeeded in carrying it, they would, without directly pledging the House to any principle hostile to the establishment, practically and surely effect the object of the Duties and Revenues Bill, and undermine all the ecclesiastical privileges of the Church of England, year by year, and little by little. Nearly all the chapters objected to that bill, not from any feeling with regard to their own interests, inasmuch, as even if they could be swayed by such a motive, their own personal rights were secured, but because of the injurious effect which it would have upon the Church. That whole question was prejudiced by this bill. It was a bill for the suspension of ecclesiastical appointments for the current year in all the cathedrals of England. But it went still further than this—that the rule should be relaxed according to a certain rota and principle, which rota and principle were to be established by that other bill, if it should ever be passed into a law, which the noble Lord introduced early in the session. Now, he would ask the noble Lord, whether this Bill would not, if it were carried into effect this year, and if it were renewed next year, and for a certain number of years in succession, as it had been renewed for a certain number of years past, eventually realize all those objects which the noble Lord had in view in the other bill, which stood for a committee that night (the Ecclesiastical Duties and Revenues Bill)? Would the noble Lord not secure all the great objects which he had in view when he introduced and passed the larger bill? He had many objections to this bill, but he should reserve them until it was in Committee. The great fundamental objection to it was this, that it anticipated and prejudged the question on which the House had specially reserved its opinion; and that the details would practically produce all those evils which he, and those more immediately concerned, had deprecated as the consequences of the greater bill.

was ready to admit, if this bill were continued from year to year till all the vacancies had occurred, that the reduction of the cathedral stalls and chapters would be ultimately accomplished in the manner proposed by the general measure. He therefore quite agreed with the hon. Baronet, that that was a sufficient objection against the frequent renewals of this bill, but not to justify an opposition to it during the present year. As far as he understood, there were not serious objections to the main object of the larger bill, because that object was not to suspend or abolish cathedral stalls and prebendaries, but to secure the raising of funds in the least objectionable form, for the increase of religious instruction in the doctrines of the Established Church. With that object he believed that the clergy and the two universities were disposed to concur. The question was, how were they to accomplish it? The matter had been submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to the Church Commissioners, and various proposals had been discussed, suggested by persons connected with cathedral chapters, who all united in one wish to have the differences settled. It was on that ground, therefore, and not owing to any doubts which he entertained himself, that he thought the bill for carrying out the report of the Church Commissioners should lay over for another year. Under that view he trusted that the hon. Baronet would give his consent to the second reading of this bill.

Bill read a second time.