(Mr. Russell Gurney.)
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
in moving, as an Amendment, the omission of the words in page 4, from "every" in line 6, to "vacant" in line 10, said, he should like to know upon what grounds it was proposed to revise tests for appointments to offices. Such a proviso only cast a slur upon the Judge. He had no doubt that any Judge who might be appointed, whether Churchman, Dissenter, or Roman Catholic, would be impartial. A Churchman, might, indeed, sympathize with one of the parties in the Church, and it could with some reason be argued that greater impartiality might be looked for in a Dissenter or Roman Catholic. He thought they were all agreed as to the importance of appointing the best possible man as the Judge, but for his part he would rather have seen a full-blown Judge than one selected by the Archbishop. He wished to know from the right hon. and learned Recorder, if he had any reason for requiring that declaration to be made? However, whether they appointed a Churchman, Dissenter, or Roman Catholic Judge, he hoped they would be able to secure as good Judges in future as those now on the Bench.
Amendment proposed, in page 4, to leave out from the word "Every," in line 6, to the word" vacant," in line 10, both inclusive."—( Mr. Dillwyn.)
"That the words' Every person appointed to be a judge under this Act shall be a member of the Church of England' stand part of the Clause."
begged the hon. Member for Swansea to recollect that the individual to be appointed Judge must be the Dean of Arches and Master of Faculties—the alter ego of the Archbishop. He was to represent the Church of England in all her judicial functions as the substitute, deputy, and assessor of the two Primates. He therefore hoped the hon. Member would be satisfied with having spoken to his Amendment, and would not divide the Committee on a proposal so preposterous. They might far more reasonably propose that the Lord Chancellor should be a Roman Catholic.
trusted the right hon. and learned Recorder would consider whether it was not absolutely certain that the two Archbishops would appoint a member of the Church of England to hold the office. To suppose that the two Archbishops would appoint anybody not a member of the Church of England was really to imagine something too preposterous. Was it therefore worth while to introduce into the Bill a clause of that description, when hon. Members opposite had fully acknowledged that Judges of all denominations were perfectly impartial? He thought his hon. Friend was quite justified in raising the question, because it was undesirable to introduce an invidious clause into the Bill. He thought no one in that House would wish that the appointment should be held by anybody who was not a member of the Church of England. They ought not to depart from the broad ground of the National Church, which was the strong ground upon which the Bill rested. He was opposed to introducing new tests injudicial appointments at that time of day.
hoped the hon. Member for Swansea would not press his Amendment. The question was already practically decided, as the Judge must be Master of the Faculties and hold certain other offices which undoubtedly would be held only by a member of the Church of England. Besides, he felt they ought to conciliate the clergy in a matter of this kind. It was only right that the individual who was to be considered the judge of their conduct should be a member of the Church of England; and if that was the opinion of the Committee, they should have the courage to say so.
also expressed a hope that the hon. Member for Swansea would not press his Amendment. If the Bill went forth to the public with the assumption that the Judge might or might not be a Nonconformist, it would not work.
said, that the Dean of Arches and Master of the Faculties would be obliged to sign a declaration that he was a Member of the Church of England.
thought there were ample securities in the Bill that the Judge to be appointed should belong to the Church of England, without the use of those words. What he objected to was the introduction of a new test into the Bill.
hoped they would get through the Committee on the Bill to-night; but with that view, it was very desirable that their time should not be taken up with unnecessary discussion.
supported the Amendment. If those words were retained, the obvious inference would be that the Church was resolved to carry things her own way, in conformity with the views of the small sect to which, in his opinion, she would be reduced in a few years' time. He thought that as the Imperial Court of Appeal did not necessarily consist of Churchmen, it was absurd to require that the Judge of the Court of First Instance should be a Churchman.
said, that the hon. Baronet the Member for Scarborough (Sir Harcourt Johnstone) seemed to forget that there was a great distinction between the Judge who was to be appointed and the Privy Council or the Court of Appeal. This Judge would take the place of some Ecclesiastical Judge. He was to be paid out of the revenues of the Church, and would possess a distinctly ecclesiastical character as a Judge. But the Court of Appeal was in no sense an ecclesiastical tribunal. It was the highest Court in the land; the Judges were paid out of the national Revenue, and their position was not at all similar to that of the Judge, whose quality and condition they were now discussing. He, for one, regretted that it was necessary to insert words of such a questionable nature in the clause; he lamented it as a disagreeable necessity; but when it was proposed to strike them out, he felt how necessary it was to retain them. It would be obviously impossible for any one not a member of the Church of England to be appointed by the Archbishop as an Ecclesiastical Judge, to be paid out of the revenues of the Church, and for that reason he could see no reasonable objection to the words being retained.
said, as this Judge would be the only Ecclesiastical Judge left, and he was to deal only with the affairs of the Church of England, it was asking for more than liberty for Dissenters to strike out the words; it was simply doing violence to the feelings of the clergy.
said, the question was not settled what a member of the Church of England was. It was a very important question, and one that would have to be settled before long, for there was more difference between Churchmen than between them and Dissenters. He believed the Bill to be a bad Bill, and wished to make it as little objectionable as possible.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 114; Noes 32: Majority 82.
On Question, "That the Clause, as amended, be agreed to."
said, he was so anxious that the Bill should pass that he had put no Amendments on the Paper; but he had always entertained a strong opinion on the nomination of this Judge by any other authority than the supreme authority in this country, the Head of the Church—that was the Crown. He would now ask the right hon. and learned Recorder to consider the question before the Report; and he would put an Amendment on the Paper providing that the nomination of this Judge should be in the Crown. Most of them had in various capacities solemnly declared their adherence to the principle, that the Sovereign of these Realms was in all causes, ecclesiastical as well as civil, in these Her Dominions supreme. He thought that it would be most mischievous and dangerous to encourage the idea that there was any difference between causes ecclesiastical and civil as regarded their mode of treatment. The responsibility of such an appointment as the one in question ought to rest on the Sovereign under the advice of her responsible Ministers, and the proposal was in no way inconsistent with the vote at which they had arrived, while it would avoid the scandal which would ensue if the appointment were left in abeyance, owing to the two Archbishops not being able to agree upon an appointment. He therefore gave Notice that on the bringing up of the Report he should move an Amendment to that effect.
said, he did not propose to discuss the Notice then, but he altogether protested against his hon. and learned Friend using a term in respect to Her Majesty which had been refused by Queen Elizabeth and had never been employed since her time, except by Queen Anne. Her Majesty was not the head of the Church of England.
said, Her Majesty was in terms of the statute of the 1st of Elizabeth "Supreme Governor of the Church," a distnction which he confessed was of a somewhat feminine character. He would, however, correct his phrase, and say that the Supreme Governor of the Church was the proper person to appoint this ecclesiastical Judge.
differed entirely from the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken. If this appointment devolved upon the Crown, everybody knew that it would be made by the Prime Minister, and would therefore be a political appointment. Suppose they took a case—not at all a probable one for some years to come—that they had a Ritualistic Prime Minister, who denounced the Act of Uniformity, who threw discredit on the Reformation, who endeavoured by placing Resolutions on the Table—["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen called "Oh" because they immediately recognized the probability of what he was suggesting. Supposing they had a Prime Minister who endeavoured to obtain absolute impunity for the most ingenious, audacious, and unscrupulous persons—for those who went further than any one at the present moment had ventured to go in undermining the religion of the country. What would be the result? It was not till the time of Lord Aberdeen that Letters of Business were again issued to Convocation, and it was owing to that action on the part of a Prime Minister that Convocation once more became a difficulty in the way of Parliament. They had already felt very strongly the mischievous effects of this revival, and they had just escaped the danger arising from the fact that a member of the liberal Party had proposed Resolutions which amounted in effect to a complete revolution. A Ritualistic Prime Minister might make the appointment of this Judge in accordance with his own par ticular views, and might override the wishes of his Colleagues, of the House of Commons, and of the country, whereas they would obtain a better security by leaving the power in the hands of the Archbishop.
would venture to remind the Committee, that there was plenty to be done without now discussing a proposal which must be fully debated on the Report.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 8 (Representation by archdeacon, rural clean, churchwarden, or parishioners.)
moved, as an Amendment, in page 4, lino 13, to leave out "or the rural," to" deanery," in the next line. He thought it advisable that the rural dean should be exempted from the clause, as he was not a distant and elevated official like the Archdeacon, but only a primus inter pares to his brother clergymen.
said, he hoped the Amendment would be adopted. The effect of the retention of rural deans in the Bill would be to create distinctions between rural deans and neighbouring clergymen, which, in fact, did not exist.
Amendment agreed to.
moved, as an Amendment, that the words "the churchwardens," should be substituted for the words "a churchwarden," in line 14. It ought not, he thought, to be in the power of one person to disturb a parish or district by the adoption of legal proceedings under the Bill.
pointed out that to adopt the Amendment would be in effect to defeat the object of the Bill. Could it be expected that the vicar's churchwarden would take proceedings against the vicar?
hoped that the Amendment would not be pressed.
observed that in some parishes there was but one churchwarden. In such districts, if the Amendment were adopted, the Bill would be inoperative.
said, that as the Bill stood a churchwarden of what he might call the mother parish, in which parish there were several districts and several churches, might take proceedings which would affect all the churches in the district. That was not a provision which he thought the Committee ought to approve.
referred his hon. Friend who last addressed the Committee to the Interpretation Clause, by which it was made clear that a churchwarden—whether of the mother church of a parish or of a district in the parish—could only by any action he took affect the particular district in respect of which he had been selected or elected.
opposed the Amendment.
said, that although he was no friend to the Bill, he could not be a party to anything which would make it unworkable, as he believed that Amendment would do.
thought a definition of churchwarden should be inserted in the Interpretation Clause.
said, that what they wished was not to give too much power to one churchwarden. If more than one were necessary to make a complaint, unless the two agreed nothing could be done. He thought the Amendment, if carried, would tend to prevent litigation.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved, as an Amendment, in page 4, line 14, to leave out "three," and insert "twelve." He thought three was too small a number of parishioners entitled to take steps to put the machinery of the Bill into operation.
also thought three far too small for large parishes. He appealed to the right hon. and learned Recorder as to whether he could not introduce some Amendment on the Report, on the principle of a sliding scale, so that an incumbent might be secure against vexatious interference.
hoped that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would not alter the number of parishioners named in the Bill. The general principle of law was that any of Her Majesty's subjects were entitled to complain of a broach of the law; but, seeing that three was the number fixed by the other House, and that there was no particular reason why they should take one number more than another, he was content to abide by it, inasmuch as it gave some security against individual malignity.
said, he had an Amendment on the Paper to substitute "six" for "three;" but as three had come down from the other House, he should not try to disturb it. He should, however, like to have some guarantee that the three parishioners should be substantial men, and not men of straw. He would therefore give Notice of his intention to move an Amendment to the effect that the parishioners should have resided in the parish for at least 12 months.
suggested that the number should be "three or more." As security for the payment of costs had to be given when required, he thought it should be left open for the number of persons instituting proceedings to be more than three, if thought necessary, in order to distribute the liability to pay costs. He should therefore move, in the proper place, to insert the words "or more" after the word" three."
did not see any necessity for those words. He thought they would tend to cast a reflection upon the three people who were willing to make the representation, and for that reason, he thought the Committee ought to adhere to the number "three."
said, he should adhere to the words he had proposed. Their insertion could not do any possible harm, and he should like to hear the opinion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder upon them.
said, he certainly intended to adhere to the word "three." First of all, when the Bill was introduced, "one" was inserted; but the question was submitted to Convocation, and they altered the number to "three," and they did not insist upon resident householders.
supported the proposal of his right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen). He thought the insertion of the proposed words very important.
hoped that the proposed Amendment of the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) would be agreed to.
contended that by the Bill the number of parishioners was not limited to three. It simply proposed that three should be the minimum.
thought the Committee would do well to adopt the clause as it stood. Under the Church Discipline Act of 1840 the words used were "any party," which might mean anybody.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved, as an Amendment, in line 14, to insert after "three," the words" or more."
said, that he thought the words were quite unnecessary.
thought that the words would do no harm, but certainly they would do no good.
said, any hon. Member who acted as a magistrate at quarter sessions must have noticed how memorials were got up in every parish, and the same course might be adopted in this case. He hoped the number "three" would be adhered to.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved, as an Amendment, in line 15, after "parish" to insert—
"and who have been resident householders me the parish during at least the last preceding twelve months."
asked, why they were to be householders. Very often the curate was not a householder. Why was a parishioner to be disqualified because he was a lodger?
said, he could have understood the Amendment, if it had provided that the man should be a resident worshipper.
said, the Committee had already decided that the man should be a parishioner, and that was enough.
said, he should heartily prefer the word "worshipper" to "householder." No doubt, a lodger might be as good a man as a householder, and a man might be a good man although he slept in Hyde Park. He only followed the analogy of our Constitution, which made a householder an elector.
would remind his hon. Friend that there was a lodger as well as a household franchise. All they wanted was the guarantee that the persons complaining were bonâ fide parishioners, and he thought they had that in the "12 months' residence."
said, that was true of boroughs, but there was no lodger franchise for counties. As the clause stood, the three parishioners might be one strong man and two "dummies." They might be a man and his two sons or servants. He wanted three independent opinions.
moved, as an Amendment, in line 15, to leave out the words" rural deanery."
Amendment agreed to.
, in moving an Amendment, said, he did so for the purpose of giving effect to the Resolution to which the Committee had come during the morning sitting, bringing cathedrals within the scope of the Bill. He proposed that the requisition of three inhabitants of the diocese, addressed to the Bishop, should have the same effect as the requisition of three parishioners in the case of a parish church.
In page 4, line 17, after the word "provided," to insert the words" or in case of cathedrals, any three inhabitants of the diocese who have signed and transmitted to the bishop under their hands the declaration contained in Schedule A under this Act, and who either have, and for one year next before taking any proceeding under this Act have had their usual place of abode in the diocese within which the cathedral is situated."—(Mr. Wait.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
trusted his hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Wait) would not press the Amendment, as the question of the cathedrals would be gone into on the 16th clause.
said, that the Committee having determined that "cathedral" meant "church" in the Interpretation Clause, it would be entirely inconsistent with their recent decision to insert cathedrals in the clause. If the proposed Amendment were made, there would be no necessity for retaining the 16th clause.
said, there was no doubt the 16th clause had been put into the Bill on the understanding that cathedrals were to be dealt with separately, but the alteration now affected in Clause 8 rendered it necessary that they should be regarded merely as larger churches, He always looked upon the cathedral as the mother church of the diocese—the church which set the example to all the parish churches—and therefore every parishioner within the diocese was interested in seeing that the services there were properly conducted. Moreover, "three resident parishioners," who would be liable to costs, gave ample security that they would not interfere without solid grounds.
moved, as an Amendment to the said proposed Amendment, the omission in line 3 of the word "either."
Amendment agreed to; proposed Amendment amended accordingly.
said, he objected to the omission of Clause 16 as suggested by the hon. and learned Member for the City of Oxford.
also objected against juggling away their determination as suggested by his hon. and learned Friend.
said, the clause, having been constructed upon the basis of non-application to cathedrals, would be imperfect if it remained as it was. It should be amended, either to include or exclude them. He would appeal to the right hon. and learned Recorder to state how he regarded the question—whether as the clause was now altered it placed cathedrals and other churches upon the same footing?
said, the question had come upon him by surprise, and any other Member of the Committee was competent as he to interpret the provision. He thought, however, the difficulty might be removed, when they reached the 16th clause.
considered that the clause did not apply to cathedrals.
supposed that there were cathedrals in England as in Ireland which were parish churches. He wished to point out that the clause as it stood could not affect cathedrals, inasmuch as neither the archdeacon, the rural dean, or the churchwardens—the persons through whom the complaint was to be made—had ever had any jurisdiction over cathedrals, which were in their nature "peculiar." He suggested that they should, after the word " church," insert the words "other than a cathedral."
said, he had been in a cathedral when 150 banns of marriage were published; there could be no doubt therefore that that was a parish church. As the Bill was drawn, it was intended to exempt cathedrals; but the Committee had now decided that cathedral churches should not be exempted.
suggested that the clause should be restored to its original shape.
"That the words' or in case of cathedrals, any three inhabitants of the diocese who have signed and transmitted to the bishop under their hands the declaration contained in Schedule A under this Act, and who have, and for one year next before taking any proceeding under this Act have had their usual place of abode in the diocese within which the cathedral is situated' be inserted after the word 'provided,' in line 17."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 238; Noes 57: Majority 181.
, in moving, as an Amendment, in page 4, line 19, after the word "made," to insert" during the incumbency of the incumbent," said, the effect of it would be to exempt from the operation of the Bill alterations or additions made without a faculty during that period.
said, that the right hon. and learned Recorder ought to take the initiative in proposing that the Bill should be made applicable to illegal conduct on the part of the Bishops, as well as to offences committed by incumbents. The Bill had not the slightest reference to the conduct of the Bishops in the performance of Divine Service. He wished to draw attention to the fact that in every parish the Bishop of the diocese had the right to be minister whenever, and as often as he pleased, to the extent even of setting the incumbent aside. That being the case, it seemed to him highly inexpedient, especially in the case of a Bill framed under episcopal sanction, and which had for its object to establish legality in too bare and naked a form, that an immunity so unnecessary and so useless should be established on behalf of the Bishops themselves. That immunity would be at once invidious and unnecessary. He would not himself bring forward a proposal on the subject, as if he did so, he would pro bably be met with the objection that there was no machinery to carry it out, and that it would impede the progress of the Bill; but he thought the right hon. and learned Recorder ought to take the matter up and endeavour to remedy, if possible, the imperfection to which he had referred.
said, it was essential that the Bishops should act in conformity with the law; but as the Bill stood, they might stop the very proceedings they had initiated. He hoped words would be inserted requiring that notice should be given to the parishioners of an intention to apply for an order to alter the fabric of the church.
pointed out that the discussion was wandering from the subject of the Motion. The time might arrive when words relating to the conduct of the Bishop might be inserted; but the Amendment which had been made had no reference to that question.
said, that by the common law of the Church, the fabric of the church was in the hands not of the incumbent, but of the churchwardens, with an exception as to the chancel in the case of a rectory; and the clause, in a very quiet way, introduced quite a new principle, by making the incumbent responsible where he had not been so before. He would suggest that the words" and by his direction" should be added to those proposed to be inserted. The incumbent would then be liable and punishable for any illegality of which he might be guilty, but not for the acts of others.
expressed agreement with the last speaker.
said, he could not see why additions to the fabric of the church, ornaments, or alterations of any kind should be continued if they were illegal. He trusted that the right hon. and learned Recorder would leave the clause as it stood.
thought the churchwardens, and not the incumbent, should be made responsible for any illegality with regard to the fabric or the furniture.
said, that according to the proposed Amendment, parishes would have now power to take proceedings with respect to anything done before a specified time, and he did not think that such a provision was in accordance with the spirit or object of the measure.
said, the real offender ought to be dealt with, and, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman had made a mistake in making his proposition, he (Mr. Cawley) should vote against it.
said, it was foreign to the intention of the Bill to amend the clause in the manner proposed. The second and third sub-sections limited proceeding to offences which had been committed within a limited time, and if the third sub-section were amended in the way proposed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, there would practically be no remedy in certain cases, because the irregularity might have existed for 10 or 20 years, and it would include a number of things perfectly legal and proper. It would enable any three persons to complain of matters which had occurred during the previous incumbency, and with which the present incumbent had nothing to do. That must be vexatious in the extreme.
said, it was quite clear that the incumbent was "the person" intended to be punished, for he was "the person" who would be made responsible by the proposal of the right hon. and learned Recorder. That proposal would allow any person to raise a complaint of a thing as an illegality although it was of the greatest possible benefit to a church. He did not object to some limit of time as to alterations of a church; but he asked anyone who had been connected with alterations in churches, whether the Bishop had not been only too glad if people would attempt to alter a church without asking for faculties? When things were not illegal, it was monstrous that anybody should be allowed to raise what might prove to be a vexatious litigation on the subject.
pointed out that the Amendment went beyond the matter of illegalities aimed at by the Bill, to a branch of the existing Ecclesiastical Law which had nothing to do with these illegalities, and recommended that the operation of the clause should be confined throughout to the latter. He trusted that the right hon. and learned Recorder would give effect to that view, so as to keep the clause in conformity with the purpose of the Bill. A faculty, however, could not be had without a fee, but if there was no fund out of which to pay the fee, there would be a great difficulty in getting a faculty.
agreed in the view of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. He objected to the scope of the Amendment.
said, that the object of the clause was to prevent an incumbent from putting up a high altar in place of a Communion table, and therefore he did not think the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman necessary.
suggested that the desired object would be obtained by making the clause read "fabrics, ornaments, or furniture forbidden by law."
said, that instead of the proposed Amendment, he would move that the clause be so amended as to read, "any alteration in, or addition to the fabric, ornaments, or furniture thereof, forbidden by law."
thought it very undesirable to exclude fabrics from the operation of the Bill.
suggested that the difficulty might be met by an alteration of the wording of the section in question, so as to lay open to proceedings any alteration or addition to the fabric or furniture that might have been unlawfully made, or any decoration forbidden by law.
maintained that the clause ought to be without limitation as to the incumbency of any particular incumbent, and should be guarded by the introduction of the words "forbidden by law" or "unlawfully made."
said, he would be glad to adopt the words "unlawfully made."
Amendment ( Mr. Russell Gurney), by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment ( Mr. Childers) agreed to.
On the Motion of Mr. CHILDERS, Amendment made in page 4, line 20, by striking out the words "without a faculty from the ordinary authorizing or confirming such alteration or addition."
moved as Amendment, in page 4, line 23, to leave out "twelve," and insert "six." He did so, because he thought it would be advantageous to substitute six months for 12, as the time within which the re-presentation should be made. If the archdeacon, churchwarden, or three parishioners, had not found out the unlawful ornament within six months, they ought to have no right to prosecute the incumbent.
said, six months would not be sufficient, because the archdeacon ought to have time to receive information.
moved, as an Amendment, in line 26, to insert after "Church or" the following words—"neglected to use any prescribed ornament or vesture."
Amendment proposed, in page 4, line 26, after the word "church," to insert the words" or neglected to use any prescribed ornament or vesture."—( Mr. Hubbard.)
Question proposed, "That those words by there inserted."
said, he must decidedly oppose the Amendment as unnecessary.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 150; Noes 125: Majority 25.
, who had to move the next Amendment upon the Paper, said, it was hopeless to expect that its discussion could be concluded at that sitting, and, as it would be inconvenient to adjourn in the middle of the discussion, he should move that the Chairman report Progress.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—( Mr. Cowper-Temple.)
said, he should be happy to give every possible facility for the discussion of the Bill, but he thought it was a rather early hour—twenty minutes to one—to report Progress. He hoped the Committee would go on for another hour before reporting Progress.
said, the Amendment was of some importance, and it was quite plain that nothing would be gained by commencing a discussion upon it, unless there was a prospect of completing it. He was very desirous to see the Bill go forward without delay, and did not wish to press the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) unduly; but considering that the Amendment was only placed upon the books of the House on the preceding evening, and as the right hon. and learned Recorder could not possibly have had an opportunity of communicating upon it with those he would probably think it his duty to consult, he (Mr. Gladstone) thought they would make much better progress by deferring the discussion. If the right hon. Gentleman would allow them to resume the discussion on Monday, at an hour when they would be able to finish the discussion in the course of the sitting, it would expedite Public Business. [Cries of "Go on!"]
said, that he had no desire to hinder proceedings; but as it was impossible the discussion could be concluded at that sitting, he believed it would assist the progress of the Bill not to commence it now.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 56; Noes 198: Majority 142.
said, that he would accept the decision of the Committee, and at once proceed with his Amendment, which was to add, in page 4, line 41, after "representation," the words—
His Amendment arose from the apprehension that the Bill might not only put down Ritualism, which he approved, but also put down the exercise of common sense and reason. The stern enforcement of every iota of the laws which had originated under circumstances different from the present, might revoke several of those improvements in the rubrics which were generally considered necessary or convenient, and which were in accordance with the spirit, though not with the letter, of the law. Many of the rules and directions contained in the Book of Common Prayer were framed to suit the habits and practices of past times, and not to decide disputed questions of doctrine. Full discretion ought to be entrusted to the Bishop, so that he might be clearly authorized to withhold from the Judge such departures from the rubric as had been sanctioned by general consent and approval. To compel every incumbent to read morning and evening service in the parish church, with an attendance of only three persons, would be instituting an irksome formality, and withdrawing him from other more urgent duties. The interruption of the evening service for the public catechizing of children, was a practice rendered obsolete by the improvement of schools, and its revival would diminish attendance. The recital of the Athana-sian Creed had often been omitted by the consent of all the congregation, and there were distinguished clergymen who would prefer secession from the Church to the observance of the rubric, because though they assented doctrinally to the Creed, they objected to impose it upon congregations who would misunderstand it. To prosecute a clergyman, would, under the circumstances, be a public misfortune. By this, and by a subsequent Amendment, he wished to give to the parishioners a voice in the decision of discretionary questions. Many of the difficulties of the Church resulted from its still retaining the old feudal forms and principles. As the State was the nation organized for civil purposes, so the National Church was the nation organized for public worship and religious teaching. It was unfortunate that no popular changes had occurred in the administration of the Church analogous to those Constitutional reforms which had taken place in the government of the State. As Louis XIV. once said—"The State—it is me," clergymen thought—" The Church—it is me." The position of the Bishop was still feudal; he was lord over the clergy, and the clergy over the people, and neither thought it necessary to consult the laity. He should like to see introduced into the Bill some representation of the laity to act with the Bishop, for if the laity had been placed in a position of authority to co-operate with the clergy, many of the disasters which this Bill was designed to remedy would not have arisen. If the State Church had undergone some constitutional changes, such as had been made in the State itself, it would have been more in harmony than it now was with the national feeling, and the development of sacerdotalism would not have been so alarming. By a further Amendment he would propose that the Bishop should transmit the representation to the churchwardens, who should convene a meeting of the parishioners. By that means the Bishop would get a knowledge of their wishes which could not be obtained by any private inquiry. Among the facts that would be elements in his consideration, and which would thus be ascertained, would be the established custom of the place and the wishes of the members of the congregation and the resident parishioners. The Bishop would then be able to consider whether the practices complained of were obsolete or not adapted to the circumstances of the parish, and by that procedure his hands would be strengthened in the functions imposed upon him by the Bill. If a complaint were puerile or frivolous, he could exercise a discretion as to allowing it to proceed further; and he was anxious that a Bishop should not be deprived of the fuller powers he possessed, under the Church Discipline Act, of exercising a discretion as to whether a complaint should he sent further for adjudication. The Bishop would continue to be the only responsible person, and must give a reason for his conduct. The proposal could not involve the continuance of any serious breach of the law, and it would help the Bishop in the exercise of a discretion demanded by public opinion. That which constituted the real grievance in respect of many Ritualistic innovations was that they were changes introduced by the incumbent against the wishes of the congregation, and the indignation often arose, not from the change itself, but from its having been made without the assent of the people attending the church. For these reasons, he begged to move the first of the Amendments of which he had given Notice."And it shall be the duty of the bishop on the receipt of the representation to ascertain, so far as he is able, whether the practice specified in such representation is or is not in accordance with the established custom, and whether it is or is not in consonance with the wishes of the members of the Church of England resident in the parish, and with the wishes of the persons attending or desiring to attend the services in such church."
said, he would move to report Progress, and in doing so, would refer to the amount of work which the House had got through during the week. They had sat since 2 o'clock on the previous day, and it was not unreasonable 12 hours afterwards and at the end of the week, to ask the House to report Progress.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—( Mr. Dillwyn.)
said, he would not oppose the Motion to report Progress, were it not that he thought there was a very general feeling in the Committee in favour of coming to a conclusion on the question under discussion. Surely in the course of another hour they could have sufficiently discussed the Amendment, for he believed the majority of the Committee were not in a mood to discuss it, as they were quite opposed to its purport.
regarded the Amendment as a very simple one. It merely gave the Bishop instructions how to act in certain circumstances. The House was, he thought, now in a position to come to a decision respecting it.
said, he could not look upon the question raised as simple. It was one which deserved, and, he hoped, would receive further consideration.
said, that unless Progress were reported, it would be bettor for all the Amendments on the Paper to be dropped; for the Bill to be allowed to pass through Committee, and for the Amendments to be revived upon the Report. As it was, it would be impossible for that most important Amendment to be discussed at such an hour (twenty minutes past one o'clock.)
said, he could not concur in the view just expressed by his right hon. Friend, and for this reason—that the question before the Committee was not a new one. It was, in point of fact, that which was in the fourth of the six Resolutions of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich. Was it to be said that if the parish wished the minister to perform the Mass the performance of the mass was therefore to be regarded as legal? If that were so, the parishioners, and not the Legislature, would be the makers of the law.
said, that it was not because his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich had withdrawn his Resolutions, that the House should be taken to have discussed the principle they involved. He could not think that the country would be satisfied if at half-past one o'clock in the morning they—at that period of the Session—adjourned the debate.
protested against the question of the Mass being introduced into the discussion as it had been by the hon. and learned Member for Oxford. ["Order!"]
reminded the hon. Member that the question before the Committee was the adjournment of the debate.
said, that being so, the argument to which he was about to reply when called to Order was extremely irregular.
believed that if the Committee came to a decision upon the subject at that time, it would save a great deal of time hereafter.
said, that he had withdrawn the Resolutions, in order that the questions they raised might be altogether severed from the progress of the present Bill. That was a question in respect to which the House had not merely to consider the discussion among themselves, but it was also desirable that the public should be informed of what hon. Members were doing. If they debated the matter from that time until 3 o'clock in the morning, full justice could not be done to it, and of what avail or profit would it be as far as the country was concerned? The continuation of the state of illegality which had been referred to by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford was one which could only be properly interpreted by reference to the entire history of our Church since the Reformation. In his judgment, it would be necessary, or at least desirable, to renew the discussion on the Report, and to take that opportunity of explaining a matter of great importance, under such circumstances that the country would be likely to obtain information of what hon. Members were about, which it could not do, if the course proposed were persisted in. Perhaps it might be necessary to move the re-committal of the Bill.
said, that after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman he would consent to Progress being reported. With regard to the further progress of the Bill, he might state that the Government intended to proceed on Monday with the Endowed Schools Bill in Committee. If it passed through Committee on that day he would propose that this Bill should be proceeded with on Tuesday, and he should also ask the House to continue the discussion of it in Committee on Wednesday, if necessary.
suggested that it would be more convenient to proceed with the present Bill on Monday, and to postpone until Tuesday the consideration in Committee of the Endowed Schools Bill.
said, he could not adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, as he had to look at the relative positions of the two Bills with regard to the other House of Parliament. The Public Worship Regulation Bill had already passed the House of Lords, whereas the Endowed Schools Bill had not.
Question put, and agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
Private Lunatic Asylums (Ireland) Bill
On Motion of Mr. WILLIAM HENRY SMITH, Bill to amend the Law respecting certain receipts and expenses connected with Private Lunatic Asylums in Ireland, ordered to be brought in by Mr. WILLIAM HENRY SMITH and Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 215.]
House adjourned at a quarter before Two o'clock till Monday next.