House Of Commons
Wednesday, 3rd April 1895.
The House met at Twenty minutes past Twelve o'clock.
Education (Science And Art)
Copy presented,—of Forty-second Annual Report of the Department of Science and Art, being that for the year 1894 (with Supplement) [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Drafting Of Bills
Lords Message (1st April) communicating the following Resolution—namely:—
"That it is desirable that a Joint Committee of both Houses be appointed to consider in what manner such inconvenience as arises from legislation by reference in Acts of Parliament to prior enactments can best be avoided,''
Resolved, That this House doth concur with the Lords in the said Resolution.
Message to the Lords to acquaint them therewith.
Elections (Second Ballot And Re Turning Officers Expenses) Bill
Order for Second Reading upon Wednesday 15th May, read, and discharged; Bill withdrawn.
Orders Of The Day
Steam Engines (Persons In Charge) Bill
in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, said the promoters had agreed to delete a great portion of it. The Bill was an old measure, having been before the House for seven or eight years, and his own conviction was that the Bill as it stood had been overladen with too many clauses. The measure had, therefore, been simplified so as to meet with as little opposition as possible, and so as to obtain the sanction of the President of the Board of Trade. The portions of the Bill which had been deleted were those referring to agricultural engines, to railways, and to steamships. The Bill was now confined principally to land engines—engines in mines, mills, and other factories. As thus modified, the measure was not antagonistic to any interest or any class; neither would it injure in any degree those who used steam or engines. The Bill was merely a continuation of the principle laid down by the Board of Trade in 1862. In that year the Board of Trade passed a measure which required that all engineers on steamships should have certificates; and the promoters of this Bill wished to extend that principle to land engines. He cited the opinion of Board of Trade assessors called in to examine as to the cause of boiler explosions on land. He mentioned two cases, one at Congleton and another at Wigan, and the opinion of the Board of Trade assessors was that the explosions had been caused simply because the men in charge of the boilers and machinery were incompetent. The Bill allowed competent men, willing to pass a certain examination, opportunity to train themselves in the elementary knowledge or principle which governed the steam engine and the working of the Boiler. The Board of Trade Report stated that since the Boiler Explosions Act was passed in 1882, there had been 721 boiler explosions. The persons killed numbered 337, and the injured 721; and for the year ending June 30, 1894, he found that there were 104 explosions. The causes assigned by the Board of Trade for the explosions were first, deterioration, corrosion, or defective safety valves, The second cause was ignorance or incompetence, and their defective designs and miscellaneous matters. In one year there were 104 explosions, but, unfortunately, he had not the number of deaths caused by those explosions. [An hon. MEMBER: "Twenty-five."] He hoped the House was convinced of the necessity of something being done in the matter. He mentioned a case, tried at Petty Sessions, where a lad aged 13 had been put in charge of a boiler. What did the lad do? The lad jammed down the safety valve of the boiler. The Chairman asked him, did he not know how to discharge his duties, and the lad replied there were no rules laid down.
An explosion took place. He had no desire to take up the time of the House, but he would fain hope that the Presisident of the Board of Trade would see his way to help with that Measure, that it was a duty incumbent upon him to take the matter up and put an end to the existing state of things. What he wanted was to ensure to those who went down into the mines and into mills that the men in charge of the boilers and winding-up machinery knew their duty. Many cases had come to the knowledge of the Board of Trade where men were hauled over the pulley, damaged, and killed. Many cases also had arisen where explosions had taken place simply for the want of the merest elementary knowledge, such as the supply of water to a boiler. Many cases had arisen where a little tampering with the safety valves produced disastrous consequences. If a man had a certificate of competency, his superiors would be bound to listen to him. He was asking for nothing but what the progress of the nation demanded. They could no longer afford to have their engines and boilers looked after by men who knew nothing about them, and the President of the Board of Trade was practical enough to know what they wanted. They had reduced the Bill to a mere shell, and he hoped the President of the Board of Trade would raise no opposition to the Second Reading. He would, then, leave the matter to be dealt with by the President of the Board of Trade. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Second Reading of the Bill.''The Chairman: Had no one instructed you? The lad: No. The Chairman: Didn't you know it was a dangerous thing to do to screw down the safety valve? The lad said, no."
, in seconding the Motion, said, no one who had listened to the temperate language of his hon. Friend would be disposed to think that the principle of the Bill involved an industrial revolution. In too many cases life was wantonly sacrificed through the appointment of careless and incompetent workmen to take charge of dangerous machinery and steam boilers. The necessity for this additional protection had been again and again admitted by the authorities of the Board of Trade. They might be told that the evidence was probably more in favour of additional inspection, rather than in favour of the appointment of qualified persons to take charge of the machinery. He was not one of those who were opposed to the appointment of additional inspectors, and no doubt, if the Treasury could see its way to make such appointments to meet the requirements of the case, very much might be done by more regular and efficient inspection of boilers to prevent the ever-recurring disasters which took place. Their contention was, that the provisions laid down in the Bill would tend, without any material increase in the cost to the ratepayers, to materially reduce the loss of life from these causes, because a competent man would be able, from practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge, to foresee defects in the machinery and boilers, and would be able, in consequence, to give notice to his employers and have them remedied before the actual disaster took place. It was true that the Board of Trade Returns showed that the loss of life from boiler explosions was due largely to this want of inspection, but he thought it would be admitted that there had been an increasing mortality arising from the appointment of incompetent and unskilful attendants to take charge of boilers and steam engines. If this were removed they would reduce to a minimum the chance of loss of life. He instanced the case of Mr. Vincent, a Board of Trade Inspector, who, in 1889, he thought, investigated the cause of an explosion which took place in Cornwall. The Inspector reported that he attributed the explosion in a great measure to the class of men employed as enginemen, and the multifarious duties which they had to attend to. Mr. Vincent went on to say that, in his opinion, men in charge of engines, especially where numbers of lives were intrusted to their care, should be forced to pass an examination before some competent Board, and have certificates granted to them before being allowed to take charge. That was the contention of the supporters of the Bill. The principle of the Bill was no new one, it was embodied in the Merchant Shipping Act of 1862; and, on the authority of the Board of Trade, the loss of life in the mercantile marine had been considerably reduced since it had been made compulsory for the engines of every steamship to be in charge of a thoroughly competent person. The colonies had also adopted the same principle with very beneficial results. The Mines Regulations Act in Australia provided for the institution of a Board of Examiners empowered to examine persons desirous of qualifying themselves as engine drivers, and to grant certificates of competency. In different States and in many of the large cities of America there was a law that persons holding appointments such as were dealt with in this Bill must pass an examination and hold a certificate. The provisions of the Bill were rather more drastic than those in force in New York, but if the House assented to the principle, the details of the Bill could easily be modified in Committee. There would be no indisposition on the part of the promoters to accede readily to any reasonable amendment of the details of the Bill. Some objection had been made to the provision for graduated certificates. The object in providing for first class, second class, and service certificates was to avoid as far as possible any unnecessary friction, and the hardship which might be imposed on a number of men who were now in charge of engines and boilers, and who had discharged their duties for some time with satisfaction to all concerned. To men who had had a certain amount of experience it was proposed to grant service certificates; but it was almost too much to expect such men to be able at once to qualify themselves for a first-class certificate. To make the task easier, and to encourage them in it, the intermediate second-class certificate was therefore provided. But this provision, again, might be modified in Committee. He would frankly admit that, as far as locomotive engines were concerned, he did not believe that the case was so strong as the promoters of the Bill were led to believe at the time when it was framed. Their inquiries had been extensive, and they all tended to show that the Bill was weaker in this respect than in others. Hence the promoters were quite willing to omit that portion of the Bill, provided that the essential principle which applied to boiler attendants and colliery engineers was assented to. The Board of Trade Return issued in 1891 on the working of the Boiler Explosions Act demonstrated the nature of this Bill. From that Return it appeared that in the case of a boiler explosion in Cornwall in 1890 the owner was blamed for neglect and careless management, and was ordered to pay a fine of £80 and costs: and there were three other similar cases where the owners were heavily fined. It might be some protection to inflict heavy penalties for negligence and mismanagement, but the object of the Bill was to prevent the disasters from occurring, and the facts were sufficient to justify the House in giving the Bill a Second Reading.
, in moving "That this Bill be read a second time this day six months," said, that it was as typical an instance of grandmotherly legislation as had been presented to the House for a long time. If it became law, there would soon be a proposal that cooks should be required to pass an examination as having kitchen boilers in their charge. Only two cases of accidents from incompetency had been adduced in support of the Bill. Everyone who had practical acquaintance with the making of boilers know that accidents did not happen from the incompetency of the person in charge, but from his neglect. No amount of examination would discover whether a man would or would not neglect his work; all it proved was that a man was competent to pass an examination. He would give the House an example of how these examination tests worked. As a colliery owner, he had had for many years an underground manager who had earned and well deserved his confidence, because he had never had any accident to the men under his charge. When the Coal Mines Regulation Act passed, this man could not obtain a certificate, because, whilst he was a most competent manager of a pit, he was unable to read or write. He understood the work of a mine far better than one who was versed in the merely theoretical part, and in order to retain such a valuable servant in his employ, he obtained the services of a man who was certificated as the nominal manager, keeping his old manager, however, in his position. It was the imperative duty of employers to put in charge of their engines men who were competent to do the work, and who were sober and attentive to their duties. It was impossible for the Board of Trade to ascertain whether men possessed these qualifications, and all they would be able to say in regard to them would be that they were competent to pass an examination. He submitted, therefore, that this Bill would be a most mischievous Bill, which would take away the responsibility from those persons on whom it ought properly to rest, namely, the employers, and place it on the broad back of the Board of Trade.
was surprised that so little had been said by the Mover and Seconder in support of the Bill. The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading, mentioned a very interesting and a wholly improper case on the part of an employer, where apparently a mere boy was left in charge of an engine. Nobody could defend such a case; but what he submitted was, that hard cases made bad law, and the House ought not to legislate because up and down the country they might occasionally come across cases of this character. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Bill, seemed more to grapple with the facts of the case, but his reference to public statistics did not justify the conclusions he desired the House to draw from them. He had himself examined the statistics, and he came to a different conclusion to that drawn by the hon. Member. In 1870 a Select Committee of the House came to the conclusion that there were 100,000 boilers in England, exclusive of locomotive, domestic, and marine, and about 75 deaths and 50 explosions. But a return issued up to the end of June of last year, showed that for ten years the explosions were on an average 76, the deaths 33, and the injured 72. When they considered the enormous increase of population, and of machinery of every kind in every department of manufacture and trade, he thought the House might fairly conclude that these figures showed there was less cause than ever for a Bill such as this. Comparing the cases of deaths and injured in 1893 and 1894 with those for 1882 and 1883, he found that last year they only amounted to 78, as against 68 ten years ago, and as he had said, the deaths for the last ten years had only averaged 33. Therefore, while the population had enormously increased, and the risks of accidents, judging by the increased use of machinery, had probably quadrupled, the real reasons for introducing the Bill had distinctly diminished. There was another interesting fact. There were 104 boiler explosions last year, but out of these 22 took place in churches and chapels during four days apparently of hard frost. How far, he asked, would such cases be affected by the Bill? He was there, however, not so much to go over all the trades affected by the Bill as specially to refer to that clause relating to the use of donkey engines on vessels when lying in port.
That is withdrawn. In moving the Second Reading I said that all in connection with ships had been entirely deleted from the Bill.
intimated that such being the case he would not make any further observations.
remarked, that the hon. Member who had last addressed the House had endeavoured to minimise the importance of this Bill, on the ground that accidents were fewer now as compared with the number of boilers in use, than they were previously. But he submitted that if by the passage of this Bill they could save one life in the country, they ought to pass the Second Reading stage that afternoon, and from the facts already presented it was certain that this Bill would tend to reduce the loss of life and damage, and injury to limb. The hon. Member for West Wolverhampton objected to the Bill, on the ground, first of all, that a man might be a practical and competent man, but still not to be able to pass the written examination which would be held under the direction of the Board of Trade. What the Bill provided was, that there should be a proper examination, and that examination need not necessarily be of a theoretical, but it could be of a practical, character. The hon. Member also said it was a mischievous Bill, which removed responsibility from employers and agents and placed it on the Board of Trade. But an agent was not worth his salt who did not satisfy himself, so far as was possible, of the competency of the men he employed; whilst, again, it would be a useful advantage to an employer if he were only able to employ those who were properly certified. He supported the Bill— not because he had any desire or intent to restrict to any particular trade union those who should be employed in charge of boilers. He had no desire in the present depressed condition of trade that it should be in any way hampered. Employers at the present time were put to enormous expense in connection with their boilers, but what was the use of their taking every possible precaution to avoid explosions by constant renewals and repairs if they had got incompetent men to manage their boilers? If the Bill passed, it would secure a competent class of workmen, and thereby save much risk and injury to life and limb. He believed the Bill would also induce men to become skilled artisans wherever machinery was employed in connection with steam power, and it would not only benefit the working-classes themselves, but would be an indirect advantage to the employer for whom they worked. On these grounds he heartily supported the principle of the Bill.
observed that they had heard from the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that practically he intended to take out every one of the most objectionable words and clauses of the Bill. Of course it was difficult to see how that would affect the various trades until they had the Bill in its deleted form before them. As far as he understood the hon. Member for Gateshead, the Bill now would only apply to mills, mines, and cranes, and large machinery of that kind, whereas, as it was originally drawn, it would have referred to donkey engines, and all engines under five-horse power as well as those above. That made a material alteration in the Bill. It would have been perfectly monstrous to have applied this Bill in its original shape to agriculture, for it would have prevented a great number of skilled agricultural labourers from doing the work they now performed in an able and conscientious manner, and would have driven them to seek employment in the towns—a process which was already going on too fast. As it stood, with the deletion, the Bill would be restricted to a very few trades indeed. There was only one suggestion he should like to make, and it was this—if the Bill passed that afternoon it should not be sent to a Grand Committee. Whilst a Grand Committee was a good tribunal, and had done useful work in the past in relation to Government Bills of a non-controversial character, he contended that for Private Bills of this character it was not so suitable a tribunal as a Select Committee, where the whole matter could be dealt with in a much more thorough manner than was practicable before a Grand Committee. He hoped, therefore, if this stage of the Bill were passed, it would then be sent to a Select Committee.
said, he had great pleasure in supporting the Bill, especially as it had been materially simplified since its Introduction. It seemed to him that the arguments brought forward in opposition to the measure were those which had always been urged against Factory Legislation. In supporting the Bill he did not wish to convey any reproach on employers, or to imply that they employed incompetent men to manage large and important industries. But they desired to have it clearly laid down by legislation that only competent, certificated men should be in charge of certain engines. Such a measure would add to the safety of the workmen, and, from that point of view, ought to receive the support of employers, whose desire must be to promote good relations between themselves and their employés. Anyone who had gone down a coal-mine must have come to the conclusion that it was of the highest importance to have thoroughly competent men in charge of the winding engines. Hundreds of men went down coal-mines daily, and their lives depended entirely on the foresight, skill, and knowledge of the man in charge of the winding engine. The House, therefore, could not go wrong in passing a measure which provided an additional safeguard. It might be urged as an objection to the Bill that it would give the men a greater advantage over their employers in the case of a strike, because the number of certificated men would be limited. But that argument would not hold water, because, after all, a strike depended on the relations between the men and their employers. If a bad feeling were engendered, a strike would sooner or later take place, no matter what legislation was passed. On the other hand no man desired to quarrel with his bread and butter, and if good relations prevailed between the employers and the men, he could not see how the passing of this Bill would give the men an extra inducement to strike. This and other points of detail might well be considered by a Select Committee, with the view of providing against any such contingencies that might arise.
expressed his determination to support the Second Reading of the Bill. He took exception to the statement of the right hon. Member for Grimsby with regard to the history of the Bills that had during the present Session been referred to the Grand Committee. With regard to the Bills referred to the Grand Committee on Trade he could say that they were discussed satisfactorily and in a business-like way. He did not believe any better discussion of the provisions of this Bill could be secured than by referring it to one of the Grand Committees. Hon. Members who had opposed the Bill had sought to minimise the necessity for it. But although they had shown by the figures which they had quoted that there was a diminution in the number of fatalities from boiler explosions they had not proved that there was no necessity for the Bill. If the prevention of one disaster could be secured by the Bill, it would be well worth their while to pass it. He was very glad to find that under this Bill measures were taken for the purpose of maintaining in their present position men who had practical experience in the working of engines and boilers. It would have been a very great hardship if men, because of their inability to pass a theoretical examination, should have been ousted from their present position. He had no doubt that many of these men would be stimulated by the passing of the measure to perfect themselves in their knowledge of engines and boilers, and to study the theoretical matters connected with their industry. There had, no doubt, been a diminution in the number of boiler explosions, but that he believed had arisen from the fact that the users of boilers had found the practical necessity of insuring their boilers. By the process of inspection that went on in connection with that insurance, flaws and defects were found out at a much earlier stage than formerly, and thus a great many accidents were prevented. The employment of qualified men to manage these boilers would furnish an additional element of safety, not only to the users of boilers, but also to the public, and he therefore believed that the greatest possible advantage would arise from the passing of the Bill.
said, that before this very moderate Bill passed with practical unanimity to a Select Committee, he wished to make one or two observations upon it, especially in answer to the remarks of the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton (Sir A. Hickman). The hon. Member had urged that accidents more frequently occurred from neglect than from incompetence, but it was a difficult thing to define where incompetence ended and neglect began. He was sorry that the hon. Member should have taken the line he did. In his opinion the Bill would not restrict the freedom of employment in any respect; if he thought that it would, he would oppose it. It was because he believed that every boiler-tender could rise to the requirements of this Bill that he would vote for it, and he ventured to express a hope that the hon. Member would withdraw his opposition. The hon. and learned Member for Wilts showed his lack of knowledge of engineering and boiler construction when he said, that in spite of increased inspection, and in spite of increased supervision, the number of boiler explosions had increased; forgetting that that was a strong argument in favour of the Bill, and that in the period which he quoted there had been an enormous revolution in boiler construction. The fact that, in spite of all the improvements in construction and supervision which had taken place during the past year or so, the Board of Trade should have to report that in 1894 there were more boiler explosions than there had been in any of the ten preceding years, was a strong argument that the Bill was necessary. Speaking as an engineer who had seen the disadvantages of boilers being tended by incompetent men, particularly in agricultural districts, he was of opinion that what was wanted to avoid accidents was, not unduly to increase the amount of inspection, but to get a better form of inspection which was to be found in the vigilant, educated mind of the men themselves, who, after all, often knew more of what was wanted to insure safety than the boiler inspectors, who too often made a hasty and perfunctory inspection. The real, daily, minute inspection of the man in charge of a boiler, and who might be made by the Bill to feel a sense of responsibility towards his employer and fellow-workmen, was the best safeguard of all. By making a man rather proud of his calling would be encouraging the best form of inspection, and the constant tap here and overhauling there would be the best means of avoiding explosions. Turning to the supporters of the Bill, he regretted to find that they had now eliminated three fruitful fields of boiler explosions. He agreed with the exclusion of railway locomotives on regular railways, but a distinction must be drawn between them and the smaller locomotives, such as were used by contractors on smaller works, where the, engines were frequently in charge of very incompetent people, and were in such a bad state of construction that he was surprised at the Board of Trade not having put on a special inspector to prevent the recurrence of explosions in such cases. The intelligent driver and fireman of a regular railway locomotive had practically nothing to do with the state of the boiler, as the engine went into the railway shops, where competent and skilled engineers and inspectors subjected the engines to weekly examinations. He ventured, however, to express a hope that, even now, the smaller classes of locomotive engine might be included in the Bill. Anyone who had worked in lime pits, clay holes, or reclamation works would know that often when the engine tender was ill, a mere navvy was put on to take his place. Within the last ten days he himself had seen a pulsometer pump with the valve knocked off, and a navvy who was in charge of it had taken the nearest broken piece of a wooden shovel, had tapered it up at one end, and had driven it in to take the place of a proper cock, while there was a pressure of steam at the time of 60lb. to the square inch. The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Allan), in his anxiety to please everybody—a very dangerous practice, both in and out of Parliament—had excluded shipping from the Bill. He did not object to that course having been taken in relation to large ships, where the engineers were always certificated; but in regard to the subsidiary branches of shipping—such, for instance, as tugs, river vessels, and small steam trawlers, and fishing vessels—he hoped it was not too late to urge that the Committee should be allowed to deal with the boilers in them. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Heneage), in his desire to benefit the farmers, even to the extent of allowing them to blow their labourers to pieces, had expressed satisfaction that the hon. Member for Gateshead had consented to exclude agricultural machinery from the operation of the Bill. But in most cases it was not the farmer who owned these machines. In nine cases out of ten, he hired them, and had them brought on to his farm when he happened to want them for threshing or other purposes. Often more than one engine was so hired, and one competent man only sent with them, who worked one of the machines himself, whilst the actual working of the others was intrusted to Tom, Dick, or Harry, who probably were not strong enough to hoe or do other work on the land, but were considered intelligent and wise enough to be intrusted with the care of agricultural machinery.
interposing explained that the hon. Member had rather misunderstood what he said. The remarks which he made in his speech related to engines belonging to farmers worked by skilled agricultural labourers who were perfectly competent to do their work, but who would be thrown out of employment if the Bill operated upon agricultural machinery.
remarked that if the right hon. Gentleman were conversant with these matters he would know that the men who looked after these engines had been agricultural labourers, and that so far from the Bill operating to throw out of employment the skilled agricultural labourers in question, it would stimulate them to apply themselves to obtain the certificate. He would ask which it was most economical and reasonable to do—to pass a Bill to make a man pass the necessary standard of efficiency, or to throw upon the farmer, in this case, the personal responsibility of having killed someone, and the financial liability of having to pay a very heavy fine in addition to losing a valuable man whom it had taken probably 10 to 15 years to train. He regretted that agricultural engines should be excluded, and that shipping, so far as tugs and other river craft were concerned, had not been kept in the Bill; but, in spite of these exemptions, he trusted the President of the Board of Trade would view this modest measure with sympathy, that he would allow it to go to a Select Committee, and that in the light of the practical unanimity with which the Bill had been supported, he would do everything in his power to reduce, through its provisions, that butcher's bill of industry which too frequently was increased by incompetent men being ignorantly employed.
said, he desired to add one word to the chorus of approval with which the provisions of this Bill had been received. Like the Member for St. Helens, he had had the opportunity of going down into various pits, and he thought it must be a matter of great anxiety to the men working in those pits if they had any doubt as to the qualifications of the persons employed in working one of the engines by means of which the cages were worked in which the men were lowered down into and brought up from the pits. There was one point in the speech of the hon. Member for Battersea which he thought he might be able to clear up from his practical experience. That was as to the working of engines upon farms. He understood that the Member for Gateshead had eliminated the agricultural question, so far as regarded implements, from this Bill, and he certainly agreed that that was desirable. They were not in possession of the proposals by which the hon. Member intended to carry out his intentions, and he thought it would have been a convenience if it had been possible to have had the Bill reprinted before the discussion took place. The hon. Member for Battersea seemed to think that agricultural implements ought not to have been excluded, and he quoted some cases in which the boilers of engines on farms had been improperly handled. No doubt cases of that kind might occur, but, from his experience north of the Tweed, he did not think it was generally so. Engines, especially where they were portable engines used for threshing, were always in charge of men employed by the owners. They were invariably skilled men, and the work was always satisfactorily carried out. Where there were engines on a farm they were almost always worked under the direct superintendence of the farmer himself. A farmer who had a fixed engine on his farm was rather a big man. He was, as a rule, educated and thoroughly skilled, and in such cases they employed men who worked under their direct superintendence. It seemed to him that to ask such a farmer to hold a certificate would be a rather unnecessary proceeding, and he thought the hon. Member for Battersea would agree that in such cases this would be a very unnecessary provision. He quite agreed with the principle, and, as the clause dealing with agricultural machinery had been taken out of the Bill, he should give it his support.
said, he came to the House with the intention of opposing the Bill, as he believed that in the form in which it was printed it would be one of the most harassing and embarrassing pieces of legislation ever proposed in that House. He understood, however, that the hon. Member who introduced the measure proposed to confine its operations to mines and factories, and, that being so, his feeling with regard to the Bill had materially changed. He thought the better way of approaching this subject would have been to have brought boilers and machinery under the Factory Acts. He believed that explosions arose far more from want of inspection of boilers or engines than from the incompetence of the men in charge of them. There ought to be every care to have competent men in charge of the boilers; but the result they desired would not be attained unless there was a periodical examination of the boilers. He did not agree that the granting of certificates to the men in charge of machinery would secure that the machinery, and particularly the boilers, would be maintained in satisfactory order. There was no assurance that the man who was in charge of the boiler would have any knowledge of its internal conditions, and all the danger which might be inherent in it would be unobserved by the man who held the certificate. He would rather have seen these provisions for safety enacted under the Factory and Workshops Act, rather than this granting of certificates to the men in charge, for he believed there would be a greater security given to the public. This was a technical Bill, and it would be impossible to discuss its details on the floor of the House, and, therefore, it was necessary it should go to a Select Committee. If the Bill had extended to the hundreds and thousands of small machines that were used all over the country it would have created a disturbance of labour amounting almost to a revolution, but, limited as it was, and being referred to a Select Committee, it would have his support.
said, he thought the hon. Mover and Seconder of this Bill had stated their case not only with great clearness, but with great fairness and moderation. They had also exercised, he thought, on the whole, a wise discretion in removing from the Bill those particular classes of boilers the inclusion of which would have raised, no doubt, very serious opposition. He could not help, to some extent, sympathising with what was said by the hon. Member for Battersea; still, knowing the difficulties which attended the progress of a private Member's Bill in this House, and the number of obstacles which were thrown in its way in its different stages by those who had, or conceived they had, any interest in opposing it, he thought their discretion had been a wise one, and he hoped the result of that discretion might be that the Bill would now have a smooth progress through the rest of its stages. He was well aware of the interest which the Bill excited, particularly in mining districts, and he had received not, only many representations, but several deputations, on the subject. The remarkable unanimity with which the House had received the Bill showed, too, that hon. Members had themselves been the recipients of communications from their constituents upon the subject, and were aware that the feeling with which the Bill was regarded was widespread and deeply felt. The only objections that had been raised had come from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton and from the hon. Member for one of the divisions of Liverpool. He did not deny that the objections of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton appeared to possess some amount of force. As regarded statistics, it was certainly true that the record of these Acts showed that comparatively few accidents had arisen from incompetence as distinguished from neglect, but of course the general classification of accidents was sometimes lumped together, and, as was said by the hon. Member for Battersea, the limits of incompetence and neglect were very difficult to define. There could be no doubt also that the more competent the men were in knowledge and practice the better safeguard there was, because that became neglect in the man with knowledge which would not be neglect in the case of a less competent man. He thought, therefore, that anything that raised the standard of knowledge had a considerable tendency to raise the standard of safety. The Member for Wolverhampton also dwelt on the danger which might arise from making the employers rely on the certificates of competence rather than upon the pains they took themselves in selecting the best man, and he said this would even tend to relieve the employers to a certain extent of responsibility. Of course that was true in a sense. Those were arguments which had been used against nearly all the changes they had made in the direction of protective legislation; he did not deny that there was some force in them, but those who had followed the course of this legislation during the last 50 years would admit that those arguments had been found to be of somewhat less practical moment than had been expected. On the whole, the evils arising from this protective or grandmotherly legislation, as it was sometimes called, had been very much smaller than had been expected. Perhaps the power ought to be more in the hands of the local authorities than the central; but, be that as it might, the intervention of the community had done a great deal of good in the way of securing life and property throughout the country. He was very far from desiring to add to the functions of the Board of Trade, but, at the same time, if the House came to the conclusion that the examination of persons for this kind of work ought to be added to the functions of the Board, which already dealt with other classes of boilers, they would do their best to carry it out with as little friction and with as much economy as possible. Having given due weight to the arguments of the hon. Member for Wolver-hampton, he confessed he thought the balance of opinion and argument in the House was strongly in favour of their giving a Second Reading to this Bill. Whatever they could do to make life and limb safe it was clearly their duty to do. He was also much pleased by the argument that by giving these certificates of competence to persons in charge of boilers they gave a much better standard to the workmen against careless or reckless employment. A workman who held a certificate would be far better able to discover defects, whenever these accidents occurred, in the condition of the boiler. He thought these defects were generally overlooked now because the man in charge of the boiler had not sufficient knowledge. That appeared to him to be a strong argument for the Bill, and the institution of examinations would help to stimulate everyone to make himself competent. As to the procedure which the House should adopt, although this Bill had frequently been brought in, it had never been so limited, but limited as it was it raised a great many questions of detail. He thought that the best course would be to consent in the first instance to send it to a Select Committee, where it could be carefully examined with regard to the application of its particular provisions to particular trades. He did not see why, after having gone through a Select Committee, it might not then go to a Grand Committee so as to facilitate its progress. If the Bill did go to a Grand Committee instead of taking its chance for a time in a Committee of the House, perhaps it would have a better chance of passing into law this Session. He hoped the Mover and Seconder would show the same conciliatory disposition.
whose opening remarks were addressed to the importance of the Bill, observed that there was no one more competent than the hon. Member for Gateshead to bring in a Bill dealing with engines and steam boilers, and although the Bill might be embarrassing in some of its details, yet the importance of the subject was such that those details might very well be amended in Committee, and on that ground, and also because a matter affecting the safety of human life should be seriously considered by this House, he was prepared to support the general principle of the Bill. He was pleased to know that the hon. Member had seen fit to withdraw steamships from the scope of the Bill, no doubt because he knew there were already qualified men in charge of the machinery on board sea-going ships. It was quite as necessary that the men in charge of railway locomotives should be duly qualified as it was that the engineers on steamships should be; and he did not see why the one as well as the other should not be called upon to hold qualifying certificates. The operation of the Bill would probably be of great benefit in saving life and preventing injury in small factories where boilers and engines were now in the charge of unqualified men. The fact that such was the case showed the necessity for the introduction of the Bill, and he felt sure that if it was passed it would do good. There ought also to be a practical examination of the condition of boilers and machinery in all workshops and factories. It was said that the clauses relating to examinations and examiners were complicated, and would be costly in operation, but that difficulty might be met by utilising the services of the present examiners of engineers who had to take out certificates for service on sea-going vessels. It was not necessary to set up another body of examiners. The present examiners for engineers' certificates were thoroughly qualified, and probably sufficient in number to conduct these new examinations. They were principally located in seaports; and if on that or any other account more were required, it would not be difficult to add to their number, while it would cost less to utilise them and their services than to create new examiners for this purpose. He was glad the President of the Board of Trade supported the Bill, and hoped that, whatever Committee it went to, it would pass this Session. After the expression of opinion in its favour on this side of the House, he trusted the Amendment would be withdrawn.
was glad to know that no argument was necessary to secure for the Bill the support of the President of the Board of Trade. The mining industry in his own constituency afforded a strong illustration of the necessity for a Bill of this kind. In the mines of Lanarkshire work had to be done under peculiar conditions, involving great responsibility. The pits were very much deeper than others; the number of men employed in them was larger; and the responsibility thrown on those in charge of engines and boilers was proportionately greater. The hours the men had to work increased the necessity for making sure that they were properly qualified. They worked on an average 12 hours a day; the shifts were sometimes divided into 10 and 14 hours; and this went on for 365 days a year, without relief on Sundays or holidays. When the change was made from night shift to day shift, each man worked for 24 hours, and sometimes more; and the absence of a mate might require a man to remain at his post for 36 hours. These men had the responsibility of winding up hundreds of men. Their attention was on the strain every moment, and yet there was no security under the present law that properly-qualified and experienced men were employed. Their attention was not limited to winding-up, because they had a certain charge of boilers, and they were liable to be called away to attend them. He knew for certain that serious accidents had been attributed to the employment of in experienced and incompetent men. It might be said that the hours ought to be shorter, and he was entirely of that opinion; but years, perhaps, would pass before they could be shortened by legislation. He would be pleased if the Bill was sent to a Grand Committee at first, because that would be more likely to facilitate the passage of it this session.
said, after what had fallen from the President of the Board of Trade, he desired to withdraw the Amendment.
said, he hoped the House would not seriously think of reading the Bill a second time. Practical experience led him to say that if there was any department of industry which did not require special legislation it was this. There had been more fatal accidents in the operations and working of steam engines and sets of boilers, of enormous power, than in the working of small-powered engines and boilers. He should place next in liability to accident boilers in kitchens, of which lamentable explosions had occurred during the winter; and he should place lowest and last the very class of boilers and engines which were to be brought under this Bill. One would imagine there were no safety valves. Then, power was often so distributed, that if it could be used only by engineers having certificates, a tremendous tax would be put upon industry. To show how absurdly this Bill had been drafted, he would point out that it made no reference to steam-hammers. They were a very important power in the works of this country. The steam which drove them was derived generally from a set of boilers used for the whole establishment, and was not, therefore, under the control of the engine-driver, who might be hundreds of feet from the boilers. It was absurd, therefore, to bring him under the necessity of an examination. He had often come across the most intelligent and valuable workmen who could not sign their own names, and he could hardly conceive any practical man designing a Bill which would require that something should be driven into the heads of such men merely for the purpose of passing an examination to be all forgotten in a month.
Provision is made for such men as the hon. Member is now speaking about. Such men would not require certificates of competency. They would get certificates of service.
said, he was altogether against these diplomas. Lads and men might be found to read and write very well and do a little arithmetic, but that did not enable them to manage engines any better. The idea seemed to be to bring the rising generation of mechanics under the control of a certain class who wanted to rule the roast. Such a Bill as this would, he was certain, have the effect of seriously injuring the industries of this country; and he looked upon it as not only unnecessary, but anything but encouraging, to youths who, starting with a donkey engine, rose gradually by steps until they ultimately became thoroughly well-trained engine drivers. He was very sorry indeed that so practical a man as the Member for Gateshead should have promoted such a Bill, and he sincerely hoped that the House would not seriously consider the Second Reading.
said, it struck him that there was rather an omission from the Bill. It did not include men in charge of oil, gas, and electric engines. Such engines were coming into use to a large extent, and were quite as dangerous as steam engines.
said, he had much sympathy with the remarks of the hon. Member for Belfast. He was very doubtful as to the policy of taking any responsibility off the shoulders of managers and owners of large works, and, so far as he was able to understand, the object of this Bill, its effect would be that, inasmuch as this certificate could not be refused to any workman, any man who had obtained it might very fairly be put in command of a large engine or boiler. If in that way an accident occurred, a very large amount of responsibility which now attached to employers might be removed. Perhaps he was not thoroughly conversant with the Bill, but, as far as he understood it at present, it would be his duty to vote against the Second Reading.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Bill read 2°.
I move, Sir, that this Bill be referred to a Select Committee.
Motion agreed to.
Church Patronage Bill
in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, said, he was very glad to have the opportunity of inviting not only Churchmen on both sides of the House, but Nonconformists also, who had on a recent occasion expressed a friendly feeling for good Church work, to assist him in passing this Bill, which was of a very moderate character, but which was required for the purpose of removing certain grievances which existed in connection with the selection of persons to fill benefices. The first part of the Bill was designed to prevent, as far as possible, unfit persons being instituted by lay persons who had the patronage; and the second part, to facilitate the removal by a bishop of those who, from one cause or another, had proved themselves incapable of discharging their high and responsible duties. It was not the Bill that was presented to the House last year. It did not deal with the transfer of the right of patronage. There were two ways of stopping the institution of improper people into livings. The first method would be by limiting the right of patrons to transfer their patronage. With that matter it was not proposed to deal. It would be dealt with by a Bill to be introduced by the Archbishop of Canterbury in another place. The second method was to be found in the power of the Bishops to refuse to institute improper presentees, and with that power this Bill did deal. It was considered that these powers ought to be clearly defined, and, therefore, the Bill proposed to define accurately, and possibly to enlarge to some extent, the powers of the Bishops to refuse institution to improper presentees. The only novelty in the Bill was that it gave to the parishioners a right to lodge objections to presentees. The first two clauses defined accurately the power which Bishops had to refuse to institute the presentees of lay patrons until they were satisfied that the presentee was a fit and proper person to discharge the office. The procedure in future, if the Bill became law, would be this. The lay patron would send down the usual written instrument informing the Bishop that he had appointed, so far as he could, A. B. to the vacant living, and humbly requesting the Bishop to institute him. The Bishop would thereupon require from the presentee a statutory declaration as to all the offices and benefices he might have enjoyed or occupied since his ordination as a deacon. He would also require letters-testimonial from three beneficed clergymen, countersigned by the Bishop of the diocese in which those clergymen held livings. The Bishop would then send a written notice to the Churchwardens of the parish, informing them that he had been desired to institute A. B. to the benefice, and the Churchwardens would in the usual way give notice to the parishioners. During the month which followed any parishioner would have the right to represent in writing to the Bishop that he considered A. B. an unfit and improper person to be instituted. The Bishop would then give the presentee notice that such an objection had been made, and give him a reasonable opportunity of being heard. If the Bishop then should satisfy himself that a presentee was unfitted for the discharge of the pastoral duty of the benefice to which he had been presented "by reason of any circumstance, not being a question of doctrine or ritual," which might be adduced by any parishioner, the Bishop, if he was of opinion, after having given to such presentee a reasonable opportunity of being heard, that the institution would on such ground be injurious to the interests of the parish, might refuse to institute the presentee. This power of presentation was, he thought, a very proper power to give to parishioners, and Nonconformists, he believed, would approve it. He was completely opposed to the idea that a congregation should be able to choose their minister, and he did not believe that the laity of the Church of England desired so large a power as that. He held, however, that parishioners should at least have the right to lodge objections againt the institution of an unfit and improper person, and that when such objections were tenable the Bishop ought to refuse to admit that person to the benefice. The Bishop, if he should refuse, would have to give notice both to the patron and the presentee, and the latter, having obtained in writing from the Bishop the grounds for his refusal, would have a right of appeal to the Archbishop of the province, whose decision of the matter would be final. These provisions did not go very much further than the existing canon law. But the powers conferred by the canon law were not vigorously enforced by the Bishops, for though that law was binding proprio vigore upon the Bishops themselves, it was not equally binding upon the laity. So many objections could be raised to the present procedure that the Bishops too often shrunk nervously from refusing to institute unfit persons. His desire was to transfer the power which the Bishops had at present from the shadowy region of the canon law to the concrete region of a statutory enactment. The words "by reason of any circumstance, not being a question of doctrine or ritual," had been adopted by the promoters of the measure because the Grand Committee on Law which considered the Bill of 1894 appeared to approve a general definition of that kind. He thought it better not to define too accurately the many grounds on which a bishop might very properly refuse to institute the presentee of a lay patron. He held himself that a bishop would be justified in refusing to institute a presentee if it so happened that the church was a very big church, and that the presentee had a very small voice. If the presentee should be disqualified by some natural defect from discharging adequately the duties of the office to be entrusted to him, that would, in his opinion, constitute sufficient ground for a refusal to institute; but details of that kind were for consideration in Committe. He now came to the second part of the Bill, which gave the Bishop rather larger powers than he possessed at present for the removal from parishes of thoroughly incompetent persons. There were clauses dealing with sequestration and bankruptcy. On the bankruptcy of an incumbent, where sequestration took place within one year after institution, or where sequestration continued during a whole year, or where there were two sequestrations in two years, the Bishop was to have power to declare the benefice void. This was but a small advance, for under the Pluralities Act of 1838 (1 and 2 Vict., c. 106) power was given to bishops, where there was persistent bankruptcy and insolvency, to declare a benefice void. Certain difficulties, however, with respect to procedure, had arisen under the Pluralities Act, and the promoters of the Bill before the House wished to make it perfectly clear that when a clergyman was hopelessly insolvent, the Bishop should be able to remove him from an office which he could no longer fill with dignity. The next part of the Bill dealt with the continuing mental and bodily infirmities of clergymen. Here, again, what he asked the House to do was to extend the powers already possessed by the Bishop under the Incumbents Resignation Act of 1871. A clergyman could himself put that Act in motion by asking the Bishop to appoint a commission to inquire whether he was not permanently disabled through bodily or mental infirmity from the discharge of the duties of his office. Then, if three out of five commissioners reported that he was disabled, he was entitled to have his resignation accepted, and to have a pension of not less than one-third of his income as incumbent. In this Bill it was proposed that the Bishop should be able to put this machinery in motion as well as the incumbent, and that the provision should be applicable to all incumbents. The Bishop was to have power to issue a commission, under the Resignations Acts of 1871 and 1887, on the representation of any five parishioners that the incumbent of the parish had for three years been incompetent through bodily or mental infirmity. The commission would consist of five persons, and if four of them should find that the incumbent was incompetent, the Bishop would be empowered to accept his resignation and to appoint curates to do his work, a certain portion of the emoluments being allowed to the retiring incumbent as a pension. This could not inflict any hardship upon the clergy. If the powers of lawyers or doctors failed their practice left them, but at present, when a clergyman's powers failed his parishioners could not get rid of him. It was Hobson's choice for them. The interests of the clergy ought not to be considered in preference to the interests of the parishioners in these cases. The position of the clergy in respect of the length of their service was far better than that of officers in the Army and Navy and of Civil servants, who had to retire at the age of sixty-five on a pension, although they might be still quite competent to perform the duties of their posts. Lastly, besides dealing with insolvency and incapacity, this Bill went further—and this was the only portion of the Bill which had not passed through the Grand Committee on Law. The Bill differed, therefore, from the Bill as presented to the House, and which was passed by the Grand Committee on Law last year. This Bill dealt with gross incompetence on the part of incumbents. By Clause 4 power was given to the Bishop, by his own initiation, to require Commissioners—who were the same as those appointed under the Pluralities Act, 1885—to inquire and report as to the adequate performance of ecclesiastical duties of the benefice, as to whether the incumbent was able or willing competently to discharge the cure of souls. If the Commissioners reported in writing to the Bishop that the incumbent was unable or unwilling it would be lawful for the Bishop to inhibit the incumbent from office, and the incumbent would be in the same position as if suspended, and the Bishop would appoint a curate or curates to undertake the duties of the parish, and allot them a certain portion of the income formerly enjoyed by the incumbent inhibited. This was not a great increase on the powers which were found already in the old Pluralities Act. There the Bishop was given power in the case, mainly, of absence from the parish, to appoint Commissioners to inquire whether the ecclesiastical duties were being adequately performed, and if these duties were not adequately performed then to appoint a curate or curates to perform the duties of the benefice which had been neglected by the incumbent to whom they were originally entrusted. The definition of "ecclesiastical duties" was taken from the Pluralities Amendment Act, 1885, supported by the ex-Prime Minister, and which was introduced by the Minister of Education. It included not only the regular and due performance of Divine Service on Sundays and Holy Days, but all such duties as any clergyman holding a benefice was bound to perform or the performance of which he solemnly promised at the time of Ordination. To show that the House was willing to further enlarge the powers of the Bishops and to increase these ecclesiastical duties the House in that Act gave the Bishops in the four Welsh dioceses power to call on the presentee of a lay patron, or any incumbent before he instituted him to perform certain services in the Welsh language. Therefore, in now enlarging the powers of the Bishops, they were at all events following precedents that had been set by the House and agreed to by both Parties in the House. The Bishop after all was primarily responsible for the cure of souls from one end of his diocese to the other; and he contended that the Bishops ought to have greater powers than he possessed at present to insist that those who served under them, and to whom they delegated part of their duties, should be fit and proper persons. That it had been so by custom and law could be proved from the words the Bishops used to use in instituting a presentee: "Instituo te rectorem talis ecclesciœ cum curâ animarum; et accipe curam tuam et meam." He believed it met with the general approval of the House that the Bishop should have larger powers than he possessed at present. In the present case there would be an appeal to the Archbishop before the inhibition took place, and he would vary its terms or say that it should not take place. To some people's minds this Bill might appear to be drastic. To him it seemed to be the most moderate measure that the laity could possibly ask for. He himself would go further in invading the sacred freehold of the clergy. In these days, when all men agreed that property had its duties as well as its rights, he thought it should be especially so regarding Church property. He hoped that this Bill would meet with general acceptance in all parts of the House, and that earnest-minded Nonconformists would take the same attitude on this Bill that they took when a similar Bill came before the House in 1894, and allow it to be read a second time. Whilst they based their opposition to the Church on Disestablishment and Disendowment they surely would not wish her to be left unable to remedy the ills from which she suffered? He did not suggest that there was any general delinquency of duty on the part of the clergy, or that there were many clergymen he regarded as black sheep. He believed they were increasingly few, and that the character and conduct and standard of duty of the clergy never stood higher than it did at this end of the Nineteenth Century. Regarding the matter whether as Churchmen or Nonconformists, clergy or laity, he believed it was in the interests of religion pure and undefiled that some such measure as this should be passed. He hoped the Bill would meet with the general acceptance of the House, and be allowed to be read a second time.
said, the Bill illustrated the fallaciousness of the statements constantly made in and out of that House in regard to the position of the Established Church. During the recent Debate on the Welsh Disestablishment Bill, and all through the Debates on the Local Government Bill of last year, the Church of England was described simply as one of the denominations, and those who did not belong to it were asked to accord to it the same treatment that the various non-Established communities had received from the State. Within the last few days he had met with a statement which accurately defined the position now taken by so many members of the Church of England. The Church Review said:—
No more to do with Parliament than the members of the various Nonconformist communities! What Nonconformist community ever dreamed of coming to that House to ask for means to prevent the entrance of unsuitable men into the ministry, or to obtain facilities for getting rid of them when they had entered it? There was no religious community in the land, however humble, which would permit that House to exercise any authority or have any voice in such matters. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester, in the course of the Debate on the Welsh Disestablishment Bill, expressed great satisfaction at the discovery of the fact that Parliament had passed 1,400 Statutes regulatirng the affairs of the Church of England—he seemed to be as pleased with the number as a child might be with the number of its toys. But there were Churchmen older and wiser than the noble Lord, who had not been in the habit of regarding legislation for the Church with the same complacency. That estimable nobleman the late Lord Carnarvon, speaking on this subject in 1881, said—''It cannot be too strongly affirmed, or too often repeated, that the Church of England as a body has no more to do with Parliament than the Roman Catholics or Protestant Dissenters. We all have to come to Parliament when we want anything for ourselves as citizens or when our civil rights are threatened. But the Church needs no authority from Parliament. She only has to go to the Queen when she wants coercive jurisdiction for her canons."
Other Churchmen had agreed with the noble Lord in desiring that the Church should henceforth let Parliament severely alone. The late Mr. W. E. Forster summed up the position in 1881, in these words—"None but the most short-sighted will look to legislation as a remedy for our present difficulties. The conditions of Parliament, as now constituted, are incapable of wise and just legislation on Church questions. There is scarcely a line on this subject [Church Discipline and Ritual] in the Statute Book of recent years which would not be better out than in; and, whatever our difficulties, and even our contentions, the less we have of Parliamentary interposition the happier we shall be."
If an illustration were needed of the incongruity of the existing politico-ecclesiastical arrangements they had it in that day's "Orders of the Day." Thirty Bills were enumerated. One had been disposed of already, relating to steam engines and boilers. The others related to meat, drink, taxation, houses, land, and shipping. There was no incongruity in all these matters being dealt with by the House, because the House had the requisite knowledge and competency. But would any one affirm that the House was competent, late on a Wednesday afternoon, thoroughly to deal with a question so full of difficulties as that to which the Bill now before the House related? The difficulty in regard to this question would not be so great as it admittedly was if the Bill before the House embodied the views of the great mass of Churchmen. The hon. Member had represented that he expressed the views of all who were interested in Church work. He must be strangely ignorant of the mind of some sections of the Church to which he belonged when he made that statement. There was not a name of a single Low Churchman on the back of the Bill. Most of the Members belonged to the High Church party, and within the last 48 hours he had been informed that strong objections were entertained to the Bill by an important section of the Church. When he glanced at the statement of objections which had been circulated his eye fell on certain strong epithets. He found that such epithets were applied to the Bill as "iniquitous," "monstrous," "dangerous," "cruel and oppressive," "an attempt to make Parliament the tool of an aggressive faction." At first sight he thought that these epithets must have some relation to a new Disestablishment Bill, or some other measure devised by wicked Liberationists wishing to injure or to destroy the Church; but, they related to this Bill, and the objections emanated from a section of the Church of England which the hon. Gentleman professed to represent as a whole. They were, indeed, objections of one portion of the Church against the proposals of another portion of the Church, and the House was asked to adjudicate between them. He was disposed to say of this wide difference of opinion that it was a very pretty quarrel as it stood; and, personally, he should have no objection to the continuance of the discussion, provided the discussion were outside the walls of the House. The question was proper enough to be dealt with by Convocation, by Church Congresses, and Diocesan Synods; but it was not a question with which the House of Commons was competent to deal. Among the objections which had been circulated against the Bill, they were told that it completely altered the status of lay patrons and the entire clergy; it was an attempt to outlaw the English clergy and to place them at the absolute mercy of the Bishops. There were certain provisions in the Bill which ought to receive the serious attention of the Law Officers of the Crown. The Bill was denounced because of the greatly increased power it gave to the Bishops. He had observed in recent years, while members of the Church of England, as a whole, professed a very great regard for the Episcopacy in the abstract. they seemed to view it with profound distrust when they looked at it in the concrete. He did not know of any class of public functionaries who were the subject of greater abuse and greater obloquy on the part of some members of the Church of England than those who occupied the Episcopal Bench of that Church. He could not wonder at the laity of the Church expressing such strong views, when he found that an occupant of the Episcopal Bench said pretty much the same things of his brethren. The Bishop of Liverpool, in one of his well-known papers on Church Reform, said:—"The Church of England is the only great institution in the world which has to go on almost without the possibility of reform; because it can only be reformed by Parliament, and Parliament cannot effectually reform it."
It was, however, to those functionaries that the promoters of the Bill were proposing to give greatly increased power, and to do so in the teeth of the protests from members of their own Church. He was aware of the difficulty which lay at the root of the whole matter. He must admit that greater safeguards were needed in the admission of those whose who desired to assume the ministerial office in the Church, and he must also admit that there should be greater facilities for ridding the Church of ministers who had proved themselves to be unworthy to fill so high and sacred an office; but the difficulty lay in the fact that they had no other authority than that of the Episcopal Bench to attain those desirable ends. That was not the case with the non-established bodies. They were not obliged to have recourse to the courts of law, except in very rare cases, to rid themselves of obnoxious and unsuitable ministers. The hon. Member had attempted to show that the Bill also increased the power of the laity. But the power given to the Bishops was substance; to the laity it was simply shadow. They had the right to make complaints, but no power to enforce them. That fact illustrated afresh the absolute helplessness of the laity of the Church with regard to the appointment and dismissal of their ministers. He thought that this was a very small attempt to deal with a very great evil; an attempt to solve a problem which, if it were not in soluble, would never be solved by such a measure as this. It was an attempt to bolster up a system which was radically unsound; and which could not be logically defended, and, like all such attempts, it must ultimately fail. He sympathised with those godly members of the Church of England who were anxious to cleanse as well as to defend it. He desired that they should possess ample means for removing the deplorable evils of which they complained, but they would never be able to accomplish the reform which they felt to be so needful so long as their Church, as established by law, had to come to Parliament to obtain the needed changes. With regard to Church reforms, there was a passage in the "Greville Memoirs," which was worth quoting:—"The power of our Bishops is at present far too autocratic; as things are now I know no one hardly except a Roman Dictator or a Russian Tsar, who is such a thoroughly irresponsible autocrat as an English Bishop. No one has such absolute official power as he has, and no one is so entirely non-accountable to anybody but himself. I believe that no mortal man is fit to have such power."
Happily, there was no dry rot in the Church of England, and there was no necessity for pulling down that great institution. The evil lay elsewhere. It was to be found in the machinery by which the Church was upheld by the State, and when that machinery was abandoned and the Church stood free and untrammelled, it would become a purified, because a liberated Church."They [Churchmen] are in the situation of a man who has got an old house in which he can no longer live. Various architects propose this and that alteration—to build a room here and pull down one there—but at last they find that all these alterations will only serve to make the house habitable a little while longer, that the dry rot is in it, and that they had better begin, as they will be obliged to end, by pulling it down and building a new one."
said, it was difficult to understand the motives which had led the hon. Member to address the House. He had expressed the belief that the Church of England was not a rotten institution, that it had life and vigour in it, and that the clergy had found in their duties a scope for in creasing usefulness. Why, then, did the hon. Member offer opposition to a Bill which was designed to remove admitted evils and to provide the members of the Church of England with a voluntary, spontaneous, and self-enjoying remedy? The hon. Member had spoken in tones of ridicule, and had shown that he had no desire to assist the members of the Church of England to obtain a remedy for admitted evils and for the removal of scandals which hindered the sacred work of the clergy. The hon. Member quoted from The Church Review, which he presumed took a somewhat high line in maintaining the independence of the Church, and the undesirableness of its control by Parliament. Did the hon. Member make the arguments of The Church Review his own? Did he desire that the Church of England, in the enjoyment of its present privileges, should be removed from all control by Parliament? He imagined not, and he believed that the House would recognise that the hon. Member's objections rested upon hostility to a Church Establishment. The inevitable inference to be drawn from the tone of the hon. Member's remarks was, that he would deny to the Church of England as long as it remained an Establishment the opportunity to amend itself. The hon. Gentleman said that the Nonconformists did not come to Parliament for a reform in their constitution or procedure. The reason was, because the members of Nonconformist bodies were bound by the terms of their organisation, and if any member had reason to complain of some action as being contrary to the covenant, recourse was had to the Civil Courts. The Church of England could not go beyond the powers intrusted to it by Parliament for dealing with its internal abuses. The Established Church of Scotland rested on a different footing; it had the amplest powers of dealing with its constitution of any Church in Christendom. Parliament was not prepared to place the Church of England in the same position of freedom, and, therefore, the Church was obliged to come to Parliament for power to establish any reforms. It would be monstrous and most unworthy of those who did not belong to the communion of the Church to refuse to it the means of reforming abuses. The Church had not been in a hurry to come to Parliament; and he trusted that Nonconformists would not grudge the little time which the affairs of the Church required. If the House, by its constitution, were incompetent to deal with Church questions of doctrine and ritual, it might, at least, have confidence in the opinion of the Church at large, when clearly expressed. The hon. Member for the Mansfield Division said that the Church was not unanimous on this question, and quoted a circular of objections to the Bill. The hon. Member might leave Church people to settle this question for themselves, instead of taking a malicious delight in dwelling on such differences as did exist. Objection might well be taken to the tone of some of the remarks in that circular of objections; he regretted that such a document should have emanated from members of the Church at all; and that in this day the freehold rights of the clergyman should be regarded as too sacred to touch. The House could not believe that interference with an unfit or incompetent clergyman was an unjust invasion of his right. No clergyman ought to have a cure of souls unless he were qualified for that position, and performed the duties which he had sworn to fulfil with fidelity and efficiency. It was a crying wrong that the people committed to the charge of an unfit clergyman should have no remedy. As to the rights of the presentee and patron, the second sub-section of the second clause expressly provided for a reference to him. And it could not be said that the Bishop was not the proper authority to exercise jurisdiction under the Bill. To take the lowest view of the Bishop's office, he was the superintending presbyter, charged with the duty of seeing that his co-presbyters did their duty. No more moderate measure had ever been presented to Parliament; the rights of all persons concerned were carefully guarded; and, unless the House declined altogether to give the Church power to reform abuses within itself, it could not refuse so judicious a Bill, framed to do justice to the laity, and to assist the fulfilment of those great ends for which every Church existed.
said, that it was one of "life's little ironies" that having a week ago stood before the House as an opponent of Church Establishments, he should now have to support a Bill for the Better Regulation of an Established Church. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year gave his support to a Bill of the same name, and of a rather similar character, it was not for him to withhold that support from the Second Reading of the Bill before the House. But this Bill was by no means identical with the Bill of last year. The main part of last year's measure related to the prohibition of the sale of livings, and the whole of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech was devoted to that portion of the Bill. All those provisions had disappeared from the present Bill. However, there was a certain amount of matter common to the two Bills, and the support given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to last year's measure therefore covered much of the present Bill. But not only were the provisions about the sale of livings omitted; some new clauses were included providing for the removal of clergymen, on the ground of proved inadequacy and unfitness. That was a point on which the Government reserved perfect freedom of action should the Bill ever reach the Committee stage. The hon. Member for the Mansfield Division quoted from a circular emanating from the Church Association, which was by common consent not the wisest of bodies. The authors of that circular were unnecessarily alarmed by this Bill. What was evidently in their minds was the dread that some Bishop of High Church tendencies should be able to veto the appointment of a clergyman whose views coincided more nearly with those of the Church Association. But the Bill expressly provided that questions of doctrine and ritual should not be regarded by the Bishop, but that he should only take into account unfitness of life and morals and social conduct. There was no ground for this fear on the part of the Church Association. The precedent of the Welsh Bishops was quoted and their power by recent legislation to exclude Clergymen from livings who did not speak Welsh. Such an act of exclusion by a Welsh Bishop had recently been performed in the case of a nominee of Lord Abergavenny, and the state of the law which authorised such a veto would seem to be a precedent for this Bill. There was one point in the Bill which seemed to him to be of great value. A bishop would have the power to inquire into any suspicious gap or hiatus in the ministerial life of any gentleman recommended for preferment in the Church. Recent experience had convinced him that some such provision was desirable. Not long after the present Government was formed a gentleman wrote to, and called upon him, to express a desire to be appointed to a Chancellor's living. The gentleman was of respectable appearance, and, as far as the ordinary sources of information went, of blameless antecedents. But there was a gap of some seven or eight years in his life unaccounted for, and he felt that, before he could recommend the gentleman's name to the Chancellor, he must have information as to how those years had been passed. The gentleman stated that the years had been spent in research; but he said that he was bound to add that this research had led him to a conclusion not generally entertained by clergymen. This conclusion was that concubinage was a state of life sanctioned by God in Holy Scripture; he admitted that he had lived in that state for several years with a lady whom he had subsequently married, and that he felt bound to avow the fact, because he thought that his opinion, and the practice founded on it, might be considered a bar to Church preferment. He left the gentleman to settle the matter with the Chancellor; but it was clear that the present state of the law, by which a clergyman was instituted into a benefice, without any inquiry into such a hiatus being enforceable, might lead to very undesirable results. It was with a view to guarding against the occurrence of such undesirable appointments that he, for his own part, should support the Second Reading of the Bill, reserving to himself and the Members of the Government full liberty to criticise any of its details hereafter.
observed, that it was with very great pleasure he had heard the announcement made that the Government were disposed to support the Second Reading of this Bill. He was glad to be able to say he agreed, at any rate, with two of the propositions laid down by the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division. The hon. Member had told them it was a great pity they should have to come to Parliament when the Church required anything to be done in the way of altering any arrangements, and he had also told them that this was a small attempt to remedy the grievances in the Church, which were large. He agreed with the hon. Member, but he did not draw the same deduction. It seemed to him that though it was humiliating to the Church to be obliged to come to Parliament on every occasion, it was the duty of Parliament to do the best it could to remedy the difficulties the Church laboured under. He agreed they were not a fit and proper body to deal with Church matters, but they were the only body, and, therefore, it was their duty to deal with them, and to deal with them in such a way as should be consonant with the feelings of Churchmen. Coming to the Bill itself, it had been said that it gave, and certainly it did give some increased power to the Episcopal Bench. They, as Churchmen, regarded the Bishop as an overseer, who had to look over and attend to the Church, who had to preside over the remainder of the clergy. It was true that their Bishops were not chosen in the way they should like to see them chosen. They resented the nomination of their Bishops by Prime Ministers, or by the Crown on the recommendation of Prime Ministers; but they were their Bishops, and, as Churchmen, they desired to make the best of them. When one reflected upon the men who had been appointed, not-withstanding the mode of appointment, one was almost tempted to say there had been Divine guidance in the matter. When they saw how the appointments were made, it was a marvel to him that they should have men of the kind they had, and who, notwithstanding the manner of their appointment, were a credit to the Church. With the object of the Bill, the prevention of unfit persons holding benefices, all would agree; with the mode of effecting it there might be difference of opinion. He contended that the Bishop was obviously the only person in whose hands the power could be placed of dealing with beneficed clergymen who might be unfit to be instituted, or who, if beneficed, were unfit to remain in the benefices. This Bill, for the first time, gave the parishioner some sort of voice in dealing with the incumbent who, it was proposed, should be placed in the benefice in the parish in which he lived; for such parishioner would be able to represent in writing any ground of un-fitness alleged against the minister selected. At the present time the members of the Church of England had no voice whatever in the selection of the minister who was to be placed over them. It might be said that by the proposal in the Bill the parson and the patron might have their rights endangered. He did not think so. First of all, it was not at all probable that the Bishop would be capricious in the matter; and secondly, if he should be capricious or unfair, that unfairness was provided against by an appeal which was given to the Archbishop. With a view to making that appeal still more satisfactory, when they came to deal with the Bill in Committee he should move that the trial of the appeal should take place in open court. It was brought as a ground of complaint against the Church, that for any action, or for any change it was obliged to come to Parliament. He admitted the necessity and deplored it. But they did not stand alone. Churchmen were not the only body who had had to come to Parliament; he found so lately as 1870 a body called the Primitive Methodist Wesleyan Society of Ireland came to that House and procured an Act of Parliament, in the schedule of which they set forth the doctrines of their Society. Personally, his opinion coincided with that of the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division when he said that Disestablishment was the only cure for the great grievances of the Church; but, meantime, he ventured to ask the House to do what he thought they would feel to be their duty—to do the best they could for the Church of England, and read this Bill a second time.
remarked, that the hon. Member had called attention to an Act of Parliament which crystallized the doctrinal standards of the Primitive Methodist community in Ireland, but there was a much wider authority of that doctrine, namely, the Methodist Conference Act of 1876, which enabled that great Nonconformist community, ranking in this country only second to the Church of England, to cut asunder its Colonial Churches, and it became necessary to schedule the deed poll which governed the doctrinal standards of the Methodist Church. They had been asked by some of the Church members supporting this Bill what Nonconformists could possibly have to do with a measure which, apparently, from their aspect, affected simply the Church of England? At the first sight that might be a reasonable question to put, although it ignored the popular doctrine that, as parishioners, Nonconformists, at present at all events, had as much right as Churchmen to take part in the management of matters concerning the doctrine and teachings of the Church of England. In a vast number of the rural parishes Nonconformists were chiefly concerned not about what went on inside the Church, but in what went on in the national schools in the villages. When they recollected that there were thousands of national schools in the villages of England, where the Church clergyman was practically supreme, they would see that Dissenters were interested in seeing that the clergyman, in a village especially, was a man of great ability, of a good life, and successful in his religious enterprises. They were, therefore, though Nonconformists, to some extent interested in the present Bill, and they were delighted when any attempt was made to secure in connection with the Church the services of an efficient and capable clergyman who could perform the important duties and requirements connected with his office. It was on that ground he spoke in favour of the Church Patronage Bill last year, and he was sorry that what he considered the far more material point of the Bill of this year would not come before them. He would remind the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division that when they had this question threshed out in the Grand Committee on Law, and had to decide whether they were going to clothe the episcopal authority in this country with greater power, the Nonconformist Members were rather surprised to see a distinct cleavage in the Committee—the Members for the Isle of Wight and West Bristol voting on one side, and the Members for Rochester and West Edinburgh on the other. They were somewhat perplexed to know on what side to vote. For his part he was not in doubt, and he voted against the concentration of authority in the hands of ecclesiastical officials. He did not believe in adding to the power of any ecclesiastics, whether they were Nonconformist or Church ecclesiastics. He would far sooner place the authority in the hands of a joint assembly of clergy and laymen. He had never heard such feeble reasons given for a Bill as had been advanced for this measure. They were told that this Bill added very little to the powers of the Bishops, and were also told that it affected the clergy only in a slight degree. He supposed the first argument was addressed to the nervous people, who were afraid of strengthening ecclesiastical authority and power, while the second was addressed to the still more numerous nervous people—the clergy of the Church, who were afraid that they might be driven out of their quiet livings and have to give an account of their services, and be tested by the practical issue of results. There was another important point. The Bill extends to Wales; and if the Established Church (Wales) Bill became an Act, the question, remained how this Bill would have any bearing on the Reformed Church of England in Wales. He hoped the Bill would go to the Standing Committee, and although it seemed a very trifling little Bill, and ought not to receive much assistance either from the lay patrons or old clergy, still it would be the duty of every Nonconformist on the Committee to try and lick it into some sort of practical shape.
expressed his gratification with the manner in which the Bill had on the whole been received. The Under Secretary of State stated that the Bill did not contain some provisions which were in the Bill last year, and, on the other hand, it contained some things which that Bill did not contain. He frankly admitted that was the case; but if he might reveal ecclesiastical secrets, which hon. Members might have already heard there was an idea that a Bill embodying some of the provisions, the absence of which had been noted, would be introduced in another place, and might come down to this House hereafter. It was thought better that the different parts of the subject should be treated separately, and that the disciplinary provisions should be considered in this measure. Two opposite terrors seemed to be aroused in connection with this measure. One terror was, that it would put too much power into the hands of the Bishops, and that by means of this power clergymen who did not hold certain theological views would be subjected to persecution. In answer to that, he need only say that whatever the differences between High and Low Churchmen might be, he never yet heard there was any difference among them on questions of morality. It would be an insult to the Evangelical party to say that any Bishop would take injurious action against a clergyman who did not happen to agree with him in theology, and would, therefore, proceed against him on some question of morality. On the other hand hon. Members opposite would like to see a lay tribunal, but Churchmen belonged to a Church which was governed by Bishops, and they trusted their Bishops. It was much more a danger that the Bishops would find themselves so much hedged round by the safeguards of this Bill, supported by a large amount of generous, and, perhaps, too indulgent public opinion, that they would hesitate long before putting those provisions in force. With regard to another matter which had been mentioned, personally he did not care whether a barrister or a magistrate were placed upon the Commission proposed to be appointed under the Bill, but it was thought that, in order to protect the interests of an incriminated clergyman who was to be tried by such a Commission, a barrister of standing, coming, perhaps, from London, and recommended by high authority, would be more likely to be unprejudiced and impartial than a magistrate who might be a neighbour of the clergyman, and possibly prejudiced by rumours he had heard about his in competence or conduct. He agreed that this was just one of the class of Bills which could best be dealt with by the Standing Committee on Law, and he might mention as a remarkable fact that the parallel Bill came out of the Grand Committee last year a stronger Bill than it went in. He wished to pay that honour to those who had not been supporters of the Bill, that they were willing so to strengthen it.
protested against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Sir J. Fergusson) complaining against Nonconformits taking part in the Debate on this Bill. If there was one principle recognised in this House more than another, it was the absolute equality of Members of Parliament, as regards taking part in any Debate on any Bill which happened to come before the House.
I never intended to convey that impression.
accepted the statement of the hon. Member, but he reminded him that he referred to the action of the hon. Member for Nottingham as a "malicious interference." It had been contended that the Church was free and unfettered, but the introduction of this Bill was conclusive proof that the Church was bound to the State. She found herself unable to effect the very smallest reform without coming to the House of Commons, a secular body, in order to have it done. He had always said that the Church ought to be reformed. There were scores, if not hundreds, of reforms which, as they heard from different bodies in the Church, the Church required; and if they were to legislate to reform the Church the House of Commons would enter upon an unending task. The Church was indeed placed in an ignominious position. One section of the Church, by no means a small one, made an almost piteous appeal to him, a Nonconformist, to save the Church from the hands of hon. Members on the other side of the House, and against the iniquity of the attempt to place clergymen at the absolute mercy of their Bishops. An hon. Gentleman opposite said the Church had absolute confidence in their Bishops, but that did not represent the views of the whole Church. They said:—
He therefore found himself, as a Member of Parliament, appealed to by one section of Churchmen to support the Bill, and by another to oppose it. He had no objection to the Church being reformed, but in view of these conflicting elements he held that the House of Commons, constituted as it was to-day. and was ever likely to be, was not the right body to reform it."The centralisation of despotic power, to be wielded in secrecy in the hands of Bishops, is an expedient most dangerous to the clergy and to the welfare of the Established Church."
said, he thoroughly agreed with the remarks of the preceding speaker—that the House of Commons was not the proper place in which an important measure of this kind ought to be decided; but it was at present the only tribunal open for the ventilation of the subject, which was of extreme importance. He regretted that on a matter fundamentally affecting the welfare of the Church, he found himself entirely at issue with those with whom, on almost every social and political question, he had for years been in thorough harmony. The object of the measure was to confer upon the Bishops, or overseers, of the Church an additional and practically irresponsible power. Under this Bill, an accusation could be brought forward by an unknown person, who did not declare his identity; that accusation was heard in secret, no opportunity was offered to the accused person of knowing who his accuser was or what he was accused of; and he might be deprived of his means of living and of his status in his profession on the ipse dixit of a Church functionary, who was in no way responsible to a Court of Justice for the decision he might give. The foundation of the liberties of the people of this country was, that any accused person should be fairly, honestly, and openly tried by experienced judges; and he wished to know for what reason the clergy were to be excluded from a law which governed their fellow men, and why their privileges and liberties were to be subjected to the irresponsible authority of those who, after all, were merely human? It was supposed that a Bishop, in virtue of his high office, could do no wrong. He had the greatest regard and respect for the Bishops as a body, but they would have to be more than human to be entrusted with such drastic powers as the Bill proposed to confer upon them. If the Bishops must really wield those powers, then the House would have to consider whether some other method, than that now in vogue, of appointing them should not be adopted. The second clause provided that any parishioner might send to the Bishop a representation in writing of his objection to the institution on any ground which entitled the Bishop to refuse to institute. That was an extremely wide power. Nothing was said about the accused being furnished with a copy of the accusation, and there was no provision for the decision of the Bishop being laid before a Court of Law for the purpose of deciding its legality. This drastic power might be used as an engine of oppression by a Bishop against his brother clergyman. A power which could deprive a man of his living, of his status in the profession, of his good name before the world at large, should not be wielded in camera either by a Bishop or an Archbishop responsible to no person. And when they had, by this sort of clerical Star Chamber—for he could call it nothing else—utterly ruined and broken down the prospects of an unfortunate man who had fallen into their clutches, there was no human appeal left by which his grievance could be redressed. That was the principle which the House was asked to affirm by this Bill. It was the principle of trampling on the rights of a worthy class of Englishmen whom they all respected, and when the House came to a decision upon it, he hoped they would say that the Bishops, as at present appointed, were not to be entrusted with such powers. He moved that the Bill be read a second time on that day six months.
seconded the Amendment. He had no objection, he said, to the House dealing with the Church. So long as the Church was established no one could object to its regulation by the civil power. But his experience had been that the appointments and regulation of Bishops were not always quite as perfect as they might be. He had found over and over again that a Bishop holding particular views had given to a whole district clergymen whose views, while agreeing with his own, differed from those of the people in the district. Unfortunately this Bill, instead of giving more power to the parishioners as a body, only enabled a few of them—and there were one or two discontented people in every parish—to appeal to the Bishop, and the Bishop, had the decision of the case without any reference to the general body of the parishioners. If there had been some provision in the Bill enabling a majority or a large proportion of the parishioners to give their opinion, before the Bishop's decision was carried out, he should have looked upon it as a real reform. There was a provision in the Bill that testimonials should be got from three clergymen, but one knew that testimonials from clergymen were about the least reliable of all testimonials. A clergyman had so many testimonials to give that he very often gave them without careful inquiry. If the Bill gave increased power to the parishioners it would do a great deal of good, but as it merely increased the power of the Bishop's interest effecting any real reform, he believed it would only injure the Church of England.
said, he had not intended to intervene in the Debate, but he thought it was necessary to say a few words in reply to his hon. Friend behind him, who as a Churchman objected to the measure. His hon. Friend's objection was, that the Bill would increase the power of the Bishops. But he absolutely denied that in principle the Bishops' power was increased by the Bill. All it did was so to improve the existing machinery that the Bishops might be able to exercise the powers, which they now had in principle in such a way as to be more beneficial to the Church. The Bill gave the Bishop greater power of refusing the institution of an unfit presentee. But the paper circulated by the Church Association distinctly stated that the Bishop might now refuse to institute an unfit presentee. All that the Bill did, therefore, was to give the Bishop a better chance of carrying out the obvious intention of the law. Again, with regard to the inhibiting of clergymen in cases where the Commissioners certified that the work of the parish was not adequately performed, a similar power was given to the Bishops so long ago as 1838; and the very tribunal to which his hon. Friend so strongly objected—the Bishop sitting in camera, or an appeal to the Archbishop—was the very tribunal enacted in that particular case. All that they were doing by the Bill was to bring the machinery up to date, and to enable the Bishop to carry out the existing law. Did his hon. Friend distrust the Bishops of the Church? Surely the natural person to carry out the exclusion of the immoral parson was the Bishop. He could not understand any Churchman having this profound distrust of the men at the head of the Church. The only question in this Bill was whether the Bishop should institute a man or not, and in doing so he was not to take into consideration any question of doctrine or ritual.
If a Bishop is biassed in one direction, he will probably appoint a man with a leaning in the same ritualistic direction.
pointed out that if the Bishop refused to institute a man, he had to state reasons in writing for refusal. If his reasons were shown to be reasons of ritual or doctrine, those objections would be unlawful, and his refusal could not stand. Turning to those who were not Churchmen, he would ask them to help Churchmen to effect this small, but very useful, reform. Surely it was a matter for Churchmen to decide whether they chose to come to Parliament or not. If they did not object to come to Parliament on such a matter as this, it was not for the Member for Mansfield or other hon. Members to tell Churchmen what they ought and what they ought not to do. He hoped that the Bill would pass its Second Reading that afternoon, and that it would be referred to a Committee, where its details might be threshed out.
asked, in what Church did not differences exist? The fact that there were those differences was some proof of the vitality of the Church, but from the remarks made by certain hon. Members it was clear that much point would be made of the differences existing amongst Churchmen. He believed that the promoters of this Bill represented a large majority of members of the Church of England; and, just as the opinion of the majority prevailed with Nonconformists, so must the majority in the Church prevail upon the present occasion. They had no course but to come to Parliament to effect this reform, and he hoped that the Second Reading would be carried by a large majority. As to the position of the Bishops, probably he himself differed toto cœlo from the views held by many members of the extreme High Church party opposite and outside; but, without entering upon such disputed points, he thought they were all agreed that the Bishops of the Church of England, during the last 40 years, had been men upon whose decisions the whole community would with confidence look, and he believed that this view was shared by Nonconformists also.
only desired to say a very few words. He felt no hesitation about the Introduction into Parliament of a Bill of this kind, the Church of England being at present the Church of the State, and Parliament having, therefore, a perfect right to deal with it. As to this particular Bill, he was heartily in favour of anything which could be done to insure to the National Church a better appointment of officers. He had been thinking, however, that a refusal by a Bishop to institute a person duly presented to a living by the patron might in practice be extremely prejudicial, and perhaps unjustly so, to the person himself in other walks of life. It would put an open and public slur upon a person, and this ought not, in his opinion, to be done without a proper hearing of the case and without proper security to that person. In some cases, no doubt, it might be proper not to adjudicate upon the matter in a public court, but it would, he suggested, be possible for the Bishop to sit in such cases with assessors—he meant assessors with power to vote; at least two, one a layman, the other a clergyman. Perhaps the Archdeacon or Rural Dean and the Chancellor of the Diocese might sit with the Bishop. In some such way as this a council might easily be formed in which more confidence would be felt than in the unaided judicial power of the Bishop himself. If some assistance were given to the Bishop, and if a proper opportunity were secured for the person in question to be heard, he thought that much good might come from this measure. In any event, however, he was sufficiently convinced that additional power should be given in such cases to make him vote without hesitation for the Second Reading.
desired to thank the last speaker for his contribution to the Debate. In his view every possible protection should be given in the case of an institution, and a much wider margin should be allowed to the authorities, whether to the Bishop sitting alone or with assessors as had been suggested. The Member for Eccles had said that it would ruin a man's character to refuse to institute him, but the intention, of a patron to present need never become public property. But if the presentation should become matter of common knowledge amongst the parishioners, and the parishioners should write to their Bishop stating their objections to the proposal presented, then, surely, the interests of the parish should take priority over the interests of the individual, though, of course, the interests of the latter should be safeguarded. All these matters were, however, points for a Committee to discuss.
congratulated the promoters of the Bill upon the compliment they had paid to the wisdom of Oliver Cromwell in the course he took when he was called to supreme power and sought to use it for the making of England better and more religious. He did not know what was the nature of the committees of Triers he appointed, but he believed they were of local origin, and did not consist of Bishops, and he would recommend the promoters of the Bill to look up the details of Oliver Cromwell's plan in the hope that they might learn something from it in giving the people power over the pulpits of the Established Church so that they might be occupied only by God-fearing men, whose teaching was calculated to promote all that was highest and best.
The House divided:—Ayes 179; Noes 118.—(Division List No.40.)
Bill accordingly read 28.
*MR. HAYES FISHER moved that the Bill be referred to the Grand Committee on Law.
asked why the Grand Committee on Trade should not be selected?
Motion agreed to.
Poor Law (Electors) Amendment Bill
in moving the Second Reading of Bill, said, it was a Bill of only one clause, whose object was simply to prevent the disfranchisement of those men who, under special circumstances entirely beyond their control, were forced to receive outdoor relief and to give their labour in exchange for it. Sometimes owing to a stoppage of work in a great industry, like the coal industry, a very large number of men were in some towns thrown out of employment for a number of weeks, during which time they were obliged to accept relief from Poor Law Guardians. In the town of Middlesbrough-on-Tees in 1892 no fewer than 2,000 men were struck off the register in this way on account of the coal strike in the county of Durham; in his own town about 450 men last winter were forced to accept temporary relief owing to the stoppage of some large works; and in Gateshead in 1893 about 350 men had, under similar circumstances, to accept relief. The objects the Bill was to prevent disfranchisement in these occasional cases. The Boards of Guardians in Newcastle, Gateshead, Manchester, Stockport, Saddleworth, and Darlington, had all passed resolutions in favour of this Bill, and the only difficulty which presented itself was the fact that this question would receive some attention from the Committee which was now sitting. He would undertake, however, if the Bill passed the Second Reading, that it should not come before the House again until the Report of that Committee had been presented.
seconded the Motion on behalf of his own and other constituencies similarly situated in London. The extraordinary severity of the recent winter had turned out of work many thousands of honest, hard-working people, especially in the south-east and east of London. He had known cases of people who had never received parochial relief before, who, when they learnt that this would disfranchise them, had refused to accept the relief they so sorely needed.
did not think this was a subject which could be adequately discussed in the short time at their disposal. It raised very large considerations of public policy, in addition to which, while the Committee on Distress from Want of Employment had this question very prominently before them, it would very seriously embarrass them if the House were to give any decision on the subject now. Under these circumstances, and without going into the merits of the Bill, he hoped the hon. Gentleman in charge of it would not press it to a Second Reading.
said that, although he felt great sympathy with all that fell from the hon. Member for Rotherhithe, it ought to be remembered that those who received outdoor relief would, under the Local Government Act, be electors of the candidates or members of parochial or local councils. Was that fair to the ratepayers and taxpayers? He thought it was a very dangerous principle. When the Local Government Bill was before the House they were told that no apprehension need be felt in regard to this matter, because the receiving of outdoor relief would be of itself disfranchisement. Now, however, that security was proposed to be done away with. This Bill would interfere with the very foundation of the Poor Law. They were told by the hon. Mover that the cases would be exceptional, but there was no provision for exceptional cases, and the eases were, very numerous, as the Member for Rotherhithe had himself stated. Was it fair to the taxpayers that a considerable number of men who received relief should have the power of voting for those who were to dispense the relief, and thus voting for their own relief? The disability, he pointed out, was only temporary. He cited the authority of Miss Octavia Hill to show that the lower classes were very bitter about the administration of outdoor relief, and urged the House not to be too lenient in regard to the matter.
said, the Bill was not simply one of detail—it concerned the whole administration of the Poor Law of this country. It had already been stated that this question was receiving the special attention of the Committee upstairs, in addition to which he urged that if they were going to amend the Poor Law, and alter the basis on which it was founded in 1834—a measure which everybody agreed did incalculable good to the poorer classes—they were bound to do it as a whole, and by a comprehensive measure. The present Bill savoured of political popularity. He yielded to no man in sympathy with the poor themselves, but all those who worked amongst the poor agreed that any alteration in the basis of the Poor Law would be a disaster to the poor themselves. The hon. Member was still speaking at Half-past Five, when the Debate stood adjourned.
Merchandise Marks (Files) Bill
Read 2°, and committed to a Select Committee.
Farm Servants (Scotland) Bill
Considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
Court Of Criminal Appeal Bill
asked that this Bill might be read a second time on the understanding that it be referred to a Select Committee.
hoped that the Motion would be agreed to. Every lawyer knew it was most desirable that something should be done in the direction contemplated by the Bill, not only in the interests of justice, but of the masses of the people.
said that last week he opposed the Bill, but he desired to support it as long as it was referred to a Select Committee.
Bill then read 2°, and on motion of Sir Henry James, referred to a Select Committee.
Tramways (Ireland) (No 2) (Redemption)
"That it is expedient to authorise the Treasury to redeem their liability in respect of Guaranteed dividend on the share capital of Tramway Companies in Ireland by payment of a capital sum, to authorise the National Debt Commissioners to advance the sum required, and to authorise the payment, out of moneys provided by Parliament for the service of the Board of Works, or (if not so made) out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, of any terminable annuity created for the repayment of such advance in pursuance of any Act of the present Session to amend The Tramways and Public Companies (Ireland) Act, 1883."
Resolution agreed to.
Post Office Act (1891) Amendment Bill
On Motion of Mr. Strachey, Bill to amend the Post Office Act, 1891.
Bill presented, and read first time; to be read a second time upon Wednesday 24th April, and to be printed. [Bill 191.]
London County Council (General Towers) Bill
Reported; Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed.
London County Council (Vaux Hall Bridge) Bill
Reported; Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed.
House adjourned at Twenty minutes before Six o'clock.