HC Deb 14 December 1847 vol 95 cc1083-121

, pursuant to notice, rose to move the following resolutions:— 1. That the Act 6 and 7 Will. IV., c. 77, contained among others the following enactments:—'That in order to provide for the augmentation of the incomes of the smaller Bishoprics, such fixed annual sums be paid to the Commissioners out of the revenues of the larger Sees respectively as shall upon due inquiry and consideration be determined on, so as to leave as an average annual income to the Archbishop of Canterbury 15,000l., to the Archbishop of York 10,000l. to the Bishop of London 10,000l., to the Bishop of Durham, 8,000l., to the Bishop of Winchester, 7,000l., to the Bishop of Ely, 5,500l., to the Bishop of St. Asaph and Bangor, 5,200l., and to the Bishops of Worcester, and Bath and Wells, respectively, 5,000l. And that out of the fund thus accruing, fixed annual payments be made by the Commissioners in such instances and to such amount as shall be in like manner determined on, so that the average annual incomes of the other Bishops respectively be not less than 4,000l., nor more than 5,000l. And that, at- the expiration of every seven years, reckoning from the 1st day of January, 1837, a new return of the revenues of all the Bishoprics be made to the Commissioners; and that thereupon the scale of Episcopal payments and receipts be revised, so as to preserve, as nearly as may be, to each Bishop an amount of income equivalent to that which shall have been determined in the first instance to be suitable to the circumstances of his Bishopric; and that such revised scale take effect, as to each See respectively, upon the then next avoidance thereof.' 2. That on the 1st day of January, 1845, a new Return of the revenues of all the Bishoprics, as ordered, from the 1st day of January, 1837, to the 31st day of December, 1843, was presented to Parliament, and subsequently on the 6th day of February, 1846, and the 16th day of June, 1846, respectively, were presented the First and Second general Reports of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, showing how the provisions of the above-named Act had been carried out. 3. That, from these Reports, furnished by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners themselves, it ap- pears to this House, that the provisions of the Act 6 and 7 Will. IV., c. 77, so far as relates to episcopal incomes, have not been carried out according to the intentions of Parliament. The whole case lay in a very small compass, for it was contained in the resolutions which he had read; and the facts on which those resolutions were founded were introduced in the clauses of the Bill, which set forth the intention of the Legislature; and the evidence with respect to them was furnished in the reports of the Commissioners themselves. The Commissioners were appointed to carry into effect the Bill of 1836—their duty was to determine the amount to be paid by the richer sees to those that were poorer, in order to raise them to the amount presented by the statute, and to reduce those rich sees within the same regulations, with this restriction, that their recommendations were only to be carried into effect on the next avoidance of the see. This Act was accepted by many hon. Members, among whom were several Gentlemen now high in office, under a sort of protest, not as complete in itself, but as the commencement of that series of measures for the improvement of the ecclesiastical establishment which they thought absolutely necessary for the stability of the Church. Disappointed as those who took that view had been, they had refrained nevertheless from any attempt to disturb the settlement which was then agreed upon. The Commissioners were the persons who last year had thought fit to derange and disturb that settlement, and who had ventured to repeal the Act of 1836. Some of those right rev. Prelates in the other House had not hesitated to state, they thought the Act went a great deal too far, and that their assent to it had been obtained under the influence of apprehension and panic. This announcement on the part of the Commissioners had reopened the whole question, so that any one was at liberty to enter upon it. But passing over the subject of the settlement, he would just remark that he had always believed that the changes recommended by the Commissioners, and enacted in 1836, to come into operation on the next avoidance of the various sees, was a most unwise and inexpedient measure. He was of opinion that this restriction had a most unfavourable effect, from the light in which it must necessarily strike the public. For example, they would see the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was at the head of the Commission, stating it to be his opinion, that the revenues of the see of Canterbury were a great deal too large, and recommending therefore that they should be restricted to 15,000l. a year; but so far from the most rev. Prelate proceeding to say he would give effect to this statement by recommending that this reduction should instantly take effect, he appeared before the public exclaiming, "I have a great deal more than I require; but I only state the fact on the condition that the rule shall not be applied to myself, and that I shall be permitted to retain every farthing of these enormous revenues for my lifetime." In the same way the Bishop of London came before them protesting he had a great deal too much money, but declaring at the same time his intention to keep it all to himself. However pure might have been the motives of the right rev. Prelates, their conduct certainly had had the effect of securing to each of them the possession for his lifetime of great and superfluous wealth. The Commissioners proceeded to the discharge of their duty, taking as the basis of their operations the return of the Commission of Inquiry in 1831, which laid before them the detail of episcopal incomes, in two columns, the first of which gave the average income of the bishops, stated by themselves, on an average of three years ending 1831; the next, their opinions and predictions as to the future incomes of their sees, as they could look into futurity. The result of their prophecies had proved their Lordships to be very shortsighted indeed; and on looking over and comparing them with their supposed fulfilment, the effect was so ludicrous, that were it not for the gravity of the matter, it would afford great ground for amusement. These returns had been made by the right rev. body to assist the Legislature in its proceedings; but he must say, that if this had emanated from any persons less elevated above suspicion than the occupants of the episcopal bench, the amount of income was so understated, and the returns themselves appeared so little capable of explanation, that an idea might have been entertained that it was their intention to keep the public in the dark as to the exact state of their revenues. The first on the list was the Archbishop of Canterbury. He stated his gross income to be 22,216l., his net income to be 19,182l. in 1831. Thus at the very outset they were met by the remarkable fact that, when a discussion took place in 1830 respecting the revenues of this see, on a Bill which had been brought in to en- able the Archbishop to borrow money for building purposes, Dr. Lushington, defending his Grace, declared it had been proved before the House that his income did not amount to more than 32,000l. per annum, whereas it appeared to have fallen off 10,000l. by the very year following. In giving that return, the Archbishop stated his future income was not to be estimated at so large an amount, because there was a prospect of diminution which would probably reduce it to 17,060l., and at this sum the Commissioners accordingly wrote down his revenues. But on looking to the returns on the average of seven years ending 1843, they would see that, instead of falling, as had been anticipated, the gross income of the see had risen to 28,005l., and the net income to 21,196l. The next return was from the Archbishop of York, who stated his income thus:—Gross, 13,798; net, 12,629l.; but added that there would be at least a reduction of 20 per cent on this sum, and the Commissioners accordingly set it down at 10,600l.; but the calculation made on the average of seven years, as before, showed that the income had, so far from falling, risen to 14,552l., or in other words exhibited an increase of 40 per cent. Next came the case of the Bishop of London, which was really most remarkable, and well deserved the attention of the House. The right rev. Prelate set down his net income at 13,929l., but stated that there would be a decrease of 1,725l. a year from fines, and a further decrease on account of augmentations, and told the Commissioners to put down his future income at 12,204l. But, on looking to the last returns, they would see that it had risen to 14,552l. This was not all; he begged the attention of the House to the marginal note accompanying the return—"a decrease of 1,725l. a year from fines, &c., and a further decrease on account of augmentations." The whole prospect of the see was one of loss and diminution. There was scarcely a Member in the House who could not but know something of the property of the Bishop of London in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, and the immediate vicinity of Hyde-park, flanked by the Edgware-road on one side, to the Uxbridge-road on the other, running in an immense angle up to Hyde-park, Kensail New Town, to the terminus of the Great Western Railway, and Oxford and Cambridge-squares, and covered by an immense mass of buildings which had risen up within the last few years. Was it possible for any of them to believe, that when this return was made in 1831, every prospect of the right rev. Prelate was of loss and diminution of revenue, and that there never flitted across his imaginings the least idea of an enormous increase of wealth? If they could entertain that notion, it would be dispelled by the fact that only five years before, an Act had been obtained for the express purpose of promoting and advancing these very buildings of the Bishop of London. The preamble of the Bill ran thus:— Whereas, from the disposition of the public to make improvements by building, it would tend to the improvement of the metropolis, and to the great advantage of the Bishop of London and of his successors, that the power of leasing and granting contracts for leasing should be extended, be it enacted, &c. So that at the very time the House was told every prospect of the see was of decrease and loss, an Act was obtained to promote those buildings which had led to such a great increase in the revenue. All this seemed to have escaped the memory of those who made the returns; and it might be said that those houses were built in 1831, whereas the Act was not passed till 1836; but it happened that in the twelfth report of the Commissioners, in March, 1835, they repeated the statement with respect to the prospects of the see. Now, in point of fact, not only were a vast number of those houses built in that year, but many of them were inhabited; and not only had leases been made and contracts signed, but the source of that enormous wealth secured, respecting the amount of which he would not venture to make any calculation, but which competent persons declared must eventually amount to 100,000l. a year. The right rev. Prelate told the House in 1835 that he considered himself an ill-doing man, and that he was rather going down in the world than otherwise; but it appeared that all this time his revenues were augmenting enormously. The whole subject of his Lordship's Paddington estate was so extraordinary, as to fill any one who considered it with surprise. But the House must be prepared for a still greater wonder respecting it. It was strange enough there should not have been sufficient foresight te enable the Bishop to look to an increase of his revenue from this source; but what would they say to the fact, that after it had actually taken place—after houses had been built and leases given, the see was not in the least richer than before, and that in the next return, made in 1843, on the average of the seven preceding years, they would find the return was absolutely less than it had been in 1831? The net income in 1831 was 13,929l.; in 1843 it was 12,400l., showing a decrease of 1,445l., almost 1,500l. a year. He really wished to have some explanation of this curious circumstance, and to be told how it was that after 400 acres had been covered with houses, and 200 leases had been given—not on fines, but on steady, permanent rents—this estate had become less valuable than before, and how it happened that episcopal property, totally different from property of every other description, had decreased in rental as the amount of rents increased. It was of course impossible to doubt the accuracy of an episcopal return; and he could only say the fact gave a pretty idea of episcopal management. The see of Durham came next; the return gave the income, gross 21,991l. net 19,066l. As to the alterations to be expected, "no accurate judgment could be formed as to the profits depending on mines; but augmentations to the amount of 1,170l. had been granted, which would decrease the future revenue," and the future income was set down at 17,8902., while, by the returns in 1843, it appeared to be gross 26,401l., net 22,992l. The Bishop of Winchester came next; but the return made by his Lordship was perfectly accurate. The income of the see of St. Asaph was returned as gross 7,408l., net 6,301l., and it was stated that a gradual decline was expected, which induced the Commissioners to put down the future revenue at 5,280l.; but instead of falling so low, it rose up in 1843 to 6,948l. net, 8,393l. gross. The see of Bangor was returned at 6,580l. gross, 4,464l. net. The Commissioners set it down at 3,814l., "as there was no prospect of increase, tithes falling rapidly;" but the good bishop was, it appeared, more frightened than hurt, for the tithes and other sources of revenue, so far from decreasing so rapidly as he dreaded, rose to 7,832l. gross, 5,643l. net. In the sees of Carlisle and Chester there was nothing remarkable in the returns, and no circumstance to call for comment. Then came Chichester, which was returned, gross 4,375l., net 4,229l., with the statement that there should be a reduction of 400l. or 500l. per annum, so that the Commissioners set down the revenue at 3,800l.; but the return of 1843 in the same way showed that it had risen to 5,200l. St. David's and Ely called for no comment. Then came the see of Hereford, the net income of which was returned at 2,516l., "with no expected decrease or increase. Notwithstanding this, the next return showed it rose to 3,194l. From Lichfield there were no returns, the agent, as it appeared, having run away, and taken with him both money and accounts. The see of Lincoln was reckoned at 4,913l. gross, 4,542 net, with the assurance that "this estimate exceeded the average by 680l., and intended augmentations of dependent vicarages, which would cause a further considerable reduction." The future income was set down at 4,200l., but it turned out to be 5,223l. net. The see of Llandaff gave a return of 924l., "an increase expected." This was the only return to which such a remark was affixed; but he regretted to say it was not justified by the result, and that in this see alone no increase had taken place, the net revenue having fallen to 900l. by the next returns. The returns from the remaining see were as follows:—Norwich, gross 5,696l., net 5,395l., estimated income 4,700l., actual net income 5,187l. Oxford, gross 3,106l., net 2,648l., "a decrease to be expected;" the net yearly value will amount to 1,658l. At that sum it was set down by the Commissioners; but the return showed a net value of 2,359l. Salisbury gave, gross 4,145l., net 3,939l., with the statement that if the calculations were taken on a larger average, the result would establish a net income communibus annis of not less than between 5,000l. and 6,000l. The Commissioners placed it at the former of these sums; but the returns of 1843 gave, gross 7,878l., net 7,842l. Worcester, gross 6,916l., net 6,569l. It was modestly added, "there was no reason to expect a decrease." The Commissioners acting on this, calculated the future income at 6,500l.; but the returns stood as follow:—Gross 8,166l., net 7,122l. From these returns, which were so much understated in nearly every case, the Commissioners had made their calculations as to the future revenues of the sees. How it had happened these returns were so erroneous, it was not for him to say. If he were to hazard any conjecture, he might commit as great an error as the Commissioners themselves. The Commissioners had then to arrange the future payments to be made by the incumbents of the sees, and he thought he could show that even where it was a simple question of figures, with arithmetic to guide them, the Commissioners had not abided by the provisions of the Act, favourable as these had been to them; that where the payments were to be made by rich sees the proportion was small, and where by poor sees it was exorbitantly large. He would establish this by figures taken from the report of the Commissioners themselves, showing the amount of payments made. They had arranged the sums to be paid on the next dioceses falling vacant, as well as on those where vacancies had already occurred. He would now request the attention of the House to the following calculations on the bishops' returns of income for seven years, from 1837 to 1843, showing that in the cases of the sees which do or are hereafter to contribute to the Episcopal Fund, the payments fixed by the Commissioners still leave the bishops a surplus above the incomes as settled for each of them by Parliament:—

The annual payment for the mortgage £3,000
Gross income £28,005
Mortgage money 3,000
Intended payment exclusive of the above 6,000
Revenue 19,005
Intended revenue 15,000
Surplus 4,005
Gross. Net.
Present income 14,687 13,610
Intended payment 2,500 2,500
Leaving 12,187 11,110
Intended income 10,000 10,000
Surplus 2,187 1,110
Gross income 26,401
Payment now made 11,200
Income 15,200
Intended income 8,000
Surplus 7,201
But out of this sum is to be paid the cost of managing the estates, which amounts in this case to a heavy sum, therefore take the net income 11,792
Intended income 8,000
Surplus 3,792
Gross income 8,393
Payment 1,800
Receipt 6,593
Intended income 4,200
Surplus £2,393
Gross income £7,354
Payment 800
Receipt 6,544
Intended income 5,000
Surplus 1,554
Gross income 9,620
Payment to Commissioners, commenced 3,500
Receipt 6,120
Intended income 5,500
Surplus £620
But the net income of seven years is stated to be 6,772l. after payment to the Commissioners, which would leave 1,272l. payable. It is probable, however, that in certain years of the average the payment of 3,500l. by the bishop was not made, which would explain the apparent inconsistency.
Gross income £8,166
Present payment 2,300
Receipt 6,866
Intended income 5,000
Surplus 1,866
Gross. Net.
Income £7,878 £7,482
Intended payment 1,850 1,850
Receipts 6,028 5,683
Intended receipt 5,000 5,000
Surplus £1,028 £683
These were the prospective payments; but the actual payments commenced would appear from the following calculations on the bishops' returns for seven years showing that in the cases of sees to which the Commissioners contribute the payments out of the Episcopal Fund, give the bishops a surplus above the incomes as settled for each of them by Parliament.
Gross. Net.
Income £5,380 £5,217
Payment by Commissioners 650 650
Receipts without Commissioners payment 4,730 4,567
Income as settled 4,200 4,200
Surplus without Commissioners' payment £530 £367
And yet the Commissioners still propose to pay 150l. to the Bishop after the next avoidance.
Net income, including 1,400l. from Commissioners £4,594
Intended income 4,200
Surplus £394
And yet the Commissioners propose to pay 1,000l. a year to the Bishop after the next avoidance.
Net income £2,359
Present payment 3,500
Revenue 5,859
Intended revenue 5,000
Surplus £859
Still to be continued on next avoidance.
Net income £5,223
Intended income 5,000
Present surplus £223
And yet the Commissioners propose to pay 500s. a year to the Bishop after the next avoidance. There was, lastly, the case of the Bishop of Rochester, which was a somewhat strong one. In the other cases the rule had been laid down that the changes were only to come into operation on the next appointment to the see; the Commissioners laid down, in the first instance, the rule that the income was not to be increased till next vacancy. So lately as June, 1845, they had fixed the payment in this case at 3,700l. a year, to commence on the next vacancy. Only two months later, in August, the payment actually did commence, no vacancy having occurred in the interim; and the Bishop was at this moment in the receipt of 3,750l. a year from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The result of this system was, that the payments made by the richer sees were less than ought to be paid under the provisions of the Act by no smaller a sum than 20,000l. a year; whilst the payments of the poorer sees were more than ought to be made by no less a sum than 6,000l. a year; so that at this moment the richest bishops were receiving over and above their due, under the provisions of the Act of Parliament which they were called upon to administer, a sum of no less than 27,600l. a year. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) had on a former occasion made a reference to the difference between the gross and net returns; and he confessed that the enormous discrepancy between these, in the tabular statement made of the seven years' average income of bishops, was to him perfectly unintelligible. It amounted to a sum of no less than 50,000l. a year. This could not proceed from anything like fixed payments; at least beyond a small part of that amount, since these varied so much from year to year. The difference between gross and net income was in the case of—
Durham 1837 £14,000
1840 15,000
1841 16,000
St. Asaph 1837 1,300
1843 2,300
Ely 1837 1,800
1839 2,300
1840 3,000
Lincoln 1837 400
1838 700
Back in 1839 400
1840 900
1841 2,200
Norwich 1837 300
1843 1,200
Exeter by the original return in 1831 2,734;
but the difference between gross and net in 1843, 751l, or 300 per cent. It would be satisfactory if they knew exactly what the Commissioners admitted as legitimate deductions from the gross income. Taking the last case he had mentioned, for example, what deductions could be mentioned that would make a difference of 300 per cent between the gross and the net income? He remembered an anecdote which might perhaps illustrate this point. A gentleman, who was known to have two livings of the value of 1,500l. a year, returned them as of the gross value of 150l.; and on being examined by the Tithe Commissioners, the account he gave was, that his two parishes were at some distance from each other, so that he was obliged to deduct the expense of the horses which conveyed him between them; that his wife was not in very good health, so that she was obliged to ride to church, which obliged him to deduct the expenses of the carriage; that a man in his station could not but send his children to a fashionable school, so that when every necessary expense was deducted, the net income remained at 150l. a year. Suppose a bishop were very litigious, and had, in consequence, many lawsuits with his clergy; suppose that he was rather eminent as a literary character, and composed a great many pamphlets, which were distributed through his diocese, or that he wrote long letters in the Times, addressed to the Prime Minister—would the Commissioners admit that all the ex- penses of these things, which were not included in his official functions, were proper and legitimate charges to be deducted from his gross income? He could account on no other grounds for the difference between the gross and net incomes that appeared on the face of the returns. Another thing was remarkable in the management of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners—their immense variations. No bishop knew from one year to another what his income was to be. That, he believed, was felt as a very great hardship; and he could not conceive anything more inconvenient, vexatious, and insulting. Take the case of Durham; he was told that the income of that diocese being calculated at 19,000l. a year, the Bishop had the choice given him by the Commissioners, whether he would make to them a payment of 11,000l. a year, taking his chance of 8,000l., or whether they should make him an annual payment of 8,000l. and keep the remainder. As far as his information went, the Bishop preferred the gambling transaction, and certainly he appeared to have made a very good thing of it. His income was intended to be 8,000l. a year, yet it averaged 16,000l. a year, whilst the net income, according to the returns, was more than 12,000l. The excuse, or plea, assigned by the Commissioners for this management of the income was, that by allowing the Bishop to make the payment, instead of themselves giving it to him, he had a great interest in the improvement of his property. He thought this a false principle; it was refusing to give effect to the provisions of the Act of Parliament; and they all knew that when a man had an estate of 30,000l. a year to manage, that was of itself sufficient to occupy his whole time and energy. The first diocese in which this rule was laid down was Durham. The property of that see was mineral. They stimulated the Bishop to work it out to the utmost; and, accordingly, no less than 60,000l. over the sum fixed by Parliament had been received by the Bishop of Durham since his appointment to that see. The revenue was constantly increasing; and it was stated as quite notorious, that at this moment the income of the Bishop of Durham was greater than any ever enjoyed by a bishop of that see before. And this the Bishop had been receiving in spite of the Act of Parliament fixing that income. He now came to a case in which the Commissioners had taken upon themselves to postpone the operation of that Act—that of Salisbury. The Act received the Royal Assent on the 13th August, 1836; it was to take effect retrospectively from the 4th March, a day fixed upon because the Bishop of Durham was gazetted upon that day, and Parliament was so determined to bring the Act immediately into operation, that though the Act was not passed till the month of August, it took effect from the 4th March in order to catch the Bishop of Durham, who was not yet in possession of his see. The Bishop of Salisbury was not gazetted till the 14th March, 1837, more than a year after the Bishop of Durham; his future income was expressly fixed at 5,000l. a year; and yet that provision had been entirely disregarded. The average income of that Prelate was nearly 3,000l. a year over that fixed by Parliament; in 1843, the last year for which they had returns, he was receiving a net income, by his own statement, of 12,142l.; and in 1841, he actually received 17,000l. That was a case on which he thought it unnecessary to make any comment. He could not help noticing, that whilst there was this superabundance of bishops and opulence of their revenues, every episcopal charge delivered dwelt on the spiritual destitution of the country. The laity were appealed to for their subscriptions; and nobly and generously had they responded to that appeal. In one single diocese, they were told by the Bishop of Ripon in his last charge, that during the last ten years no less a sum than 28,000l. had been annually subscribed for churches alone. Churches had been built in every direction by the exertions of generous and munificent persons, upon the express engagement of the Commissioners themselves that they would endow them after being built. Those engagements had been in many instances broken. They had heard the announcement made by the Commissioners in 1844, stating their inability to give any further assistance because the Commission was bankrupt; and yet at the very time that it was bankrupt the Commissioners were dividing among themselves, according to their own showing, no less a sum than 26,000l. a year, but he believed it to be much nearer 40,000l. a year, out of those ecclesiastical revenues which they had been appointed as trustees to administer for ecclesiastical purposes. And at what a time was this occurring? When their own statement assured us that there were 2,000,000 of our population who, from want of teachers, never heard the word of God; and when there were no less than 2,000 beneficed clergymen of the Church of England with incomes lower than 100l. a year, many of them running down to 50l., 40l., 20l., 10l., and 5l., and even to 3l. a year. This was the state of the Church at the time these things were going on; and let the House think of the hardships and privations endured by the inferior clergy thus miserably paid. Why, the sufferings of the poor clergymen were something never before heard of in a rich and civilised country. He could communicate instances of poverty, privation, and suffering, on the part of these men, of which they had no conception. It had been made a reproach to us that we knew little of the condition of our working population. He believed we knew much less of the condition of the poorer portion of the working clergy. Think of the sufferings known to have been endured by these poor men during the severe season of the last winter, the largest portion of it without food for their families, without clothes, obliged even to casual charity for the cloak in which to go out and die by the wayside. It was sympathy with these men, and with the flocks under their care, which had induced him to bring forward this statement. It was not that he wished to assail the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He had been honoured by the friendship of some of those distinguished men, and valued it too much to risk it lightly; he wished to give the honour due to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the dignitaries of the Church; but he must say his most earnest feelings, his warmest sympathies, were with the congregations of that Church, and the meritorious pastors to whom they looked as their esteemed and venerated guides. He looked on them as labourers not less worthy of their hire, because, not living in palaces, the sphere of their labours was often among those whom both society and Christianity had regarded as outcasts— His the hard duty to reclaim Those reckless sons of sin and shame. Contemned—repulsed from door to door, His heavenly message press'd the more At last prevails; in him they see A sympathising poverty. Like them, by worldliness forgot, Neglect and penury his lot. Their wants, their woes to him are known— Alas! too often they're his own; He feels their sorrows, owns their cares. And all, except their crimes, he shares. There were, he believed, many of these men among our poor working clergy: these were the persons whom he should employ and cherish. Be it remarked that every shilling of superfluity you gave to the wealthy was so much abstracted from the working clergy, so much of their sustenance, and so much of religious instruction denied to the poor. It was for the poor that our Established Church existed. The revenues of that Church were the heritage of the poor; they in that House were their guardians and protectors; and they were bound to see those revenues were justly and righteously administered. It was for that purpose he called upon the House to vindicate its own Act of 1836, and so pave the way for placing the administration of those revenues, he would not say in more faithful, but certainly in more competent and careful hands. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his resolutions.


seconded the Motion. It was a subject of considerable difficulty and delicacy in his estimation; but those who shut their eyes to the errors and abuses found in the working of our system, were in his opinion its worst enemies. Feeling that the subject was one of great importance, he was prepared to go with the hon. Member for Cockermouth, because he believed the hon. Member wished to touch it with a friendly hand. He thought from the statements made by the hon. Gentleman, that the working of the Commission could not be satisfactory to those who considered the subject in all its bearings. He believed that it was not the intention of the hon. Member to make any personal reflections on the right rev. prelates he had adverted to; it was the system the hon. Member objected to, and which had led to his able and diligent examination of its results. If the Act 6 and 7 William IV. had not been properly framed, or if there had been any diversion or perversion of the fund intended to be applied to the purposes of the Act, this ought to be amended. He believed those who honestly and faithfully endeavoured to root out error where it appeared, and set their faces against abuses, were the true and real friends of the religious Establishment of this country, whose limits he wished to see extended, and its utility increased on every side. He believed he should be supporting its best interests by voting for the Motion before the House, and should therefore give it his hearty support.


said, although the first only of this series of resolutions had been read from the Chair, which merely recited an Act of Parliament, the second and third were those with which the House would have more immediately to deal, and he might assume that they were all to be discussed together. He concurred fully with what had fallen from the Mover and Seconder of these resolutions, that the ecclesiastical property of the kingdom ought properly to be applied to meet the spiritual destitution which existed. He questioned, however, whether the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion had read the resolutions with attention; for even if the House thought proper to agree to a vote of censure on the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, that would not effect the object which the Mover had in view. His hon. Friend who had introduced the Motion, devoted a good deal of his speech to matter that was not entirely relevant. He had alluded to transactions which took place before the formation of the Commission; and he confounded two separate Commissions. He assumed that the Commissioners had acted on returns of the value of episcopal incomes made in the year 1831. What was the history of the appointment of the Ecclesiastical Commission? The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir R. Peel), in the beginning of the year 1835, had appointed a Commission of Inquiry into the ecclesiastical revenues, with the view of promoting the object which he believed his hon. Friend had in his present Motion; that Commission had made its report in March, 1836, and had come to certain resolutions, in which they recommended, amongst other things, an equalisation of the episcopal duties and revenues in the different sees. The resolutions were afterwards embodied in the Act of Parliament to which his hon. Friend referred as fixing the amount each bishop was to receive. But in point of fact that Act did not absolutely fix the amount of incomes. The Commissioners of Inquiry recommended— That, in order to provide for the augmentation of the incomes of the smaller bishoprics, such fixed annual sums be paid to the Commissioners out of the revenues of the larger sees respectively as shall, on due inquiry and consideration, be determined on so as to leave as an annual average income to the Archbishop of Canterbury, 15,000l.; the Archbishop of York, 10,000l.; the Bishop of London, 10,000l.; the Bishop of Durham, 8,000l.; the Bishop of Winchester, 7,000l.; the Bishop of Ely, 5,500l.; the Bishop of St. Asaph and Bangor, 5,200l.; and the Bishops of Worcester, Bath, and Wells, respectively, 5,000l. They also recommended that out of the funds thus accruing fixed annual payments should be made by the Commissioners— in such instances and to such amount as shall be in like manner determined on, so that the average annual income of the other bishops, respectively, be not less than 4,000l., nor more than 5,000l. The next recommendation was, that at the expiration of every seven years, reckoning from the 1st of January, 1837, a new return of the revenues of all the bishoprics should be made to the Commissioners, and— that thereupon the scale of episcopal payments and receipts be revised, so as to preserve as nearly as may be to each bishop an amount of income equivalent to that which shall have been determined, in the first instance, to be suitable to the circumstances of his bishopric. And he begged particularly to call the attention of his hon. Friend to the following words of the recommendation, because these very words were employed in the Act of Parliament— that such revised scale take effect as to each see respectively, upon the then next avoidance thereof. Now, the Act of Parliament embodied and gave the force of the law to these several recommendations; and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners being constituted by Parliament the body to carry the Act into effect, had no power to depart from its provisions. The Act prescribed the precise mode by which the object of an equalisation of episcopal incomes was to be aimed at. He was not contending that the whole of this arrangement was not open to objection, or that it was not capable of amendment; but he contended that the proceedings of the Commissioners, which the hon. Gentleman had censured, were in conformity with the Act of Parliament which they were bound to adhere to, and the Commissioners had merely carried out the law. It was, therefore, impossible to say that the Commissioners had failed in the discharge of their duty: if any failure had occurred, it was in the Act of Parliament, which the Commissioners were bound to enforce. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners had only acted in strict conformity with the provisions of the Act. [Mr. HORSMAN: Not at all.] His hon. Friend said, "Not at all." But he believed that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had strictly carried out the provisions of the Act of Parliament. His hon. Friend had stated that the returns of incomes made by the bishops in the year 1831 were grossly incorrect. Now he had not lately looked at those returns, and he could not decide whether or not they were grossly incorrect. If they were, he could only say that the bishops at that time had taken rather a desponding view of the value of the property they possessed, and must have supposed that their incomes had a tendency rather to diminish than to increase. But his hon. Friend had said that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had fixed the incomes of the bishops on these incorrect returns. But when his hon. Friend made that statement, he must have forgotten that the Commissioners had fixed in the year 1837 the annual payments of the bishops, not on the returns of the year 1831, but on the subsequent and more correct returns, which showed the incomes to be much greater than the returns of 1831. The Act of Parliament provided that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should ascertain the average incomes of the possessors of the wealthier sees during a certain period, and should charge those incomes with the payment of certain fixed sums, being the difference between the average income and the intended future annual income. Had the Commissioners done that? His hon. Friend said that they had not; but he said that they had. He held in his hand the first report of the Commissioners, which the hon. Gentleman seemed to have entirely overlooked; and in that report he found it stated that after having obtained the best information as to the revenues of the bishops, they had proceeded to carry out the Act by which payments were to be made out of the larger bishoprics in aid of the smaller sees. The information in question had not, he repeated, been derived from the returns of 1831, but from subsequent and more correct returns. He would take the case of the see of Canterbury in illustration of the error into which his hon. Friend had fallen. His hon. Friend had said that the Commissioners had written down Canterbury from the return of 1831 at 17,300l. a year. But the fact was that they had written down the income of the see of Canterbury at 22,000l. a year, charging the future possessor of that see with the payment of the sum of 7,000l., thus reducing the income of the see, according to that calculation, to 15,000l. a year. He would next pass to the case of the see of Durham. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners had ascertained the average income of that see for the seven years preceding the appointment of the present Bishop to be 19,200l. a year, and they had consequently charged the Bishop with the payment of 11,200l. a year in order to reduce the income to 8,000l. a year. [Mr. HORSMAN: Has not that Prelate been receiving 12,000l.?] He did not know what that Prelate had been receiving. But was it the fault of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners if he had been receiving more than 8,000l. a year? Was it not rather the fault of the Act of Parliament, which it was the duty of the Commissioners to carry into effect? The present Bishop of Durham had not been allowed to take possession of the see until a return had been made of the average amount of the i-come attached to it during the seven preceding years; that income had been returned at 19,200l. a year; and from that amount the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had deducted 11,200l. a year; so that the Bishop of Durham was receiving an income derivable from the see after the deduction of that sum. The Bishop of Durham might be in the receipt of more than 8,000l. a year; but the Act of Parliament provided that no change could be made in the income attached to the possession of that see until the next avoidance thereof. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners had no power to call on the Bishop of Durham to subject himself to any charge beyond the deduction of the 11,200l. a year. He did not want to enter on that occasion into any extraneous questions, or to lessen in any way the force of the appeal of his hon. Friend to the wealthier bishops, to contribute largely towards the removal of the spiritual destitution of the people. He might observe, however, that the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishops of London and Durham, had all contributed liberally to that object. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners had no power to call on any prelate to pay to them a larger amount than the fixed sum which in strict accordance with the Act of Parliament had been charged on the see; and he, therefore, hoped the House would not visit on those Commissioners sins which they had never committed. The Commissioners could not disregard vested interests, but were bound to carry out the provisions of the Act of Parliament. His hon. Friend had said that the Bishop of Durham had been left by the Commissioners the option of either paying over to them a given sum, or of receiving from them a fixed allowance of 8,000l. a year, paying the whole pro- ceeds of the see into their hands, and that that right rev. Prelate had preferred the gambling transaction. Now, that was a serious charge to bring against any man, still more against a venerable Prelate. He did not know the authority upon which his hon. Friend had made it; but he knew that the Commissioners could not have made such a proposal, because the Act of Parliament gave them no power to call on the Bishop of Durham to pay the whole receipts of his see into their hands. The Act of Parliament prescribed the only mode in which the Commissioners could call on the Bishop of Durham to contribute towards the fund out of which the incomes of the less wealthy sees were to be augmented, and that mode they had adopted. Upon that point, he should, therefore, say that his hon. Friend must have been grossly imposed upon by the parties from whom he had derived his information. He wished, in the next place, to allude to the statement of his hon. Friend with respect to the see of Salisbury. It had been distinctly recommended in the report of the Commissioners of Inquiry, subsequently sanctioned by Parliament, that where it appeared that the revenues of a see did not fall short of 4,500l. a year, and did not exceed 5,500l. a year, the Bishop should not be called upon to pay anything over to the Commissioners, and should not be entitled to receive anything from them. Now the see of Salisbury had come within that category. The income of that see had, during the seven years preceding the year 1835, amounted about to 5,000l. a year; so that the Bishop had been exempt from the operation of the Act. But the Bishop of Salisbury having since been called upon to make a return of his income, it turned out that he had received 1,850l. a year beyond the maximum laid down in the Act; and if that see were at present to become vacant, the sum of 1,850l. a year would, under the Act, be payable from the next bishop to the Commissioners. But in that case, also, the present bishop was protected not by the Commissioners, but by the Act which provided that the Commissioners could make no deduction from the revenues of the holder of the see until it should again become vacant. He would not go into other charges made against the Commissioners, who, he had shown, were not open to the censure of the hon. Gentle- man. The Ecclesiastical Commission had only been constituted in 1836, and the returns of 1831 had nothing, therefore, to do with the conduct of the Commissioners. Parliament had placed certain powers in their hands to exercise for certain objects contemplated in the Act; and Parliament knew from time to time what was done, and could at any time have interfered and changed the law. The hon. Member had known what their conduct had been; and he thought it was rather shabby now to say, that whilst the Commissioners had acted in accordance with the provisions of the Act which they were appointed to carry into effect, they should be visited with censure because they had not violated an Act of Parliament. He believed that the whole subject was well deserving of the consideration of Parliament. It appeared to him that the arrangement entered into for fixing the income of the bishops was not the best that might have been adopted. The Commissioners stated in their report, that they considered the arrangement imperfect; and they had themselves suggested the expediency of altering the law, owing to the practical inconvenience which had resulted from it. He did not know that he need trouble the House with any further observations on the subject. With respect to the two first resolutions of his hon. Friend, which merely stated matters of fact, he should be prepared to move the previous question; and with respect to the third resolution, which he thought was founded on a misapprehension of the facts of the case, and the adoption of which would be a great injustice, he should be prepared to meet that resolution with a direct negative.


said, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cockermouth had shown that there had been a violation of the Act of Parliament, and it was the duty of the Secretary of State and of the Government to look after the execution of the Act. The gross amount received by the Commissioners since 1843 had been 197,000l., and the net amount 150,000l., and this had not been appropriated according to the intention of the Act. If power was given by the Act to misapply the funds, the remedy was not by resolutions of that House, but by a Bill to alter the law; and he suggested to the right hon. Baronet that the hon. Member might withdraw his resolutions upon a pledge from the Government that they would bring in a Bill to remedy the evil. It turned out that no less than 20,000l. or 30,000l. a year had been appropriated in a manner different from that in which it ought to have been appropriated according to the intention of the House. He had a petition from St. Stephen, Devonport, complaining bitterly of the want of spiritual instruction there, and it was the same in many other parts of the country; and when they had a fund to the amount of 150,000l., he put it to the Government whether they ought to allow it to be appropriated to the bishops, when there was so much spiritual destitution? It turned out that about 30,000l. a year had been applied to the building of bishops' palaces, and other similar objects, instead of being applied, as it ought to have been, according to the report, and the intention of the House. There had been great negligence on the part of the Government, if the Bill were defective, in allowing this to go on. He thought that no bishops ought to be allowed to be in the Commission; whereas the constant attendance of the Episcopal Members gave them a preponderance. The evidence of the Bishop of London stated that, in his opinion, not one shilling of the money ought to go to any other purpose than to support the bishops. After the statement of the hon. Member for Cockermouth, it was impossible to allow such things to be; they tended to foster dissent, and to increase the enemies of the Church. He did not intend to raise the question, how far bishops ought to be suffered to roll about in their carriages with large incomes, which made them above associating with the inferior clergy. No bishop should have more than 2,000l. or 3,000l. a year; they would then be more upon a level with the other clergy. He was further of opinion that the Church might do without bishops. He did not mean to say that the people of his country were more moral and religious than those of England; but they were quite as much so, and Lord Brougham had said, "You might wander from one end of Scotland to the other, and travel from the Tweed to John o'Groat's house, without seeing a bishop." There were no minor canons, nor even a rural deal to be seen there, Lord Brougham added; that poor benighted country knew nothing even of tithes; and yet, notwithstanding all this cruel neglect, the Scotch were the most moral and religious people in the world. He advised the Government to give a pledge that they would bring in a Bill to alter the Act, and it would then be unnecessary to press the resolutions, which, if they were pressed, he hoped a majority of the House would agree to.


begged to observe, in reply to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Montrose, that the Bishop of Oxford was acquainted with every clergyman in his diocese.


fully admitted the perfect consistency and constancy of the testimony which the hon. Member for Montrose had borne to what he regarded as the corruptions of the Church Establishment of England—corruptions evidenced by nothing more, in the judgment of the hon. Member, than its riches. If this were the test, the hon. Member himself must be very corrupt indeed; for if, as he (Sir R. Inglis) hoped, report were true, he was said to be possessed of great wealth. The whole of the debate, with hardly an exception—certainly not on the part of either the hon. Mover or Seconder—had proceeded upon the principle that the Church, as such, had no property, and that the House had as good a right to deal with its revenue as they had with the Consolidated Fund. He was not surprised at the dissatisfaction of the hon. Member who had last spoken with the episcopal allowances, nor at his desire to allow the bishops no more than 2,000l. or 3,000l. a year; all he regretted was that others should have adopted the same proposition. The hon. Member, he knew, regarded the clergy, from the highest to the lowest, as pensioners of the State, and, as such, entitled to receive more or less according to the will of the majority of that House. He, with equal constancy, had always maintained, on the other hand, that the Church was as much entitled to the enjoyment of its property as the corporation of Durham. Well did he remember putting this question to his noble Friend at the head of the Government—what if this property arose from donations in the last year, and not 600 years ago? Was the rule different? Was there a lawyer who would tell him that there was any difference in the right to the property in the two cases? It was said that the bishops indulged in all the vanities and luxuries of this world. He was not aware of any such cases; but he was aware of instances of splendid liberality on the part of the prelates. He knew bishops who had done honour to themselves and the Church by displays of liberality. He need only refer for an instance to the case of the Bishop of London, which had already been alluded to, and to the very blue book which the hon. Member for Montrose was now holding in his hand. In this book he found it stated, amongst other things, that the Bishop of London had raised every vicarage in his diocese to 200l. a year; and it was difficult to say why the hon. Member had not quoted it, unless it was because it did not suit his purpose. At least it might be allowed that we should be cautious how we attacked others as selfish and grasping, when we really did not know what they did with their money. He (Sir R. H. Inglis) had been hearing with very great regret statements respecting the bishops generally, unsupported, as he believed, by fact, but certainly inconsistent with any very strong regard—he would not say for their persons, or even for their offices, but he might almost say for the Church of which they were the chief ministers. The hon. Member who had moved the resolutions expressed a hope that he had said nothing which could give offence to any one, and that he meant nothing as an insinuation or as an attack. If such were his wish, he was singularly unfortunate in his mode of expression and scope of argument; for certainly he had never heard anything which, to his apprehension, more resembled insinuation. For instance, the hon. Member observed, "These are the statements of bishops. If they were statements made by anybody else, one might be disposed to think them inaccurate." "The Bishop of Durham having the choice of two alternatives, preferred the gambling transaction." Were these the expressions of a friend of the Church? It was very possible that some alteration might be expedient in the mode of management of episcopal revenues; but what he wished to urge on the House was this, that the property of the bishops in 1836, and of every branch of the Church Establishment in this country, was as much and as absolutely the property of that establishment as the property of any lay corporation in the kingdom. For the sake of relieving spiritual distress and the ignorance of the people, it was thought necessary that some great effort should be made. It was not thought expedient to apply to the State in aid of such an endeavour; but the bishops, as part of the great establishment of this country, were to contribute from their own property, but were not to become the salaried servants of the hon. Member for Montrose and the majority of that House. Thank God, they were not so. He was thankful that the Church Establishment of this country did not yet depend on an annual vote of Parliament, moved by the hon. Member for Montrose, or even by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Church stood upon its own foundation, as the first body in the State. There was no period in the history of this country, except the melancholy interval in the middle of the 17th century—a state of things to which he hoped the hon. Member for Montrose was not desirous of bringing them back—there was no period in which the hierarchy of England had not maintained its position as the first body in the State. Resting in their position, constitutional as to rank, and legal as to property; urged by their own sense of the exigencies of their fellow-creatures with respect to spiritual destitution, they, as the first estate in the realm, consented to contribute largely out of their own property, not as pensioners of that they received, but as donors of that which they had—free and willing donors. It was not for him to defend in detail all the acts of all the bishops at all times. It would be extravagant enough if he were to take upon himself such a task in reference to the bishops even of the present time. It was enough for him to maintain that, as a body, they had constituted a large portion of the strength and glory of the Church of England. With respect to their claims to the support of that House, he urged them not merely upon the Act of Parliament, which guaranteed their rights, but as the claims of a body of great proprietors exercising over their property a control as fair, and certainly as beneficial to all who had dealings with them or held under them, as any one rank of lay proprietors in the kingdom. The analysis of the returns by the hon. Member (Mr. Horsman) was thickset with insinuations of this sort—"if it had not been from a bishop, one could not have supposed it;" their mistakes in their calculations were stated to be all one way; but what conceivable motive could any bishop have to deceive any one? The Paddington estate had been mentioned; the Bishop of London had as much right to the whole profits of the Paddington estate, and the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Lambeth estate, as the Marquess of Westminster or Lord Portman had to their estates. He therefore could not regard the bishops as supplicants who were to come on bended knee, with cap in hand, to the hon. Mover, or to his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to ask for their annual dole. They held their estates as their own; and if an Act of Parliament should require them to contribute a given sum, that given sum they would willingly, he hoped, but at all events obediently, pay; but till an Act should pass, denuding them of their property, he would not willingly sit in that House and not oppose the doctrine that they were pensioners and not proprietors. This was the whole point in dispute—it was for this that he had contended now for about twenty years, and no one would ever accuse him, he believed, of having relaxed or relented in the proposition which he had all along endeavoured to maintain—namely, that though you might, by Act of Parliament, deal with the property of the Bishop of Durham, you had no more right to deal with it than with the property of the corporation of Durham. If they would admit that, he would not contest the point further, because he had always made a great distinction between the property of the Church and the property of indiduals, but no distinction between the property of one corporation and another. The Church had not received its present income from the State—the bishop had not received his property from the State, nor had the corporation of Durham; and until it could be shown that they had received their revenues from that source, he maintained that the State had no right to deal with them. Reference had been made to the case of the Bishop of Rochester, whose revenues were no more than 3,200l. a year; who, suddenly, and in a single year, was transformed into the recipient of 5,200l. a year. What was the fact? The fact was, that, in the interval, the Bishop of Rochester had, from the most conscientious motives, and in the same time by an arrangement most satisfactory to the Government, resigned the deanery of Worcester; and, therefore, the difference he received was merely an equivalent to the amount which he had previously held in respect of the deanery. With respect to the Bishop of Exeter, he believed very few men were better able to defend themselves than that right rev. Prelate. But a very grievous case of spiritual destitution in his diocese had been read from a printed paper, and somewhat sarcastically commented on. This much he would say, that the Bishop of Exeter entered his diocese one of the least popular men that ever set his foot there. He was speaking in the hearing of those who knew better than himself the state of the diocese; but he believed he was quite correct ill stating that his unpopularity did not last two years. The nest object of attack was the Bishop of Durham, who was charged with being in the receipt of a larger income than his predecessors. He apprehended, however, that the evidence of a few years preceding 1803 would show that the bishop was poor compared with the occupant of the see in those days. He could go farther into details of the same kind, but that he was conscious that they did not affect the great question at issue, which was, whether the bishops were to be considered as proprietors or as stipendiaries. If as proprietors they were to make over a certain sum to the ecclesiastical fund, and it appeared that they had failed to do so, he admitted a case had been made out; but if they had been stipendiaries from the beginning, then that revolution in the Church which he earnestly deprecated was not only contemplated but achieved. He held, however that the case was as he had argued it; and with that full conviction he rejoiced that Her Majesty's Government had determined to move the previous question to the two first resolutions, and a direct negative to the third.


believed, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department was perfectly correct in his interpretation of the Act of Parliament. The arrangement was not that the returns should be made from seven years to seven years, and that then such an amount of payment should be fixed as would leave an average annual income to the parties. The fact was that the amount of income could only be altered with regard to the new incumbencies. He thought the House was indebted to the hon. Member for Cockermouth, who had brought forward these resolutions, for showing that there was a sum of 26,000l. per annum which should be applied to other than these purposes. It appeared to him that, after the statements of the hon. Member, the House could entertain no doubt that the Act of Parliament ought to undergo revision. The hon. Member had said nothing to lay him open to the imputation that he meant to apply Church property to other than Church purposes. If he had heard anything to that effect, he should most certainly oppose his resolutions from beginning to end. There was no doubt that a great deal of spiritual destitution prevailed in the country. There were, it was true, bishops in Scotland who received a very small stipend, and who yet discharged their duty most conscientiously and ably. But there was no question before the House as to the amount of revenue that ought to attach to the episcopal dignity. It was not for him to say whether it was wise or unwise to make it a condition that bishops should have a seat in the Legislature; but no one would say that they had a redundancy of bishops in England, when it was a fact that one see extended from Jersey to the mouth of the River, and that another reached from the Humber to the Thames. Under such circumstances, it was impossible that the bishops could be intimately acquainted with the spiritual wants of the people under their charge. He did not think it necessary, although they should decide upon increasing the number of bishops, that those additional bishops should have a seat in the House of Lords. He believed there was also a great want of working clergy; and in the very parishes of St. Margaret and St. John, in which they were then sitting, there were, it was well known, 40,000 persons who attended no place of worship whatever. It was the same way with regard to schools, there being no less than 12,000 children between the ages of six and twelve years who attended no school whatever. Under these circumstances, it was gratifying to find that there was a sum of 26,000l. per annum which might be applied for the promotion of schools and the increase of parochial clergy. It would be a valuable addition to the exertions which were making by the clergy and laity themselves; and in the two parishes to which he had referred he understood that no less than 18,000l. had been collected by private subscription for the endowment of additional clergy. To that fund the Bishop of London had contributed 1,000l., and he believed on no occasion had that right rev. Prelate been deficient in supporting all subscriptions of a similar nature. A rev. gentleman, a friend of his own, had, in the district and town in which he resided, collected in the last ten years no less a sum than 100,000l.; and the same clergyman, the Vicar of Leeds, had brought forward an Act of Parliament to deprive himself of half the income derived from his incumbency in order to increase the incomes of the working clergy; and yet he had met with much opposition, and had been threatened with an action for doing so. These difficulties would show the necessity that existed for having the whole subject reviewed, as well for the purpose of revising the powers of the Commissioners, as with respect to a new appropriation of the Church revenues. He could not vote for the resolutions, more particularly the third one, in its present form; but he did not think the time that had been occupied in the discussion was altogether lost, as it had elicited the almost unanimous feeling of the House that immediate consideration should be bestowed upon a revision of the existing system.


I have heard with great pleasure the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I have heard it with more pleasure because I think it is calculated to induce the House to come to a decision, and thereby shorten this debate. The hon. Gentleman has said that he does not consider the hon. Member who has moved these resolutions is well founded in the supposition that the Act of Parliament has not been complied with. He thinks that, although the Act may be defective, yet there is no reason to suppose that those who have had to carry it into execution have not earnestly applied themselves to that task; and therefore he is of opinion that the censure which the hon. Mover would cast upon them is not well founded; and, being of this opinion, the hon. Gentleman says, that he cannot vote for the resolutions that have been proposed. Now, whatever view we may take of the Act of Parliament itself, I am of opinion that the hon. Gentleman has come to a right and sound decision; and that no one who has attentively perused the Act can come to any other decision. Undoubtedly the question as to the framing of that Act of Parliament, and as to the mode in which the incomes of the bishops are to be settled, is a question of very great difficulty. Although it may be easy to perceive defects in the present mode, yet it is well known that other modes which were suggested were subject to very great objections; objections sufficiently strong to induce the Commissioners of Inquiry to recommend the mode which is at present adopted. For instance, if you say that bishops shall at all events pay into the hands of certain Commissioners all the revenues derived from their estates beyond a certain sum—8,000l. or 5,000l., as it may be—which you agree to allow them for their income, it is evident that you thereby deprive them of all motive for taking due care of the estates which are submitted to their superintendence; while on the other hand, if you say that there shall be one common fund out of which a certain amount shall be paid to each bishop as his stated income, then that will be liable to the objection that the bishops would be mere stipendiaries; that the character which the bishops of the Church of England had hitherto borne would be entirely changed; and that they would be holding their incomes upon a very different tenure from what they have hitherto done, and would be receiving salaries in that very manner to which my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford has so much objected. It being the fact, then, that there are such objections to those different modes I have mentioned, I will not, on the other hand, deny that there have been some grave objections to the mode which has been actually adopted. I say that it is impossible to say that it is agreeable to the intention of the Act of Parliament, or in accordance with its spirit, that a bishop to whom a certain amount of income has been allotted, should receive a sum greatly exceeding the sum so assigned to him. So, on the other hand, great difficulties must arise when you say that a bishop shall pay over a certain sum to Commissioners out of his estates beyond the amount of his allotted income, although it may be that those estates do not yield any such surplus revenue. And the difficulty is greatly increased if you subject the bishop to an action at law to compel him to pay over that sum, in order that the Act of Parliament might be complied with. The hon. Gentleman who introduced this Motion said that the Bishop of Durham should have 8,000l. a year, and not take the chance of an increase in the value of his property, which in some years might amount to as much as 16,000l. I was in the Commission when the bishopric of Durham fell vacant, and the present Bishop of Durham left the matter entirely to the Commissioners. I remember that the gentleman who had been the agent of the former Bishop of Durham came before the Commissioners, and was told what was the sum which the Commissioners proposed should be paid by the new bishop. That gentleman thought it would be imposing a great difficulty on the bishop, and he was not prepared to consent the bishop should pay over that sum. However, the Commissioners decided that that sum should be paid over, and the new Bishop of Durham agreed to pay it, and never raised a question as to any other arrangement being made. I recollect a proposition being made to the Commissioners by the late Bishop of Ely, and it was one which showed that the arrangements sometimes made were disadvantageous to the bishops. It was believed that the income of the see of the Bishop of Ely amounted to 7,500l. The sum assigned to that bishopric by the Act of Parliament was 5,000l., and it was therefore arranged that the Bishop of Ely should pay over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners 2,500l. The Bishop paid this sum for two or three years; but finding that his income did not afford him the means of paying so large a sum as 2,500l., he said to the Commissioners, "I should be much obliged to you if you will take the whole property into your own hands and pay over 5,000l. to me, rather than require me to pay you 2,500l., which I have not the means of doing." It is possible that the hon. Gentleman who has moved these resolutions may have heard some story of this kind, and have confounded it with the case of the Bishop of Durham. With regard to the proposition of the Bishop of Ely, it must be obvious that the Commissioners would have been precluded by the Act from acceding to it. It is, however, a proof that there are inconveniences on both sides. As it is evidently impossible that the hon. Gentleman can get the House to agree to his resolutions, I hope he will be induced to withdraw them. Although the provisions of the Act may not have been carried out according to the intention of Parliament, yet all those who have read the Act must agree that its provisions have been carried into effect so far as the Commissioners are concerned; and I can only say that I will not pledge myself to bring in any Bill to change the present mode of distribution of the funds under the control of those Commissioners. I should be very glad if any mode could be devised which, upon the whole, would be better than the present; but as I do not know of any, I will not take any step to alter the present method until I see my way clearly. I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, that whether the surplus fund be 16,000l. a year, or 26,000l. a year, the money might be most usefully applied for the benefit of the Church. I agree with him, as I did last year with the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), when speaking on this subject, that there was not sufficient episcopal superintendence for the increasing population of this country; and I agree likewise with both those hon. Gentlemen that with regard to the working clergy, the great mass of the population are very deficiently supplied with the spiritual aid of a working clergy. This I say without entering into any question with regard to Church property. I agree with those hon. Gentlemen that, whatever may be the surplus, there are quite enough demands for its appropriation for maintaining a zealous working clergy. But it will be for Parliament to consider at a future time whether any alteration or improvement can be made in the arrangements laid down in the Act of Parliament for the distribution of these funds.


said, that having listened attentively to the debate, he did not think the third resolution was either sound in law or correct in fact; and, upon the whole, he could wish his hon. Friend to withdraw his Motion. If his hon. Friend were to go to a division, he would not be supported in such a manner as the importance of the subject deserved, and his cause would rather be injured than advanced.


did not think that the true spirit and meaning of the Act of Parliament had been carried out by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He agreed in the resolutions of his hon. Colleague, which alleged that the intention of the Legislature was to give a fixed and known income to the bishops, and that the Commissioners had failed in carrying out that intention. He had always considered that the property of the Church was held in trust for the benefit of the State; but now it seemed the opinion prevailed that it was the private property of the bishops and those belonging to the Church. There had been an appropriation clause applied to one part of the kingdom—Ireland; and by this very Act the same principle was applied to this part of the kingdom—England; why, therefore, should his hon. Colleague withdraw his Motion? He had made out a perfectly plain case, that a great abuse existed, and that it ought to be remedied. Was the noble Lord prepared to bring in a Bill to alter the Commission? The Commission consisted of forty-eight Members, and was therefore perfectly unworkable. There were twenty-six ecclesiastics and twenty-two laymen; that threw a great preponderance into the hands of the bishops. What was the attendance of the members of that Commis- sion? The attendance of the ecclesiastical members preponderated in the proportion of three to one over the attendance of the lay members, The bishops had attended 1,500 times, while the lay members had only attended 500 times. As a proof that even twenty-six ecclesiastics were an unworkable body, he would refer the House to the evidence of the Bishop of London, where they would find a remarkable instance of the ignorance of that right rev. Prelate of what was going on before the Commission of which he was a member. The whole business, in fact, appeared to be transacted by the Secretary, Mr. John Meadows White, attorney, who, he believed, was a man of station, integrity, and honour; but who, of course, naturally entertained his own views of the subjects that came before him as Secretary of the Board. As another proof that the Commission required to be reconstructed, the hon. Member stated, that many of the Commissioners declared their ignorance of the difference between a tabular and a marketable value when required to place an estimate on leasehold property with which they had to deal; and yet it was shown that these very Commissioners sold by one table and bought by another; in short, they sold dear and bought cheap. His hon. Friend had succeeded in calling the attention of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners themselves to abuses of which they were ignorant. In conclusion he must observe, that if the Government, instead of being the first to remedy any evils which were known to exist, left them to be exposed by independent Members of Parliament, it would diminish the respect in which he hoped the Church would always be held in this country.


said, that the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department had entered so fully and so ably into what was the real subject under discussion, that it was unnecessary for him to trouble the House with many observations; but when hon. Members complained of abuses, he must observe, that those persons were the most likely to prevent the correction of abuses who endeavoured to create an impression that all the substantial reforms which had been effected were utterly inefficient. The hon. Member who had just addressed the House was an acute lawyer, as he had shown by the analysis of the papers in his hand, as well as by the questions which he had proposed in the Committee upstairs; but he had not exhibited any of the judicial character which ought to be the attribute of a learned Gentleman. The Motion before the House was a direct censure upon the members of the Ecclesiastical Commission for not having fulfilled what the hon. Member supposed to be the intentions of an Act of Parliament; and the hon. Member said that he was prepared to support that vote of censure upon him (Mr. Goulburn) and his Colleagues in the Commission, because the noble Lord at the head of the Government would not promise to introduce some Bill which the hon. Member had recommended him to bring forward. For no other reason than that, the hon. Gentleman thought he was justified in passing a vote of censure upon a Commission which had literally and strictly fulfilled the provisions of an Act of Parliament. The hon. Member set himself up as a judge of what was the intention of the Act of Parliament; but that was beside the question. The Commissioners were called upon simply to fulfil the directions of the Act; but there were in that Commission persons as cognizant of the law, and as capable of construing an Act of Parliament, as the hon. Member; and, acting upon their advice, the Commission had given effect to the law. The question raised was not, whether the constitution of the Commission ought to be altered; but a direct attack was made upon the character of Commissioners who had applied themselves assiduously to the discharge of their duties without reward or remuneration, except that which was to be found in the satisfaction which was to be derived from carrying into effect the provisions of an Act of Parliament, passed for the benefit of the ministration of the Established Church in this country. After what had been stated by the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, it would be idle to attempt to follow the hon. Member who had introduced the Motion. The hon. Member possessed on this, as he did on a former occasion, a great advantage. If an hon. Member chose in private to go through the labour of analysing voluminous and complicated accounts extending from 1831 to 1837, and again to 1843, with the view of drawing inferences from them prejudicial to the character of individuals, he defied any man, however ingenious, to overthrow the array of figures and facts thus presented, with no other opportunity for examining them than was afforded during the current debate. If, however, he might judge of the hon. Member's accuracy by that which he exhibited last Session, when he applied figures to another subject, he could not form a high estimate of it, for upon that occasion the hon. Member fell into gross inaccuracies with respect to figures, and seriously misunderstood the documents to which he referred, and which were, in some respects, the same as those to which he had that night directed his attention. The hon. Gentleman had especially attacked the ecclesiastical portion of the Commission; and he (Mr. Goulburn) must say that, if ever there was an unjust attack made upon an individual, it was that which the hon. Member had directed against the Archbishop of Canterbury for his conduct on the original Commission of Inquiry. The hon. Member distinctly stated to the House that, when it was proposed to reduce the incomes of the bishops and archbishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury proposed that the reduction of the income of his see should not take place during his lifetime. Now, he could inform the hon. Member that the majority of the Commission came to the decision that with the see of Canterbury the reduction of income should be prospective, instead of immediate—a course which reformers on the hon. Member's side of the House always maintained was the proper one to be taken, particularly with respect to the Church. The hon. Member also stated that the Bishop of Rochester received 3,700l a year, in violation of the law. The hon. Member's statement was no better founded with respect to the Bishop of Rochester than it was with respect to the Primate. The object of the Commission was that the smaller bishopries should no longer hold large preferments in commendam, as had heretofore been the practice, in order to augment the incomes of those sees. It was notorious the Bishop of Rochester was in possession of two preferments, namely, the deanery of Woodford, and the rectory of Bromley, which he surrendered in order to be placed on the same footing, as regarded income, as that on which his successor would stand. The question was, whether the Commissioners ought to be censured on account of defects in an Act of Parliament? The hon. Member who spoke last was of opinion that they ought; but he was sure the House would take a different view of the case, and would not visit with censure men who had faithfully discharged their duty, because they had not fulfilled all the expectations which some hon. Gen- tlemen entertained, not of what the Act of Parliament would effect, but of what it might be made to effect hereafter. As to the larger question of the origin and title of church property, the present was not the time to enter upon it. It was enough for him now to deprecate the course which the hon. Member had taken in attacking the character of the Commissioners, and to throw himself and the other Members of the Commission upon the justice of the House, conscious that they had faithfully discharged their duty, and fulfilled the provisions of the Act of Parliament.


suggested, that the difficulty felt by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge might be obviated, if the hon. Member for Cockermouth would consent to a modification of the concluding part of his last resolution. He believed that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had fully and fairly done their duty according to what they considered to be the construction of the Act. Many hon. Members would be enabled to support the resolutions if they were modified. Instead of the words, "That the provisions of the Act 6 and 7 William IV., c. 77, so far as relates to episcopal incomes, have not been carried out according to the intentions of Parliament," he would suggest the substitution of these words: "That the provisions of the Statute 6 and 7 William IV., c. 77, require the serious consideration and revision of Parliament." If the hon. Member would consent to this alteration, he should be happy to vote for his resolutions.


believed the authority upon which he had made the statement respecting the Bishop of Rochester could be relied on; but after what had passed he had not the slightest doubt that he had been misinformed; he therefore begged to retract the expression which he had applied to the right rev. Prelate's supposed conduct, and to express his sorrow for having used it. He felt strongly on this question, because he was impressed with the importance of having the ecclesiastical funds administered for religious purposes; and when he saw those funds squandered, as he maintained they had been by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, he would not be deterred from denouncing the abuse by the imputation of being an enemy to the Church. The statement and Motion which he had made, appeared to have been much misunderstood. It was difficult to make a statement which consisted almost entirely of figures interesting, and it was impossible to render it interesting; and, on the other hand, it was very easy for any person possessing a fiftieth part of the ability of the Home Secretary to mystify and confuse such a statement. The right hon. Baronet had very ingeniously placed the Motion in a false light; and the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the right hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the House, as well as the hon. Member for Oxford, had adopted the construction which the right hon. Baronet had put upon it. He had not cast any reflection on the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for not doing what the Act of Parliament would not permit them to do, but for having done wrong in making payment in excess in the eight different cases which he had mentioned in his opening speech. The returns to which he had referred were made by the Commissioners themselves to themselves, and therefore it was hard to blame him for using them. He must confess, that, speaking of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners as a public board, he thought they had not performed their duty in such a manner as to give general satisfaction to the public; and he was not singular in that opinion. The Board was composed of upwards of fifty individuals, comprising many of the dignitaries of the Church; and the opinion of the public was, that while they had limited the rights of patrons, and had imposed restrictions on the working clergy, when their own affairs had been concerned they had not adopted any measure which had not had the effect of increasing their own wealth, of augmenting their own power, and of adding to their own patronage. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goulburn) had stated that, on a former occasion, he (Mr. Horsman) had made charges against the Commissioners which were founded on incorrect information. He (Mr. Horsman) must say, if such were the case, he was greatly surprised that the right hon. Gentleman, or some other member of the Ecclesiastical Commission who occupied a seat in that House, had not at once risen to impugn his statements. He (Mr. Horsman) certainly thought it would have been more fair if the right hon. Gentleman had contradicted the statements at the time they were made, than to come forward now with a sweeping assertion that a speech which he (Mr. Horsman) made during the last Session of Parliament, six months ago, contained many inaccuracies, which the right hon. Gentleman then allowed to pass without notice. The object which he (Mr. Horsman) was desirous of accomplishing was to place the ecclesiastical revenues under a better system of administration. He must express his surprise at the epithets which had been applied by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary to Gentlemen who, in their endeavours to effect this object, were only carrying out the principles which that right hon. Gentleman himself professed before he came into office. If he (Mr. Horsman) could entertain any hope that Government would take up the subject, he would most willingly leave the matter in their hands, and would at once withdraw his Motion. He might add that he was quite ready to adopt the suggestion which had been made by the hon. Member for North Lancashire (Mr. Heywood).


observed, that the hon. Gentleman had wholly misunderstood him. What he (Sir G. Grey) had said two or three years ago referred exclusively to the constitution of the Commission. He had stated that he thought the constitution of the Commission required alteration. Since he had been in office, a Bill had been introduced with a view to effect that object; a Committee of the House had been appointed during the last Session to consider the matter; and he believed the hon. Member for Malton had given notice of a Motion for renewing that Committee.


said, the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman) seemed to think it extraordinary that on a former occasion no hon. Gentleman had risen at the moment to correct the errors contained in the hon. Gentleman's statements of figures. He might observe, that the hon. Gentleman had to-night reserved for his reply an entirely new set of statements, to which, if they had been made at an earlier period of the evening, a satisfactory reply might have been given.


considered that the House ought not to sanction the continuance of any abuse in the administration of the Ecclesiastical Commission; but he thought it was impossible for the House to affirm the resolutions of the hon. Member for Cockermouth, unless they were as well acquainted with the subject as that hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Brotherton) considered that the House ought not too hastily to pass a vote of censure upon the Commissioners, and he certainly could not give his support to the resolutions.


did not wish to press those portions of his resolutions which implied a censure upon the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.


considered it his imperative duty to object to the adoption of the change in these resolutions suggested by the hon. Member for North Lancashire (Mr. Heywood). He did so on the ground that if that suggestion were adopted, the question would assume a completely new form. He also considered that the resolutions were objectionable on general principles; for they would pledge the House to an opinion respecting the revision of the Ecclesiastical Commission, before hon. Gentlemen had the slightest idea of the manner in which that revision was to be carried out.

Previous question negatived on the two first resolutions.

DR. BOWRING moved that the words in the third resolution, "have not been carried out according to the intentions of Parliament," be replaced by the words "require the consideration of Parliament."


withdrew his resolution, and the amended resolution was put as a substantive Motion, upon which the House divided:—Ayes 65; Noes 130: Majority 65.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. M'Gregor, J.
Alcock, T. Marshall, J. G.
Baines, M. T. Martin, J.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Matheson, Col.
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Mitchell, T. A.
Bright, J. Moffatt, G.
Brotherton, J. Molesworth, Sir W.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Muntz, G. F.
Clay, J. O'Connor, F.
Clay, Sir W. Pearson, C.
Cobden, R. Peto, S. M.
Crawford, W. S. Pilkington, J.
Duff, G. S. Pinney, W.
Duff, J. Plumptre, J. P.
Duncan, G. St. George C.
Evans, J. Salway, Col.
Ewart, W. Scholefield, W.
Fordyce, A. D. Seeley, C.
Forster, M. Sidney, T.
Gardner, R. Smith, J. B.
Grattan, H. Spearman, H. J.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Stuart, Lord D.
Hardcastle, J. A. Tancred, H. W.
Hastie, A. Tenison, E. K.
Heywood, J. Thicknesse, R. A.
Hodges, T. T. Thompson, Col.
Hume, J. Thompson, G.
Humphery, Ald. Thornely, T.
Keating, R. Wakley, T.
King, hon. P. J. L. Walmsley, Sir J.
Langston, J. H. Wawn, J. T.
Williams, J. TELLERS.
Wilson, M. Horsman, E.
Wood, W. P. Bowring, Dr.
List of the NOES.
Abdy, T. N. Jervis, Sir J.
Acland, Sir T. D. Jervis, J.
Alexander, N. Keogh, W.
Bailey, J. Keppel, hon. G. T.
Baillie, H. J. Ker, R.
Baring, H. B. Knox, Col.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Barnard, E. G. Lewis, rt. hn. Sir T. F.
Bellew, R. M. Lewis, G. C.
Bentinck, Lord G. M'Naghten, Sir E.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. M'Tavish, C. C.
Blackall, S. W. Mahon, The O'Gorman
Boiling, W. Mahon, Visct.
Bourke, R. S. Maitland, T.
Bowles, Adm. Matheson, A.
Boyle, hon. Col. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Bramston, T. W. Monsell, W.
Bremridge, R. Morgan, O.
Broadley, H. Morpeth, Visct.
Brockman, E. D. Mulgrave, Earl of
Busfeild, W. Newdegate, C. N.
Cabbell, B. B. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Campbell, hon. W. F. O'Brien, J.
Cardwell, E. O'Brien, Sir L.
Carter, J. B. Ogle, S. C. H.
Clements, hon. C. S. Packe, C. W.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Paget, Lord C.
Clive, Visct. Palmer, R.
Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B. Palmerston, Visct.
Codrington, Sir W. Parker, J.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Peel, Col.
Cubitt, W. Plowden, W. H. C.
Deering, J. Prime, R.
Disraeli, B. Raphael, A.
Drummond, H. Rendlesham, Lord
Dundas, Adm. Repton, G. W. J.
Dundas, Sir D. Ricardo, O.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Robartes, T. J. A.
Farrer, J. Russell, Lord J.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Russell, F. C. H.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Sandars, G.
Forbes, W. Seymer, H. K.
Fox, R. M. Sibthorp, Col.
Freestun, Col. Smythe, hon. G.
French, F. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Stanley, hon. E. J.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Stanley, F.
Glyn, G. C. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Godson, R. Stuart, H.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Talfourd, Serj.
Grace, O. D. J. Turner, G. J.
Greene, T. Urquhart, D.
Grenfell, C. W. Vane, Lord H.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Verney, Sir H.
Haggitt, F. R. Waddington, H. S.
Hall, Col. Ward, H. G.
Hallyburton, Lord J. F. Watkins, Col. L.
Harris, hon. Capt. Westhead, J. P.
Hay, Lord J. Willcox, B. M.
Heathcote, Sir W. Willoughby, Sir H.
Herbert, H. A. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Herries, rt. hon. J. C. Wyld, J.
Hildyard, R. C. Wyvill, M.
Hogg, Sir J. W.
Hood, Sir A. TELLERS.
Hope, Sir H. T. Tufnell, H.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Hill, Lord M.

House adjourned at Eleven o'clock.