§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. ROBERT PHILLIMORE
, in moving the second reading of this Bill, said it was in substance the same as that which he had the honour of laying on the table of the House last year, with one addition, which perhaps would make it more acceptable to those who had offered opposition to it upon that occasion—namely, that he proposed to provide that the measure should not operate in the case of presentations which had already become the subject of 1178 purchase or sale, or which had been contracted to be so made. The measure which he had brought in last year had met with an untimely end, owing to an unfortunate accident, which he would not trouble the House by dwelling on, but in consequence of which his noble Friend (Lord Goderich), of whose assistance he was glad to say he had the benefit again to-day, declined to go to a division, and the measure was therefore withdrawn. Although he had not been present upon that occasion, he had heard and read what had passed, and he must say that the misstatements and misconstructions were of that extraordinary character that he felt that he should not discharge his duty, nor properly execute the task which he had undertaken, unless he stated as concisely as he could what the present state of the law was, what were the evils resulting from that state of the law, and what was the remedy which he proposed. The objections which were made to the measure last year were of themselves of the most inconsistent character. From his hon. and learned Friend opposite (Mr. G. M. Butt) it received an unqualified and unhesitating opposition, upon the intelligible, but as he believed untenable, ground, that it was an invasion of the rights of property; but from the right hon. Baronet behind him, the Member for Morpeth (Sir G. Grey), whose opinion, on account of his great eminence and of the high position which he held in that House and in the country, necessarily carried with it very great weight, it met with an opposition of a totally different character. The right hon. Baronet's objection was not that it invaded property, but that it did not go far enough; that the change which it proposed was of so trifling and insignificant a character as to be utterly unworthy the serious consideration of the House. The task which he had undertaken to discharge today, and which with the kind indulgence of the House he hoped to be able to fulfil, was to demonstrate in the first instance that the present state of the law was highly objectionable; and next that the remedy which he proposed had received the highest sanction which any measure could desire—the sanction of the assembled Judges of the land advising the House of Lords in a most important case to which he would by and by refer. With respect to the early history of the law, it was not his intention to trouble the House with any narrative. He had nothing to do with the provisions 1179 of any foreign jurisprudence in reference to this subject. He was content to take it up at the time of the Reformation, and to show that the evil of which he now complained was one which the Legislature had sought, ever since that period, if possible, to find a remedy for. Now, in the reign of King Edward VI., whose reforming principles he thought no Member of that House could deny, and who could not be charged with a leaning to any foreign prince or prelate, certain injunctions were issued, which were originally published, with the sanction of that King, in the year 1547, and were afterwards approved by Queen Elizabeth in the year 1559. In these injunctions he found, among others, the following important provision:—To avoid the detestable sin of simony, because the buying and selling of benefices is execrable before God, therefore all such persons as buy any benefices, or come to them by fraud or deceit, shall be deprived thereof and made incapable at any time after to receive any spiritual preferment; and such as sell them, or by any colour bestow them for their own gain, shall lose their right and title to the patronage.These injunctions were followed up by the Statute 31 Eliz. chap. 6, which for the first time brought in the sanction of the temporal to aid the ecclesiastical law, by punishing lay patrons as well as extending its provisions to those of a clerical character. By the 5th section of that Statute, it was enacted that—If any person for any sum of money, or reward, shall present, or collate, admit, institute, induct, or instal any other person to any ecclesiastical benefice, or dignity, both the giver and the taker shall forfeit two years' value of the benefice, the presentation shall be void, the presentee shall be rendered incapable of ever enjoying the same benefice, and the Crown shall present to it for that term.Then came a canon, which was passed in the time of James I., and which contained pretty much the same language as these injunctions, and as the Statute of Elizabeth. But the oath which every clergyman was obliged to take, and which was appended to this canon, was well worthy of the consideration of the House; for one of his great objections to the present state of the law was that it led in a great many cases indirectly, and in some he was afraid directly, to hypocrisy, and even to perjury. [The hon. and learned Gentleman here read the oath and proceeded.] This oath, solemn as it was in its terms, had, nevertheless, been found, as the House would see, insufficient for its purpose. He 1180 need scarcely trouble the House with any allusion to the 1 Will. & Mary, chap. 16, which merely provided that the simoniacal presentation of one person should not prejudice any other; but he must pray their attention to the 2nd Statute of the 12 Anne, chap. 12, because it had a direct bearing upon the measure which was now before the House, and appeared to him to furnish a direct precedent for it. By that Statute it was enacted—That if any person shall or do, for any sum of money, reward, gift, profit, or advantage, directly or indirectly, or for or by reason of any promise, agreement, grant, bond, covenant, or other assurance, of or for any sum of money, reward, gift, profit, or benefit whatsoever, directly or indirectly, in his own name, or in the name of any other person or persons, take, procure, or accept the next avoidance of, or presentation to any benefice with the cure of souls, dignity, prebend, or living ecclesiastical, and shall be presented or collated thereupon, that then every such presentation or collation, and every admission, institution, investiture, and induction upon the same, shall be utterly void, frustrate, and of no effect in law, and such agreement shall be deemed and taken to be a simoniacal contract; and that it shall and may be lawful to and for the Queen's Majesty, Her Heirs, and Successors, to present or collate unto, or give or bestow every such benefice, dignity, prebend, and living ecclesiastical, for that one time or turn only; and the person so corruptly taking, procuring, or accepting any such benefice, dignity, prebend, or living shall thereupon, and from thenceforth, be adjudged a disabled person in law to have and enjoy the same benefice, dignity, prebend, or living ecclesiastical, and shall also be subject to any punishment, pain, or penalty limited, prescribed, or inflicted by the laws ecclesiastical, in like manner as if such corrupt agreement had been made after such benefice, dignity, prebend, or living ecclesiastical had become vacant.Now, the interpretation put by the courts of law upon this Statute—he did not stop to ask with what justice—had been that it affected only clergymen. Therefore, the existing state of the law was this—that it was competent for a layman to purchase the next presentation to a living—that it was wholly incompetent to a clergyman to do any such thing—that it was wholly incompetent for either clergyman or layman to purchase a void living, which the common law of England declared to be "execrable before God, and a sin;" but that both clergymen and laymen were at liberty to purchase advowsons. That appeared to him to be the existing state of the law. Now, it was very important that the House should see what was the principle and the policy of the common law of England. And he would beg the attention 1181 of his hon. and learned Friend opposite to the fact that he was speaking of the common law of England, and not of the canon law. What was the principle and the policy of the common law in reference to these simoniacal transactions, which it had thus prohibited? In a case, "The Bishop of Lincoln v. Wolferston," which had come before Lord Mansfield and Mr. Justice Wilmot, both these eminent Judges had explained that principle and that policy as follows:—The true reason why a grant of a fallen presentation, or of an advowson after avoidance, is not good, quoad the fallen vacancy, is the public utility, and the better to guard against simony—not the fictitious reason of its being then become a chose in action.He did not think that anybody would be found who would be hardy enough to controvert the statement of these high judicial authorities, or to contend, in opposition to that statement, that the existing prohibitions rested not upon grounds of public utility or public policy, but upon purely technical grounds. But this was not merely a question for the lawyer; it was a question also for the jurist and the statesman; and he thought that if he referred to the authority upon this subject, he should not be charged with making reference to one who could be accused of any leaning towards what were called High Church principles, or of whom it could be said that he did not deal with every question that came before him with the greatest possible fairness and candour. He (Mr. Phillimore) did not subscribe implicitly to his moral or his philosophical doctrines, but he admired the acuteness and the common sense which he brought to bear upon any subject that he discussed. Archdeacon Paley, in his Moral and Political Philosophy, then, in reference to this subject, had the following passage:—The sale of advowsons is inseparable from the right of private patronage, as patronage would otherwise devolve to the most indigent, and for that reason the most improper hands it could be placed in; nor did the law ever intend to prevent the passing of advowsons from one patron to another, but to restrain the patron who possesses the right of presenting, at the vacancy, from being influenced in the choice of his presentee by a bribe or benefit to himself. It is the same distinction which obtains in a freeholder's vote for his representative in Parliament. The right of voting—that is, the freehold to which the right appertains—may be bought and sold as freely as any other property; but the exercise of that right, the vote itself; may not be purchased or influenced 1182 by money.…. Where advowsons are held along with manors, or other principal estates, it would be an easy regulation to forbid that they should ever hereafter be separated, and would at least keep church preferment out of the hands of brokers.There was one other reference upon this important subject, which he had no doubt the House would be glad to hear. It was the authority of Professor Whewell, whose work was probably known to most of them, and who said—That the condemnation of simony has been continued to modern times, and adopted in our own laws, and it is plain that not merely the sacredness of spiritual things, but justice and decency, are violated by the sale of spiritual offices. The sale of advowsons may appear, but it is not at variance with the laws against simony. The right of private patronage implies rather a sacred aspect in property than a secular aspect in the ministry. The principal lord in the land had originally a religious as well as a civil duty to his tenants; and when the advowson is separated from the local property it still implies a religious duty in those who hold it.These, then, were the opinions of very eminent Judges, of very eminent writers, and, if he might use the expression, of very eminent political philosophers, upon this subject. It was important to show the House how this law, anomalous as it was, had been evaded to the injury of public morals. He had already pointed out that the sale of a void living was illegal; but, as long as the incumbent was alive—as long as the breath was in his nostrils, and physical existence remained—however evidently he might be approaching the close of his earthly career—although consciousness, and sense, and reason might have departed—although he might be in articulo mortis—then, he was ashamed to say, the law at present was, that—although if the breath were gone, the sale would be illegal, and criminal, and void, contrary to public morals, and to public utility, or, in the words of King Edward's injunctions, "execrable before God, and a sin"—yet if the incumbent had any breath in his body—if he had even five minutes of life, the conveyance would be perfectly valid and the transaction perfectly legal. Upon this point he would call the attention of the House to a case well known to lawyers, Fox v. the Bishop of Chester, which came before Lord Tenterden, in the Court of King's Bench, in the year 1824. Lord Tenterden, in dealing with that case, made use of expressions which I will now take the liberty of reading:— 1183Can it, then, be said that an agreement for the sale of a next presentation, at a moment when the incumbent is, and is also known to be, afflicted with a mortal disease, and in extreme danger of life—that is, at the point of death—followed by a deed, purporting to be a conveyance, not of the next presentation, according to the agreement, but of a term which may happen to include two or more presentations, but intended only to convey the next presentation, is not a manifest evasion of the provisions of the Statute, and an indirect presentation of the clerk, Mr. Fox, the buyer, by Mr. Trafford, the seller?… In our opinion, however, the presentation made under such circumstances is an indirect presentation made by Trafford, the seller.The decision, therefore, was in favour of the bishop who refused his presentee; but the case was subsequently carried to the House of Lords, and the Judges were called in to advise their Lordships in their arduous duty of deciding upon that occasion. He would not trouble the House with any lengthened extract from the judgment which they then gave; but he would shortly state the grounds upon which they reversed the decision which had been pronounced in the Court of Queen's Bench, and would also pray the House to recollect not only the caution with which they had guarded their opinions, but also the recommendation which they had then given to the Legislature in favour of a change of the law—a recommendation which it was his object, and with the kind assistance of the House, he trusted he might add his hope, to become the humble instrument of carrying into effect. Lord Chief Justice Best, speaking in the name of all the Judges, said:—If the advowson be sold when the church is void, the next presentation will not pass; and if the next avoidance only be sold after the death of the incumbent, the sale is altogether void. It may be wise to carry the restraint of the sale of this species of property still further, and to say that the next avoidance shall in no case be sold. Undoubtedly much simony is indirectly committed by the sale of the next presentation. If it be proper to prevent the giving of money for presentations, it seems equally proper to prevent the sale of that which gives the immediate right to present; but the courts of law have never felt that they were authorised to go that length.Here then were judgments directly pointing out the evil which existed in consequence of the evasion of the law as it now exists by the sale of next presentations. Another equally high authority—Lord Eldon—in the case of Barrett v. Glubb, in which the Court of Chancery had compelled the execution by actual conveyance of a contract for the sale of an advowson 1184 two days before the death of the incumbent, carrying with it the assignment of the next presentation—thus expressed himself:—Now, my Lords, regarding the effect of this decision on human transactions, seeing that in all probability many transactions have taken place upon the footing of it, it does appear to me to be very undesirable that that decision should be shaken by the courts of law. I confess that I would rather see an Act of Parliament than any further extension of the arguments at the bar.He thought, therefore, he was perfectly justified, in the position which he sought to occupy, in saying that the measure which he proposed for the consideration of the House was not to be charged with any invasion of the law of property, or justly open to the objections which had been urged against it. He had shown that it was a measure which had the sanction of the highest judicial authorities in this land, because, they said, in the present state of the law that was indirectly permitted which was directly forbidden; and, because, they said also, that the proper remedy for the existing evil was an Act of Parliament. He presumed that hardly any hon. Member would rise in his place and say that the present state of the law with respect to simony was satisfactory, and was susceptible of no improvement. That being so, two modes had been suggested of amending it—one of which was to annihilate the very notion of simony, and to adopt the practice which Shakspeare ascribes to Cardinal Wolsey, of whom he says, "With him simony was fair play"—a suggestion with which, while he gave its advocates the credit of consistency, he confessed it was impossible for him to agree. The courts of this country had always been most strict in guarding all the avenues of justice. The sale of judicial offices had always been forbidden by Act of Parliment, and had been always contrary to the law of the land. If a Minister were to sell a common clerkship he would be liable to be visited with condign punishment. If a Member of Parliament were to sell his influence to obtain the smallest or the pettiest place, he would be visited—as they had lately had an opportunity of seeing—with the heaviest censure of that House. If an East India Director sold the smallest portion of his patronage, he was liable to be indicted. If he were told that this Bill was a wholesale invasion of property, he would 1185 beg hon. Members who used this argument to reflect that in the first place it was used in vain when Gatton and Old Sarum were destroyed, although it was believed that Mr. Pitt, in a Bill which he intended to bring in, had proposed to give some compensation to the owners of such boroughs. This argument of compensation had been been well met by Sir James Mackintosh, who had drawn a distinction between a property and a trust, and who showed that property had never been so much endangered as when a trust was confounded with it. It would be difficult also for hon. Gentlemen to answer this objection—if it were a hard measure to take from lay patrons without compensation the power of selling next presentations, was it not equally hard to take the same right from clerical patrons under the same circumstances, by the Act of Anne? He wished to know upon what ground a layman clothed with a spiritual trust was to claim compensation for the loss of that which clergymen clothed with a spiritual trust had already been deprived of without any compensation at all. And there was another reason much stronger than that. He did not know whether the House was aware of it, but until recently a right prevailed, under which the archbishop had a power, whenever a bishop was created or translated, to compel him to execute a conveyance to him of the next presentation of the best benefice in his gift; and so absolute was the right which this conveyance conferred that it became a part of the personal chattels of the archbishop, and in the memorable case of the archdeaconry of Rochester was actually put up to sale at Garraway's by the archbishop's executors and sold to an accidental passer-by. Benefices were thus made the archbishop's property, and they were property of a most valuable description; but how did the House deal with it? By the 3 & 4 Vict. chap. 113—in the middle of a Statute passed with no such object—they, without the slightest notice or compensation to the persons whose valuable property was taken away, passed a section enacting—That it shall not be lawful for any spiritual person to sell or assign any patronage or presentation belonging to him by virtue of any dignity or spiritual office held by him, and that every such sale or assignment shall be null and void to all intents and purposes.So little was the Archbishop aware of the change that had been made, that when the present Bishop of Oxford suc- 1186 ceeded to that see, the conveyance was sent to him to be executed in the usual way. The Bishop, however, objected to execute it, on the ground that the provision in the Statute of Victoria had deprived the Archbishop of his right, and the law officers of the Crown, on being appealed to, were of opinion that the objection was valid. And thus a most important property belonging not only to the see, but to the present Archbishop, had been taken away without any compensation. They had therefore, already applied the rule to the clergy which he now asked them, for the sake of public morality and public decency, to apply to laymen also. When he said for the sake of public morality, he did not think any hon. Member could turn over the pages of certain newspapers, and see the cure of souls offered for sale in ordinary advertising language—such as would be used in reference to the disposal of an estate, or of the cattle and horses upon it—without feeling emotions of the deepest regret. He had a selection of such advertisements, with which he would not trouble the House, but in which the inducements held out were all of the most secular character. They read of "a comfortable family house," "a four-stalled stable," "a good trout stream," and other matters of the same kind, but they looked in vain for any announcement of the spiritual interests of the parishioners, or the important nature of the charge to be undertaken. In a recent sale of this description at Garraway's the auctioneer had declined to say whether the incumbent was a good or a bad life, but had stated that if he were to die that night, the purchaser would have the presentation, and after detailing all the secular advantages, put up the living for 7,000l.; a brisk competition ensued, it was soon run up to 8,000l., and was ultimately knocked down for 8,400l. [Sir G. GREY asked whether that did not refer to the sale of an advowson?] Yes, that was an advowson, no doubt; and those who thought the Bill ought to go much further would be entitled to avail themselves of that fact, and to found an argument upon it. He had only alluded to the subject for the purpose of showing how these solemn trusts were overruled by worldly interest. We had had a searching inquiry into our ecclesiastical arrangements and we could hardly complain of that, because, unquestionably, there were grievances which required to be redressed; but he had never yet heard that it was an 1187 effectual argument in the case of an ecclesiastic that his trust was a property which ought not to be interfered with; and he hoped, for the sake of the honour of the country and their personal credit, that they were not going to apply a different rule in the case of laymen from that which they had enforced in the case of ecclesiastics. If he had succeeded in showing that the right of presentation was, in its essence, a public trust, and only in its accident a private property, it would be urged in vain in this case, as it had been in others, that they must not interpose to cause that trust to be properly administered, because, by so doing, they would interfere with the property of a person who himself ought to have administered in the right way. He thought they would set an example little creditable to the country if they flinched in this instance from the application of those principles which, in the abstract, they so much admired, and which they had applied so unsparingly in other cases. He must be excused for saying that he had heard no argument as yet which satisfied him that the recommendation of the Judges in the case to which he had alluded should not be carried into effect. If Lord Tenterden was right in saying that simony was indirectly committed in the sale of next presentations—and if simony was an offence injurious to public morality and public decency—if these two premises were granted, why should they not interfere in the case of laymen, as they had already in the case of the clergymen unhesitatingly done.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ MR. G. BUTT
said, he agreed with his hon. and learned Friend who had just sat down that this was a question of considerable importance, and he was not disposed to treat it in any way except calmly and with a view to ascertain, first of all, what the mischief was which it was proposed to remedy, and then to consider whether the present measure was calculated to effect that object. His hon. and learned Friend had stated that upon a former occasion certain arguments had been used which were not consistent. He (Mr. G. Butt) was not going to refer to those which he had had the honour of submitting to the House; he readily admitted that the arguments addressed to the House by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Morpeth (Sir G. Grey) were much better than his, and if that right hon. Baro- 1188 net would restate them now, they would no doubt be sufficient to dispose of the measure before them. Nor would he reply to the observation about the inconsistency of his former remarks, but would address himself to the question before the House. He did not differ much from his hon. and learned Friend as to what the present state of the law really was, although he thought he had a little mistaken the case of "Fox v. the Bishop of Chester." That was a question as to whether a presentation where the incumbent was in extremis was void or not, and the court of law decided there were such circumstances in the case as brought it within the "in extremis" rule; when the case went to the House of Lords, the Judges were called upon to give their opinion, and that opinion was, that there was not sufficient evidence to bear out the proposition. With respect to the law, it might be stated shortly, for he agreed with his hon. and learned Friend that it was not desirable to go back to the conflict between the common law of this country in Roman Catholic times and the canon law, which conflict was a very angry one, as was too frequently the case where ecclesiastical matters were in question. As he understood the law, then, it was this:—They might sell an advowson, which was a freehold interest, and they might sever from it the next presentation, which was a chattel interest; but, before he more particularly referred to the present measure, he would endeavour to remove a fallacy which the hon. and learned Gentleman had introduced into his speech. His hon. and learned Friend had said that this property was of a peculiar kind, and had attached to it certain obligations. No doubt of it; all property had obligations attached to it—some were legal, and others less perfect obligations, but obligations which were not the less binding upon good men. Now, what were the obligations which were attached to this particular property?— and the House would see there was no distinction between an advowson the possessor of which had a right to present every next turn, and the next presentation, which was severed from the advowson,—what then were the obligations? Why, that the person having the right should present a proper man, one who was morally and in other respects qualified to be instituted, to the bishop. That was the obligation, and the law had taken good care it should not be avoided; for when the patron, the owner of the advowson or next presenta- 1189 tion, presented the clerk to the bishop, it was the sacred duty of the prelate to inquire into the fitness of the person thus presented. If he found him incompetent on account of age, or on account of defects in his character or in his attainments, the bishop's duty was to reject him. How, then, could they say that, with regard to this particular property, the law had not hedged around it a strong security for the performance of a sacred trust? His hon. and learned Friend had not referred to the power so vested in the bishop, and which was an answer to all the arguments about the sacredness of the obligation and the necessity of taking care that good men were introduced into the Church. He had the same desire as his hon. and learned Friend to see the patronage of the Church rightly applied; they differed only as to the means by which that object was to be attained. It was, he believed, considered by those who in the Church were more inclined towards Rome than others that the present Bill did not go far enough; and they argued in their writings that, unless the hon. and learned Gentleman included advowsons in his Bill, he would do nothing. Some argument had been attempted to be raised with respect to the claim for compensation in this case, which was said to be analogous to that set up on the part of patrons of boroughs disfranchised under the Reform Bill, and the cases of Old Sarum and Gatton were alluded to. Surely they would see that that was a perfect fallacy, and he was surprised that his hon. and learned Friend, with all his acuteness and discrimination, should have been led into it. The right of property in the next presentation to a living was secured by the same law that protected a man's property in a lease of land for years. The owners of estates in Gatton and Old Sarum had no property in the franchise of the voters who resided there. With respect to the Statute of Anne, it was said Parliament interfered in the reign of Queen Anne to prevent clergymen purchasing next presentations; they might take them by will or by gift; they might acquire them by any means except that of purchase; and the hon. and learned Gentleman said, because in the reign of Queen Anne it was thought expedient to provide that persons in a certain position should not acquire particular property by particular means, that that was an argument in favour of preventing everybody from acquiring that property. His hon. and learned Friend had asked him if 1190 he concurred in the Statute of Anne. If it were now proposed for the first time, he should say, no; but the law of property was the subject they were now considering, and it was quite clear that both laymen and clergymen might purchase advowsons, and laymen might purchase next presentations; and although by the Statute of Anne clergymen were prevented from purchasing them, they were yet allowed to acquire them by will, gift, or otherwise. But the hon. and learned Gentleman in his Bill had got a second clause, which was not in his Bill of last year, and he asked him what was the meaning of it? He provided, by the first clause, that no layman should hereafter acquire by purchase the next presentation to himself to any living: and, by the second, if he understood it, he said:—That nothing herein contained shall effect any procurement or purchase of, or any agreement to procure or purchase, any such next presentation as aforesaid, or any presentation made in virtue thereof, in any case in which such procurement, purchase, agreement, or presentation, shall have been made, or contracted to be made, for valuable consideration paid or given, or contracted to be paid or given, before the passing of this Act,Was that, he asked, meant to take out of the operation of the Act all cases where the right to the presentation, severed from the advowson, was now in the hands of laymen? He presumed it was meant that, if a person had already purchased a next presentation, he might sell it. [Mr. R. PHILLIMORE: No, no.] The hon. and learned Gentleman, said, no; he asked, then, what was the effect of the clause? But, passing on, he would observe that this had always been established and recognised property, and how would he deal with it? As the law at present stood, next presentations were the subject of settlement and mortgage. He would not enter into the abstract question of whether, if they were now establishing what should be property, how they should deal with this particular matter; but if it was now the subject of settlement and mortgage, and the hon. and learned Gentleman destroyed the property, the creditors would lose their security, and the House would remember it was a security established under the sanction of the law. It might be very well to refer to those advertisements, but it was not the way to argue a question of this kind to import into the consideration of it the mode in which they were bought and sold. They were bought and sold under the law of England, under the same law which enabled persons to buy 1191 or sell any other description of property; and whether the auctioneer in putting forth such property for sale used particular terms could not possibly affect the question. He asked the House seriously to consider the proposition, it being clearly an infringement, as his hon. and learned Friend admitted, of the property affected; and he had put the case of creditors who had lent their money upon the security in question. Surely, with respect to them it would be no answer to say it was a pity the law was such as to make that property a security. He would put another case: supposing the owner of a next presentation to become bankrupt or insolvent, by the law of England his assignee was bound to sell the next presentation, and divide the proceeds among his creditors; but what did his hon. and learned Friend do with respect to them? If this measure were to become law, the assignees could do nothing with it; they would be unable to make money of it; and when the church became void, all the right they could exercise was to give away the presentation. He did not think that would be a very desirable state of things, nor did he think it would be very just with reference to those who were actually interested in the proceeds of the property. Again, his hon. and learned Friend had made no provision for the case of executors and administrators, who, by law, took the next presentation, while the heir would take the advowson. The executors and administrators would be bound to sell the next presentation, and the proceeds would go to creditors, legatees, next of kin, &c. But his hon. and learned Friend, by one sweeping measure, disposed of all those rights, and said it was a legitimate thing to ask Parliament so to deal with what had existed as property at all times in this country. His hon. and learned Friend said he was not doing much, he did not deal with advowsons. In the first place, he did deal with them; and in the second, if he did not, on his own principle he ought to do so. All the argument went to show that the evil could not be remedied unless the advowsons were dealt with; and supposing the present Bill should pass, preventing the sale of next presentations, while advowsons could be sold, the supposed mischief would not be guarded against. Now, advowsons contained the right to presentation as it arose, and, of course, if this Bill passed, instead of purchasing the next presentation, the advowson would be purchased; and, 1192 after the lapse of some time, the same number of sales would take place, and precisely the same mischief, if mischief it were, would be occasioned as at the present time; and he, therefore, asked whether it was desirable to deal with the matter by a Bill like the present? His hon. and learned Friend made a great many observations upon the enormous sin of simony; but he forgot one thing, and that was, that he assumed the purchases in question were simony, and then he denounced it. The title of the Bill brought in last Session, and introduced again this Session, was "to amend the laws relating to simony"—that was, to facilitate, one would think, the procedure in courts of justice, and to enable them to apply the laws with reference to the offence of simony. But the effect of the present Bill was to create a new offence, making that simony which was not simony before; and if the object of the measure were what it was represented to be by some publications which were understood to be the organs of that section of the Church to which he had referred, then it was idle to say it could be effected by dealing with next presentations alone; they must deal with advowsons also. [Mr. R. PHILLIMORE intimated dissent.] The hon. and learned Gentleman shook his head when he heard that. Perhaps, to use a common phrase, the present measure was considered merely a step in the right direction; but he was inclined to think that what were called steps in the right direction frequently turned out retrograde movements. What did the hon. and learned Gentleman desire to do? If the Bill had any effect at all, it must be to destroy pro tanto or entirely lay patronage. The hon. and learned Gentleman said he left property where it was. He (Mr. G. Butt) thought he had shown that he neither left property nor advowsons where they were, and if he did, he did not act upon the principle upon which the Bill was supposed to be framed. He said it was a scandalous thing that next presentations should be sold; but that observation applied equally to the sale of advowsons, and if it were desirable to prevent the sale of next presentations, why was it not so to prevent the sale of advowsons? The advertisements with respect to advowsons would give rise to just as much complaint and just as much eloquent denunciation against the sin of simony as those relating to the sale of next presentations. But why not, if they desired to prevent laymen from acquiring next presentations, try to pass a 1193 Bill which had reference to the advowsons? He supposed his hon. and learned Friend thought it was as well to get the narrow end of the wedge in first, and that he intended, on a future occasion, to bring in a Bill to prevent the sale of advowsons. On the same principle, why did he not bring in a Bill, headed, "To Amend the Laws with respect to Tithes," and provide for taking from lay impropriators the tithes now vested in them? As he said before, there was no difference between tithes, advowsons, and next presentations, considered as property. If the hon. and learned Gentleman did not like to take what was once Church land generally, he might select some old estates taken from the Church, and now held by noblemen and gentlemen on the same title as the property affected by his present Bill. But, speaking seriously, it was an important question to attempt to deal with property of this kind, and if they began, they must go on; indeed he did not doubt the hon. and learned Gentleman knew very well what would be the effect of his own measure, and was perfectly prepared, if this Bill should receive the sanction of Parliament, to bring in a Bill on another occasion which would affect the advowsons, and it was for that reason that they ought to look at the question rather more largely than the hon. and learned Gentleman had done in bringing it before the House. Now, he came to another objection to the Bill, namely, its interference with lay patronage—and he put it to the House whether that patronage was not well administered—better, indeed, than any other Church patronage? Would the hon. and learned Gentleman wish to see it in the Crown? [Mr. R. PHILLIMORE: No, no!] Would he wish to see it in the bishops? His hon. and learned Friend, when the question was asked whether he would wish to see the lay patronage vested in the Crown, said, "No, no!" but he did not say "No, no!" when he inquired whether he wished to see it vested in the bishops!
§ MR. R. PHILLIMORE
I assure you I have not the slightest wish to see the lay patronage vested either in the Crown or in the bishops.
§ MR. G. BUTT
Then the hon. and learned Gentleman had given the very best reason why the Bill should be thrown out; for it did affect the lay patronage in the only manner in which that patronage could be affected. If he (Mr. G. Butt) could have thought as the hon. and learned Gen- 1194 tleman did, he would have said that he did object to lay patronage altogether; that it ought to be in those hands directed by the doctrine of the Roman Catholics, the doctrine of the canonists, and which appeared to be the doctrine of that section of the Church with which the hon. and learned Member most sympathised. The hon. and learned Gentleman should say at once what the canonists said in Roman Catholic times, that it was his opinion that laymen ought not to have the patronage of the Church, but that it should be vested in the bishops. The Roman Catholics had tried before to get all this question of presentations left to the Church, but even in Roman Catholic times the people of England did not submit to that domination; they tried by every possible means to get the patronage of livings out of lay hands, and failed; and therefore he asked, was it at the present time desirable to change the law, or was there any reason why they should affect the interests or the feelings of laymen? At present there were nearly two-thirds of the patronage of the livings in England vested in private families, and he asked whether that patronage was not honestly administered? It was for the bishop to take care that the men presented were fit and proper persons, and was not the patronage under such a safeguard likely to be far better exercised than if it were vested in the Crown, to be given as the reward of political partisanship, or as the result of Ministerial favour? He could assure his hon. and learned Friend he had no interest in this matter further than that interest which became him, namely, to watch and see in cases of this kind that the rights of property were not affected by a measure by which no object could be obtained, for he could see nothing in this Bill which could effect any good purpose, and it pointed at changes which it would be most undesirable to make unless a very clear case had been made out calling for interference. One of the gravest of all things they could do was to tamper with well established rights, and they ought to be exceedingly careful not, on purely speculative reasons, to introduce changes affecting property. With respect to the present Bill, then, he was of opinion there was no case made out for the interference sought, or for any interference of a different nature, which the hon. and learned Gentleman did not dare to trust his hand with at present. On these grounds he asked the House to adopt his Amendment, and to reject the measure.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ SIR WILLIAM HEATHCOTE
said, he thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Amendment, had used arguments which were likely to destroy altogether the right to advowsons and to lay patronage. That hon. and learned Gentleman seemed hardly to be aware that any other question was involved in the measure before the House but a mere question of pounds, shillings, and pence. Now, when public trusts were vested in individuals, not in right of an office, but as attached to property which they held—when the right of exercising that trust was a matter of property—no doubt many of the incidents of property must attach to that right, and amongst them the right of alienation. But the question of the actual exercise of the trust stood upon an entirely different footing; the right to exercise being one thing—the actual exercise being another. The purchase of an advowson was as legitimate a transaction as was the purchase of a freehold, conferring the right to vote; but in the case of an actual vacancy, the law, as it at present stood, would not allow such vacancy to be filled up for money any more than it would allow a vote to be given under the like inducement. Between these two extremes there were different steps, and the question was, when they were approaching that position in the arrangement where the filling up of a vacancy would be part of a corrupt transaction. In the case of a clergyman the law prohibited the purchase of the next presentation, and he could see no reason for applying a different rule to the case of a layman. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Weymouth (Mr. G. Butt) stated that the passing of the present measure would tend to the overthrow of the rights of lay patrons; now he (Sir W. Heathcote) was not greatly interested in that subject, though he happened to be an owner to a small extent of such patronage; but in that position he must confess he could not thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for his interposition, because he would regard that kind of property as much less secure if it could be protected only by the maintenance of an abuse. And on that account it struck him forcibly that the reference made by his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. R. Phillimore) to the case of 1196 the boroughs suppressed by the Reform Act, was perfectly appropriate. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. G. Butt) professed not to understand the second clause of the Bill; now, it only provided that bargains or arrangements with respect to any next presentation already effected should be good, but that for the future no such bargains would be sustainable in law. With regard to fire question of lay patronage, he believed it exercised a wholesome influence on the Church, in introducing into it the lay element, which was very requisite. And it was, therefore, not with a view of overthrowing that lay element that he supported the Bill, but with a view of making that element felt in a manner less subject to abuse. Much had been said about the power of a bishop to refuse institution to any presentee, as being a check on improper presentations; but the hon. and learned Gentleman must know very well that no bishop would be sustained by a court of law in rejecting a clerk because he merely happened not to be as good and proper appointment as might easily have been made. The negative power resting with a bishop could not prevent the sale of presentation to men all but on their death-bed, in order that another sale might be shortly effected. He hoped that the House would take a wider view of this question than that put forth by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and that, as the guardian of our institutions, by consenting to the second reading of this Bill, it would show itself desirous of making lay proprietors act solely in the capacity of trustees, and not as persons seeking to render the offices of the Church a source of revenue to themselves.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that although this Bill differed in two material particulars from the Bill proposed on the same subject in the last Session, he could see no ground to induce the House to assent to it. The Bill of last year was retrospective as well as prospective, while the Bill now before the House was only prospective. The Bill of last year was more limited in its operation, because, if he remembered rightly, it did not propose to deprive laymen generally of the power of purchasing next presentations, but only with the intention of subsequently taking holy orders, and of presenting themselves, while the Bill now under discussion proposed to take away from all laymen the right of purchasing next presentations to livings with 1197 the view of presenting other persons as incumbents. He fully agreed with the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Sir W. Heathcote) that this question should not be considered as one of mere pounds, shillings, and pence. There was an important and sacred trust connected with the administration of property of this kind; and persons who possessed such property ought to feel the serious responsibility which attached to them with regard to its disposition. He (Sir G. Grey) thought that some of the scandals which had been referred to, such as the presentation of aged and absolutely incompetent incumbents, might be checked by a proper exercise of authority on the part of the bishops. He could not conceive that a bishop could be compellable by law to present to an incumbency with cure of souls a man to whom he was bound to give leave of non-residence on the next day because he was absolutely incompetent to discharge his duties. Although, however, this question must not be looked at merely as a question of property, it must be remembered that the law of England had, for a great number of years, recognised property of this nature; and he did not think the Legislature should interfere to depreciate such property materially without the certainty of obtaining some decided benefit. Now, his objection to this Bill was, that while it interfered seriously with that property, it would produce no benefit, or, at all events, very slight benefit. His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. R. Phillimore) did not propose to deal at all with the sale of advowsons, but, if he correctly understood the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, the sale of the advowson would hereafter, as now, carry with it the right to the next presentation. He (Sir G. Grey) hoped the House might be informed whether that supposition was correct or not. He fully concurred with his hon. and learned Friend as to the scandals produced by the advertisements which they too often saw in the public papers, describing the age and infirmities of incumbents as enhancing the value of next presentations or advowsons. Such cases, however, would be left absolutely untouched by this Bill, for the only effect of the measure would be that, if a man in possession of the advowson could not sell the next presentation alone, he would probably be driven to sell the advowson itself. All the scandal would remain, and the only effect would be to depreciate the value of this kind of property. For these reasons, he (Sir G. 1198 Grey) considered that the House ought not to assent to this Bill. If the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock (Mr. R. Phillimore) thought his arguments ought to prevail, he should certainly go much further, and prohibit the sale of advowsons, including the next presentations, as well as the sale of next presentations by themselves. He (Sir G. Grey) must say that he did not see the evil of the sale of next presentations. For instance, a man might have a relative or friend who was perfectly competent to discharge the spiritual duties which attached to the possession of a living. He might buy a next presentation, acting under a sense of the most solemn responsibility, with the view of presenting that individual; and he (Sir G. Grey) could not conceive why such a transaction should be denounced as simony. He felt strong objections to the Bill, because he thought it would not prevent the sale of next presentations, but would only render such sales rather more difficult, and would thereby depreciate materially the value of property of that description, without any sufficient reason having been shown for adopting such a measure.
§ VISCOUNT GODERICH
said, he considered that the law with regard to this subject was in a most unsatisfactory and inconsistent state. Two schemes had been proposed with the view of remedying the existing anomalies. The first was contained in the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Tavistock (Mr. R. Phillimore) now before the House. The second was a scheme by which it was proposed to remove all restrictions, and to render legal in all cases the sale of presentations. He admitted that this second proposition would remove the inconsistencies of the existing law, and would extend the proprietary rights of the owners of advowsons, but at the same time it would legalise proceedings which appeared to him most objectionable, and calculated to bring scandal and discredit upon the Church of England. The hon. and learned Member for Weymouth (Mr. G. Butt) had passed over this view of the question, but he (Visc. Goderich) was anxious that the House should direct their attention to it, because he believed that the moral and social considerations which it involved were at least as important as the legal considerations, of which so much had been said. The hon. and learned Member for Weymouth appeared unable to understand the feelings of those who supported the Bill of his 1199 hon. and learned Friend, and he (Visc. Goderich) was not surprised that the hon. and learned Gentleman should treat this part of the subject lightly, when he found that he was reported to have said on a former occasion, with reference to a Bill similar to the present, that "A man who purchased five years ago the next presentation to a living held it as a chattel interest going to his executors, which they were bound to sell to pay off the debts on the estate, but this Bill would prevent the sale." Now he (Visc. Goderich) would ask the House to consider what it was that the hon. and learned Member for Weymouth described as a chattel interest. It was the right to appoint to a parish a minister of the Church of England, who in that capacity was to take upon himself the important and sacred trust of the care of the spiritual interests of the parishioners. He (Visc. Goderich) wondered whether the hon. and learned Gentleman would be consistent in his theory, and would support the application to his own profession of the principles which he advocated with regard to the Church of England. Mr. Bentham recommended that, under certain conditions, judgeships should be put up for sale. Now, if the hon. and learned Member for Weymouth desired to be consistent, let him recommend the Home Secretary to sell to the highest bidder the right to present to the judgeship which was now so unhappily vacant. It was perfectly well known that in the case of the sales of ecclesiastical presentations no regard whatever was had to the fitness of the purchaser to exercise the trust he bought. The way in which livings were sold was notoriously one injurious to the Church, and offensive to the parishioners. The patron of a living wanted money; he wrote to his solicitor in London directing him to sell the next presentation, and there were brokers in this city whose chief business it was to conduct such sales. The solicitor and the broker met and discussed the age of the incumbent; they counted up his infirmities; they considered his diseases; and they described the pleasant situation of the parsonage house, and the little there was to do. In short, they carefully went into every question except the fitness of the person to be presented for the sacred trust about to be sold. The purchaser made the best bargain he could, and the seller got all the money that it was possible for him to obtain. It seemed to him (Visc. Goderich) 1200 that the rights of the parishioners were deeply concerned in these transactions, and that their spiritual interests were in fact the subject of the sale. In cases where the owner of an advowson resided in the parish or its immediate neighbourhood, if he presented to the living an unfit person, the parishioners could bring to bear upon him the direct influence of public opinion; but, if the advowson were purchased by a stranger, living at a distance, the parishioners must be content with such an incumbent as this new patron chose to send, provided he did not appoint a man grossly immoral, palpably incapable, or grievously ignorant. The hon. and learned Member for Weymouth had spoken of the control that could be exercised by the bishop in such cases; but the bishop could only refuse to institute for causes which would empower him to deprive. The purchaser of a presentation or advowson might know nothing, often could know nothing, of the wants or requirements of the parish to which he thus acquired the right to present a clerk; and this part of the question seemed to him (Visc. Goderich) deserving of serious consideration, because the parishioners had no effectual means of preventing the appointment of an unfit person in such cases. He confessed, therefore, that he could not support that method of removing the existing anomalies, which would permit, without restraint, the sale of ecclesiastical patronage, and that he preferred the scheme of his hon. and learned friend the Member for Tavistock. The Bill had been represented as an indirect attack upon the rights of laymen. In supporting the Bill he had no desire to advocate the views of any party in the Church. His simple object was to remove a scandal which affected the Church of England, and the Church of England alone. He trusted that the House would consider that moral and social considerations were entitled to as much weight as the legal questions, on which so much stress had been laid, and he concurred with the hon. Member for the University of Oxford in thinking that the hon. and learned Member for Weymouth had done much more to strike at the root of lay patronage than the hon. and learned Gentleman who had introduced the Bill. If the clauses of the Bill were not perfectly intelligible, let the hon. and learned Member propose to amend them in Committee, and there could be no doubt that every attention would be paid to his suggestions. Be- 1201 lieving the Bill to be consistent with the spirit of our laws—believing that it would help to remove great scandals from the Church which now brought discredit on her, and from which other Churches were free—scandals which tended to bring into disrepute the common Christian faith, he would appeal to all those hon. Members who were sincerely interested in the welfare of the Church to support the efforts of the hon. and learned Gentleman in his endeavour to purify her from this grievous stain. He hoped, therefore, that the House would assent to the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, that, having given the Bill the most mature consideration, he had come to the conclusion of supporting the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Weymouth. He thought that the best way to view the question was, to consider that it was connected with the most important public trusts in connection with the Church. If he were satisfied that the remedy proposed by this Bill would secure a better exercise of those trusts, he should have been prepared to support it, because property of all kinds ought to be made to answer its true and proper purposes. But he thought that the speech of the noble Lord who had just spoken, and the arguments used by the advocates of the present measure, went directly to show that their great object was to take away all lay patronage. The truth he believed to be this—that, while admitting the existence of great evils in connection with this subject, those who were in favour of a change of the law were endeavouring, by Act of Parliament, and by this Bill, to do that which ought to be accomplished by the system of education in the Universities and the supervision of the bishops themselves. He had remarked more than once in that House that moral evils must be met by moral remedies. The noble Lord said that the bishops had a very limited jurisdiction as regarded this matter. He (Mr. Napier) confessed he was surprised to hear this observation, when it was recollected that the bishops were obliged to make their return as to the competency of persons to be appointed in the Church. They were bound to state whether certain individuals were fit or not for those appointments; but they were not compelled to state their reasons for the opinions they so expressed. Surely, then, it was the bishop's duty to make the necessary inquiries as to the character and fitness of the individual 1202 who was seeking to enter into the charge of a cure of souls. Why was the party sent to the bishop at all? Because the bishop was bound to examine into the moral character of the man, and was more or less responsible for his conduct, if he reported favourably of him. In his humble judgment the true remedy for the evils complained of lay in this examination. How were the interests of the bishop or parishioners to be taken care of, if, in place of leaving the appointments dependent upon the examination he had alluded to, they passed a measure of this kind, which would, perhaps, leave the right of presentation in the hands of a needy man, whose only consideration was to obtain as much money as he could by the sale of such presentation? He did not think the Bill would effect the object for which it had been introduced; in fact, he thought it would tend only to multiply the evils that already exist. He would ask the House whether, in the event of this Bill passing, they did not think that there would be many cases of secret bargains which the law would not be able to reach? Were they prepared to void a presentation by force of this Bill, though the man was not a party concerned in the purchase of it? He thought the whole case Came to this—that the arguments used in favour of this Bill must apply equally to advowsons. Why did they seek to secure the better exercise of the trust without regarding the spiritual interests of the parishioners? The object which they had in view could only be obtained by a more careful education of young men who were intended for the clerical profession, and by the Crown giving to the country good and godly bishops. He would give his support to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Weymouth.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he fully appreciated the motives which had induced his hon. and learned Friend to bring forward this Bill, and he certainly would not join in any attack upon him with reference to motives which he did not believe he entertained. On the other hand, he felt himself bound to give his most cordial support to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Weymouth. He fully admitted that the law respecting simony was in an anomalous condition, but it was so because they had sought to reconcile the ecclesiastical doctrine with regard to simony with the recognised right of property in the lay patronage of the Church, 1203 And do what they would the law would still, as long as they sought to reconcile those two inconsistent principles, necessarily be in an anomalous state. If it was proposed to do something towards removing a portion of that anomaly, and they could not remove the whole and reconcile things necessarily inconsistent, before the House was asked to take a step towards altering the existing state of the law, and interfering with the existing rights of property, it ought to be shown that there was some great and glaring evil which called for such intervention. He had heard nothing advanced which to his mind at all made out any such existing evils. It was true they had been told of certain scandals which were occasionally brought upon the Church and the present system of patronage by means of advertisements, but it was quite clear that the scandal would not be in the least removed by the proposed measure. The same advertisements would exist with regard to advowsons as now existed with regard to presentations. The Bill did not propose to get rid of presentations generally; all that it dealt with was next presentations. This would not get rid of the scandal, but would seriously interfere with the rights of property. What was the necessity for so doing? He saw none. The existing state of the law, though anomalous, was by no means mischievous or prejudicial. The right of selling next presentations introduced into the Church a body of useful men, who would not otherwise find their way into it. If the law were altered as proposed, it would restrict the right of patronage to the landed aristocracy of the country; and though he meant not to say that they did not exercise that patronage in a very exemplary manner, they ought not to exclude the mercantile, professional, and commercial portions of the community from introducing their sons into the Church, if they thought proper to do so. By that means a great accession was obtained to the numbers of the working clergy, and these classes ought not to be excluded. The noble Lord (Viscount Goderich) had very strongly urged the rights of parishioners, which he said were interfered with by these simoniacal transactions. But how would they be protected by the Bill? He would be the last man not to give the most anxious and attentive consideration to the interests and feelings of parishioners; but there was no such provision, and it was putting the question on a false and illusory ground to argue it with the view of protect- 1204 ing the rights of parishioners. It was vain to say that the rights or wishes of parishioners were now cared for. On the contrary, had they not seen the most glaring instances in which the rights and feelings, the interests and wishes, of the parishioners, had been most singularly set at nought? Had any of them forgotten an instance in which, when the Bishop of London had thought it necessary to remove a clergyman from his ministry on account of his strange and heteredox doctrines, the same clergyman was forced upon the parishioners of Frome, in spite of their remonstrances, entreaties, and objections? The very effect of this Bill would be to leave the matter in the hands of the would be vendor—the man who was ready to sell his next presentation to any one who was willing to become a party to a simoniacal contract, who thus showed that he cared nothing for the interests of the parishioners; the Bill would leave it to such a man to appoint whom he liked. Such a Bill would place the law in a still more anomalous position. For what would be the effect? They could not sell the next presentation, but they might sell the next but one; and the result would be that the next presentation would be given by an arrangement between the seller and the purchaser, to some one whose years and infirmities had been most carefully ascertained and weighed, and the following presentation would be sold to the purchaser. That would not be a fraudulent contract under the terms of the Bill. Without in any way removing the scandals that now existed, or the anomalies necessarily inherent in the condition of the law, it would only introduce a mischievous principle by excluding that which was very advantageous, the lay element of the Church, and leading to more dangerous changes and infinite mischief. Therefore the Bill had his most cordial and hearty dissent.
said, that he would not trouble the House with any observations upon the subject, but he was anxious to mention a case that came under his own knowledge, and which was highly creditable to all the parties concerned. The case was one in which the right of presentation to an advowson belonged to a Roman Catholic family. The representatives of that family, not thinking it right to make an appointment in the Church of England, had been in the habit of selling the presentations as they occurred, and in the case to which he now referred, it had been purchased by a gentleman of high honour 1205 and character for the sum of 4,000l., for the purpose of presenting it to his son, who had been educated for the Church, and who was a man of equal attainments and character. Where, he would ask, was the mischief of such a transaction as that? Now, in the event of this gentleman's death occurring before the death of the present incumbent, his widow and family would be subjected to much injury if the present measure passed into a law, inasmuch as it would not be in the power of the executors to dispose of the living a second time, even to meet the testamentary dispositions of the deceased, or the wants of his widow and surviving family. This would be a gross act of injustice, which the House ought not to consent to inflict upon a humble individual. He trusted that the Amendment would be agreed to.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, he would beg to ask the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock whether his Bill would apply to this case:—Supposing that a father, after the passing of the Act, had purchased the presentation to a living for his son without the knowledge or assent of the latter; and that the son was not only presented, but instituted and inducted into the living, after several years had elapsed: if this case became publicly known, would the present Bill enable the law to turn this clergyman out of the living acquired under such circumstances?
§ MR. HILDYARD
said, he was most warmly attached to the Church, and he should sincerely oppose the Bill before the House. So long as the patronage remained as it was, the Church would never acquire an exclusive character. He believed the interests of the parishioners would be best consulted by throwing out this Bill. Parishioners were most interested in having able men appointed to minister to them; and no one bought a presentation to give it to an old man. This Bill would exclude from the service of the Church a large class who could only get into it by purchase. It was a marked feature of the middle classes in this country, that they allowed their children to choose their own profession; many chose the Church, and they could only obtain a presentation by purchase. Allusion had been made to the sacred character of the trust; but it should be borne in mind that the party presented must be one who had already been admitted to the Church, and who must be approved by the bishop. It had been said that this question had been 1206 treated as one of pounds, shillings, and pence; but how could a question of the sanctity of private property be otherwise? He cautioned the House against doing anything which might tend to weaken that right.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
said, he must deny that what was called the sanctity of private property ought to be carried into the affairs of religion. It might be a good principle that the wishes of the parishioners should be consulted; but this Bill did not at all carry out that principle. He knew a case which had occurred in his own parish, where the incumbent, having the next presentation, sold it for the benefit of his family; it was purchased by the father of a young clergyman, who was now most industriously and ably fulfilling the duties of his office. Unless these arrangements were permitted, such persons would never obtain access to the Church.
§ MR. R. PHILLIMORE
said, that the second clause, on which some observations had been made by the right hon. Member for Morpeth (Sir G. Grey), was not intended to apply in the manner suggested, and that if it was liable to be so construed he was quite prepared to alter the manner in which it was worded. With reference to the question of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside), he would state that the Bill would not introduce any new principle on that point. He trusted the House would give a second reading to the Bill, for no answer had been given to the fact that the assembled Judges of the land had pronounced that great simony was committed by the sale of next presentations, and that it was desirable that the evil should be remedied by Parliament. He had no sinister object in introducing the Bill, and belonged to no section or party in the Church, but to the Church of England itself.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 52; Noes 138: Majority 86.
§ Words added:—Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.