§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. MONK,
in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, he would not trouble the House at any great length, as he had fully explained the object of the measure last year; when, owing to the want of time, the Bill was talked out on a Wednesday afternoon. But there was one alteration in the present Bill as compared with the one he had introduced on previous occasions. The former Bills were drawn on the model of the Acts of Edward VI. and of Elizabeth, by which all Bishoprics were made donative by Letters Patent of the Crown. Under those Bills, there was an elaborate machinery for the consecration of Bishops under the severe penalties of prœmunire. Now, he had entirely redrafted the Bill, and omitted all the penalties of prœmunire, framing it on the model of the St. Alban's and the Truro Bishoprics Acts, which had been passed under the auspices of the Home Secretary. Therefore, he hoped that the objections which had been taken by the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) and others to his Bill had been obviated. He need not point out to the House how great a sham and mockery was the present mode of election—the name of the person to be elected was given in the letter-missive to the dean and chapter, and he was to be elected under the penalty of prœmunire. Such eminent Judges as Lord Chief Justice Denman, Justice Patteson, Chief Justice Erle, and Justice Coleridge, and among Bishops, Bishop Phillpotts and the late Dr. Thirlwall, Bishop of St. 1546 Davids, had condemned that method of election, and he hoped that the opinion of the House would be equally distinct. The whole principle of the election of Bishops by dean and chapter had, in fact, been given up by the recent Acts under which the Bishoprics of Truro and St. Alban's had been founded. In those cases, the Queen had been enabled to appoint by Letters Patent without further proceedings. One of the objects of the Bill was to relieve the dean and chapter from the cruel position in which they were placed by law, of being obliged, under the heavy penalties of prœmunire, to assent to an appointment of which they might not approve; and with that object, and with the wish, also, to make the Advisers of the Crown alone responsible for the selection of Bishops, he begged to move the second reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question, proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Monk.)
§ MR. J. G. HUBBARD
, in moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said, that he concurred with the hon. Member in hoping that the Church of England might not lose her reality; but, in order that it might continue to be real, the Episcopate ought to be real also. In dealing with the question before the House, it was necessary to look back to the origin of the form which the hon. Member desired to abrogate. The House would remember that originally the Clergy and Bishops of the Church of England were in communion with Rome, and, consequently, under the patronage of the Pope; and that Henry VIII., while he desired to emancipate the Church from that connection, did not wish to do away with the Episcopal character of the Anglican ordination; but demanded only that the Bishops should be acceptable to himself—especially as the Bishops were under stringent oaths of allegiance to the Pope. It was natural, then, that he should appeal to the deans and chapters to elect persons whom he could approve. No doubt, the penalties of prœmunire were not light, and had seldom or never been incurred; but that was no reason why they should be abolished, or even why they should be considered undesirable. He based his defence of the existing system on the fact that it maintained 1547 the popular principle of election in the Episcopate of the Church of England. Then, again, an appointment might be absolutely at variance with the interests of the Church, so as to provoke a refusal from the elective body. Many persons thought that was the case with the appointment of Dr. Hampden, against which the dean and chapter protested, though they ultimately submitted; but, in other cases, the defect of the nominee might be not merely theological, but a serious canonical disqualification. What if the Crown, in its absolute action, backed by the influence of the Prime Minister of the day, were to present a Roman Catholic Ecclesiastic to a Bishopric? Of course, the dean and chapter would refuse to assent to such a nomination; and, though the exercise of their discretion might be never or very rarely necessary, he objected to the removal of such a safeguard. The greatest evil resulting from the present state of the law was a slight delay in the appointment of no great consequence. The House should bear in mind that the system of electing Bishops through a congé d' élire, qualified by a prœmunire, was devised to counteract the influence of Rome, and was not intended to fetter the free exercise of the functions of the dean and chapter. It was clear, from a work published in 1536, entitled The Institution of a Christian Man, and dedicated by Cranmer to King Henry VIII., that the discretion lay with the dean and chapter, who were enjoined to approve the presentee of the King, or else reject him for his demerits. They exercised their discretion under great responsibilities, and under penalties if they needlessly set themselves against the law, though the law would justify them in resisting an improper appointment. The direct appointment by the Crown to the recently-created Sees of Truro and St. Albans, was inevitable in the lack of a dean or chapter; but the Patent and the Law distinctly contemplated their subsequent provision. The safeguard of a congé d' élire was one that ought to be retained; and, as it acted, no greater inconvenience followed than a slight delay, to be balanced against an important Constitutional principle. That being the case, he hoped that the House would not alter the law, but would read the Bill a second time that day six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. J. G. Hubbard.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. ASSHETON rose to address the House in support of the Bill, when——
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,
§ House adjourned at half after Eight o'clock.