§ Earl Bathurst
rose to introduce a bill for regulating the ordination of persons designed to perform clerical duties in the colonies. The noble earl referred to the discussion on the subject which took place some time ago, when it appeared that considerable irregularity prevailed in the appointment of persons to discharge clerical functions in the colonies. It had been the practice for the bishop of London to ordain persons for the colonies, but that practice, though it had long existed, and was, from the necessity of the case, continued by the bishops on their own responsibility, was, according to the opinion of the crown lawyers, illegal. One of the disadvantages of this system was, that no means existed of compelling the persons so ordained to exercise their clerical functions in the colonies, while their residence or return to this country produced a superabundance of candidates for clerical duties. The wants of the colonies too, as to religious instruction, were, in consequence of this state of things, very imperfectly supplied. To remedy this evil, it was proposed by the bill to vest the power of the ordination for the colonies in the archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the bishop of London. Provisions were introduced to secure the object of the ordination, and to prevent persons who might be very proper for communicating religious instruction in the colonies, but less suited to that duty here, from availing themselves of the character they had acquired, to enter on the care of souls in this country. If residing in colonies where there was a bishop, it would be required of them, on their return, to produce a certificate from him, or from the governor of the colony, of their good conduct. Regard must also be had to ability, as well as character, for such a duty; and it was therefore proposed, that persons so returning should not be permitted to accept the cure of souls in this country, without the permission of the bishop of the diocese. By acts passed in the present reign, bishops duly consecrated were appointed to Canada, Nova Scotia, and Calcutta. These bishops possessed the power of ordination within their dioceses. It was, however, very improper to allow all the individuals ordained in the colonies, purely for domestic purposes, to come and officiate in this country. It was therefore provided, that no charge intrusted to such persons should be left with the view of leaving the settlement, 802 without the previous consent of the bishop of the diocese. That permission would of course be produced here, before authority could be obtained to assume the cure of souls in this country. Connected with this part of the bill, was a clause relative to converted Roman Catholics. At present persons of that religion who had received regular ordination, on acknowledging the errors of the church of Rome, were entitled to act as Protestant clergymen. It did not appear proper that the refuse of the church of Rome should be so readily admitted into the church of England. It was therefore proposed, that they should not be allowed to exercise spiritual functions, until they obtained the permission of the bishop of the diocese in which they might happen to reside. Thus the church of England would still be open to such persons, while security for their character and fitness would be given. Another object of the bill was, to provide that the bishops of Canada, Nova Scotia, and Calcutta, should not continue to ordain after leaving the sees to which they were appointed.
§ The Bill was read a first time.