§ The two first clauses were agreed to. The third, fourth, and fifth clauses were postponed.
§ Clauses 6, 7, 8, and 9, were agreed to, and Clause 10 postponed.
§ On Clause 12, persons promoting suits to execute bonds for payment of costs,
The Bishop of Exeter
thought that the Bill as it at present stood was defective in one material particular, viz., that it afforded no encouragement to the prosecution of those cases in which prosecutions ought to be instituted; nay, rather contained a provision which went to discourage those prosecutions, because it was provided that no person should be allowed to institute a prosecution against any clergyman, unless he would submit to enter into a bond of 100l. He spoke from experience when he said that the difficulty of procuring voluntary prosecution was at present almost insuperable; and undoubtedly the expenses must always be such as would deter individuals from prosecuting. By the old law the Bishop was subject to the expenses of prosecutions, but that was peculiarly objectionable, because the Bishop's officers were the persons who tried the offender, and the Bishop therefore would have an appearance of interest against the offender, and an interest to procure costs from him, in order to pay back a portion of the amount for which the Bishop was liable; but how much would that objection be increased when the Bishop personally presided at the trial? To remedy this he knew of no other mode than that which he would take the liberty to suggest. The Commissioners for inquiry into the state of the Church had recommended in their last Report that several offices, commonly considered as sinecures, should be destroyed, and the revenues paid over into the hands of certain Commissioners, hereafter to be applied for the purposes of the well-being of the Church; but he submitted there could he no more just, no more reasonable purpose—none in which the best interests of the Church were more concerned—than the taking care that the real delinquents should be punished, and the Church be freed from the scandal arising from the conduct of unworthy members. He begged to propose a clause to the effect—that after any suit may have been commenced, if the party should be unable effectually to prosecute 7 his charge, by reason of the expenses attending that prosecution, the Bishop may appoint an Archdeacon to carry on the prosecution, and bear all the lawful charges; and that such Archdeacon should report to the Bishop a true account of all expenses so incurred, deducting there from any costs which may have been allowed to him in the cause; and that the Bishop shall subscribe an order to refund those expenses, addressed either to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, or any other treasurer of the revenues of suppressed sinecures in the diocese; and that, after the production of such order, such treasurer be directed to pay out the sums from one of the said funds.
§ The Lord Chancellor
was afraid, if that clause were agreed to, that all the proceedings in every case would ultimately fall upon that fund. The clause was in-opposition to the principle of law, that the prosecutor was responsible for the propriety of the proceedings.
The Bishop of Exeter
was far from being bigoted to his own plan; but he was confident, that unless some means were devised to shield prosecutors from the necessary expenses, there would be an end to the discipline of the Church, and the clergy would only be restrained by their own sense of decency and of duty, which hitherto, thank God, had been so conspicuous and unexampled.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
said, it was very true that prosecutions before the Ecclesiastical Courts had been very unsatisfactory; and that the great cause of that had been the large amount of expenses to which prosecutors were subject. He did not allude to the penal bond, because he apprehended that 100l. would go a very short way towards paying those expenses. It must be allowed that it was very desirable that some means should be devised of defraying the expenses, when really a prosecution was required, and the case was one of a trying nature; but, according to the amendment proposed, there would not be a single cause found in which the expenses were not paid out of the fund. Now, he should be sorry to divert the fund alluded to, which was intended for the increase of small livings, to any other purposes; for by adopting that, whilst they were doing good to the Church in one way, they would be impeding one of the very great purposes for which the Church Commission was intended.
suggested, that some 8 clause might be founded upon the principle of the rev. Prelate's amendment, and might be proposed for insertion upon the third reading.
§ The remainder of the clauses passed through the Committee. The House ressumed. Committee to sit again.