§ On the question that the Bill do pass,
§ Lord Portman
said, he could not consent to the passing of this bill, without shortly stating his opinions upon it. It was in his judgment a bill which, at no very distant period, would force upon the right rev. bench a complete and entire consideration of the whole subject of Church temporalities, and believing this would be the case, and that thus the wishes of the great mass of the people would be accomplished, he did not intend to oppose its now being passed into a law. The bill was, however, not so fair and just as to be able to stand; it imposed, he would not say great penalties, but great changes in the whole property of patrons; it gave enormous powers to the bishops, while it afforded but small remedies for the grievances under which the incumbents of this country laboured. It was true it went to enforce residence—a provision which he hailed with satisfaction, but which he feared was not founded upon a principle that could be permanent. He complained of a want of reciprocity as between the clergy and the laity, and he could not but feel there should have been an equal check upon the bishops. Again, there was a want of reciprocity in the arrangements contained in the bill with reference to peculiars, and all peculiars were abolished, except they were within the jurisdiction of a bishop or an archbishop. There was one part of the bill which he grieved to see, and that was the manner in which it recognized an immense mass of existing abuses. He was aware it was exceedingly difficult, and perhaps not strictly right, to press severely upon individuals holding existing privileges with rights recognized by law, but he believed there were many matters recognized by this bill which were of doubtful law before. He alluded particularly to the many cases of exemption from residence which were embodied in this bill, and under it would be sanctioned. Again, the sixth clause imposed upon the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) a most painful duty—a duty which he (Lord Portman), however, did not doubt the most rev. Prelate would exercise 492 with that tenderness which was so peculiarly his characteristic. The duty he alluded to was this—that when a question arose before a bishop as to the fitness and expediency of a living being held in plurality, the most rev. Prelate would have to be satisfied, not only of the fitness of the clergyman appointed, but of the expediency of his holding two preferments. Now, it would be a great grievance upon a clergyman that his patron should not alone be permitted to judge of his fitness, but that he must undergo a further investigation by the most rev. Prelate. There were many other points to which he objected, but to which it was needless to refer, as he did not intend to oppose the passing of the bill. He, however, felt, that legislation in this matter had been begun at the wrong end, and that the result of this bill would be to force a full reconsideration of the whole subject.
§ Bill passed.