§ The Order of the Day for the Second Reading of this Bill being read,
§ The EARL of POWIS
(who was imperfectly heard), said that it was not his intention, on the present occasion, to enter into any long statistical statement. He had trespassed too often on former occasions to render it desirable to address their Lordships at greater length than was necessary to bring the question distinctly before them. He would therefore at once bring to their Lordships' notice the circumstances under which this application was made. Their Lordships were aware that in the year 1835 a Commission was appointed to consider the state of the Established Church. Amongst other topics which occupied the consideration of the Commissioners was a project of establishing a bishopric of Manchester, and in connexion therewith of uniting the two sees of St. Asaph and Bangor. The reason given for that union was an objection existing on the part of certain persons to an increase of the episcopacy of the Establishment. The union of the two old sees of St. Asaph and Bangor was not a popular question, and it was necessary, in order to make it palatable, that some consideration should be held out as an inducement to accede to it. The inducement held out was the importance of establishing in the great and powerful district of Manchester, and other parts of Lancashire, the immediate superintendence of a bishop. Their Lordships acquiesced in the importance and justice of such a proceeding; but the deprival of one of their bishops was not very popular with the people of the Principality. Both the 1270 bishops were highly respected; and it was deeply regretted that they would not have successors. The Commissioners felt that it was necessary, in order to palliate the destruction of the see, and qualify the evil thus inflicted, to hold out some bonus to the Principality; and therefore their first report recommended that when the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor were united, the surplus income should be applied to the augmentation of their smaller benefices. He felt he was now introducing the subject to their Lordships' notice under different circumstances than heretofore; Sir R. Peel and his late Colleagues had been succeeded in the Government by the noble Marquess the President of the Council, and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack as Lord Chancellor. He asked those noble Lords, in the station in which they stood, to do justice to his countrymen and his Church, in consequence of the alterations made in the second report of the Commissioners, to which they had made themselves a party. He appealed to the noble Marquess, and asked him, if a case of a similar character as this occurred to him in private life, how he would act? If the noble Marquess had obtained power over a property upon the promise of certain considerations, whether he would, after having gained possession of the property, first decline to perform the conditions, and insist upon retaining the property for which he had refused the consideration? He should like to see how a person who presumed to suggest such a course would be dealt with in Lansdowne House—whether he would not have the alternative, and but short time for deliberation, submitted to him, of taking himself off either by the door or the window? His countrymen were the parties who felt that they had not been fairly dealt with in respect to this measure, and complained of the considerations entered into with them having been withheld. On the part of his poor countrymen he felt himself called upon to bring forward the present proposition, in the hope that that consideration would be given to it which that House of Parliament invariably gave to questions of property such as this was when weakness appealed to their justice. He knew no better way of bringing the case before their Lordships than by reading a petition which he had the honour early in these proceedings to present and read to the House, which petition embodied in eloquent language the case of his countrymen and their Church. The petition 1271 emanated from the inhabitants of the Isle of Man, and was as follows:—That your petitioners will ever most gratefully remember the powerful co-operation and the generous support which, in that arduous struggle, they received from the universities, the various chapters, archdeaconries, and numerous bodies of the clergy and laity of England and Wales, in advocating their cause with your right honourable House; and still more do your petitioners feel impressed with gratitude to the Parliament of the United Kingdom for their gracious compliance with the earnest prayers of the Manx people. That your petitioners feel in a peculiar manner the affinity between the sees of Sodor and Man, of St. Asaph and of Bangor (I entreat your Lordships' particular attention to the following sentences)—all bishoprics of independent States for many centuries previously to the Isle of Man and the Principality of Wales being incorporated in the British dominions—all in the earliest time endowed with funds for the maintenance of their several churches within their respective dioceses—all amid the revolutions of succeeding ages, the change of dynasties, and the reformation in the Anglican Church, preserved unimpaired by the storms of time or the sacrilegious hand of arbitrary power;—and all having poor, scattered populations, requiring the entire care and attention of the most zealous bishop. With these recollections, your petitioners feel themselves called upon as fellow Christians to return good for good, sympathy for sympathy, and most respectfully to express their earnest hope to your honourable House that these two most interesting remains of the episcopacy of former days, which ages of barbarism, of war, and of revolution have spared, may not, in these enlightened times, be sacrificed to the expediency of measures which, however otherwise important, they beg leave most respectfully to express their hope, may by other means be attained. That the ancient revenues of these sees may not be diverted from their legitimate object to assist in founding another see in a district unconnected with their own, and which is one of the most wealthy in the kingdom, but that the inhabitants of North Wales, by the blessing of Divine Providence, and through the wisdom and the justice of Parliament, for all time yet to come may be permitted to retain unchanged the incalculable advantages of their present Episcopal Establishment; and each see to continue to possess a separate resident Bishop to preside over their churches, and personally to superintend and promote the spiritual and the temporal welfare of the people; and that at a time when it has been deemed expedient by the Government, and sanctioned by the Crown, to consecrate Prelates to all the widely-extended Colonies of the Empire, in the four quarters of the globe, and even to the more recently discovered shores of Australia; and whilst the rapidly augmenting population of the British Isles would appear likewise to demand an augmentation of episcopal superintendence, your petitioners would willingly hope that the next step in this great work will not be connected with the extinction of one of the very ancient bishoprics of the most ancient people of Britain.The noble Earl then proceeded to refer to the petitions he had presented that evening from Gloucester, Essex, Manchester, and other places, and condemned the uncon- 1272 stitutional power with which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had been invested, which gave to their fiat the effect of an Act of Parliament, and at the same time deprived his countrymen of those means of resisting an arbitrary measure in the various stages of its progress through the House of Parliament, which the usage of Parliament gave to all whose rights and privileges were interfered with by its authority. With respect to the union of the two sees, he would affirm that the measure of which he complained would never have been carried, if it had been obliged to stand the test of discussion in their Lordships' House, instead of being silently established by Order in Council. He would now take leave to read to their Lordships an address to himself from the incumbents of livings under 200l. per annum in the archdeaconry of Montgomery. It was in reply to a request from himself that they would be pleased to express their opinions of the respective measures proposed by Lord Monteagle and himself. The address did honour to the poor but exemplary men from whom it emanated. He (Lord Powis) was proud to be allowed the honour of calling himself their countryman:—
§ "TO THE RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF POWIS, K. G.
May it please your Lordship—We, the undersigned incumbents of small benefices in the diocese of St. Asaph, beg leave to approach your Lordship with every sentiment of gratitude for the zealous efforts in which your Lordship is so nobly persevering to recue the Church in North Wales from the reckless spoliation with which it is threatened.
Your Lordship has announced a desire in your letter lately addressed to the dean and chapter and clergy of St. Asaph, 'That the opinion of the clergy of the North Wales dioceses should be distinctly expressed in respect of Lord Monteagle's and your own course of proceeding.'
We, therefore, as humble Members of that body, lose no time in responding to this appeal by making public our emphatic declaration that we indignantly repudiate the very thought of wishing to avail ourselves of any such disposition of the episcopal revenues as that contemplated by Lord Monteagle.
We feel no shame in avowing our poverty, nor the satisfaction with which any legitimate increase of worldly means would be hailed by any or all of us; but if we would shrink from the offer of being enriched by any violation of the rights of private property, still more do we recoil from the bare idea of sharing in spoils arising from what we consider a most unjustifiable act of interference with ecclesiastical endowment.
With unceasing prayers that it may please God of His mercy and goodness to grant a favourable issue to your Lordship's exertions, and to ward off the blow which we are more and more convinced would be followed by the most disastrous results to the Church—We have the honour to remain, &c.
§ These were amongst the many reasons which justified him in again pressing this subject upon their Lordships' notice. He begged to remind their Lordships that of the Members of the Commission appointed to report upon the union of the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor, no less than three of them, men of weight and authority with their Lordships, had avowedly changed their opinions upon the subject—the Archbishop of York, Lord Harrowby, and Mr. Williams Wynn, another highly respectable Member of the Ecclesiastical Commission. He believed there never was a case in which the right rev. Bench had given their opinion more decidedly than they had as to the impropriety of the union of these sees. The clergy almost universally were opposed to the measure, and he thought he had said quite enough to justify the course he had taken in asking their Lordships to assent to a repeal of those portions of the 6th and 7th of William the Fourth to which he objected. The transfer of the noble Marquess and his Friends from one side of the House to the other, might not, perhaps, be attributable wholly to the course the late Government had pursued with regard to the union of those sees; but he had no doubt the opposition of the late Government had created a feeling which had had its influence in producing the results which they now witnessed. The noble Earl then referred to the petition that had been presented from the Dean and Chapter and Clergy of the Archdeaconry of St. Asaph against the union of those sees:—
§ EXTRACT FROM THE PETITION OF THE DEAN AND CHAPTER AND ARCHDEACONS AND CLERGY OF THE DIOCESE OF ST. ASAPH.
Your petitioners fondly hope that the same period in which the peculiar claims and feelings of the inhabitants of the sister island have received additional proofs of liberality, may not witness the violation of the most ancient and valued institutions of the Church in Great Britain.
Your petitioners ask not for any accession of income or augmentation of honours; but they respectfully deprecate the extinction in their own district of that apostolical office the benefits of which your wisdom has lately extended to our most distant Colonies; they humbly pray that the primitive Church of their forefathers may not be weakened in its day of adversity, and that the efficient superintendence which can alone meet the growing exigencies of their country may be preserved unimpaired, a monument of the Legislature's gracious care for the Church, and a security for the religious welfare of all future generations.
Your petitioners further declare that their sole object is to preserve the efficiency of the
Church, and practically to enforce those doctrines which were embodied by her venerable reformers in her Liturgy, Articles, and Homilies; and they are anxious to record their conviction that no presumed advantage from the problematical increase to the incomes of the parochial clergy can in any way compensate the interests of religion in North Wales for the diminution of the number of our spiritual overseers.
§ It was signed by 160 or 170 clergymen, and pointed out in strong and forcible terms the mischief and inconvenience that would result from such a measure. The noble Earl called upon their Lordships to retrace steps discouraging to the Protestant religion in North Wales, and particularly objectionable at a moment when a rival Roman Catholic establishment was in progress of erection in sight of the cathedral of St. Asaph, which the Act he objected to proposed to deprive of its spiritual head; and concluded by moving the second reading of the Bill, which was the same as that of last year, with the exception of a few verbal alterations.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
said, it devolved upon him to state to their Lordships the grounds on which he felt it his duty to resist the Motion of the noble Earl. The difficulties under which he laboured in asking their Lordships' attention to that subject, arose not so much from their Lordships not being acquainted with it, as from the great familiarity which they had acquired with the subject, and the frequent discussions that had taken place. The noble Earl who had introduced the subject to their attention on former occasions at great length, had, on the present occasion, treated it much more briefly, although not less energetically and powerfully; and he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) would imitate his example, and state, as concisely as he could, the reasons that induced him to oppose the Motion of the noble Earl. Their Lordships should bear in mind, in order to arrive at a fair conclusion on the subject, the date and origin of the Commission which was issued by the Crown on the subject. The changes that had been recommended and adopted could not be viewed in an isolated point of view, but must be considered as a system of changes, each of them hinging upon the other, as they were recommended to the Crown and to Parliament. In 1835, under the administration of Sir R. Peel and the noble Duke the Commander in Chief, whom he did not then see in his place, a Commission was issued for the purpose of considering the most effectual mode of improving the condition of the Church. That 1275 Commission made a report, after having maturely considered the whole state of the Church, in which he found four principles laid down: the first was, that they were not prepared to recommend any increase in the number of sees in England; the second, that they were prepared to recommend the union of particular sees in cases where the sees were of such dimensions as to make it practicable for one bishop to exercise the united functions of both sees; thirdly, they recommended, the establishment of certain new bishoprics; and fourthly, they recommended a new distribution of the lands annexed to the bishoprics. Looking at these four recommendations, their Lordships would find that, with the exception of the last, which related to the distribution of land, the recommendations were necessarily dependent on each other, and must form part of one scheme; and it was undoubtedly with this view that their Lordships had given their ample assent to the principles laid down by the Commission, at the head of which was the Primate of England and the metropolitan Bishop of this great city. In saying this, he negatived at once the idea of reckless spoliation, to which the petition referred to by his noble Friend alluded. Their Lordships had given their implied sanction to the report of the Commission. Why did he say so? Because the report of that Commission was laid on the Table of the House in 1835; it was afterwards circulated by means of the newspapers amongst the public. In the following year an Act of Parliament, carrying into effect the recommendations of the Commissioners, was brought in and unanimously passed, with all the formalities and notoriety which necessarily attended the passing of all important Acts through that and the other House of Parliament. From that time the Commissioners, to whom the execution of that Act was entrusted, had gone on in the performance of their duty. Six years elapsed before the propriety, the wisdom, or the expediency of that Act was even called in question. In that interval there were two changes of Administrations, and two dissolutions of Parliament; and these petitioners might assuredly during that period, and amidst these changes, have found one Government or another, one Parliament or another, more or less favourable to their views and feelings. Yet it was not till 1843, that, instigated no doubt by the most laudable and patriotic feelings towards the Principality of Wales, his noble Friend, than whom a more worthy representative 1276 could not be found, took up the cause of these petitioners, and brought the subject under their Lordships' consideration. During these five or six years to which he had referred, had the Commissioners been idle—had their functions lain dormant? By no means. During these five or six years, the Principality of Wales was gaining by the operation of the Commission. It would not be contended that legislation for Wales should proceed on a different principle from legislation in reference to the rest of the Empire; at all events, they could not claim to be part of the United Empire when anything was to be given away, and refuse to be so regarded when anything was to be conceded. He found that these petitioners never objected in the least when anything was to be given them. They allowed two Welsh sees to be greatly augmented; they allowed advantages to be conferred on Wales under the proceedings of this Commission, the result of which was a balance in favour of that country of not less than 2,000l. a year; and it was a most odd coincidence that they first brought forward this question at the very time when the Principality had received the maximum of all it could receive, and the minimum of all it could give. It was quite true that unless they succeeded now they might hereafter not be so well off as at present, under the operation of the Commission. He would not trouble their Lordships with figures, but would content himself with assuring their Lordships that, if the whole recommendations of the Commission under the Act were carried out, the balance in favour of Wales ultimately would be 500l. a year. He trusted he had disposed of the case of the Principality of Wales; but he disclaimed putting the question on that ground: he protested against that Principality being considered on separate grounds, and as not subject to any general scheme of improvement applicable to the rest of the Empire, recommended after the best consideration by the prelates of the Church for the whole United Kingdom. Such was the view of the Commissioners. The Commissioners, feeling with their Lordships the high value of the episcopal authority, and being convinced that the recognised superintendence of bishops was identical with the beneficial administration of the Established Church, saw that a proper distribution of this authority was the only effectual mode of attaining this object: they saw that a new arrangement of the bishoprics in England and Wales would contribute essentially to the effect 1277 of the episcopal office and jurisdiction; they saw great masses of population without any commensurate assistance from the Church; above all, without that authority which the Church of England thought essential for its proper government. They laid their hands on two great masses, and determined to provide them with two new bishoprics. They had previously decided that they would not augment the number of sees; but they said, we must not let the population of Lancashire and Yorkshire remain in their present state, destitute of sufficient episcopal control. The bishopric of Ripon was created, and successfully created, on the very principle of 'reckless spoliation' of which the noble Earl complained. Would his noble Friend call upon him to repeal this Act? The next step was to provide a bishop for Manchester. Every one of their Lordships, no doubt, well knew the condition of the population of the districts to be comprehended in this see; all who were acquainted with the moral and religious condition of the growing masses which peopled that region would admit that the Commissioners had done no more than their duty, and that the Government of this country did no more than its duty, by omitting no step in their power towards the establishment—and not only the establishment, but the speedy establishment—of the see of Manchester. Mr. Burke said that, contemplating the vast masses of population in London, and recollecting all the corruption, all the crime, and all the misery of which it was the scene, looking up to heaven, he expected some lightning from above to fall and exercise an act of Divine vengeance on a mass so evil and so corrupted; but when in another moment he looked at the domes, and spires, and public institutions, rearing their lofty heads from the midst of the huge and corrupt mass, they appeared to him to be so many electrical conductors placed there to draw aside the wrath of heaven, and rescue that mass from the vengeance impending over them. As it was with London then, so was it with Manchester now: such masses as those were now congregated in the district which was to form the see of Manchester; in these it was proposed to plant an authority capable of directing and administering all those works of religion, morality, and kindness, which were capable of raising the people from the state in which they were plunged. The creation of the see of Manchester he therefore regarded as a primary object amongst the recommendations of 1278 the Commission; and, with all respect to the feelings of the inhabitants of the diocese of North Wales, whose cause his noble Friend had so ably espoused, he regarded the claims of either of the two dioceses as nothing in comparison with the importance of establishing this new bishopric at Manchester. Why should they not, in the Church as in the army, place their strongest garrisons where the danger was greatest? The population returns showed that if the increase in the population had gone on in the same ratio since as in the ten years immediately preceding the appointment of the Commission, there would have been added to the population of the district to be comprised in the see of Manchester a population greater than that contained in the two sees of St. Asaph and Bangor. Did not this circumstance itself afford the most convincing argument in favour of proceeding in the most effectual manner to provide episcopal superintendence for the former district? Supposing the diocese of Manchester to have been provided for, he admitted that it would be a matter for after consideration whether it would be expedient to retain these two bishoprics, or whether the funds devoted to their support could be applied in the matter of religion to a more useful purpose. But there was another reason which indisposed him to give any hasty pledge upon the subject. Assuming that there were funds at the disposal of the Commissioners applicable to the establishment of a bishopric—but there would be none beyond 900l. a year applicable to the purpose, which would be very inadequate—but, supposing the funds to be adequate, there remained the after consideration—supposing these two bishoprics to be retained, which required the most sober and deliberate inquiry, he trusted his noble Friend would pardon him if, after only fifteen days' tenure of office, he was not prepared to give an opinion as to the expediency either of increasing the number of bishops or of determining one of the most delicate questions which could come before their Lordships in connexion with the Constitution of this country, namely, the expediency of creating an order of bishops not possessing seats in their Lordships' House. He did not go the length of asserting that under no circumstances could such a course be advisable; but it was a change too great to be dealt with as a mere incident to another question. He wished the whole circumstances of the case to be considered together; and, as his noble Friend only pro- 1279 posed to deal with a detached part of them, he could not but say "no" to the proposition that this Bill be read a second time. He did not wish to move a direct negative to the Motion of his noble Friend, and he should, therefore, propose that the Bill be read a second time on that day three months.
The BISHOP of LONDON
said, that he meant to pursue the same course that evening which he had taken on the former occasion when the subject had been under their Lordships' consideration — namely, not to vote either for or against the Motion; and he should not have trespassed on their attention had he not been induced to make one or two observations in consequence of the statement which had fallen from the noble Marquess towards the conclusion of his speech, and which he (the Bishop of London) could not help thinking afforded better grounds of encouragement to those who wished to retain the sees both of St. Asaph and of Bangor, than had been given by those who had hitherto felt called upon to oppose the measure. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners had come to the decision at which they had arrived upon that subject, under circumstances which had been frequently stated to their Lordships, and which had partaken of the peculiar complexion of the times in which the Commission was instituted. The state of the Church had then been very different from what it was at present, and that difference he had no hesitation in saying was mainly attributable to the proceedings of the Commissioners themselves. But, as one of those Commissioners who had reluctantly come to the decision that that was not the proper time to propose an increase in the number of English bishops, he felt bound in candour to state, that he believed they (the Commissioners) had been somewhat wanting in courage upon that occasion; and he believed that if they had had a longer period to deliberate on the whole question, it was possible (he did not say it was certain) that they would have come to a different conclusion, and that they would not have allowed themselves to be deterred by the extreme difficulty and delicacy of the subject from suggesting that alteration in the ecclesiastical polity of this country which the exigencies of a growing population seemed imperatively to require. On a former occasion he had been painfully struck by something which had fallen from a noble Lord then in the Administration (Lord Stanley), and from which he concluded that in the opin- 1280 ion of that noble Lord, neither then nor at any future time could any addition be made to the number of English bishops. He might have misunderstood the noble Lord, and he hoped that he had done so; but he could not help repeating what he had stated on that occasion, and which he felt even more strongly now, that he did not think that the work which had not been too well done for 5,000,000 of people by twenty-six bishops, could be done well enough for 16,000,000 of people by the same number of prelates. Having made this remark, he begged to thank the noble Marquess for the temperate tone of his speech, and for the friendly feeling which pervaded it towards the Church. He was sure that every one of their Lordships concurred in the earnest desire which the noble Marquess had expressed that no time should be lost in the establishment of a bishopric in Manchester. If any reason were wanting for entertaining that desire, they would find abundant grounds for it in the success which had attended the establishment of the new diocese of Ripon; and he believed he might say, that if any Christian prelate had ever becomingly discharged the duties of the episcopacy it was his right rev. Friend who now occupied the episcopal chair in that diocese. Feeling as he did, and as he was convinced every one of their Lordships did, the paramount importance of establishing a bishopric in Manchester with the least possible delay, he had turned in his mind whether it might not be possible to establish such a bishopric without waiting for a vacancy in either of the dioceses of St. Asaph and Bangor, which he hoped would be far distant; and he could not help thinking that such a step might be taken. It was true, that at that moment the available annual surplus in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners did not much exceed 900l. But, whenever a vacancy should have taken place in the diocese of St. Asaph, a sum of about 2,000l. a year would be available out of its funds for the new bishopric; and what he would propose was that in the meantime, instead of applying the annual interest of the surplus at present in the hands of the Commissioners, a portion of the 16,000l. from which that income was derived—say 1,000l. or 1,500l. a year, should be appropriated for the establishment of a bishopric in Manchester; so that there would be at once a sum of between 2,000l. and 3,000l. a year available for that purpose. He could confidently say that that sum might, without difficulty, be 1281 increased from other sources by at least 1,000l. a year; and a bishopric might therefore be established in Manchester in the course of a few months, whose incumbent would be at once in the receipt of 3,500l. or 4,000l. a year. If Her Majesty's Government were to adopt that suggestion, it would then be open to them to deliberate, as the noble Marquess stated, whether or not they would accede to the almost unanimous wish of the Church of England, and suffer the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor to remain detached and separate. There would still, however, remain the difficult and delicate question, whether or not the new Bishop of Manchester should have a seat in their Lordships' House. But he did not think it necessary at that moment to embarrass the main question with a difficulty of that description, which might hereafter be consisidered on its own merits. He was persuaded that Her Majesty's Government would not find any insuperable obstacle—he would not say in altogether removing that difficulty, because he was afraid that it would exist in any case—but in overcoming the difficulty so as to permit the Church to enjoy the advantages she was so anxious to obtain, of having at once a bishop in Manchester, and of retaining the two ancient bishoprics of St. Asaph and Bangor.
The BISHOP of BANGOR
said he should tender his best thanks to the noble Marquess, both for the kind manner in which he had spoken of the Church of England, and for the encouragement he had held out to those who were anxious to prevent the union of the dioceses of St. Asaph and Bangor, that something should be done in their favour, if not at present, yet at some future time. He earnestly hoped that if it should please Providence to spare his life for a year or two longer, he would have the happiness of seeing any danger of an extinction of one of those dioceses finally removed. The feeling of the inhabitants of Wales was almost unanimous in favour of the measure proposed by the noble Earl (the Earl of Powis); for the people of the Principality wished their ancient sees should remain untouched and undiminished. There were no more ancient dioceses in these countries than the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor. They had been established even before the archbishopric of Canterbury; and every feeling of the Welsh population was strongly enlisted in their preservation and support. This was a fact which was worthy of being 1282 taken into the most attentive consideration, and one which it was impossible to impress too strongly on the minds of their Lordships. He very much regretted the delay which had taken place in the settlement of this question, and was decidedly of opinion that the time had come when something should be done. Ten years had elapsed since the recommendation had first been made that a bishopric should be established at Manchester. The proposition was one which met with his cordial approval. He did not think that it in any way involved the necessity of consolidating the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor. He admitted that the establishment of a bishopric at Manchester was not only desirable but highly necessary. It was a project which was well deserving of the highest commendation; and if means were obtained for carrying it into operation—as he believed they might without much trouble — there could be no longer any grounds for persisting in uniting the two Welsh dioceses. This was not the time to take away from either the sole or the joint ecclesiastical corporations those tithes that had belonged to them before the Reformation. It had been said that the tithes held by the Bishops of St. Asaph and Bangor had been, within a late period, withdrawn by the parochial clergy. That was not the case. Those tithes never, as far as could be traced, belonged to the parochial clergy. He trusted that this matter would be brought to a satisfactory issue; and, whatever might be the event of their Lordships' division that evening, he hoped that some efficient means would be devised of preserving in their ancient and immemorial position the two Welsh dioceses, and at the same time of realising what was certainly a desideratum by the establishment of a new bishopric at Manchester. Under this persuasion he would leave his cause in their Lordships' hands. It was his anxious desire and prayer that this question should be settled during his life. He humbly trusted that Providence might be graciously pleased to spare him until he saw the danger arrested which had caused such deep apprehension in the minds of his countrymen; and the two sees, which it was most unwisely, as it seemed to him, proposed to unite, severed and separate for all future ages. For his own part, he had no personal interest whatever in the matter: the union of the sees, if it were to occur at all, was not to take place until after his death; but his 1283 people were strongly opposed to the project; and as it was one of which he in the exercise of his individual judgment could not possibly approve, most fervently did he hope that their Lordships would relieve his flock from their anxiety, and gratify what he might call their national feelings.
§ LORD VIVIAN
was of opinion that if the question were fairly stated to them, the laity of North Wales would not be found to be in favour of the views advocated by the right rev. Prelate. As he had done before, he should again vote negativing the proposition of the noble Lord; but he approved of the Bill; for he looked on it as a great and heinous injustice to take from the ecclesiastical revenues of the poor district of North Wales, in order to endow a bishopric in the rich district in which Manchester was situate. It would be far more fair that if anything were taken from the revenues of these bishoprics, it should be given to the poor clergy of those dioceses.
hoped he would be allowed to make a few observations, and more especially as something which he had said upon this subject on a former occasion had been misunderstood by a right rev. Prelate, whom he regretted he did not then see in his place. The opinion which he had formerly stated he still maintained. This was no party question. It was no question between the friends and adversaries of the Established Church. It was a question, not of what should interest the Church in England alone, nor in Wales alone, but of how the position of the Church of both countries together, financially and politically, would be best promoted by the adoption or rejection of the present Bill. The question to be considered was whether the recommendation of the Commissioners, appointed to inquire into those matters, should be carried out in part, or deviated from to such an extent as would entirely alter the views which they entertained. The question properly before them had to be considered in two lights—in a financial and political point of view. He would say a word in reply to the noble Lord who had last spoken, on the financial view of the question, and who seemed to think it more desirable that the revenues of two dioceses should be preserved to North Wales, than applied to the establishment of a diocese in a more wealthy part of the kingdom. Now, he (Lord Stanley) did not wish to consider this question as one affecting the interest of North Wales alone; neither was 1284 it the question of the establishment of a diocese at Manchester: it was really the question of the augmentation of the poorer dioceses of Llandaff and St. David's, in South Wales, out of the superfluities of the richer ones of St. Asaph and Bangor, that had been considered in the Order in Council. That appeared from a calculation which had been laid on the Table of the House, and which stated the amount of the revenues of St. David's and Llandaff, and recommended that a fixed annual payment should be made from the revenues of the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor, when united, of the sum of 4,750l., to be distributed in certain proportions there stated between the sees of Llandaff and St. David's. That calculation had been embodied in the Order in Council. The object, therefore, of the Order in Council had been distinctly stated to be, not to provide for the establishment of the see of Manchester, but for making up the inferiority in the revenues of the two bishoprics in South Wales. That was the destination of the sum proposed to be paid into the Consolidated Fund from the united bishoprics; and the sum so to be paid from those bishoprics into the Consolidated Fund was considerably less, upon striking a balance, than the sum to be paid out of it to the account of the two sees in South Wales. Upon the whole, England would lose considerably, and Wales gain, by the plan proposed by the Ecclesiastical Commission; but, in fact, the question was not so much a financial question. There was another point, and that was the question of the augmentation of the number of bishops' sees. He had been supposed to have said, on a former occasion, that so long as he had a voice in the matter there should be no augmentation in the number of bishoprics in this country. Now, he had said quite the reverse. It was true that he had called their Lordships' attention to the very serious difficulties that lay in the way of any plan for the increase of the number of sees. Either the measure of increasing the number of bishops in the House of Lords must be adopted—a course which would be open to the charge of endeavouring to increase the power of the Church—or the measure of creating bishops without seats in the Legislature must be adopted. This question he had said was one that he thought ought not to be decided by a casual vote or an incidental discussion, but that the deliberate opinion of Parliament ought to be taken, whether any increase should be made, and whether the 1285 new bishops, if any, should have seats in Parliament. He had also said that he thought, even if it were determined to increase the number of bishops, still it might be expedient to unite the sees of some bishoprics. But the whole scheme of the Ecclesiastical Commission was based upon the assumption—it was the primary position of that scheme—that the number of bishops' sees was not to be increased, however it might be found expedient to consider the best mode of distributing the funds at present enjoyed by the Church. He lived in the proposed diocese of Manchester; he knew the district; and he should be the last man to undervalue the importance of episcopal superintendence to the population living round Manchester. The fact was, that if the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor were united to-morrow, the labour of the bishop, whether measured by area, distance of ground, population, or number of parishes, would stand 20th or 23rd on the whole list of 26 bishoprics; that was, there would be about twenty-two other dioceses more extensive, and there would be some of those on which the duty and labour of the diocese would exceed that of the united diocese, seven, eight, nine, and even ten fold. The united sees would contain 250 benefices—the number of benefices in the diocese of Norwich not being less than 1,200. The population of the united diocese of St. Asaph and Bangor was much less than that of Norwich, infinitely less than that of Chester, and much less than that of London. It must always be remembered, that one object of the Commission was to equalize the labour, as well as the emoluments of the bishoprics in England. He thought, therefore, that the noble Lord was not justified, in the present circumstances, considering that the Session was so far advanced, and considering the recent formation of the Ministry, in asking their Lordships to join with him in affirming part of the plan of the Commissioners, and disaffirming the rest. The noble Lord did, in his opinion, affirm by this Bill that not only should there be an additional bishop, but that such an additional bishop should have a seat in their Lordships' House. Now, he (Lord Stanley) did not think that such a question ought to be decided on a single case; and he hoped, that if this Bill were rejected, the noble Lord would, at the commencement, not at the end of the Session, take measures for obtaining the opinion of Parliament whether there should be an increase in the number 1286 of bishops, and whether they should have seats in Parliament, ascertaining also to what extent that increase, if it were made, ought to go. Having done that, the noble Lord would come with much greater advantage to that which was the smaller part of the question, whether or not Parliament was disposed to alter so much of the recommendations of the Commissioners as related to the union of the dioceses of St. Asaph and Bangor. Entertaining these views, and having heard nothing from the noble Earl to alter the opinion he expressed last year, he must confess, speaking individually for himself, that he could not concur in the second reading of this Bill; and he could assure his noble Friend that it would give him the greatest satisfaction if on the present occasion he would refrain from pressing the question to a division.
The BISHOP of SALISBURY
, in addressing their Lordships on the question, wished to say one or two words on what had fallen from a noble Lord on that side of the House (Lord Vivian) in the course of the debate. That noble Lord had alluded to the state of the clergy of North Wales, and had proposed, in the event of the union of the two sees taking place, that the surplus revenue should be appropriated rather to the augmentation of the poorer livings in these dioceses, than that it should be carried to the general fund. For himself he would never say one word against any proposition for sufficiently endowing the parochial clergy of the country; but he begged to remind the noble Lord that the evil of which he complained was not greater in the dioceses of North Wales than it was in different parts of England, and he did not think it advisable that the noble Lord's proposal should be adopted with reference to one particular portion of it. He knew it might be said that the tithes of St. Asaph and Bangor were in the hands of the bishops; and that they were, therefore, capable of being diverted to the purpose the noble Lord had in view; but neither in this respect were those dioceses peculiarly situated, as the tithes of other dioceses were in the same situation. He had always advocated the present measure, not as peculiarly a Welsh question but with reference to the general interests of the Church. He had always advocated it, because it was of the utmost importance to establish as speedily as possible a bishopric in that important district of the country in which Manchester was situated. It was of the utmost importance in the 1287 consideration of this question to keep in view, that the spiritual welfare of thousands required that such a bishopric should be established without loss of time. It was with the greatest satisfaction that he had heard, both in that and the other House, the testimony which had been given regarding the spiritual benefits which had resulted from the establishment of the bishopric of Ripon. Ten years had since elapsed, during which time no less benefit would have resulted to the equally populous district of Manchester, if a bishopric had been created at the same time for that district. If it were necessary that such a see should be founded as speedily as possible, he prayed their Lordships to give their assent to the proposal of the noble Earl, or at least give effect to the statement which had been made by the noble Marquess; and he earnestly hoped that the Government would give their attention to the manner in which such a proposal could be best carried into effect. He knew that the difficulties connected with the subject were twofold—the provision of an adequate revenue, and the question whether such a bishop should have a seat in their Lordships' House. With regard to the question of revenue, he would willingly leave it in the position in which it had been placed by his right rev. Friend who had spoken on the subject. Having, however, last year stated that he believed the Commissioners had funds ample for such a purpose in their possession, he wished to offer a few words in explanation: when he said so, such was undoubtedly the case—the Commissioners had then a much larger fund than they now possessed, for since that time they had carried into effect two very important operations, but neither of which, in his opinion, could be compared to the establishment of a bishopric of Manchester. One of these measures was the further endowment of the bishopric of Rochester, in consideration of the annexation to it of a part of the diocese of London; and the other was the augmentation of the diocese of Oxford, consequent on the translation of the late bishop of Bath and Wells. No doubt these were important measures, but not to be compared to the establishment of a bishopric of Manchester. He agreed with the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) in the interpretation which he had put upon the present Bill. He thought that it would give to the Bishop of Manchester a seat in their Lordships' House. After the very encouraging speech of the noble Mar- 1288 quess the President of the Council, he would put it to the noble Earl whether under the circumstances it would be wise in him to press the Bill on the present occasion. If the noble Earl should do so, he (the Bishop of Salisbury) would unshrinkingly and fearlessly vote as he had heretofore done on the question. He would, however, venture to suggest to the noble Earl to leave the measure for consideration in the next Session, as the lateness of the present Session precluded all chance of carrying a measure of such importance through Parliament. He admitted that the question whether the new bishop should have a seat in that House was a delicate one. It was not from feelings of personal pride or vanity that he rejoiced that the bishops of the Church had seats in their Lordships' House, for he looked upon their sitting there as an important element in the union of the Church and State which had so long existed in this country greatly to the advantage of both. Nor was it in order to increase political power in the hands of the clergy that he wished to see the bishops in that House, but for the very contrary reason; because he believed that the presence of his right rev. Brethren, more than anything else, influenced the great body of the clergy in abstracting themselves to the extent they had done from the injurious engagements of political life. He regarded a political priesthood, engaged in political strife for the enlargement of their worldly power and interests, as one of the greatest evils that could befall a country, and as one against which wise statesmen would most carefully guard; but he would have the assent of their Lordships, when he said that the general character of the great body of the clergy was the reverse of this. He believed there was no body of men equally fitted by education and station as they were for exercising so great an influence in political affairs, and who had so largely abstained from putting themselves forward in respect of political affairs. They had had lately a remarkable instance that the clergy were not disposed to come forward and take part in a political question, even though it was one in which their own particular interests were concerned. This was to be attributed, in a great degree, to the presence of the right rev. Body with which he had the honour to be connected in the Legislature. Political power and influence were not necessarily attached to seats in the Legislature. It might be, 1289 that had none of the clergy been present in the Legislature, their political influence would have been thereby increased. Whether the State would gain by the exchange of the legitimate influence exercised by the presence of the small number of clergy in their Lordships' House, for the irregular influence which would be exercised by their organization in other ways, he very much doubted. The increase of the political influence of the clergy in such a manner would be at the expense of the State, and the expense of their efficiency as the spiritual guides of the people. This was one of the main grounds on which he attached importance to the influence of the body to which he had the honour to belong in their Lordships' House; and although he should be glad to see the Bill of the noble Earl carried in its integrity, he would suggest to him the propriety, on the present occasion, of not pressing it to a division.
The BISHOP of NORWICH
did not oppose the Bill because he wished to diminish the number of bishops; on the contrary, he was persuaded the country required a considerable addition to that body; but his reason for not agreeing to the Bill of the noble Earl was this, that the question was, whether there should be two bishoprics of Bangor and St. Asaph, or whether there should be one bishop of Manchester. He felt confident that Manchester had the greater claim. If the noble Earl would withdraw the Bill, and introduce one in the course of the next Session for an increase in the episcopacy, he would give it his support; or, perhaps, it might be better to create a number of suffragan bishops. Most of the dioceses were much larger than that of St. Asaph and Bangor, and if the clergy of that diocese were assured that all the livings from which the Bishops derive their tithes would revert to the support of the working clergy, it would give them the greatest possible satisfaction, and tend to soften down the dissatisfaction which they felt at the removal of one of their bishops.
§ EARL GREY
thought one of the right rev. Prelates who had addressed their Lordships, had mistaken the meaning of his noble Friend (the Marquess of Lansdowne). His noble Friend stated as one ground of objection to the measure, that it would effect a partial and incomplete and imperfect alteration of a law and an extensive measure which was adopted on a full consideration of the whole state of episcopacy in the kingdom, and the condition of the bishops both with respect to the labour im- 1290 posed upon them, and the amount of income derived from their sees. The right rev. Prelate who first addressed their Lordships had truly remarked, that the hostile feeling which existed at the time the Commissioners made their report had now abated, and that the improvement was in no slight degree attributable to the reforms and improvements which had emanated from the Commission. Some years ago the condition of the Church was highly anomalous. The labours and the incomes of the sees were unequal; and various imputations were cast upon the Church, which, although not justly deserved, produced a considerable impression on the country. The result of the appointment of the Commission had been, that in the course of a few years great improvement had taken place in the way of equalizing the duties and emoluments of the different sees, and in providing religious instruction in populous districts; and to these and other changes might be attributed the different state of feeling which now existed towards the Church. But if their Lordships consented to pass this Bill, they would make an inroad on the system of reform which had been commenced. If this application on the part of North Wales was listened to, and their Lordships should say it was unjust to deprive that district of a portion of the income which it had hitherto enjoyed for ecclesiastical purposes, for the benefit of the nation at large, the same principle must be applied to other districts; and they would thus break down in detail that valuable and useful reform which was adopted, a few years ago, upon full consideration, by the advice of some of the most distinguished ornaments of the Bench, with the sanction of two Governments, and the unanimous assent of both Houses of Parliament. It had been said that the union of the sees of St. Asaph and Bangor would be extremely inconvenient, on account of the difficulty of obtaining access to the diocesan; but the railway between St. Asaph and Bangor would be completed in a short time, and then that difficulty would no longer exist. He was not prepared to deny that it might be desirable to keep both these bishoprics—he was not prepared to deny that a considerable increase in the number might be desirable; but if an increase was to take place, let it be done in the same manner as the other measure of Church reform. Let them consider the whole effect of the measure. Let them look to the whole state of the country, ascertain where the increase was most 1291 wanted, and how that increase could be effected in such a manner as still to preserve an equality in the emoluments and duties of the several bishoprics. Let them consider how, keeping that equality, they could make the increase most available for promoting the general efficiency of the Church taken as a whole. Viewing it in that light, he considered there was no evidence to show that the continuance of these two sees was desirable. On the contrary, all the evidence went to show that this was not one of the sees which required subdivision; and the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) had fully shown that it stood exceedingly low in the list of bishoprics with respect to the extent of the diocese, the number of livings, and the amount of population. Then with respect to the question whether a new bishop ought to take his seat in that House. He attached great importance to the presence of the bishops in their Lordships' House, and thought the reasons of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Salisbury) on that subject exceedingly strong. Before deciding on any increase, another question ought to be considered, whether it might not be desirable to act on the suggestion just thrown out, and appoint a number of suffragan bishops. That question was deserving of grave and serious consideration. On looking to the great increase which had taken place in the number of lay Peers, and considering how much smaller proportion the bishops now bore to them than they did some years ago, he, for one, entertained no strong objection—he might almost say no objection at all, if it should appear desirable to introduce a larger number into their Lordships' House. If that were the best mode of providing for the efficient discharge of the duties of the Church and her general welfare, he should on that ground make no objection to an increase in the number of bishops. Before taking any such step, however, another important question ought to be considered—the want of a sufficient number of parochial clergy in the country. If the want of episcopal superintendence was a crying evil, the want of an adequate number of the parochial clergy in those districts where the population had so greatly increased, was an evil of a still more pressing nature. He thought it more requisite to have an increased number of the clergy in proportion to the population, than that they should provide more effectual means of superintendence of the clergy. By adopting the Bill of the noble Earl, they directly struck at the possi- 1292 bility of improvements, if they were now, without full examination and investigation, to apply the funds which were now devoted to the maintenance of these two sees to any particular purpose. If the House were to proceed to dispose of a portion of ecclesiastical income, he said, for one, that he should greatly prefer the mode of dealing with this income which had been proposed by a noble Friend not now present to the increase of livings in Wales. In the report of the Church Commission he found it stated—That the evils which flow from this deficiency in the means of religious instruction and pastoral superintendence greatly outweigh all other inconveniences, and it unfortunately happens that where these evils are the most urgent of all, and most require the application of an effectual remedy, they are precisely those for which a remedy can be least easily found. The resources which the Established Church possesses, and which can properly be made available for this purpose, are evidently quite inadequate to the exigency of the case, and all that we can hope to do is greatly to diminish the intensity of the evil.That was the opinion of the Church Commissioners; and he asked, would their Lordships, without inquiry, without deliberation, without looking at the whole state of the Church and the nation, at once, by a precipitate vote, decide that the sum that would arise from the union of these two sees (supposing it was not wanted for the endowment of the see of Manchester) should be applied to keeping these two sees distinct, rather than increasing the means of religious instruction. These grounds seemed to be quite decisive against the Bill. He would only add, that the noble Earl who moved it had addressed a strong appeal to Her Majesty's Government, and had begged them not to do anything to the injury of the Church of England. He could assure him, both for himself and his Colleagues, that so far from thinking that they were injuring the Church of England by maintaining the arrangement which was adopted on the advice of the Church Commission, they were taking that course which they were firmly convinced was most for the real and permanent interest of the Church. He agreed with his noble Friend who sat opposite, that the whole question they had that night to consider was this, in what manner could they make such an arrangement of the funds belonging to the Church as would most contribute to the utility and efficiency of the Church Establishment? That was the only ground on which he resisted the Motion of the noble Earl; and it was a strong confirmation to him that, in 1293 taking that course, he was acting wisely and judiciously, when he found that he was acting on the advice of those most eminent persons who composed the Church Commission. There was another topic to which he wished slightly to allude. The noble Earl, in moving the second reading, had called on their Lordships to remember that another Church was extending itself, and was almost at the door of St. Asaph. He alluded to the efforts which were making for the extension and advancement of the Roman Catholic Church; and he called upon their Lordships, when they saw this state of things, not to adopt a measure which he said would greatly discourage our own Church. Now, he could not help reminding the noble Earl that the real grounds upon which this measure which he had so ably advocated was desired, the real motive which was at the bottom of the wish expressed in many quarters for this measure, was not a little dangerous with reference to the extension of the Roman Catholic Church, to which he had adverted; because if their Lordships had listened to the speeches made, not only that night, but on former nights, in favour of this proposition, they would not have failed to perceive that one strong reason in favour of this measure was the antiquity of these two sees — a reverence, amounting he should say almost to a superstitious reverence, of that which at once existed—an indisposition to make any change or alteration in that which was consecrated by time. Let him ask their Lordships whether it was not obvious that, if they followed out that motive and opinion to its legitimate consequence, they did not arrive at the conclusion at which it was well known some very eminent persons had arrived by precisely the same mode of reasoning — that there was but one true Church, and that the Church of Rome—that our own was a schismatical and heretical Church—and that the departure from that which had been established was altogether improper and unsatisfactory. He was persuaded that those who now listened to him must be aware that there was something of this feeling in the minds of many of those who so ardently objected to the proposed union of the two sees. He did not say that it was the feeling of the majority: he was far from believing it; but on looking at the tone of many of the public discussions, he could not help strongly suspecting that such feeling and desire were by no means rare.
§ The EARL of ELDON
said, that he was 1294 one of those who had uniformly given his vote in favour of his noble Friend, and he was happy to see that the numbers had considerably increased. He also knew well that many of the Commissioners who had originally made the recommendation for the union of the two sees, had by degrees shrunk from their standard on the opposite side, and now joined his noble Friend. He would not support the Bill if he felt that he was precluding himself from doing justice to Wales, or preventing others from gaining a benefit; and he would support the introduction of every clause in the Bill, when in Committee, which should place this matter on a satisfactory basis. He felt that in voting for the measure that night they were pushing forward the feelings of the people of this country in favour of an increase of the number of bishops; and he by no means thought they were excluding the fact that the parochial clergy should be increased.
The BISHOP of OXFORD
said, that it was not without reluctance, after their Lordships had heard so many of his right rev. Brethren, that he trespassed on their attention for a few moments longer; but he the more felt the necessity of doing this after the speech so recently addressed to their Lordships by the noble Earl who was sitting on the Treasury bench (Earl Grey), because the noble Earl had changed the ground of opposition to his noble Friend who moved this Bill. The noble Marquess who spoke first for Her Majesty's Government took distinctly this ground, that he thought they ought to abide by the recommendation of the Commission which had carefully weighed this matter. The noble Earl who had just sat down did not endeavour to shelter his opposition under the self-same shield, but in fact confuted everything which the noble Marquess had advanced, because he said that he was anxious to see these impropriate tithes taken from the right rev. Bench and given to the parochial clergy, who so much more needed them. Now this would be an entire departure from the most fundamental principle and recommendation of the Commission. The Commission went on the very opposite principle—viz., that they would not take the estate and properties of bishops, and convert them to another most important but still dissimilar use, viz., that of providing for the parochial clergy. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners laid down as a principle that there should be two funds—a fund for improving the incomes 1295 of the parochial clergy, and a fund which should go to make the episcopacy of England more completely efficient; and the noble Earl wished to overturn that fundamental principle. Now he thought it of considerable importance that the grounds of this Motion should be distinctly understood, and after the speech of the noble Earl it was absolutely essential; till that time, he had thought the question was confined to the principle the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne) had stated. In much of what the noble Marquess had stated, he (the Bishop of Oxford) heartily agreed; and for much of it he, with his right rev. Brethren, tendered him his sincere thanks; but the pleasure and gratitude he felt were in some little degree diminished when the noble Earl seemed to explain away and unsay what had been said by the head of the Government in that House; and it was with great regret that he had heard the qualifications and retractations from the noble Marquess's speech which seemed to be delivered from the Treasury bench. The noble Marquess took the ground which had been commonly taken, that the Commissioners had thoroughly considered the subject, and had agreed to a great and consistent scheme, and that their Lordships could not agree to the Motion of the noble Earl without upsetting that scheme—that it was most important not to upset it—and that, therefore, their Lordships should reject the Bill of the noble Earl. That argument had two or three distinct phases. They were told that this Commission, including in its numbers members of the right reverend Bench, most respected, and whose age was highly calculated to add weight and efficiency to their recommendations, had approved of this scheme; and yet, when they came to particulars, they found it stated that the vote of the right rev. Primate would not be given at all, and the vote of the venerable Archbishop of the Northern Province would be given in favour of the Motion of his noble Friend. As to the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London), they had heard his speech upon the question. Their Lordships had heard the right rev. Prelate say, with a moral courage which did him the highest honour, that he agreed to the report, because at the moment he had under the pressure of alarm not acted on the dictates of that common sense which would have led him to a different conclusion. The right rev. Prelate added that there should be no present deficiency in the payment of the Bishop of Manchester: he 1296 said (and if the House knew fully all which was meant by that engagement, they would honour highly the liberality by which it was dictated) that he would pledge himself that the deficiency should be made up. After-thoughts and wider experience had brought the individual Members of the Commission whose authority had been pleaded round to the other side. Then it was said, the report of the Commission was a great whole, and must stand or fall together. A noble Lord argued that the improvements introduced by this Commission had reconciled the people to the Church of England. But so far as regarded most of the sees, the alterations were still in futurity; there was only a recorded judgment that, under certain circumstances, such and such things should be done. But the recommendation in the present instance was but a collateral recommendation, so that the argument from the grand totality of the report fell to the ground, just as the argument from the individual weight of the Members of the Commission had fallen; it simply amounted to an opinion expressed by certain Commissioners in respect to a future given time, when certain alterations were to be made. But before that time had arrived the very Commissioners themselves had changed their opinions upon the subject. The argument drawn by them from the Commissioners' Report, which went so far as to say that it settled the whole question, was one which he could never recognise. They were bound to give a just decision upon the question now, as if it had been de novo brought before their Lordships, because in fact it was before them as a de novo question, inasmuch as it had never been fully carried into effect. Instead, then, of their being called upon to reverse the decision of the right rev. Prelates, pursuant to the Commissioners' Report, their Lordships were now rather called upon to help them in carrying out their second thoughts, which experience told them were the best thoughts in the best of men. The real question was, should there ever or should there never be an increase of the English episcopate? It had been said that if such an increase were to take place, it would be better to make that increase by one comprehensive measure, which should effect at once all that was on general grounds needful. The whole experience of all men, in all matters of policy, pointed to an opposite conclusion. A great existing institution like the Church of England was to be amended, not by affirming certain abstract principles, which 1297 were afterwards to be carried out by one grand and comprehensive measure, but by removing admitted abuses and meeting admitted wants. Now it was admitted on all hands that it was for the interest of religion that a bishopric should at once be established at Manchester. Why, then, should they hesitate in effecting so far this practical amendment, by performing at once their duty in this respect? He begged leave to remind their Lordships of the circumstances attending the introduction of the Reform Act into Parliament. Did they not know that what more than all irritated the mind of the people of England upon that subject was the refusal of that House, when a definite evil was pointed out, to give representatives to Birmingham? Let their Lordships, in like manner, affirm to-night, in this instance, that there should not be an increase in the English episcopacy, while they admitted that Manchester required the appointment of a bishop, and their proceedings would create a feeling of hostility amongst those who from their deep interest in that question were watching their movements with particular interest. While the noble Earl (Earl Grey) admitted that he saw no objection to an increase in the number of bishops here, with no qualification of any kind—and he (the Bishop of Oxford) rejoiced in that admission, even although it was only as an abstract proposition—yet he afterwards told them that before such an increase could be made, something more important should be done; but this was altogether incompatible with the other act, and put off the doing of the first to an indefinite period. This grand abstraction was, therefore, to be admitted as theory, and not as a practical principle to be at once carried out into effect. Another argument had been used which pointed in the same direction. It was said that, granted an increase were wanted, yet, when these two sees were so very small, why should they be retained? They however, extended over a space of 3,000 square miles, broken with mountain chains, and divided by such natural impediments as to make it impossible to pass conveniently from one part of it to another; the people peculiar in their habits and language, peculiar in their poverty, peculiarly needing the shepherd's care and the pastor's diligence. The criterion applied to this question was taken from the existing state of English dioceses. It therefore assumed that their state was perfect; and so that they needed no increase. But on the Continent, what was the number of bishops of that Roman 1298 Catholic persuasion which agreed with the members of the Church of England in holding episcopacy to be of apostolical origin? In France, before the Revolution, for 28,000,000 millions of people, there were 145 bishops: since the Revolution, for a population twice as large as that of England, there were three times as large a number of bishops. For 10,000,000 or 12,000,000 of a population in Spain, there were 60 bishops. In Greece, 35 bishops. It might be said that the former of these were Roman Catholic countries. But let them come to this country at the period of the great reformers of religion amongst us—those true-hearted men, whom he loved and venerated in his heart—who lived in the time of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth. Did they remember the sentiments of Latimer — that honest-hearted man, who spoke in his strong Saxon dialect, words to which all England as one man responded. That venerated man said that the bishops, by their fewness, were raised to such a height above the people as had deprived them of the power of exercising those functions which were inherent in their office, and the first measure of reform which ought to be carried was one for giving a great increase to the number of those bishops. In the time of Henry VIII. it was proposed to add twenty new sees, so as to make in all seventy, the number of the population being then between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000; yet, at the present day, with a population of 18,000,000, they had only twenty-six. One of the arguments used against the increase in the number of bishoprics was, that in olden times they had more want of them than in these days, because that locomotion and the readiness and rapidity of communication had so facilitated the power of progress from place to place, as to render a fewer number of them necessary. But he denied that the utility of the bishop consisted in his passing rapidly from place to place, or mainly in his mere performance of certain acts, or settling legal questions for his clergy. It was not in such ways that the bishop fulfilled his duties. He should show himself to be what he was, the pastor of pastors. Wherever want was most pressing, wherever disease was most fearful, wherever the voice and the consolation of religion were most needed, it was there that the bishop should be found leading the van—it was there he should be found as the unfaltering leader, setting the example to others how they should act. But how were the bishops to do all this if they were to be, 1299 as now, affected and oppressed with secular cares, which hung heavily upon men of the highest aspirations, who fain would set their minds upon things of the other world? After all, the bishops were but men; and if they were bound down by business until their minds were filled full with secular affairs—until they were overburdened and weighed down by secularities—how could they fulfil their office—be more than other men discharging the great mission of the Church of England to this great people? No man could look upon what was passing in the country without admitting that unless something should be done to extend the knowledge and practice of religion amongst the mass of the population, their laws would be as cobwebs to bind the people when under the pressure of severe affliction or great distress. In such trying seasons, the surest and the only curb upon the multitude was the restraining, purifying power of true religion; and no man who considered deeply the condition of an irreligious people could fail to see that society stood at this very moment upon the thin and trembling crust of some struggling volcano. Without religion, law was useless to restrain the tumultuous swellings of a troubled nation. But unless they (the bishops) were enabled to exhibit their character and perform their mission, how could they lead the people as they should be led? It had been said by a noble Lord that they wanted parish priests more than bishops; but the history and experience of all the past showed that the best way to increase the number of the parish priests was to increase the bishops. How vain had been all their past efforts in these Colonies to advance the morals and religion of the people, until they had sent out bishops to them. What were the results of such a course in their West India Colonies, and in Van Diemen's Land? After they had sent out bishops to these places, the priests increased around them, and society throughout its whole mass was visibly pervaded by a better influence. To those around him who belonged upon conviction to the English Church, he would say, they believed that this system which they followed was from God: let them show something of their faith by the real strength of their exertions, and they would soon see the certain efficacy of their measures. If they constituted their great cities the seats of bishops, they would reap the most signal blessing to the country from their exertions, and those of the clergy, who would be sure to gather in sufficient num- 1300 ber around them. He believed that nothing would be more calculated to strengthen the Government in that House, than if the noble Marquess who was its representative there, gave to the measure of his noble Friend a generous support, and thereby aided the effort which the Church was making for its self-development and improvement. He was aware that there were many noble Lords in that House who differed from the Church of England—he respected their conscientious opinions and convictions—but he called upon them to respect their conscientious opinions also: he did not call upon them to aid him in taxing the people to support a Church, although that Church was the Church of fifteen out of eighteen millions of people, but he called upon them to extend to them that power which was possessed already by themselves, of developing freely the strength of their own system. Infidelity, they must all allow, was more by far than a less perfect form of Christianity; and for the sake of the common truth which they all held, he called upon them not to impede them when they sought to increase the machinery and extend the usefulness of the English clergy. He should give his cordial support to the Bill of the noble Earl.
, in reply, assured their Lordships that he would occupy their time very shortly. The speech of the noble Earl (Earl Grey) would have required observation from him had it not been followed by the able and eloquent speech of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Oxford), a speech worthy of the honoured name he bore, and the effect of which he (Earl Powis) was unwilling to diminish. He must, however, say a few words with reference to what had fallen from his noble Friend (Lord Stanley), with whom he differed with regret, especially upon a question where the interests of the Church were at stake. His noble Friend attributed to him an attempt to draw a line of distinction between the North and South Wales dioceses; and argued that, in arranging the dioceses of England and Wales anew, inconvenience must necessarily result to some particular districts, as had, in fact, happened with regard to these sees; but that, taken as a whole, Wales had its due share of episcopal superintendence. He differed from his noble Friend both in his reasonings and his conclusions. He had not originated the distinction between the sees of North and South Wales. The distinction had been made by his noble Friend, and by Parliament. The two 1301 sees of St. Asaph and Bangor were amply endowed: those of St. David's and Llandaff required augmentation. The Commissioners required an endowment for Manchester, and therefore united St. Asaph and Bangor, in order to obtain an income for Manchester. They listened to the objections against the union of Bristol with Llandaff, which gave them a surplus income, and not to those against the union of St. Asaph with Bangor. In proof of his position he referred their Lordships to the first report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners which proposed to give over the surplus income of St. Asaph and Bangor to the augmentation of their poorer vicarages. This was reversed by the subsequent reports; and by the Order in Council (which carried into effect the 6th and 7th Will. IV. cap. 77) of December 12, 1838, the surplus was given over nominally to St. David's and Llandaff, but really to the Episcopal Fund, which, thus relieved from the necessity of providing for those dioceses, was enabled to endow Manchester. The Commissioners thus avoided the outcry and unpopularity which the destruction of St. Asaph would have caused, by mixing it up with the creation of the bishopric of Manchester, and concealed the abstraction of the revenues of St. Asaph for the purpose of endowing Manchester, by nominally appropriating the surplus to St. David's and Llandaff. But this method of dealing with North Wales was not limited to its bishoprics. The deaneries of North Wales, which were well endowed, were reduced to 700l. per annum; whilst English deaneries were fixed at 1,000l. Deaneries were created in South Wales, where they did not exist, and were endowed out of the general fund; to supply which the incomes of the deaneries of North Wales were reduced to 700l. Again, the sinecure rectories, of which nearly half existed in the single diocese of St. Asaph, were swept into the general fund, instead of being appropriated, as the Commissioners recommended in their third and fourth reports, to the dioceses in which they existed. He would not, at that hour, further detain their Lordships by additional observations, but would earnestly press this important Church case on their attention and favour.
§ On Question, that "now" stand part of the Motion, House divided: — Contents 38; Non-Contents 28: Majority 10.
§ Resolved in the affirmative.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
said, after the decision of the House it was not 1302 his intention to offer any further opposition to the measure. The noble Earl would take his own course as to the expediency of proceeding with the Bill. He wished it merely to be understood that if he did not continue his opposition it was not because he had altered his conviction on the subject.—House adjourned.