§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTEBBUEY (Dr. BENSON)
said, he had to ask their Lordships to give a second reading to this Bill, as one of great importance, and directed to the correction of very great evils. All were agreed that there could be scarcely any worse evil in the Church or the world than an evil clergyman, one who was authorized, commissioned, and set in his place to teach religion and morals, but made himself an example of how to set at nought both religion and morality. Cases appeared from time to time in the newspapers which made all men ask what gain could there be to the cause of Christianity from an exercise of the pastoral office by such a man. On the contrary, there were both grievous injuries to the place 1240 where the evils occurred, and they were scarcely less injurious to the Church and to religion at large. But while all felt that they, perhaps, failed to observe or remember how different from one another such cases were, and what defects appeared in the treatment of many of them under existing law, there were other cases which did not appear in the nowspapers, but were known to the Bishops, which also caused great scandal. Taking them altogether, they were not numerically very large as compared with the number of the clergy, but they were a very poisonous evil. The cases were very difficult to touch, the processes were very complicated, liable to the most technical objections and very costly, the penalties often futile. This Bill was framed after careful consideration of the defects and difficulties of the present law, and had been thoroughly examined by one Committee after another of those who were most cognizant of the evils and most able to suggest remedies. It was based mainly on the Report of the Royal Commission on Ecclesiastical Courts. He would point out where the Bill chiefly departed from that Report, and why. By the present system, under the Church Discipline Act, the process began with the issuing of a Commission to inquire whether there was a primâ facie case in any particular instance when complaint was made or scandal existed. Five Commissioners were named by the Bishop for the purpose. But, as a matter of fact, the Bishop himself was often obliged to collect evidence on account of the great unwillingness of the very people who made the complaint to come forward and give evidence. They dreaded the possible expense, and were also very much afraid of their names appearing. The consequence was that the Bishop had to employ persons to get evidence, he had to prosecute, and, after that, he had to be the Judge, for the Commissioners were his nominees, and the case came finally into his own Court. There was another evil of a very grave kind. A clergyman might be convicted in a Criminal Court of drunkenness or theft, indecent assault, or infamous conduct. But though judgment bad been passed upon him, still legal proceedings had to be taken against him in an Ecclesiastical Court, and all the particulars had to be gone over again. That was, 1241 as a matter of good sense, very unnecessary; it perpetuated and spread the scandal, and added very greatly to the expense. Another great evil was that when the Commissioners had found a primâ facie case, it frequently seemed to a Bishop so unadvisable that he should hear a case about which the previous steps had almost compelled him to form an opinion, that it was most commonly sent by Letters of Bequest to the Provincial Court. The Chancellor, who was the proper Judge, did not, by the Church Discipline Act, sit in the Diocesan Court; the consequence was that the Diocesan Courts were destroyed, and the expenses to all parties were very much increased, because it was necessary in the Provincial Court to employ leading and junior counsel, and the distance which witnesses and others had to be sent added very much to the cost. In the Provincial Court itself, the Bill proposed to replace the Judge in the ancient conditions which had been very recently and disastrously altered. And now, supposing the case, however, to have been carried to an issue, and the offender convicted and sentenced, still there was great difficulty in many cases in enforcing the decrees. A man might be suspended ab officio and a beneficio, and yet he might refuse to leave the house of residence, then an action of ejectment was probably the only remedy, and then the whole question whether he had been properly suspended would have to be tried over again. But even if it were arranged that he should leave the house, he might then still insist on living in the parish which he had corrupted and scandalized, and all the original evil might be reproduced and intensified. He had seen an instance, in which, when nothing was added to the provision that the man should leave the house of residence, he took a house within the parish, and though an admirable clergyman was put in, who might hare restored the parish to peace, harmony, and good feeling, and revived the services of the Church, the subsequent career of the suspended clergyman did almost more evil than before. Again, the man might refuse to give up the church as well as the house, and might carry on the services, which perhaps no one would attend, and there wore no certain means of preventing such a scandal. Add to all this that 1242 costs were very heavy, and could often be recovered only by sequestration of the benefice. Then the benefice was injured; but more often there was nothing to recover, since necessary outgoings and the provision for duty being carried on exhausted the whole available means. At the best, the only way in which all the expenses could be recovered was by the Bishop securing a conviction. If he failed he had to bear all the expense; while if he succeeded, he had still large sums to pay. Many Bishops had been mulcted in very large amounts; a single clergyman had been described to him as "a constant source of expense to his Bishop," while he was afraid to say how far one Bishop had suffered in that way from one case after another. If the Commission found that there was a primâ facie case, the Bishop was compelled to proceed to a trial, on account of the great scandal created, if under such circumstances the man was undisturbed, though he and his advisers were satisfied that he was foredoomed to fail, since they were aware that the evidence on which the Commission had formed their conclusion was not such as would fall within rules of evidence, or, perhaps, be even producible in Court. Another difficulty in the working of the Commission was that the Bishop and all persons concerned were at the mercy of one man. He knew a case himself in which the Commissioners were divided two against two, and the fifth Commissioner, an un-unfortunate selection—for all were selected ad hoc—said he was persuaded himself that the man was innocent, but that for the satisfaction of all parties the case had better be tried regularly; and tried it was, and lost. Then, under the Pluralities Act, which was one of the methods of proceeding, there was no provision made for expenses, and the Bishop himself was personally liable. The beneficed clergy did not fall very much into the category of those men of whom he had been speaking. In early legislation the cartularies of French Kings contained stringent provisions against "vagabundi et palabundi episcopi." He did not know that there existed at present any class of "roving and wandering Bishops; "but there were too many presbyters who fell under that description. There wore few cases comparatively in which they appeared. 1243 England, and especially London, drew from all over the world persons who made very brief and unsatisfactory residence in any place, and whom it was almost impossible to trace. They wandered up and down, taking duty for short spaces of time, and committing all sorts of offences. There was wanting some summary process for deposing such men from the ministry, and of getting at those incumbents who, without authority and without inquiry, imposed on by plausible manners and stories, employed them. He had left in the Bill the Court as recommended to be constituted by the Royal Commission, and as he thought it certainly ought to be constituted in most cases—namely, the Chancellor. It was further provided, in accordance with the same recommendations, that if the Bishop deemed the case to be of sufficient importance, it should be tried by the Bishop himself with two or more assessors, The noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Herschell) had earned the lasting gratitude of a Northern diocese by acting as such assessor. At present the Bishop, with assessors, was by the Church Discipline Bill the sole Judge in the Diocesan Court. It seemed to him, however, that some defendants might reasonably object to be tried by the Chancellor alone, or by the Bishop, from whose previous knowledge of himself he could not hope for much bias in his favour. If exception were taken to the Chancellor's solitary action and to the Bishop's action, it was suggested that the defendant should be allowed to appeal to a Court constituted of the Chancellor and the Commissioners under the Pluralities Act Amendment Act. This liberty would remove the faintest suspicion of bias. The Bill, however, made a slight difference in the Commissioners under that Act. That Act required that two Commissioners should be elected ad hoc as each case arose. It seemed desirable, however, for the sake of fairness, that no Commissioner should be elected ad hoc, but that they should be elected, like other Commissioners under the Pluralities Act Amendment Act, for a period of three years. One was to be elected by the clergy of the diocese, one by the Chapter of the diocese, and two laymen were to be nominated by the Chairmen of Quarter Sessions. This Bill, then, intrusted all ordinary cases to the Chan- 1244 cellor alone, and he would suggest, by way of amendment, that the Chancellor should be allowed, in cases it was possible for him to attend, to nominate a deputy. By that plan the Bishop would reserve such cases as it was fitting that he should deal with, and the defendant might at his option claim a fuller Court. Such an arrangement would leave little opening for appeals, that fruitful source of expense. This Bill, then—to sum up—sought to simplify two processes of the Ecclesiastical Courts, to save the delays, minimize the expenses, and make the sentence no longer futile. That it would do by accepting the record of Civil Courts, restoring the Chancellor to his functions, providing an experienced tribunal of wider constitution in some cases, obviating objections generally felt as to the recent constitution of the Provincial Court, to diminish costs, partly to lessen the unfairness of Bishops bearing the whole expense of bringing gross offenders to justice, and to make condemnation a reality by delivering the parsonage, the parish church, and the parishioners from the mercies of an immoral or disgracefully neglectful pastor and the baleful influences which surrounded such a man. He had stated the objections to the present condition of the law, and the remedy it was hoped to apply. The sole object which had been kept in view was to correct what in the judgment of all ought to be corrected. He had no doubt there were details which might be amended by the wisdom of their Lordships' House, and no one would be more thankful than he for any improvements. He would ask their Lordships now to read the Bill a second time.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.)
§ LORD GRIMTHORPE
said, he did not disapprove of the main object of the Bill; but he could not say as much for the manner in which it was to be effected, and he thought it desirable to point out, comprehensively, some of the chief defects in the Bill before trying to amend them in detail by the awkward process by which alone Bills could be amended in a Committee of the Whole House, Besides the general purpose of dealing with what were legally called criminous clerks, if that was really going to be done properly, it was clearly 1245 a good thing to enable rules to be made by the Lord Chancellor and other authorities for reforming the practice of the Ecclesiastical Courts, which had been getting more full of technical pitfalls continually, and, above all, by that most unhappy specimen of ecclesiastical legislation—the Public Worship Act. Another good thing in the Bill was that it repealed one portion of that Act—namely, the usurpation of power for the Crown—that was, for the Prime Minister—to approve, and therefore to take if he chose, the appointment of the Dean of Arches, who was now the Judge of both Provinces. It seemed to him absurd, however, to give any Archbishop the power to sever them again, especially as there was no salary left for the Provincial Judge of York, while the Canterbury one had £1,600 a-year. But the Archbishops and Bishops now proposed a much more serious counter-usurpation of their own—that sentence of deprivation of a benefice—which was a purely civil transaction, and might and must be pronounced by any Judge at the Assizes, on a parson who was a second time convicted there of violating the rubrics (and there the Bishop could not protect him by the dispensing power of the veto)—should not be pronounced by the Dean of Arches or Chancellor who really gave the judgment, but the Archbishop or Bishop was to be called in to do it as a sort of executioner. Moreover, that was in flat contradiction to a decision of the Privy Council in "Bonwell v. Bishop of London," as to the Dean of Arches, who was clearly proved to have always been the proper person to deprive in the Provincial Court. It was true that the 122nd Canon professed to prohibit anyone but the Bishop from pronouncing deprivations in a Diocesan Court, and it had been assumed to be legal; but never decided or argued; and it had not been observed by those who assumed it, that the Canon was an illegal usurpation by the Convocations of 1603, in direct opposition to the great heresy Act of 13 Eliz., which enacted that the defendant "should be deprived by the Bishop or the Ordinary, and on such sentence he should be indeed deprived." And all the Acts of Uniformity expressly reserved power for the Chancellor to excommunicate and to deprive "in like form as heretofore hath been used by 1246 the Queen's ecclesiastical laws." Every lawyer knew that the Canons were invalid against Acts of Parliament, invalid against the laity, and therefore against a lay Chancellor even without those Acts, and that the Queen's Bench had said it would not help them by prohibition. Even the Church Discipline Act of 1840, which was itself an aggression, said that sentence was to be pronounced by the Bishop or his Commissary. Therefore, this clause of the Bill, both for Archbishops and Bishops, was a piece of clerical aggression, and an attempt to introduce the thin end of the High Church wedge, that ecclesiastical jurisdiction proceeded from what they called the Church, by which they meant the clergy, in the face of every legal authority and every Act of Parliament on the subject from the very beginning of the Reformation, and some time before it too. And what was to be done if the Archbishop or Bishop refused to come in and act as executioner under his Judge, and even to defy a mandamus and set up as a martyr? Indeed, the Bill was evidently framed with care, so as to enable them to evade a mandamus if one should be attempted. And so far was this ecclesiastical usurpation carried, that even the sentence of the Judicial Committee signed by the Queen was no longer to be sufficient, but it was to be sent into the Ecclesiastical Court, for the Bishop or Archbishop to ratify by pronouncing it, if he chose. He would like to know whether the proper guardians of the jurisdiction of the Crown over all persons, ecclesiastical as well as civil, meant to submit to that? And it was a sufficient indication of the spirit of the Bill throughout. The Bill also destroyed the proper legal relations of the Bishops and their Courts in making them both prosecutors, as they always had been legally though not exclusively, and Judges, as they never had been from the Reformation until 1840, except during the two short periods that the Court of High Commission lasted, legally and illegally, which their Lordships knew had twice to be put down by Parliament for its tyranny. Their modern introduction as Judges was entirely effected by a man whose name did not raise a presumption in its favour—namely, Bishop Philpotts, and the singular history of it was worth summing up from the debates of that 1247 time. Both in 1838 and 1839 this House passed a Bill, introduced by Lord Chancellor Cottenham, without any such episcopal aggression in it, which was lost by time only in the other House. It was founded, as he said, on the Report of the first Ecclesiastical Commission, which comprised all the principal Bishops and Judges—a very different body from that of 1883 on the Ecclesiastical Courts. That was a very simple Bill, and its main object was to send all ecclesiastical suits at once to the Provincial Court, to be tried there in a more simple way than they were then, or now. Lord Cottenham said that the Bill was approved by most of the Members of that former Commission, and several of them confirmed it, and said that, so far as it differed from their Report, they approved of the change; and, further, he said that it took away no jurisdiction of the Bishops, because they had none to take away, except through their Chancellors, who certainly did not object to lose it, having no exalted Church notions to gratify by retaining it. The Peculiars, of which nearly 300 were also abolished, were Courts quite independent of the Bishops. That Bill gave the Provincial Judge the very useful power of stopping a suit as soon as he perceived that it was frivolous and vexatious. That power was unluckily afterwards transferred to the Bishops, who had notoriously used it for a very different, and, indeed, exactly opposite purpose, and in a manner which had been condemned by some of the highest Judges, even while they were legally deciding in favour of the Bishop, and by a large and weighty minority of the late Commission—namely, to reverse for all practical purposes decisions of the Supreme Court, which had been fought for by both the Church parties at enormous expense, and therefore could not be deemed frivolous or unimportant. It did not seem to have been observed that the veto in the hands of any Bishop with strong leanings either way, as most of them and of the clergy always had, enabled him to make the law of the Church just what he liked throughout his diocese, exactly like the dispensing power usurped by James II. for much the same purpose; and it was being so used continually in some, and probably in most dioceses, for people knew that it 1248 was useless to apply for leave to enforce the law. Further, it made every Bishop odious to one party or the other, according as he allowed or forbade prosecutions, as had been amply proved by experience already. Accordingly, in the Bill which he submitted to the Commission of 1883, and which was printed in their evidence, as a substitute for the Church Discipline and the Public Worship Acts, he had copied, in substance, that provision of Lord Cottenham' s Bill instead of the episcopal veto. Both in 1838 and 1839 Bishop Philpotts made one of his tremendous onslaughts on that Bill, and called it the most deadly attack that had ever been made upon the Church of England. He easily inflamed the clergy into the same belief, and they furnished him with a lot of Petitions to that effect; but it was singular that they had hardly ever submitted to the power which he ultimately got to try them, and it was practically obsolete. 'Yet the present Bill revived or extended it. Bishop Philpotts was not so successful in making this House believe him. Even the mitis sapientia of Archbishop Howley warmed into indignation, and Bishop Blomfield's more immitis sapientia turned upon him as he deserved; and when, at last, after two years' talking, he ventured on a Division, no more than 11 Peers voted with him. After that, he entered an elaborate Protest, which, it was remarkable, did not venture to assert that any Bishop ever sat, or had the right to sit, in his own Court since the Reformation. But then came something still more extraordinary. Although he had been so thoroughly beaten and refuted by the Archbishop and Bishop Blomfield in 1839, he somehow managed afterwards to frighten or cajole them, and through them the Government, into adopting a fundamentally different Bill in 1840, giving the Bishops judicial power for the first time, but not without appeal to the very Provincial Court which he had denounced; and that brought with it a multitude of complications, to provide for preliminary inquiries, and the substitution of one Bishop for another, where the prosecuting and possibly judicial one was also patron; which caused the great fiasco of the Archdeacon Denison case after some years and many stages of the suit; and then. 1249 came the new veto on prosecutions by anybody else. Lord Cottenham said he disclaimed all responsibility for that Act at last, though he would not try to stop it, as the matter had been so long in agitation. Very soon after it was passed, the then Dean of Arches remarked on its badness of drafting, as he mildly put it; and there had been endless confusion and enormous waste of money and abortive suits arising from it. Yet this Bill proceeded on the same lines, and introduced a great deal more complication, and more alternatives of preliminary Courts. The most rev. Prelate had, as it was called, read a first time another Bill about Ecclesiastical Procedure on the same day as this, but it had not yet seen the light—at least, among laymen, though he had received some strong condemnation of it from a Bishop who was not an exalter of clerical jurisdiction; and he took for granted that it did not modify the Bill now before their Lordships, which he must take as he found it, though they ought to have had both together, at least to read and understand. The most rev. Prelate had spoken of the expense of taking criminous clerks to the Provincial Court; but he forgot that exactly those who had caused such expense by fighting every inch of ground hitherto would do just the same again, and take him before his Dean of Arches in the end instead of the beginning, so that he would only have double the expense, and not half, as he might under a proper Act. He (Lord Grimthorpe) himself thoroughly agreed with the views of Lord Penzance in his Report of 1883, and with Bishop Blomfield's last views of the radical unfitness of Bishops to act as Judges. It was true that the Bill gave an option to defendants to pick and chose out of three kinds of Diocesan Courts, or, rather, four—of the Bishop and his Chancellor, each with or without Assessors without judicial votes, and Commissioners with them, of whom three were to be clergymen, and might overrule the proper Judge and his one lay colleague. All that only showed the same clerical aggressiveness as the Report of 1883 did, and a hopeless confusion in the minds of the inventors of all those new alternative tribunals, which somebody must pay for, and which all had to end in the 1250 same Provincial Judge. The most rev. Prelate justified the Bill by saying that it was founded on that Report. It was impossible, without notice, to examine how far they agreed, and quite immaterial; for the Bill could hardly have a worse recommendation, considering how all the legal history on which that Report was based had been exposed, for such inaccuracies as wore not unnatural, seeing that it had been avowedly entrusted to three Members, not one of whom was a lawyer, and, in fact, ultimately to one, who, however eminent as a historian, in other ways was dearly not qualified for writing a legal history, and showed in nearly every page a strong ecclesiastical bias in one direction always, as the Report itself finally did, whether all the signers of it understood it or not. If their Lordships cared to have proofs of that statement, he would refer them to The Edinburgh Review account of the Report, in January, 1884, which seemed to be well known to have been written by a very eminent Member of the Commission, or to a still more do-tailed examination of the history in Mr. Tomlinson's pamphlet, or to his own Letter to the Archbishop of York upon it; none of which had ever been answered. It should never be forgotten, too, that Archbishop Tait had died before that Report was written, or in any degree settled, as their own Minutes showed; and his questions to the witnesses and his Preface to Brodrick and Fremantle's Privy Council Judgments had all pointed in the opposite direction. The anti-legal bias of the Report was sufficiently shown by its mode of dealing with the Bishop's right to sit judicially, which was treated as all but certain, and as admitted by legal decisions or dicta, for which references to law books were given. Those references proved nothing of the kind, and the writer had evidently misunderstood the nature of the Archbishop's visitatorial jurisdiction over Bishops, as was held in the case of Bishop Watson, and ignored an Act of Henry VIII. which had probably preserved it, though the Discipline Act of 1840 was hold to have destroyed the punitive visitatorial power over Deans and Canons. Moreover, the Report set out in full a dozen Chancellor's patents, with a paragraph in italics reserving the Bishop's right to sit himself, and one of the very few surviving clerical 1251 Chancellors, himself a Member of the Commission, helped them by saying that Bishops of Chester had sat in modern times; which was all swept away by two interrogative words of the Lord Chief Justice—"in invitum? "—to which there was no answer. But that also went for nothing with the Commission and their historian. If the Bishops had reserved the right to burn heretics in their parents, who would have cared or meddled, with them, until they had raised the in invitum question practically by a sentence for combustion? That was a sufficient specimen of the legal value and the ecclesiastical bias of the Report of that Commission, and he could give plenty more. Last year, when the most rev. Prelate brought forward his Patronage Bill for taking away the rights of the heirs of the founders of all benefices, he dilated on the number of Diocesan Conferences which had approved of it. This Bill specially concerned the clergy, and they did not hear of a single clerical assembly that had approved of it, or even seen it yet, of which he saw that the clergy were complaining. The High Church newspapers, of course, approved it as a whole, on account of those very aggressions on the State jurisdiction, which they wore constantly striving to supplant, and to undo the Reformation, as the more candid Ritualists had avowed. Looking at it from the parishioners' point of view, it seemed not to go far enough towards getting rid of the commonest kind of clerical offenders (not that he meant that they were absolutely common)—namely, drunkards, who, it was often complained, wore only suspended for a year or two at the most, and then returned as bad as ever. It seemed necessary to give some stronger legislative direction to the Provincial Court on that point. There was a monstrous direction in the Bill that every kind of Civil Court, down to the Justices at Potty Sessions, should send certificates to the Bishop of every verdict or judgment against a clergyman for every kind of act punishable by imprisonment, which practically meant everything for which a trifling fine might be imposod—for which imprisonment was always an alternative—or for a libel, such as giving a discharged servant too bad a character in the opinion of a jury; or writing against employing a dissenting architect to fit up a church; or calling a man a convict 1252 after he has returned from penal servitude; or calling tradesmen's lies a fraud, all which things had been so found by juries. And then if the Bishop, in his unlimited discretion, wanted to get rid of him, he might prosecute, and perhaps try him himself; and he was not even to be allowed to prove that he was not guilty but only to "extenuate" his offence; or, on the other hand, however bad he may be in the opinion of his neighbours, the Bishop may protect him and defy them. That was the kind of legislation which the most rev. Prelate told them had been elaborated with so much care by some undisclosed proficients in the art, who had not even taken the trouble to look at the proper titles of the Provincial and the Diocesan Judges of York, either in their patents or in the Public Worship Act. It would be very difficult to amend such a Bill into a proper state in a Committee of the House, and he was not at all sure that he should try, as the Government seemed disposed to let the Bishops deal with these matters as they chose, with such results as they had seen in nearly all their Bills of recent times, which everybody complained of within two years after they were passed. The whole subject wanted thoroughly reviewing in a very different style from this, and in connection with whatever Bill was to deal with ecclesiastical procedure generally.
§ LORD HERSCHELL
said, he could not see that the Bill was a dangerous one, as interfering with any settlement made at the time of the Reformation. The Bill differed in an important respect from those which had preceded it, having the same object in view; and he held that it was extremely wise and expedient to make that difference. A former measure introduced in that House dealt with all classes of ecclesiastical offences, those relating to ritual as well as those against morality. This comprehensiveness led to opposition from various quarters; for many people objected to the proposal to facilitate proceedings for ritual offences, while they approved the proposal to facilitate proceedings to punish offences against morality. There were some who would not be opposed to a measure dealing with the reform of proceedings against a clergyman charged with immorality who would consider it was not the proper function of Parliament to deal with such offences. He thought 1253 there would be an agreement between those who belonged to the Church and those who were hostile to it politically, that, in the interests of religion, it was very inexpedient that a clergyman should be guilty of gross immorality and indecency, and yet that there should be difficulty in bringing him to task and inflicting the punishment called for by his offence. As to the best machinery for arriving at those results, there might be room for great differences of opinion, and, as he understood, the most rev. Prelate was open to consider any improvement of the machinery proposed, as the single aim of the Bill was to enable offences against immorality to be more speedily, more cheaply, and more certainly dealt with. Their Lordships, therefore, ought to have no difficulty in giving a second reading to the Bill, some of the provisions of which might be open to amendment in Committee. There ought not to be any difficulty about creating a machinery to try these oases. They were very different from ecclesiastical offences in the broad sense which required ecclesiastical knowledge on the part of those dealing with them. The offences in question were of a kind that everybody was capable of appreciating, and the hearing of a charge required simply the application of common sense to the evidence that was adduced in support of it. As the law now stood, proceedings in respect of an offence against morality must be taken within a certain time of the commission of the offence. A case had happened in which a clergyman lived in adultery, and the fact remained concealed for a time. Proceedings were at last taken in the Divorce Court, and the facts were proved, and a divorce followed; but it was too late for proceedings to be taken in the Ecclesiastical Courts, as the period had elapsed within which it was required they should be commenced; and if it had not been that that clergyman had committed another offence against morality, for which he was tried and received punishment, he must have been permitted to continue in charge of his parish, without any proceedings being taken against him. This Bill would provide an extension of time in such a case by allowing proceedings to be commenced after the offender had been found guilty in a Civil Court. Without committing him- 1254 self to all the details of the Bill, he should support the second reading on the grounds he had stated.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Viscount CROSS)
said, the most rev. Prelate had exercised a wise discretion in confining the Bill to offences against morality, and in not including ecclesiastical offences, which would have to be dealt with in the future. The Bill was brought forward to meet a definite evil—the difficulties experienced by the Bishops in dealing with offences against morality. Surely such a state of things as had been described ought not to be allowed to continue. The details of the Bill might require to be amended in Committee. The Ecclesiastical Commission, of which he was a member, made no attempt to restore a state of things which existed before the Reformation; but they tried to find a solution for a grave state of things in ecclesiastical matters, and to devise some Court for trying both offences against morality and offences against ecclesiastical law. Neither in the minds of the Commissioners nor on the part of the Prelates was there the slightest wish for aggression on the rights of the clergy. The Bill only aimed to provide a proper and effective remedy for cases of immorality which were a scandal to the Church and country, and he hoped their Lordships would agree to the second reading.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly.