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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14


The following practical suggestions have been issued by the Society for the Liberation of Religion from State Patronage and Control, and are here embodied (in a curtailed form) simply for information to those interested in the question :—
1.Fixing of some date, on or after which the Church "shall cease to be established by law and new appointments to office prohibited."
2.Dissolution of every ecclesiastical corporation, sole or aggregate.
3.Abolition of Ecclesiastical Courts and Law.
4.Exclusion of Spiritual Peers from the House of Lords.
5.Granting of no faculty or charter which would re-create a privileged Ecclesiastical body (as in the Irish case), but simply leaving Episcopalians to organize themselves in whatever way may seem to them best for the management of their affairs.
6.Personal Compensation of bishops, clergy, patrons, and other individuals who have a special beneficiary interest in the Establishment, but not to any officials or others dispensing Public Patronage.
7.Release of all such individuals from further obligations, and (this being taken into account) a varying scale of annuities for each—for instance, to aged Incumbents their present net income for life; to those of 35 or younger age, one half their income; to those older than 35, a proportionately larger amount; to Curates, gratuities ia cases where deemed entitled.
8.To facilitate commutation of annuities—the issue of Bonds for their payment, such bonds being legalized for sale or transfer. These the clergy would be free to hand over to any Church if they so chose.
9.The grant of borrowing powers to a commission, charged with the duty of disendowment.
10.Cathedrals, Abbeys, and other national monuments to be under the control of the Board of Works and maintained for such uses as Parliament might determine.
11.Retention for public purposes (or for disposal) of the Episcopal Palaces and of Buildings appended to Cathedrals.
12.The educational endowments and charities of Cathedrals to be separately dealt with for the National benefit.
13.All burial grounds of the Churches to be transferred to Burial Boards for the continued use with equal rights of all parishioners.
14.Proprietary Churches to be at the disposal of the present proprietors.
15.All Churches existing at the date of the passing of the first of the Church Building Acts [1818] should be deemed to be ancient parish Churches.
16.Ancient Churches should be vested in a parochial board, elected by the ratepayers—which board should have power to deal with them for the benefit of the parishioners. The power of sale, under proper regulations, should also be given.
17.Churches erected after 1818 and built at the sole expense of any person who may be living should, on his application, be vested in him, or as he may appoint.page 154
18.Churches (other than parochial churches re-built) erected after 1818, by voluntary subscriptions exclusively, and also churches not claimed, should become the property of their congregations in trust. If, within a given time, such churches be not accepted they should vest in the parochial boards.
19.Churches built after 1818 and erected partly by sub-scriptions and partly from parliamentary grants and public sources, should be offered to the congregations; but the amount from public sources should be a charge upon the building, to be paid in accordance with regulations.
20.If an endowment—including parsonage or not—has been created by a private individual, and he be living, the Commissioners should, on his application, vest the same in him, or as he may appoint. Any parsonage so reconveyed should be subject to the provision hereafter stated in Section 24.
21.Where endowments have been created by voluntary subscriptions exclusively since 1818 they should become the property of the congregations, and be held for their use. Endowments not reconveyed should become the properly of the congregations.
22.Where endowments have been created partly by sub-scriptions and partly from national sources, the amount of the latter should be deducted, and form part of the surplus.
23.The endowments dealt with under Sections 20, 21, and 22, should be charged with the annuities paid as compensation to the clergymen.
24.As the annual value of the parsonages and glebes would be Included in the estimate of incomes of the clergy, the pecuniary interest of the clergy in them would cease, and this property could be dealt with by the Commissioners in the same way as other surplus property. Existing incumbents, however, to be allowed to occupy their parsonages so long as they continue ministers of the churches in which they now officiate, on payment of rent, according to the valuation adopted in settling their compensation. Whether an incumbent should continue a minister of the church in which he was officiating would depend on the congregation, acting as such, or in connection with any religious organization with which it might connect itself.
25.Provision for the sale of tithe-rent charge to the owners of land on the payment of 22½ years' purchase.
26.The power of levying church-rates, in any form, to cease; provision being made for extinguishing debts, or meeting other claims, for which compulsory rates may now be levied. Easter dues and other ecclesiastical impositions, which are either small in amount or vexatious in character, to be abolished. Special arrangements would also be required to relieve the Inhabitants of Liverpool,* Marylebone, and other places which have to pay large sums out of municipal or parochial rates to maintain churches and clergy.
27.There may be no considerable surplus available for years to come. When that surplus becomes a reality, the nation will decide on its appropriation with reference to the wants and feelings of the period. The surplus may be devoted to education—to the maintenance of the poor—to effecting great sanitary improvements—to the reduction of the national debt, or to other objects beneficial to the whole nation. Inasmuch, however, as a large portion of the property now devoted to ecclesiastical purposes belongs to the parishes, much should be applied to local objects, and be administered by municipal and local authorities.
28.The succession to the Crown, under the Act of Settlement, the laws relating to Sunday observance, the appointment of army and gaol chaplains, &c., need not be imported into the discussion.