§ The House having resolved itself into a Committee of Supply,
§ Mr. Wellesley Pole
rose to move the Irish Miscellaneous Services. In proposing the different grants, he should not trouble the House with any observations, except where there was a difference between the present estimate and that of last year; at the same time, he should be ready to give every information in his power to any gentleman that might require it; the first resolution he had to propose was, for a sum of 30,529l. 9s. 4d. for the Board of Works. It had been the practice formerly to vote annually a sum of 25,000l. for the Board of Works, although the expence almost uniformly exceeded that sum. The year before last it amounted to 50,000l.; in consequence, the attention of the House was last year called to this grant, and he then proposed a larger estimate than had been usual, with the view of bringing the vote of parliament as near as possible to the sum required, promising, at the same time, that government would direct its attention to this subject; and he was now happy to be able to state, that a considerable reduction in the expence had taken place, as would appear by the resolution which he had proposed. He thought it right to mention this circumstance injustice to the Board of Works, whose conduct was deserving of the utmost praise.—Agreed to.
The next sum he had to propose was, the usual 10,500l. for publishing Proclamations in the Dublin Gazette, and other papers, for one year. It was well known that the sum expended for this purpose had always greatly exceeded the grant. He had made every exertion in his power to reduce the expence, and he was happy to say, that he had effected a considerable saving.—Agreed to.
The next Resolution was for 23,748l. 9s. 2d. for Printing and Stationary. Mr. Pole said, that this was rather a larger sum than had been granted last year; the reason was, that he was anxious to give as close an estimate in all cases as possible, so as not to render it necessary to come upon the vote of credit for the excess. The sum proposed was large, but under 1218 this head of stationary was included messengers, coals and candles, for different offices, &c.
§ Mr. Pole
said, that there was a sum of 5,000l. for his Majesty's Stationary, out of which most of the public offices were provided, of which regular accounts were kept. There was also a sum of 5,500l. to the printer of The Gazette, which account was also regularly kept; but the rest of that branch was composed of minute miscellaneous services.
§ Sir J. Newport
thought it would be well to divide the different heads, instead of including all under one denomination. The right hon. gentleman had said, that part of the sum was to be applied to the printing of the Gazettes. Why, then, were they called upon to vote, in another part of the estimates, the sum of 10,500l. for that purpose? The right hon. gentleman had carried his estimates to 1,000l. above the expected expence; but he would much prefer to see them reduced below their supposed standard, as, if his memory served him right, he had heard in the committee of Finances, that stationary was provided for the Irish government without any competition, and at a price much above that at which any particular individual might get it.
§ Mr. Pole
stated, that the sum of 10,5000l. was for proclamations, advertisements, &c. and the 5,500l. for the printing of the Dublin Gazette, the printer having a patent place, and the grant was the same every year. He also wished for separate accounts, but after all the attention he had bestowed on the subject, he found himself unable to effect it, and would be thankful for any hint conducive to the object. The increase in the estimates arose from a wish to cover all possible expences, and they exceeded those of last year only by 1,327l. mostly for improvements.
§ On the Resolution, That the sum of 25,000l. be granted for defraying the ex-pence of Criminal Prosecutions,
wished for information on this subject. The amount of the sum voted for this purpose in 1798, which was a year of disturbance and civil war in Ireland 1219 did not exceed 23,781l. and in the year following it was diminished to 14,582l. Why, then, should the House be called on to make such an extravagant grant as this, at a time of perfect quietness; he called on the right hon. gentleman to explain this circumstance, and protested against such a sum being annually voted as an usual grant, when it should be regulated by the necessity of the occasion.
§ Mr. Pole
said he did not know what the sum granted in 1798 was, but he knew that ever since the Union the sum now proposed was annually granted. If any gentleman wished to know how the money was expended, he had not the slightest objection to produce the accounts. If this grant was not made, it would be necessary to dip into the vote of credit for the ex-pence of these prosecutions. The only difference was, that by proposing an annual grant, the attention of parliament was annually called to the subject; whereas, if it were paid out of the vote of credit, the great probability was that it would escape notice. It did not follow that the sum granted was the sum expended. Last year there had been a saving, which had gone to the consolidated fund; this year the expence was increased, on account of the special commission, and the prosecutions which it had been necessary to institute. He could assure the committee, that so far was government from being lavish in the expenditure of the money granted for this purpose, that he had received complaints from many parts of Ireland, stating that government was niggardly in carrying on prosecutions at the public expence.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, that this grant placed on the Journals an anticipation of a state of disturbance in Ireland, which would call for the expenditure of so large a sum; this reason alone was sufficient against it.
§ Mr. W. Fitzgerald
defended the grant, and said that gentlemen seemed to confound the sum voted with the sum expended. It appeared that very recently there had been a surplus of the grant over the expenditure, and that surplus had been paid into the consolidated fund. With respect to the smallness of the expence of the year 1798, he begged to observe, that that was a year of great disturbance in Ireland, during a great part of which the courts of justice were closed, and therefore the expence of prosecution was not so great.—Agreed to.
When the Resolution was proposed for 1220 granting 21,600l. to the Trustees of the Linen and Hempen Manufactures of Ireland, to be by the said Trustees applied in such manner as shall appear to them to be conducive to promote and encourage the said Manufactures,
§ Sir. J. Newport
wished to know, before this sum was voted, what had become of a debt due to the board? and thought the grant should be suspended until some information was obtained on the subject.
§ Mr. Pole
said, he understood that the board were taking steps to recover the debt alluded to, but whether it had actually been paid or not he did not know. Knowing the high respectability of the noblemen and gentlemen who composed the Linen board, he had taken it for granted that the proper means had been adopted for the recovery of the money; he would, however, make an enquiry upon the subject,—Agreed to.
§ Mr. Pole
then moved, that a sum of 8,900l. be granted for draining Bogs in Ireland; the sum granted last year for this purpose was 12,000l. which, with what had been previously granted, and what was now proposed, made altogether about 29,000l. A detailed account of the proceedings of these commissioners was before the House, from which it appeared that a very large portion of the bogs of Ireland had already been surveyed. It was now proposed that they should extend their surveys into Connamara, of the western side of Ireland, for which purpose it was necessary that the commissioners should be continued another year, when they would finish their labours. The Committee, he was sure, must be aware of the very great importance of the object for which this sum was now claimed, and he hoped it would be the last that parliament would be called upon to grant.
§ Sir J. Newport
expressed a hope, that, in future, before grants of this kind were made, the House would have an opportunity of determining on their utility, and not be led on, step by step, in considerable disbursements for inconsiderable objects. In his opinion, the survey of all Ireland might have been effected for one third of the sum voted for this purpose. Besides, a very large proportion of these bogs, for the survey of which the public paid, belonged to noblemen and gentlemen, who were very able to have them surveyed, without increasing the public burthens. The idea originally stated, when this plan was ushered in, was, that a sufficient quantity 1221 of hemp would be raised to render us independent of any supplies from the Baltic; but, from what he now saw, the scheme appeared likely to promote no one useful object.
§ Mr. W. Fitzgerald
regretted that the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster) who first proposed the plan, was not in his place to vindicate himself from the charges of the right hon. baronet. It was impossible, from the nature of the undertaking, that the expence should be fully ascertained at the outset. He considered it as a complete geological surrey, embracing 17–20ths of all the bogs in Ireland, and far from being so fruitless as described by the right hon. baronet.—Agreed to.
§ On moving the next Resolution, "That the sum of 41,539l. be granted for the Protestant charter schools in Ireland,"
§ Sir J. Newport
wished to know, why there should be a still further increase on the increase of 10,000l. in the last year?
§ Mr. Pole
said, that the Board of Education had made an elaborate report upon the state of these schools, from which it appeared, that in consequence of the increased price of provisions, it had been found necessary to allow one halfpenny per day in addition for the board of each of the children maintained in these schools, amounting to 2,400. These schools, he was sorry to say, had not been kept up in a proper way, but now they were very much improved, and the greatest attention was paid to them. He could undertake to say, that in no one instance was there greater attention paid to the expenditure of public money, than in that of the Protestant charter schools.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, that the right hon. gentleman had not explained to his satisfaction the cause of the increase this year, over and above the increase of 10,000l. last year; the repairs of the buildings only amounted to 5,000l.
§ Mr. Pole
said, that these accounts all went before the Auditors of Public Accounts, by whom they were scrupulously examined, and these auditors had praised in the strongest terms the mode adopted 1222 with respect to the conduct of these schools. With regard to the increase which the right hon. baronet said had taken place in the vote of last year, he was not prepared to state how it arose, as he had But proposed the grant. If, however, the Protestant charter schools in Ireland were to be kept up, it appeared to him to be sufficient to lay before the committee as accurate and as close an estimate of the necessary expence as could be prepared. If gentlemen thought that any part of the estimate was objectionable, let them point it out, and he was ready to answer them, and to give the fullest explanation.
§ Sir J. Newport
maintained, that he had a right to demand, from any minister, a full explanation, as to the votes of the public money; nor would twenty close estimates solve the question he had put, and to which he had a right to expect an answer, without the imputation of cavil, which now seemed to be the custom to impute to any gentleman who wished for information on the disposal of the annual grants.
§ Mr. Pole
said, that the committee would judge whether he had not shewn a dispotion to satisfy the right hon. baronet or any other gentleman who desired explanation on any point. He had answered him, over and over, and he conceived that, standing as he did, with a close estimate in his hand, he had nothing more to do than to propose the Resolution to the committee.
said, he was anxious to learn from the right hon. gentleman, whether it was in the contemplation of the Irish government to take advantage of the new system of education, by which 180,000 children might be educated at an expence not exceeding that which 2,430 cost now? If this plan were adopted, the whole population of Ireland might be educated in the course of a few years. He begged leave to suggest, that the commissioners might select one or two boys, from each of the Charter-schools, who could be sent to England to learn the new system, and who could be thus qualified to act as teachers in the different schools, which it was his wish to see established.
§ Mr. Pole
begged leave shortly to trouble the committee, in consequence of what had fallen from the hon. member. The observations of that hon. gentleman seemed to him to apply, not so much to the subject which was immediately under, the consideration of the committee, as to the general 1223 system of education in Ireland, which was at present under the consideration of the Board of Education in that country. The schools for which he had proposed this grant were founded by charter, and it was impossible to apply the system alluded to by the hon. gentleman, to them, scattered as they were over the kingdom. He wished very much that the hon. gentleman had read the Report of the Commissioners of Education upon these charters: he would then have seen how inapplicable this new system was to them.
said, he had merely thrown out the suggestion for the consideration of the committee, and was still of opinion that much benefit might be derived from the adoption of the new plan of education.
§ Mr. W. Smith
said, he considered the sum as being very large for the number of children educated; and it appeared to him to be a subject well worthy of consideration, whether the money could not be laid out in a more advantageous manner.
§ Mr. Pole
said, he really was surprised at the observation made by the hon. gentleman. He did not expect to find that at this day it would have been made a matter of discussion, whether the Protestant charter schools in Ireland were beneficial or not: he had never before heard a doubt expressed upon the subject. He had the pleasure of seeing in his place one of the most respectable members of the Board of Education (Mr. Grattan), and he would appeal to him for an opinion respecting these schools, and the manner in which they were conducted. He could not avoid again expressing a wish that gentlemen had read the reports of the Board of Education respecting these schools, of which there were ten or eleven before the House.
§ Mr. Grattan
said, that having been referred to by the right hon. gentleman, he rose merely to observe, that the commissioners of education in Ireland had made an extremely good report; but it was not within the purview of their commission to suggest or follow up any new plan for conducting the charter schools in a way differing from their original institution. He must say, however, that since the report of the commissioners of inquiry in 1788, these schools were very much improved, both as to the health and cleanliness of the children; and that it was much better to make ample provision for their maintenance, than to defeat their object by a parsimonious one. The price 1224 of provisions had been greatly on the increase, the buildings also of the charity had been greatly improved, and these circumstances sufficiently justified the in-creased vote, both of the preceding and of the present year.—Agreed to.
§ Sir J. Newport
did not rise to object to this grant, but could not avoid saying a few words upon some of the proceedings of these commissioners. They had thought it proper to interfere with bequests of Catholics, and had prevented them from being carried into execution; an instance of which had occurred in the city he had the honour to represent. A Roman Catholic lady had bequeathed a considerable sum for charitable purposes, but the commissioners of charitable donations had thought proper to interfere, and to prevent the will from being carried into execution; the consequence of which was, that several poor widows, who under this will were to be furnished with an asylum, were now actually begging their bread. The board of charitable donations was composed of the archbishops, bishops, judges, and some others, and he did not by any means wish to question their respectability, but he thought it unfortunate that they should thus interfere with the bequests of the Roman Catholics.
§ Mr. Pole
begged to trouble the House for a few moments, in consequence of what had fallen from the right hon. baronet. The right hon. baronet had stated to the committee the manner in which the board of charitable donations was formed, and when it was known that it was composed of the archbishops, bishops, and judges of Ireland, the committee, be was sure, would not suspect that such a board could act in the improper manner stated by the right hon. baronet. This was not the first time that the board of charitable donations had been arraigned. He had heard charges of a similar kind preferred before, in consequence of which he had sent for the secretary of that board, to ask for an account of their proceedings. It turned out, that during the twelve years that this board had been established, it had instituted only fifteen prosecutions, all under the opinion of the attorney general for the time being; of these fifteen prosecutions, only two had been brought" against persons of the Roman Catholic religion. In one of these two cases, the 1225 commissioners found that a sum which had been left by a Roman Catholic to endow an hospital had not been applied, and they interfered, to compel the performance of the will. The consequence was, that the bequest was carried into effect, and an hospital, in the town of New Ross, for Roman Catholics only, was erected by the means of these commissioners. The other case was the one alluded to by the right hon. baronet; it was the case of Mrs. Power, of Water-ford, who had left a large sum for charitable uses; but this money having been left to two Roman Catholic bishops and their successors for ever, Mr. Plunket, the attorney general, entertained a doubt whether these Roman Catholic bishops could be considered as a corporation, and also doubting the legality of some of the other bequests, he advised the commissioners to institute proceedings in the court of Chancery. Before those proceedings were brought to a close, the heir at law came over and commenced proceedings to set aside the will altogether, on the ground that it was made under undue influence. This was the real cause of the unfortunate widows mentioned by the right hon. baronet being deprived of their asylum; it was the act of the heir at law, and not of the commissioners. It appeared therefore that the right hon. baronet had been wholly misinformed upon this subject, for he was sure he would not intentionally misrepresent the facts. The sum now asked for was only 600l. which was to pay the secretary of this board, and to provide stationary; for the members acted gratuitously. He wished to mention, before he sat down, that by the exertion of this board, two of the principal charities of Dublin, which were open alike to Catholics and to Protestants, had received, and were now enjoying very considerable sums of money.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, he did not mean to speak disrespectfully of the board, but he believed that the names of the bishops and judges were inserted honoris causd, and he ventured to say, that they scarcely ever attended. The fact was, he believed, that the board was principally under the direction of Dr. Duigenan, and therefore could not be supposed to be very favourable to the Roman Catholics.
§ Mr. Pole
said, that the best answer that could be given to the observation of the right hon. baronet respecting' the disposition of the board, towards Catholics was, 1226 that in the course of twelve years, only one Catholic bequest had been interfered with, and that was by the advice of Mr. Attorney-general Plunket. He begged to repeat, that it was owing to the interference of the heir at law, and not of the board, that the poor widows had been deprived of their asylum, for during the proceedings in Chancery, the board had allowed the building of the asylum to go on, and had permitted 400l. to be paid to the Roman Catholic bishops for a private charity mentioned in the will. There was another piece of information which he could give the right hon. baronet, and which he was sure he would receive with great pleasure, which was, that the board never sat without a judge and a bishop being present; therefore, it could not be wholly under the influence of Dr. Duigenan; nor while any respect remained attached to the sacred character of a bishop, or the exalted station of a judge, could it be believed that any board, at which a bishop and a judge were constantly present, would act in the manner stated by the right hon. baronet.—The Resolution was agreed to.
§ The next Resolution was 2,423l. for the Association for Discountenancing Vice, a larger sum than was voted last year. On this,
§ Sir J. Newport
paid a tribute of applause to the manner in which this Association was conducted: its attention was directed to the distribution of prayer-books and bibles, to enlighten the lower orders, and not to the searching after, and punishment of, petty insignificant crimes.
§ Sir J. Newport
observed, that though this grant had been so often brought under the consideration of parliament, be felt himself bound again to bring it under their attention. He would contend, that it was more than ever incumbent on the House to make some addition to the grant now proposed. His reasons were, that the population of Ireland, of which the Catholics formed so large a part, was annually increasing; and, therefore, the demand for religious instruction must increase in proportion. Considering the influence which the Catholic clergy deservedly possessed, it was desirable at all times, that their education should be conducted at home, rather than abroad; but there was no other provision for that education, except what was 1227 furnished by this college, at Maynooth; and he would put it to the committee, whether it was calculated on its present scale to supply the religious instruction of the Catholics in Ireland. The present grant was sufficient for the education of only 200 students, whose course of instruction required five years each on an average. The college, therefore, was calculated to furnish only about 40 persons annually for the service of religion. Now, the Catholic clergy in Ireland were about 2,000 in number; and, from the calculations of Dr. Price, on the subject of the Benefit Society of the Clergy of the Church of Scotland, it might be fairly estimated, that a yearly supply of fifty-nine persons was requisite for keeping up the numbers of the Catholic priesthood in Ireland, instead of the forty which this college could send out. The question was not, whether the Catholics should become Protestants; for any abridgment of the numbers of their clergy never would have that effect; but the question was, whether the Catholics should remain unrestricted in religion at alt or not, and, besides, become irritated against that legislature which refined them the means of religious consolation. This was the plain state of the case; and he could see no reason why the grant should not now revert to the 13,000l. in year, which was voted some years ago: an increase rendered still more expedient by the enhanced price of provisions, which had that night been stated as the reason for increasing another grant. He would only add, that there was no priesthood in Europe which paid more exemplary attention both to the temporal and spiritual interests of their flocks than the Catholic clergy of Ireland: they necessarily, and he believed most deservedly, possessed great influence over their people, and therefore it was for the general good of society, that this body of men should be well educated and instructed. With these impressions, he should move, that instead of 9,000l. the sum of 13,000l. be inserted.
Mr. Secretary Ryder
said, that he was prepared to resist this enlargement of the original grant; and if this had been the first time of proposing the grant itself, he did not hesitate to say that he would vote against it. He did not wish to debar the professors of any religion of its most enlarged and liberal toleration, but he was not for giving a hostile religion the power of making proselytes, and this he conceived 1228 had been the effect of the establishment of Maynooth College. He would not, under existing circumstances, go the length of voting that the original grant should be taken away; but he most solemnly and seriously assured the House, that acting on the principles which he professed, if the present had been a call on the House for money for the purpose of endowing a Roman Catholic college, he would not give a single pound towards it.
declared, that he never felt more astonishment nor indignation than he did at hearing what had just fallen from the right hon. gentleman. The right hon. gentleman argued against the principle of educating the Irish Catholic clergy, when he must have recollected that Maynooth College was founded during the most violent period of Irish history, and when Europe began to be in hostility against these countries. The Irish Catholic clergy must have been educated' at home or no where. The right hon. gentleman did not appear to consider in what an ungracious situation he was placing the House. At this particular moment, such a paltry sum as 8,000l. was grudged to the mass of the population of Ireland, while the House was prodigal of the public money in every other respect, even in the support of sinecure pensions and places. One good, however, must result from this conduct of the right hon. gentleman, and that was, that Ireland would be able to judge of the spirit and temper of the ministry to which he belonged; that Ireland would be able to see how willing the minister was to add to their burthens, and how unwilling to lessen or alleviate their grievances.
(of Kerry) supported the enlarged grant. He denied, that any system of proselytism had been promoted by the establishment of Maynooth College. There were six converts from the Catholics to every one from amongst the Protestants.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
opposed the Amendment, not because be considered the enlargement of any consequence in an economical point of view, but because he was against the principle of the grant altogether. At the same time, from the commencement of this establishment, parliament had granted for its support about 160,000l. and that was no paltry pittance. According to the right hon. baronet's calculation, the number of priests required, every year was 59; and was it not enough, for the public to educate 40 out of that 1229 number? He supported the grant as it stood, because it was one of those which the parliament of Ireland thought wise to preserve at the Union,—because he found it in fact given over to England as part of the Union. If the grant had been fairly open to opposition after the Union, he certainly should have been disposed to resist it; because he thought, on principle, that it was wrong for a state endeavouring to establish a particular system of religion, to provide a public supply for the maintenance, encouragement, and propagation of another. The House now supported charitably, 40 out of the 59 priests said to be necessary for the Irish Catholics; and he contended that so much was not proportionably done in the same way for the education of persons for the Protestant Church establishment. Why did not the wealthy Catholics come forward and educate their clergy without calling on the state? All the refined and deliberate study mentioned by the right hon. baronet was not necessary for Irish priests; they did not want more education, surely, than was possessed by the clergymen in the distant parts of England and Wales. He begged gentlemen to look at home, unless they wished, by an excess of grants, to make Maynooth College equal to Dublin, Cambridge, or Oxford University.
§ Mr. Grattan
was not aware of the strength of the right hon. gentleman's argument, that because we adopted the original grant, therefore we were not obliged ever to enlarge it. If once the principle were adopted, he contended that the limitation of the sum was only to be fixed by the circumstances of the times: to act otherwise, was nominally to adopt, and ultimately to defeat the principle. What was the meaning of establishing a Catholic college, if the exigencies of such a college were not to be supplied as they should vary from time to time? The House should recollect, that the Catholic population paid for the Protestant establishment; and it was extremely just that something should be given to them. The grant was not for the propagation but the practice of the Catholic religion. The question was not, whether we should extend this or that faith by any act in the power of parliament to make. Such a system had been tried in Ireland, but it had failed. Acts had been passed which were mischievous in their operation, certainly disgraceful, and entirely useless for the purposes for which they were intended. Every effort 1230 to force conscience would have a contrary effect, because then it became no longer a matter of religion but of spirit to persist in that faith against which such force was directed. Catholics were Christians as well as Protestants, and every attempt to destroy Catholicity was an attempt against Christianity. The question was, in fact, between Christianity and Deism; between foreign and domestic education. We must choose to educate the Irish as Catholics at home, or give them up to Deism, of to foreign education. To act otherwise was forcing the Catholic to be an infidel or a disaffected man. When the House had once adopted the principle, he thought it was bound honestly to follow up that principle, and to meet the exigencies of the establishment whose existence it had sanctioned. As the people increased, so increased the demand for religious instruction, and so ought the grant to be increased, from which that instruction flowed. If the grant was not to be increased, then the principle of the institution was only poorly and inadequately met; half the people only could be instructed. The right hon. gentleman had asked, was there any instance of a state having supported a hostile religion? Yes, he would tell him, Ireland. Ireland did now actually support the religion of another country; for, when the right hon. gentleman said "state," be must have meant by it, not the government, but the nation; and the Catholic people did contribute by taxes to the support of the Protestant establishment. Again, the right hon. gentleman had said, that there was no proportion between the means given for the education of Catholic priests and Protestant pastors. Would any man in his senses have used such an argument? He would ask the right hon. gentleman, was the Catholic rich in proportion to the Protestant church in Ireland? Was the Dublin university nothing? Were tythes nothing? Were bishoprics nothing? Was the half million by which the Protestant church was supported nothing? Would the right hon. gentleman then consider the small, though respectable number of persons for whose use these endowments were intended? And would he then compare them to the overflowing numbers for whose religious instruction 8,000l. was thought too much? In fact, there was not in the world a richer than the Protestant, nor a poorer than the Catholic church of Ireland. Christianity was the title of the Irish to education. The grant was not to 1231 gratify a sect, but to cherish a branch of the Christian religion. To deny the necessary grant, was an attempt to starve the people out of their faith, which could not be successful. To deprive the people of Ireland of education, was a struggle for a new victory over them. It was not only destroying their temporal rights, but their spiritual faculties; it was not only persecuting them in this world, but an endeavour to damn them in the next.
§ Mr. Whitbread
said, that he ought to apologise for rising on this occasion, because, in fact, he had no new arguments to adduce in favour of the enlargement of this grant. There was a novelty, however, that night, which he thought it necessary to notice. The right hon. gentleman did certainly, on former occasions, oppose this grant; and when he became the minister of the King, he withdrew the additional sum given by parliament to make it more adequate to its purposes. But the novelty of that night was, that the right hon. gentleman opposed the enlarged grant, not as the minister of the King, but of the Prince Regent; not as in old ordinary times, but at this new sera. According to the principles avowed by the right hon. gentleman, it would have been more manly and fair to have undone the grant altogether, than to starve it as he was now doing. The right hon. Secretary for the Home Department had thrown out his loose assertion with regard to the instances of proselytism, merely, he imagined, for alarm. He defied him to mention where the proselytes were made, and how many they were. It was strange that the gentlemen opposite, who talked so much of the danger of foreign influence over the Catholics of Ireland, should thus oppose the very means by which that foreign influence would most likely be done away. He called upon the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to follow up his intolerant principles by cutting up this establishment altogether, or to agree to the amendment of his right hon. friend.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
observed, that while he and his colleagues were accused of innovation, the charge preferred against them was founded on the fact of their having resisted innovation. The grant proposed for Maynooth college had been regularly granted from 1801 to 1806, without any alteration being made; but in 1807, when the then administration were doing every thing in their power to encourage the Roman Catholic religion (in 1232 which they were right—as they thought it wise to do so), they, in one session of parliament, procured a grant of 12 or 13,000l. for the support of Maynooth college. This grant was merely the act of that parliament; it was not embodied in the Appropriation act, and consequently with that parliament, when shortly after it was dissolved, it fell. After the new parliament had met, it was thought that this grant was not warranted by circumstances, and therefore he and his friends had conceived it to be their duty to return to the old one. It was for doing this, for setting-aside that which was new, and returning to the old vote, that they were called innovators. It would now be understood what was the definition of the word innovation, according to the notions of the gentlemen opposite, and it would also be understood, that with them, those who abolished a novel or new practice to return to one which had been long established, were innovators. The hon. gentleman had done him the justice to bear testimony to the consistency of his opposition to the enlargement of this grant. He had admitted that when he was not in office, he opposed it, and that when he came into office, he had exhibited the strange phenomenon of a minister acting consistently with the principles he had avowed in opposition. This had seemed to surprise him; but, however, the hon. gentleman had said, all, so far, was very well; but the novelty was, he had not only acted thus, when he came into office, but he had continued to do the same. Not only had he continued to do the same while he was the minister of the King, but he still opposed the measure, though he was the minister of the Prince, and this again was a subject of great surprise, as it should seem, as if it were very extraordinary that a member of that House should not, on such an occasion, put on new principles. His opinions, however absurd they might appear on this subject, had remained what they were in 1801, and the memory of the hon. gentleman was not accurate if he thought that the argument he had used that night was new. He had not supposed that there were no deaths at Maynooth, but when it was known that all there were professedly educated for the priesthood, he thought some latitude might be allowed to what he had advanced. When he said that if the grant were enlarged there was no knowing to what it might extend, he had not supposed that they might be called 1233 upon for millions upon millions, but he thought it was not "definable how far it might extend, if a line were not drawn where they now were.
§ Sir J. Newport
insisted that, during the first session of the new parliament, under the present administration, the grant was enlarged, though nominally, to discharge the expences of some new erections. The right hon. gentleman had stated, that the government of which be (sir J. N.) was a humble member, had done all that lay in their power to promote the Roman Catholic religion. The assertion was unfounded; but it was true that every thing was done necessary to protect the injured rights of the Catholics, and, by protecting them to maintain the general interests of the united empire. In such an attempt, the right hon. baronet had borne his share of the duty, and he should never be ashamed of the part he had borne.
§ Mr. Whitbread
was willing to give the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer full credit for consistency, but it was a consistency which had been highly injurious, and might eventually prove fatal to the country. The sarcastic and facetious allusions that had been made to the administration of the right hon. baronet, and which might well have been spared, Could in no respect apply to himself, since he had held, and had been candidate for no place. The applause, however, excited by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer among his friends by his retort, appeared a little untimely, and somewhat injudicious, since the ink of a letter was yet scarcely dry, written by ministers, though signed by the Prince Regent, inviting noble lords, by the sacrifice of all consistency, to unite themselves to their government. It was calling upon persons proud of the path of honour they had pursued, to forsake the road where their companions were not less numerous than respectable, to join in the track so much trodden by the friends of the right hon. gentleman, that the way was become filthy, and almost impassable to those who were unwilling to cover themselves with the mire. The fearful novelty of which he had spoken, threatening ruin to Ireland, was not so much that the right hon. gentleman continued to hold the same language, but that he was permitted to hold the same place under the Regent that he occupied under the King, professing similar sentiments to those he before entertained.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
did not wish to keep up the conversation, but could not avoid observing, that the previous administration having before, most prudently and wisely, forgone the question, he had thought, that upon the present occasion the noble lords would feel no greater difficulty than they had before experienced.
adverted emphatically to the alteration in the circumstances of Ireland, which had taken place with the times. Had no change been produced by four years of continued oppression on every trifling occasion? Had not the appointment of a tight hon. gentleman (Dr. Duigenan) to be a privy counsellor, or the selection of the directors of the Bank of Ireland, circumstances in themselves of little importance, shewn the temper and spirit by which ministers had been actuated towards the sister kingdom? Did it follow, that because in 1S06 the subject of the concession to the Catholics might be safely postponed, that in the present condition of Ireland it could now be deferred without incurring the most imminent danger?
§ The Question was then put, and the Vote for 8000l. agreed to without a division, the Amendment of Sir J. Newport being negatived.