HC Deb 05 July 1820 vol 2 cc221-3
Sir H. Parnell

rose, to call the attention of the House to a subject which materially concerned the agriculturists of Ireland; namely, the present system of collecting the tithes. As an instance of the practical inconvenience and injustice of the present system, he held in his hand a receipt for 3l. 8s. paid by a small farmer in Ireland to a tithe proctor, who, instead of summoning the farmer before a magistrate for a sum of 18s. 10d. which was due. issued a subpoena from the Court of Exchequer, on the 19th of May, calling upon the farmer, who lived at a distance of fifty miles from Dublin, to appear in the Court of Exchequer, on the 2nd of June following, thereby incurring an expense of 2l. 10s. for the recovery of a debt of 18s. 10d. The present was a system of oppression on the poor tenantry, as would appear from the returns on the table, in which it was stated, that in five counties there were no less than 1,400 tithe actions at one quarter sessions, besides exchequer subpoenas. He only wished that the law which passed the House in 1817, should be extended to Ireland. The measure which he had now the honour of submitting to the House had the approbation, not only of the parochial clergy, but of many of the Irish bishops, as it was intended at once to relieve the poor from the oppression of proctors and tithe farmers, and to secure the interests of the clergy. He should now move for leave to bring in a bill to enable the clergy to grant leases of tithes under certain regulations. He would wish the bill to be printed, and left in the hands of members until next session.

Sir J. Newport

agreed that this would be a conciliatory measure, and tend to allay much of the discontent which existed in consequence of the system adopted in the collection oftythes. It would do away with much of the jealousy which existed towards the clergy of the established church, and would set at rest that which was growing up of late in Ireland; namely, the setting up claims to make articles titheable which had not been hitherto so. This measure had the approbation of the clergy.

Lord Castlereagh

had no objection to the bill being brought in and printed, but he wished it to be fully understood, that it was not a bill interfering with the general commutation of tithes, but a counterpart of a bill which passed the House in 1817, but which was thrown out in another House.

Mr. M. Fitzgerald

bore testimony to the oppression practised by tithe proctors in Ireland, and to the general approbation of the clergy of the measure proposed.

Mr. Lockhart

explained the object of the bill which he had supported in 1817, and said, if the present conformed in its provisions to that bill, he would support it.

Mr. C. Grant

said, in the present stage of the proceeding he should certainly not oppose it. He should, however, reserve to himself the privilege of examining its provisions carefully in a more advanced stage.

Mr. Newman

observed, that the bill of 1817 seemed not to be looked on by the church, generally speaking, with alarm, as might be proved from its not having been opposed by the bishops. It was solely rejected on the ground of its being brought forward so late in the session.

Leave was given to bring in the bill.