HC Deb 10 February 1823 vol 8 cc89-91
Sir H. Parnell

presented a petition from the grand jury of Queen's County, praying for a commutation of tithes. He said, he knew of no measure more likely to put an end to the unfortunate disturbances which had so long distracted his ill-fated country, than that which the petitioners prayed fur. He had been informed that the noble marquis at the head of the Irish government, intended to propose to parliament some specific plan for effecting an alteration in the tithe system of Ireland. If that plan should fortunately prove successful, he would confer one of the greatest benefits upon Ireland. As the manner in which tithe was at present exacted was productive of equal inconvenience both to the payer and to the receiver, he trusted that the clergy of Ireland would not oppose the attempt which the noble marquis was now making to reform the system. He likewise hoped that his hon. friend (Mr. Hume) would postpone the motion of which he had given notice, until that which was to be submitted from the Irish government had been introduced to the House.

Colonel Trench

cordially concurred in the prayer of the petitioners. If that prayer was granted, much would be done towards securing the tranquillity of Ireland. The present system of church government in that country was as injurious to the protestant, as it was hostile and oppressive to the catholic part of the community.

Mr. V. Fitzgerald

fully concurred in every syllable which had been said on this subject. Though he conceived the measure which had been passed last session to be completely inefficient and impracticable, he was of opinion, that the discussions which it had occasioned had been of the greatest service. He trusted that the measure which government had in contemplation, would meet with that calm and attentive consideration which the magnitude of the question so imperiously demanded.

Mr. Goulburn

said, that the government of Ireland had, from the first moment of its arrival in that country, been sedulously endeavouring to discover, some mode of removing the evils which arose from the present system of collecting tithes. In the last session, he had brought forward a measure for that purpose; and though it might not have been as efficient as he could have wished, still he could not join in condemning it as the useless and impracticable measure which his hon. friend had described it to be. The subject had since that time been again taken into the consideration of the Irish government; and he trusted that when he should submit it to the notice of the House, it would be found worthy of its support and approbation.

Mr. Spring Rice

asserted, that a more inefficient measure than that of last session had never been passed. Not one individual throughout Ireland had attempted to take advantage of it. As the declarations of the right hon. secretary were now of the same vague and unsatisfactory nature that they were last session, he trusted that his hon. friend would on no consideration postpone the motion of which he had given notice.

Mr. Secretary Peel

thought that the hon. gentleman had no just reason to complain of the vague declarations made by his right hon. friend. The proposed measure would be brought forward at a period sufficiently early to enable the hon. member for Aberdeen to obtain the fullest discussion of his motion upon the same subject. It was desirable that that motion should be postponed, until the plan of the Irish government had been introduced.

Mr. Hume

saw no reason why he should give way upon this subject, especially after the long delays on the part of ministers. They, or their friends, had been twenty-five years in office, during which they had done nothing to remedy the admitted evil. It was this delay of remedies that had rendered it necessary to keep down the people of Ireland by military establishments. It was now understood that the clergy of Ireland, after a long and strong opposition, had consented to commute their tithes, for, an acreable assessment. He had no objection to mention the general nature of his proposition. He should first contend, that the church property in Ireland was altogether too large for the purpose for which it was intended: next, that there should be no overpaid absentees of 1,000l., 2,000l., or 3,000l. a year, and starved curates of 50l. 60l. and 70l. a year; but that the acting clergyman should be allowed enough for his maintenance as a gentleman. He was opposed to the payment of any clergymen who were not resident; and he should call upon the House to declare this simple proposition—that the church property was set aside by the state for the maintenance of religion, and that it was in the power of parliament to appropriate it in the way most conducive to the interests of religion.

Ordered to lie on the table.