§ Lord Althorp
said, that perhaps some apology would be required of him, for calling the notice of parliament to a portion of the empire with which he had no connexion whatever. But he thought he had an opportunity of doing some good, by seriously applying himself to the consideration of the state of Ireland; and he felt that it was as much the business and the duty of English as of Irish members of parliament to use their utmost exertions for the benefit of the people of that country. He hoped, therefore, he should not be supposed to have travelled out of his line, in undertaking the introduction of this subject [Hear!]. It was his intention at a later period of the session, to submit a motion on the state of Ireland generally, and therefore he now called for certain papers which were intimately connected with that subject. The chief points on which he required information were—the amount of the revenue of Ireland—the situation of the church, as to the number of resident clergymen—and the mode in which the laws, allowing Roman Catholics to hold certain offices, had been executed, together with a specification of the offices which they were so entitled to fill. As to the revenue of Ireland, it might be said, that information on that head could be procured from the papers now before the House. But, every one must know, that unless it were brought together in a smaller compass for general observation, it would not be attended with that good effect which ought to be derived from it. If, therefore, there was no objection, he would move for "a return of the gross and nett amount of the revenue of customs and excise in Ireland, for two years, ending 5th Jan. 1824; distinguishing the different articles on which it was charged." He would next move for "a return of the amount of money levied by grand jury presentments, for the same period." To that he conceived there could be no objection, as those presentments formed a part of the charge of Ireland, and it was desirable that its extent should be known. The next point on which he would call for information respected the residence of the clergy. He conceived it to be impossible for any man to look to the state of Ireland, and not feel the necessity of having a resident clergy. If, as they must all be convinced, it was of great importance to have a good resident clergy in 120 this country, it was infinitely more important, situated as Ireland was, that there should be an efficient resident clergy there. The landed proprietors in England were far more numerous than those in Ireland, and it was of primary importance, that men of fortune should be induced, as far as possible, to reside in the latter country, and to do every thing in their power to promote its welfare. He could quote the instance of a reverend person who had lately, and he believed very properly, been promoted to the see of Limerick, to prove the utility of a resident clergy. That reverend person, during his residence in his parish in Limerick, had acted so prudently, that notwithstanding the confusion which reigned around, no outrages had occurred in that particular parish. He was not at all acquainted with Dr. Jebb, the bishop to whom he alluded: but he knew that what he had stated was founded on fact. He should move for "a list of the parishes in Ireland, with the names of their respective incumbents, and distinguishing those where the incumbents were non-residents." Another point, and a very great one, on which he would move for information, was the state of the church property in Ireland. No person could suppose that he cherished any wish to weaken or overturn the church establishment of Ireland or England. On the contrary, in any arrangement which he could possibly propose relative to the church property in Ireland, his whole desire would be, not to injure but to benefit the church establishment. He, therefore, thought it very important to know what quantity of land was at present the property of the church; and with that view, he would move for "an account of the number of acres belonging to the church in Ireland, distinguishing such as form part of glebe-lands. His next motion would be for a paper to show how many Roman Catholics had been employed in those official situations which by law they were empowered to fill. By the act of 1793, there were only seven exceptions, with respect to offices which Roman Catholics might fill. All offices, but those specially excepted, they were eligible to hold. He wished, therefore, to have it stated, how many Roman Catholics had been appointed to those offices; because it would very much depend on the mode in which government had appointed Roman Catholics to such office, whether 121 that body were likely to be satisfied with the situation in which they were now placed, so far as related to the execution of the law in question. He should therefore move for "an account of the number of Roman Catholics appointed to the situation of assistant barrister in Ireland, with the dates of their appointments; and an account of the number of Roman Catholic barristers who have enjoyed patents of precedence in Ireland, for the last five years."
The account relative to the Irish revenue, and that respecting presentments by the grand jury, were ordered, without observation. On the motion, for an account of the number of parishes in Ireland, distinguishing those in which the incumbent was not resident, being put,
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, he did not rise to offer any opposition to the motion, because no person who had heard the sentiments uttered by him when the affairs of Ireland were under discussion last session, could doubt that he felt very deeply the importance of the residence of the clergy in Ireland, and that he was most anxious for the enforcement of that system. He had pledged himself, in a former session, to do every thing in his power, and the lord lieutenant had given him every assistance to enforce the residence of the clergy. It would be his duty, in a few days, to give notice to the House that he would introduce a bill, containing such provisions as he hoped would prove completely effectual for that purpose.
§ Mr. Hume
suggested the necessity of making some alteration in this motion. If carried as it was now worded, a clergyman might be returned as resident who remained only one month on his living, although he was absent during the other eleven. He wished the return to be made under four distinctive classes, specifying those incumbents who had been resident for 3, 6, 9, or 12 months.
§ Mr. Croker
did not know how a return of this kind could be made, without applying to each individual clergyman. If the clergyman resided long enough to satisfy the general law, he must be returned as a resident. The bishop could only take notice of those clergymen who did not comply with the law.
Mr. V. Fitzgerald
said, if the amend- 122 ment were agreed to, founded, as it evidently was, on the argument, that some clergymen who resided but a month on their livings might be returned as regular residents, it would be casting a most undeserved stigma on the bishops of Ireland. The pains that had been taken by the government of Ireland to enforce residence, the division of parishes, and the appointing resident incumbents to do the duty of those cures which were formerly united, sufficiently proved the anxiety of the government of Ireland on this subject.
§ The amendment was withdrawn, and the original motion agreed to. On the motion for the papers giving the number of acres belonging to the church of Ireland, distinguishing the glebe lands,
§ Mr. Goulburn
doubted whether such returns could be produced under the present imperfect admeasurement of districts in Ireland.
§ Sir J. Newport
believed there was not a bishop in Ireland who could not tell pretty nearly what land he let to his tenants. The information, he thought, might be obtained without the smallest difficulty.
§ The motion was agreed to. On the motion for a list of Roman Catholics appointed assistant barristers in Ireland,
§ Mr. Goulburn
asked how government should know whether persons were Roman Catholics or otherwise, unless in those cases where the law had imposed an oath?
§ Lord Althorp
believed the return would be short. He thought no Roman Catholics had been appointed; but he saw no difficulty in making it. A man's religion, in Ireland, was as much a matter of notoriety as his profession.
§ Mr. Croker
was not sure that the paper called for might not be obtainable; but he knew that the state of the law as to religious profession in Ireland would throw serious difficulties in the way of other objects contemplated by the noble lord opposite. The act of 1793 was the only act which gave the means of ascer- 123 taining whether a man was a Protestant or a Papist. He had himself witnessed a curious instance of the general impossibility of getting at that fact. Formerly, a Protestant could not vote at an election in Ireland without taking an oath that he was not a Papist. Subsequently, the law upon that point had been altered, and a Papist was allowed to vote upon taking the oath of allegiance. A Catholic, on coming up to vote towards the close of an election, found, when he had got upon the hustings, that he had lost his certificate of the oath of allegiance. It happened that, as the numbers stood, every vote was of consequence. Upon which the man said, "If I cannot vote as a Papist, I will vote as a Protestant;" and actually did so; there being no law which bound him to declare his faith. As to the return, however, now called for, he believed it was to be got at; because Catholic assistant-barristers in Ireland took an oath, as they did in England.
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, that the information might be obtained, and there was no objection to giving it; but he decidedly objected to establishing a precedent for putting questions to individuals as to the religion they professed.
Sir F. Burdett
saw a great diversity in the objections of the gentlemen on the other side, and no force whatever in any of their objections. The right hon. secretary seemed to fear the establishment of a species of inquisition, which was to demand men's opinions and professions, calling them forth against their will; but, in fact, the inquiry now contemplated would be gratifying to every person concerned in it.
§ The motion was agreed to.