HC Deb 16 February 1826 vol 14 cc423-39
Sir John Newport

rose, in pursuance of notice, to propose a series of resolutions regarding the levy of Church-rates in Ireland. It was in the recollection of the House, that he had last year called their attention to the manner in which the Irish parochial rates were collected, and to the abuses which, in every part of their details, were so apparent. Having been on that occasion so fortunate as to obtain almost the unanimous assent of the House to the bill which he had introduced, he was afterwards much surprised to find, that, in another House, the principal clauses were struck out which regulated the adequate control of the local expenditure.

It was doubly incumbent upon the House to guard the Irish public from the abuses of this system, seeing that a considerable portion of the persons who had to pay these church rates, were by law excluded from taking any part in the proceedings of the vestries where they were levied. Besides this, many of these rates were imposed, not only without the authority of law, but in direct defiance of it; for instance, salaries were augmented contrary to the statutory provisions, which controlled and limited their amount in the most specific manner. The object of this bill was to provide, that when any parishioner had just reason to complain of the injustice and inequality of the rate levied upon him, he was not to be left, as he now was, without a remedy, but was to have the power of appeal to the next quarter sessions. This redress was easy and simple, as well as quite analogous to the practice in similar cases; but the clause which embodied this provision was struck out of the bill elsewhere, and the principal benefit intended by the measure was thus rendered a nullity. In order that the House might be aware of the manner in which the power of raising sums for the uses of religion was diverted from its legitimate purposes, he would state a few examples of the abuses which prevailed on this subject. The law had expressly provided a particular sum for the salary of parish clerk. Where his attendance was only required one day in the week, his remuneration was not to exceed 10l. a-year. Now, it would be found, that in two-thirds of the parishes throughout Ireland, 20l. or 30l. was the salary paid the clerk, and often much higher sums. Every species of extravagant expenditure attended these rates. In one parish, 430l. was paid to build a house for the parish clerk and sexton. No parish in England would have tolerated so scandalous an exaction. And yet this was done in Ireland, where the great bulk of the people not being of the established church, could not take the least part in the vestries, which taxed them so highly for services, in the benefits of which they never participated. In some parishes places were contrived which ought never to have been sanctioned. There was, for instance, the organist's attendant, and the tuner of the organ. In others, there were people anxious to promote the Hibernian Bible Society, and in Raphoe they Voted 10l. for this purpose; and this was to come out of the pockets of the Catholic peasantry, for the use of a society avowedly established for proselytizing purposes. In one place, a tax was made to repair the bishop's throne, to provide a clothes-horse for his closet, and brushes, and indeed every article for the toilette of a finished gentleman. In one parish in Dublin, a sum of one hundred guineas was voted out of the rates, to purchase a piece of plate for the curate. Fifty pounds was also voted to the parish clerk, and the same to the vestry clerk; which was more than double the amount authorized by law. In one parish, in the course of ten years, the organist had received more than 850l. The bellows-blower had 10l. a-year; and there was a vestry-maid at 20l., besides three servants to attend the church. In one of the returns there was this remarkable nota bene; "No access to the church or church-yard, for man of horse, but by climbing over two or three ditches or walls." From this, it appeared that access to the church was hot considered material; so that the money was1 levied, the object in view was attained. In many instances, palpable modes' were taken to evade the law which limited the amount of salary to the clerk; he was first paid for his clerkship 20l., then they gate him twenty guineas for singing, thirty guineas for instructing the boys, twenty guineas for teaching the girls, and twenty guineas more for extra services. So that the salary was raised to 120l. and 140l. a year. Then, large sums were required for the use of pews. In one instance, a lady had paid 14l. or 15l., and in another seven guineas. Last year he had offered a remedy for the correction of these abuses; namely, the power of appeal to the quarter sessions; but that had been rejected. He understood that government meant to bring forward some corrective; if so, he should gladly leave the matter in their hands. It was but justice to some parties to state, that in two or three parishes, so sensible were respectable members of the established church of the injustice of taxing the Catholic population in this way, that they defrayed themselves the salary of the clerk. In some parishes, the rector and his incumbent were considerate enough to defray the charge of the sacramental bread and wine, instead of taxing their Catholic parishioners for such a purpose. The right hon. baronet concluded, by moving, 1st. "That from the detailed returns of parochial assessments imposed during ten years past in Ireland, as laid before the House, it appears that large sums of money are annually levied for purposes, in many instances, not warranted by law, and for paying salaries to officers at rates exceeding the limits prescribed by statutary regulation: 2nd. That these and other considerable abuses appear to prevail in the imposition and application of such parochial assessments, in consequence of the absolute want of adequate control to secure their limitation within proper bounds, and their appropriation to definite and legitimate objects: 3rd. That it becomes the duty of the legislature to make efficacious provision for the easy attainment of such control, and against the recurrence of such abuses, particularly as a large proportion of the persons who are subjected to payment of these parochial levies are at present by law excluded from voting in vestries held for the imposition of many of these assessments."

Lord Althorp

was anxious, before the subject was further discussed, to obtain some information from the right hon. gentleman opposite, respecting the intended measures of the government touching Ireland. It was stated in the King's Speech, that measures were under consideration, arising out of the inquiry which had been conducted last session into the state of Ireland. He wished to know what those measures were. They might be good, or they might be bad. At all events, no opinion could be formed of them until their nature was stated. He hoped the right hon. gentleman would give some information upon this point.

Mr. Goulburn

professed his readiness to give the information required by the noble lord, before he made any observation's upon the motion of the right hon. baronet. He would State generally the measures which his majesty's ministers intended to introduce in the course of the present session, arising out of the labours of last year's committee; and he would state them in the order of their notice by the committee. With respect to the mode of collecting tithes, it was not their intention to submit any distinct proposition; and for this reason—that the Tithe-composition bill had been, within the last year, brought into general operation in Ireland, and had produced effects not merely equal, but far surpassing his most sanguine anticipations. It was, therefore, intended to allow that measure to work on its due course, and remedy existing evils, and not to interfere with it, by any new measure. A year ago there had been effected only 259 tithe compositions; but, since the last session, he was happy to say, the number had increased to 676; being about one-fourth of all the parishes in the sister kingdom. The benefits of this measure were not confined to the parishes in which it was brought into action, but extended to their vicinity, and led to the extension of amicable compositions. One fact would show strongly the operation of the bill. The assistant barrister for the county of Cork had informed him that the business of his court had declined one-half, owing to the absence of tithe causes. The next measure in order, but he would revert to it last, was the mode of collecting and applying the church rates, and the constitution of vestries. Then followed the constitution and proceedings of the manorial courts. This subject had been under the consideration of the lord lieutenant, and a measure was about to be introduced, to correct the practices of these courts, and obviate their abuses. The next matter was the legal right of admission to the freedom of corporations; and he meant to propose a measure to remove the delays which at present occurred in establishing these corporate rights. Respecting the laws which related to grand juries, and the manner of levying their presentments, he could not say that he was prepared with any remedial measure; at the same time it was to be understood, that the attention of the Irish government had not been withdrawn from the subject. But the magnitude of the question, the difficulties with which it was beset, and the long period of existence of the present practice, rendered it difficult to grapple with the subject; and he thought it much better not to tamper with it, until some main principle could be devised, which was likely to act upon all the bearings of so important a subject. He was not, therefore, prepared with any measure on this point. He would now advert to the other topics on which it was intended to introduce legislative measures. The one was, that of landlord and tenant, on which it was his intention to submit, in an amended form, the bill which he had introduced last session. As to the church rates, the chief object of the Irish government was to ascertain what the law was, and to collect and consolidate the whole of the acts on this subject into one, and in that one to introduce clauses for the removal of many of the grievances complained of. It had been his wish that this measure should have been introduced at an earlier period; but the pressure of other important affairs had rendered it necessary to postpone it. Upon the principle of the return proposed by the right hon. baronet, there was no difference. The difference was as to the time. He did not mean to defend the abuses in the local returns respecting church rates; but, in looking at the irregular charges made in vestries, it would be found, that they were not all bearing against the Roman Catholics. On the contrary, many of those charges were for building, or assisting to build, Roman Catholic chapels, and for other purposes connected with the Catholics; which showed that, though many of the items of these assessments were irregular, they were not voted with any feeling hostile to the Roman Catholics. He would agree that the assessments in future should be limited. He intended to introduce a bill on this subject in a short time; and, as the right hon. baronet did not seem disposed to withdraw his motion, he would move, as an amendment to it, "That leave be given to bring in a bill to consolidate and amend the laws which regulate the levy and application of Church Rates in Ireland."

Sir R. H. Inglis

began by stating that, the right hon. baronet had, in substance, produced the same cases, and repeated the same charges, which he brought forwards last session against the general system of the administration of the church-rates in Ireland. Though, at that time, he could not help doubting the inferences, he was not then prepared to deny, or even to explain, the facts upon which the right hon. baronet raised them. Since that period, he had examined the returns before the House; even now, however, he would not follow the right hon. baronet in all the details of the cases which he had brought forward; but, before he sat down, he would, with the indulgence of the House, call their attention to some of them. He would begin, indeed, in the first place, by admitting, that there were considerable irregularities, perhaps even a violation of the law in its strict letter, in the expenditure of the church-rates in. Ireland; but this admission would not benefit the argument of the right hon. baronet, if the nature of the irregularities in question were regarded. He would quote from the documents on the table of the House, and particularly from the returns of the northern and more Protestant dioceses; he would begin with Derry, and, in that diocese, with the parish of Moville; there in one year the cess was 46l., and of that sum 10l. was appropriated to the Roman Catholic chapel, 10l. to the Presbyterian meeting-house, the repairs of the church for that year being only 2l. The first item had been continued at the same rate for five more years, so that, for six years a levy raised by law for the support of the Protestant church was applied for the benefit of another communion. He did not quote this to blame it, or for any other purpose than to show that all the irregularities in the expenditure of this fund were not for the benefit of the Protestants exclusively, to the injury of their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. He could not help thinking that if the right hon. baronet had quoted a few such cases both last year and this night, the impression of his speech would not have been less, though the tendency of it would have been infinitely more salutary. It would then have tended to conciliate the minds of the people, instead of increasing the irritation which the discussion of this question in the other way would produce.—The hon. baronet proceeded to quote several other cases from the northern dioceses, where, if any where, Protestantism, being predominant, might be expected to be intolerant. The parish of Lower Fahan, out of a cess of 51l. had applied 26l. to a Roman Catholic chapel, and in a subsequent year 33l. 6s. 8d. out of a cess of 101l. He certainly did not mean to defend the legality of all the items of the expenditure; for instance, in the parish of Ballynascreen, there was an item for killing foxes, a curious item for a church rate; but this, after being continued for some years, was superseded by a grant of 22l. 15s. for a Roman Catholic chapel. In the parish of Balteagh, out of a cess of 14l. 5s. there was an item of 3l. to the Roman Catholic parish priest for books, for the use of his Sunday-school. Were these proofs of the grasping, bigoted, and exclusive spirit of the Protestant priesthood and Protestant population? He could go on with such cases much longer than he could venture to trespass on the patience of the House. He could show in many ways the truly Catholic spirit in which this fund was administered. In the parish of Lower Langfield, there were these items:—Towards repairing meeting-house, 5l.; To assist a poor Roman Catholic whose house had been burnt by accident, 10l. In another parish, Kiimacrennan, out of a cess of 89l. 3s., 30l. was given to the Roman Catholic chapel, and 30l. to the Presbyterian meeting-house. Were these cases, which, if they had occurred to the right hon. baronet, and had been stated by him, would have made the kind of impression which his speech was calculated to make; and yet the impression would, he ventured to think, have been more salutary. To the system of administering the church rates in Ireland, which the right hon. baronet on a former occasion described as corrupt and profligate, and which had been brought forwards in the Roman Catholic association as one of the great grievances of Ireland, the right hon. baronet stated last year, that there was one very honourable exception. He mentioned the name of a noble lord, a large proprietor in Ireland, who had relieved the parish rates towards building a church, by giving 50l. to that object. It was to be regretted, that the right hon. baronet had not found in those returns another name which might be seen there, that of lord Cremorne, who had given six times as much.—On this part of the subject he would not dwell longer; he would quote only one extract to prove the harmony in which the Protestant and Roman Catholics lived, when they were suffered to be quiet, and not perpetually told of the grounds on which they ought to quarrel; it was taken from the return of the parish of Clontibrel; and was signed by a name, among the highest not only in Ireland, not only in the united empire, but in Europe, as a man of science—Brinkley. It stated that he, as rector, had attended all the vestries, except one or two, for twelve years: that the numbers had been generally from 60 to 100 or more; Roman Catholics attend as well as Protestants; but there had been no reckoning of votes, because difference of opinion never existed. If such passages as these had been brought forward by the right hon. baronet, there would have been before the House sufficient proof of the cordial sympathy and mutual good-will subsisting between the members of different communions when they were left to themselves. The next objection to the distribution of the rate, was the amount of it. The highest amount which he had ever seen was 1s. 5d. per acre. This was in one single case. In no other instance (he did not pretend to have examined all the returns) did it exceed 8d. per acre. The very first upon which he opened, was one farthing peracre: the next from 3½d. to 7d. Was this a burthen too grievous to be borne? Was this such an imposition upon the tenantry of Ireland, that it required the interference of the imperial parliament? In the next place, when considering the amount of the legal levy of the church-rate, let it be recollected that, when the Roman Catholic peasantry were oppressed by a church rate, it did not follow that it was imposed by any but their own priesthood. He had read the papers of the rev. Mr. Morissy, a parish priest, who, though he had quarrelled with his bishop, was not therefore an incompetent witness; for there were certificates to his character in the strongest terms, as to his being exemplary as a priest, and in moral conduct, signed by a royal college physician, three royal college surgeons, as well as by three protestant rec- tors, a colonel, and many others. This priest states, that lie remonstrated against a rate of 6s. an acre, afterwards 12s. an acre, levied on his Roman Catholic flock for building a chapel. Now, at the same time, it appears by the returns before the House, that the cess by law for the church rate of the same parish was only 1½d. Which was the grievance of the people, the rate of If 1½d. or the rate of 6s, or 12s.? Among the cases brought forward by the right hon. baronet to which, in opening, he had referred, there was one which he had only slightly noticed on this occasion, but on which he had debated before; and which had been made the subject of profligate levity in another place; he meant the expenses of the consecrated elements; but the delicacy of this subject was such, that, unless it should be introduced more at large, he would only say, that he was prepared to meet, and in a degree, if not entirely, explain the cases to which the right hon. baronet referred. The right hon. baronet had complained, that his bill had been deprived of all its virtue in the other House of parliament; and he seemed to wonder what possible objection could be found to a remedy so simple, as that which he had proposed, namely, submitting the control of the expenditure of the church rates to the quarter sessions. Now this was the vital part of the right hon. baronet's bill, and to which the strongest objections might reasonably be applied. It took from the existing authority, which was not only Protestant, but hierarchically Protestant, the control and expenditure of monies raised for the support of the ecclesiastical establishments of the country, and placed it in hands, which might be Roman Catholic, which might be Latitudinarian. If the bill of his right hon. friend, the secretary for Ireland, should contain any such provision, he feared (and he said it with the greatest regret) it would not be in his power to support it. The details of the items which had been mentioned were trivial; but the inferences drawn from them were not trivial. He considered that the inferences drawn by the right hon. baronet's measure -would degrade the church establishment, and weaken its claims to the respect and affectionate gratitude of the people; and such measures, at all times, and in every place, he would resist.

Sir H. Parnell

adverted to the reformation which had been made, under the present Irish government, with respect to the magistracy. Though he did not disapprove of that reformation as far as it went, yet it might be carried further. He had, in a former session, thrown out a suggestion, which, if adopted, would have a good effect in Ireland. He meant, that of appointing lords-lieutenant of counties, in the same manner as they were appointed in England. This suggestion had met the approval of the late lord Londonderry; but nothing had been since done with respect to it. The evidence before the committee of last year went to prove, that great abuses existed in the appointment of corporation magistrates, and he hoped that some regulations would be made on this subject. He understood that some improvement was intended with respect to the office of sub-sheriff, by the appointment of an officer in each county, to whom was to be intrusted the service of writs. This, he thought, would be a dangerous innovation; and he hoped the House would pause before they adopted any measure interfering with the duties of so old an office as that of sheriff. He was glad to hear that some amendment was intended in the laws respecting landlord and tenant, and he hoped that the amendment would remove the evil of sub-letting, and also the system of levying distress, and of ejectment, in which great abuses existed. There were some other points on which he thought the interference of the legislature would be a great benefit to Ireland; but as he did not know what course it was proposed to adopt with respect to them, he should be glad of information from the Attorney-general for Ireland. He should wish to know, whether it was intended to extend to that country, the provisions of the bill passed last session for the regulation of juries. That bill was a most excellent measure, and he did not see why Ireland should not have the benefit of it. He wished also to know, whether the bankrupt laws, as they existed in this country, were to be made applicable to Ireland? The trade of the two countries was now placed on the same footing, and he thought the same system might be made applicable to both. There were also some acts of George 2nd on the subject of banking, the repeal of which would be considered of service to Ireland.

Mr. Plunkett

said, he was disposed to give the right hon. baronet every information in his power. With respect to the bankrupt laws, he had consulted with the courts in Ireland, with the Lord Chancellor, and the Master of the Rolls there, and the result was, a conviction that it would be inexpedient to apply the bankrupt laws, as they now existed in this country, to Ireland. As to the bill for regulating juries in this country, which had been introduced in the last session, and the introduction of which had done so much credit to his right hon. friend (Mr. Peel), he thought it would not be expedient to make it applicable to Ireland. It would be sufficient to say, that the basis of that bill consisted of returns of jurors made by overseers of the poor and churchwardens. Now, in Ireland they had no overseers of the poor, and he hoped they would long continue without them; and, as to the returns made by churchwardens, he thought the hon. baronet himself would not like to see returns of jurors made by men holding an office from which Roman Catholics were excluded. There were other parts of the hill which would be inapplicable to Ireland. It would therefore be better to watch the operation of the bill here, and then see what part of it could be made applicable to Ireland. On the subject of the reforms made in the magistracy, the hon. baronet had not suggested any thing, nor was any new measure in the contemplation of the Irish government. Since that reformation had been made, he had not heard any complaints on the subject; which, on inquiry, proved to be well-founded. There was one complaint made of the conduct of a learned lord in whose department the appointment of magistrates rested, that he had neglected to attend to a very serious charge against a magistrate; that charge, it was said, was, that the magistrate had been guilty of most oppressive and illegal conduct — that the names of the parties were given, but that no inquiry was made, and that the magistrate was continued in the commission. Now, the facts of the case were, that an inquiry had been instituted into the conduct of the magistrate, and that the whole charge, from beginning to end, was altogether without foundation. He had selected this one instance for the purpose of showing the light ground on which charges respecting the magistracy of Ireland were put forth. He would also take that opportunity of informing the hon. baronet, that he had at present under his consideration a bill for extending to Ireland some of the material provisions contained in the very valuable act for amending the bankrupt laws of England, which was passed last session. It would, of course, require considerable alterations to render it applicable to Ireland; but, after it had been modified, he had no doubt that it would be found serviceable in that country. He was preparing a bill relating to the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland, similar to the excellent bill which prevailed in England on the like subject, and which bill would, he conceived, remedy several abuses, and especially the one of double distress. In his opinion, the returns which had been read by the hon. member for Dundalk, clearly proved that there was no want of liberality on the part of the Protestants of Ireland towards the Catholics of that country. He conceived, therefore, that the only purpose which the right hon. baronet could answer by pressing his present resolution, would be that of evincing anger for the past, and not of effecting a remedy for the future. The right hon. baronet's complaint was not as to the amount of the rates which were levied, but as to the manner in which they were levied, but it should be recollected, that if any rates were illegally levied, there was a proper tribunal in that country to which an appeal might be addressed for a remedy, if the application were made in due time.

Mr. Abercromby

said, he wished to make a few observations on that part of the right hon. and learned gentleman's speech wherein he informed the House that he purposed conferring a great boon on Ireland, by extending the statute recently passed for amending the bankrupt laws here to that country. Now, he did not mean to say that that statute might not contain some useful provisions, but he believed those who praised it most were the members of the profession to which he had the honour to belong, and who had most profited by it. It had also been much lauded, and for a similar reason by the commissioners of bankrupts; but he felt it his duty to say, that he considered this enactment much more calculated to cause useless expense than to promote the interests of those who might have the misfortune to come under its operation; indeed he was somewhat surprised that no notice had as yet been given of bringing in a bill to remedy the defects which had been found to exist in that statute. He did not consider the objection which had been raised by the right hon. and learned gentleman to in- troducing the jury-bill into Ireland; namely, that there were no overseers of the poor in that country, at all tenable, for there was no necessity that this measure should be carried into effect in Ireland in precisely the same way that it was carried into effect in England. There could be no objection to conferring on Ireland what was good in that measure, though it might have to flow through other channels.

Mr. Secretary Peel

said, that the learned gentleman laboured under a mistake in supposing that his right hon. friend, the Attorneys-general for Ireland, had expressed an opinion, that it was impossible to introduce into Ireland a measure of a similar tendency to that which he had the honour of submitting to parliament last session. Nothing would give him more pain than to find that that measure could not be applied to Ireland. Even something more beneficial might be done, than merely to consolidate the laws. Since he had entered the House, he had received from an hon. friend near him a remonstrance as to the operation of the bill, which gave him much satisfaction. His hon. friend had complained, that, such was the unfortunate operation of the measure, he had been actually summoned to serve on two special juries. Now, he was rejoiced to find, that in the working of this bill, all men, without distinction, were compelled to perform their duties to the public; and in this summons he found some information which might be usefully applied to Ireland; namely, that the parties would be fined for non-attendance, unless they made a reasonable excuse, and that the judges would be in court at ten o'clock. It would be well that the bill for Ireland should not follow too closely on the heels of the other; for, in the connecting of a bill which repealed seventy or eighty acts, imperfections would creep in, which, perhaps, one or two assizes would point out. The hon. baronet opposite had made some allusions to the appointment of lords lieutenants to counties in Ireland. Nothing, certainly, could be better in principle, than that there should be gradations between the chief magistrate and the most subordinate authorities. But then the amount of the benefit must depend on the manner in which the duties of the office should be executed. It might be made the greatest curse in individual counties; and he feared it would not be easy to find resident lords lieute- nant in Ireland; for the parliament being here, those who would be fitted for the office, must necessarily spend the greater portion of the year in this country. In the course of the session he meant to introduce a bill for the purpose of consolidating the laws of both countries, with respect to theft. With respect to the general question, if the right hon. baronet wished to record his own opinions, of course it was competent for him to place the resolutions on the Journals; but it was rather an unusual course, when a bill was about to be introduced, to propose resolutions to the same effect.

Mr. Grattan

was of opinion, that the statement of the Attorney-general for Ireland had been quite gratifying, and hoped the resolution would be withdrawn. There had certainly been some most extraordinary instances of abuse. The evil was one of great magnitude, and the cause of its continuance was the want of some active resident individuals, who would expose abuses when they were committed. What would be most advantageous for Ireland would be, to devise some plan for the education of the peasantry. He had last session had the honour of proposing a measure for this purpose to the House, and he had been happy to hear a noble lord in the other House approve of that measure. Hon. gentlemen ought to be friendly to any plan which went to render the lower classes in Ireland more intelligent, and thereby prevent their emigrating in such numbers to this country, as to create a serious addition to the poor-rates.

Mr. Plunkett

disclaimed the idea of having said, that there was any inclination on his part not to extend the provisions of the jury-bill to Ireland, when a fit opportunity should arise. All he had said was, that the machinery of the bill, in its present state, was inapplicable to Ireland; but that, when experience had proved its utility, he should rejoice to see it adopted.

Mr. Hutchinson

quite concurred with his hon. friend, that the attention of members ought to be directed to the condition of the poor of Ireland. He, of course, did not mean to suggest any plan—certainly not the poor laws of England, at least not as they were abused. Such was the condition of the peasantry of Ireland, in the south and western parts, as to call for the immediate attention of parliament. He had witnessed a greater degree of misery and degradation there, than he hoped, for the sake of humanity, existed in any other portion of the world. His right hon. friend, the member for Waterford, had done so many acts to entitle him to the lasting gratitude of his countrymen, that it would be useless to repeat them. Much of the benefits of the measures in progression and promise, were attributable to the indefatigable exertions of his right hon. friend; and he now proposed this resolution with a view to record his opinions on the subject. The condition of the country was such as to excite the deepest affliction. He would put it to the right lion. Secretary for Foreign Affairs, whether he slept on a bed of roses, when they saw events taking place every day tending to convulse the empire; when the duke of Wellington had departed for Russia, on a mission which no one could tell how it might terminate? Suppose the autocrat should turn a deaf ear to the arguments of that illustrious personage; or any other event should occur to break the peace of Europe, could the ministers, in such case, feel so secure as to say to foreign powers, "Do what you please, we are invulnerable?" If, in addition to our pecuniary difficulties, we had also the discontents of Ireland to allay, how fearfully would our dangers be increased! He was unwilling to break the harmony of the House, but it was his duty to speak out; and he would say, that the ministers would not discharge their duty unless they consolidated all the interests of the empire, and extended their excellent plans to every corner of it.

Mr. Monck

said, that every person examined on the subject of the poor-laws, as applied to Ireland, was favourable to the experiment. Mr. Nimmo had stated to the committee, that there were a million mendicants and sturdy beggars, who were wandering over the country, and who, when unable to obtain a living by the offerings of charity or the plunder they continued to carry off in their lawless wanderings, resorted to their poorer but more industrious relatives, and extorted from them a portion of their hard earnings. Great objections had been made to the introduction of the poor-laws into Ireland, from the evils they had led to in this country. But, whatever those evils might be, they had not originated so much in the system of the laws as from the mode in which they were administered. What had been the state of the poor in this country previous to the reign of Elizabeth? They at that period were much in the same condition in which they now were in Ireland—sturdy beggars, wandering over the country, plundering when they could, and when they could not plunder, living on their more industrious relatives. It was only by a good system of poor-laws that mendicity could be put down in Ireland. There were no other means of preserving the peace of the country, and of producing, in the lawless hordes that wandered about as mendicants and beggars, habits of order and industry.

Mr. R. Martin

said, he woul4 give his cordial assent to the proposition of the Attorney-general for Ireland; and he had no doubt that the measure he announced would prove as beneficial as any which that learned person had conferred on Ireland. His assent to the introduction of the bill, however, by no means prevented his voting for the proposition of the right hon. baronet. He gave entire credit to the statements laid before the House by that right hon. baronet; and could confidently declare, that nothing would be more likely to create great dissatisfaction in Ireland than a rejection of the resolutions. They were, indeed, so closely connected with the measure of the Attorney-general for Ireland, that they might almost form the preamble of his bill. He did not think it advisable to introduce the poor-rates into Ireland, but he thought something ought to be done for the poor of that country, and that no person was so fit for introducing a measure of relief as the son of the lamented Henry Grattan, who used to say, that "every naked man was an armed host."

Sir John Newport

in reply, observed, that his object was to get the resolutions placed on the Journals. Within the last few years, he had over and over again been opposed on various questions by ministers; and, though his recommendation had been slighted, or wholly disregarded, yet, by getting his resolutions placed on the Journals, he had often had the satisfaction of seeing measures which had been contemptuously rejected in one year, adopted the very next. With the hope of a similar result, he would now press his motion. He denied the imputations thrown out against him by the hon. member for Dundalk, of either acting from sinister motives, or of having selected particular cases. He had no hostility to the Established Church; his ob- ject was, to befriend and support it, by removing those evils which warred against its security. He never could, however, agree to place the sole control of the church rates in the hands of the hierarchy, without subjecting them to the interference of other portions of the community; and he was happy to hear that there was no intention of introducing any bill to that ieffect.

Sir R. Inglis

explained. His objections had reference to an attempt of some persons to place the control of the church-rate in a lay tribunal.

The resolutions were negatived without a division; and the amendment agreed to.