§ Sir John Newport
rose, in pursuance of notice, to bring under the view of the House the state of the law for Rebuilding and Repairing of Churches in Ireland. He hoped that the House would favour him with its attention, as his motion related to a class of individuals who were now visited by the law with certain penalties and exclusions which ought never to have been inflicted upon them. In consequence of the reformation in Ireland being subsequent to that in England, it was not until late in the reign of queen Elizabeth that the churches of Ireland were transferred from the care of the Roman Catholic to that of the Protestant clergy. In that state they remained until the 12th of Geo. 1st, when an act was passed for the purpose of putting those of them which had fallen into decay into full and complete repair. The hon. baronet called the attention of the House to the preamble of that act, in which it was alleged, that the reason of the churches falling into decay was, that the Papists outvoted the Protestant parishioners at all vestry meetings. It was therefore enacted, that from that time henceforward, no Papist should be qualified to vote at any vestry meeting. What had been the result of that enactment? Had the churches been prevented from falling into decay by it? No such thing. Though an unlimitted power of taxation was flung into the hands of the Protestants, the churches—nay, in some cases, the very cathedrals—were still permitted to sink into ruin. Being in this lamentable situation, it was found necessary to rebuild them. And, at whose expense did the House think they were to be rebuilt? Not at the expense of the episcopacy, who were bound to look to their preservation; not at the expense of the Church of Ireland, which had immense revenues at her disposal; but at the expense of the Roman Catholics, who were shut out from the vestries, and derived no benefit from the churches when rebuilt. The right hon. baronet then mentioned the 209 case of a parish in which the Protestants, twenty three years ago, burnt down the Roman Catholic chapel. The Catholics had never since been able to rebuild their chapel, but had erected their altar under any place which afforded them shelter; and yet in this very parish a new Protestant church had been built at the expense of the Catholics. It was not alone the Protestant parish churches which the Catholics were called upon to build and repair; they were likewise compelled to repair their cathedrals. The preamble of the 21st of George 3rd, stated, that in several dioceses the cathedral churches were so incommodiously situated, that they could not be conveniently resorted to for the purpose of the performance of divine service, and that therefore such performance had not taken place in them for many years, in consequence of which they had fallen to decay. What remedy did the House suppose was provided by the act in question—that the incumbents should support them?—No; but that they should be incorporated with the parish churches, and supported at the expense of the inhabitants—that is to say, of the Roman Catholics. In Cork, the cathedral church was supported by a tax upon the coals consumed in that city. He was glad to state one honourable exception to the general conduct of the Protestant clergy in Ireland. The dean of the diocese of Down voluntarily proposed to contribute from his own income 300l. per annum for the supportation of the cathedral church. The conduct of this individual ought to be mentioned with honour, for his was a solitary example of disinterestedness. He was warranted in saying, that since the Union, no less than half a million had been raised, principally upon Roman Catholics, for the support of Protestant churches in Ireland. It was stated, in a petition which had been presented to the House from a poor retail shop-keeper in the parish of St. George, Dublin, that he had been distrained upon for fifteen years' church rates. He had applied to the Irish government for relief; but they told him they could afford him none. He trusted, however, the House would be of opinion, that this was a state of things in which it was called upon to interpose. The original estimate for building the church which this poor man was compelled to contribute to was 17,000l.; and already upwards of 40,000l. had been expended upon it. It really was a libel on common sense 210 to talk of extending equal protection to all persons, if abuses such as those which he had stated were to be tolerated. The act of parliament which authorised the building of the church in question originally contained a clause which authorised the erection of an organ, but it was objected to, and was finally struck out. The trustees, however, had consulted counsel as to whether an organ might not be introduced under the name of an "ornament." The counsel had determined that it might, and therefore an organ had been placed in the church, in spite of the declared opinion of parliament. For this organ 800l. had been paid; and 200l. more for fitting it up. The trustees of this church were not only self-elected, but, according to a clause of the act, they were compelled to account to nobody, but to each other. There was only one mode of checking such abuses, and that was by preventing persons who did not profess the established religion, and were unconnected with the vestries, from being taxed to support Protestant churches. If, however, the system of unfair taxation were to continue, it would be much better to intrust the power of effecting it—to a Protestant bishop, for instance,—rather than to allow a carpenter, a slater, and a plasterer, professing the Protestant religion, whenever they found it convenient and useful to them, to levy a sum of money, of which each in his vocation obtained a share. It was usual to hear this country spoken of as the paragon of liberality, whilst Roman Catholic countries were equally decried for their illiberality and prejudice. He would leave the House to judge whether this character was just, after he had stated the conduct which a Catholic country had observed towards Protestants. In 1791, the Diet of Hungary, which, like the parliament of this country, was composed of persons of different orders of the community, to the number of five or six hundred, came to a resolution in the following words:—"The Protestants of this state shall not be called upon to contribute to the Catholics either in money or labour, nor shall the Catholics, on the other hand, contribute to the Protestants, or to the establishment of their churches or schools." This resolution was passed by a majority of more than three to one. In the same diet, Protestants were declared equally eligible with Catholics to fill every office and to hold every rank in the state. This was the conduct of a 211 Roman Catholic state; and yet it was said, that England, for liberality, surpassed every other country in the world.—Hehoped he had stated enough to induce the House to take the subject to which he had directed their attention into its serious consideration. It struck him that one means by which the existing evil might be remedied, was the rendering of first-fruits available, according to the intention of the act of queen Anne. Another mode was a recurrence to the system which prevailed in the times of Henry 8th, and Elizabeth, of making the clergy support the churches and the poor out of the tithes. The act of queen Anne operated differently with respect to England and Ireland. In England, the first-fruits and tenths were appropriated to the improvement of small benefices; but in Ireland the tenths were remitted, and only the first-fruits reserved for that purpose; and yet the rich clergy of that country called upon the impoverished laity to repair their churches. In the first instance, therefore, he would propose, that the first-fruits should be made available for the support of the churches. If that should be refused, he would then introduce a bill to direct that, whenever any diocese should become vacant, a report should be made to the bishop of the diocese, as to the state of the church; and if it should appear that the church was not in a state to allow of the performance of divine duty, the revenues of the benefice should be altogether applied to the repair of the church, with the exception of an allowance for a curate to perform occasional service; and that the incumbent should not enter on the living until the repairs were completed. Some such legislative enactment was necessary to rescue the clergy of Ireland from the disgrace of compelling persons who did not profess their religion to support their churches.—The right hon. baronet concluded by moving the following resolution:
"That it appears from the Irish statute, 12 Geo. 1. c. 9., that many of the Parish Churches of that Kingdom, which had been transferred, at the time of the Reformation, into possession of the Established Church of Ireland, were, in the year 1726, in a state of such great decay, that Divine Service could not be performed therein; and it is also there stated, that such Churches could not be rebuilt or repaired in consequence of the Popish inhabitants outvoting the Protestant parishioners at vestries held for such purpose. 212 "That the said Statute, and many succeeding Statutes, for the purpose of removing such constructions, continued to enact, during an entire century, that no Popish inhabitants of any parish in that kingdom should be admitted to vote at any vestry held for such objects.
"That, although the entire disposal of the power of Parochial Taxation for such purposes was thus vested in the Protestant Parishioners, and although those professing the Popish or Roman Catholic religion was absolutely excluded from all possible interference with the exercise thereof, the Churches, and many of the Cathedrals, were allowed to continue in a state of progressive decay, until they became in numerous instances, absolutely ruinous, without measures being adopted, either by the Protestant Parishioners or by the Episcopacy or Government of Ireland, for the prevention of such highly injurious consequences.
"That it appears in the highest degree unjust to effect the re-building of Churches, thus allowed to become ruinous by the neglect of those who had full power to prevent their dilapidation, at the expense of those parishioners who constitute, in most of the parishes of Ireland, a very great majority of the inhabitants, but whom the Legislature had thus specially excluded, as being Roman Catholics, from all interference therein."
§ Mr. J. Grattan,
in seconding the motion, took occasion to pay a handsome tribute to the zeal and perseverance of his right hon. friend, the member for Waterford, in pressing on the House the necessity of an extensive amelioration in the system of exaction which the Catholic was compelled to undergo, for the sustentation of Protestant edifices of worship in Ireland. The subject had been repeatedly mooted in that House, and it so happened, that whenever any success was obtained by his right hon. friend, and he brought forward a practical measure on any particular case, the benefits of that measure were counteracted, and its enactments turned to mischief, by the interposition of the right hon. Secretary for Ireland. The right hon. Secretary had brought in a bill, the Vestry-bill, purporting to be a measure of relief, but it only aggravated the former grievance; and, indeed, so equivocal were the proceedings of the right hon. gentleman, that it would have been better to have suffered things to remain as they 213 were. The right hon. gentleman appeared to be actuated altogether, in his policy respecting Ireland, by the spirit of those days in which the worst penal enactments had been passed. From all these considerations, he felt an objection against the introduction of almost any bill on the subject of Irish affairs; for he felt the strongest apprehension that it would be not only neutralized as to its power of doing good, but that its beneficial influence would be converted into mischief, through the means of the right hon. gentleman, who would at last have his own way, and bring about his own favourite purposes. However, in seconding the motion of his right hon. friend, he hoped he was laying the foundation of some good. The power of taxing the Catholics of Ireland for the support of Protestant churches might, perhaps, be endured, if exercised by grand jurors acting under the influence of an oath; but it was intolerable when placed in the hands of a few vestry-men, meeting in private, and having only their own purposes to serve.
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, that the observations of the hon. member for Wicklow, as they were personal to himself, demanded his primary notice. That hon. gentleman was pleased to say, that he was actuated, in his policy towards Ireland, by a spirit similar to that which animated those who originated the penal enactments of Ireland; and it was upon a reference to the Vestry bill, which he had introduced, that the hon. gentleman had principally founded his imputation. Now, he would say that any gentleman who had looked into that bill, must at once see that its object and tenor were of a description utterly at variance with a supposition of such a nature. Any gentleman must see that the imputation against him grew out of a totally erroneous view of the measure; and in charity he must suppose, that the hon. gentlemen had never looked into the bill. To those who had seen, and who understood the provisions of the bill, he would appeal confidently, and ask them if it was not a measure, which was characterized, so far as it went, by a principle of amelioration? The right hon. gentleman then explained the nature of the Vestry bill. What, he asked, had been the evil complained of heretofore? What was it that the hon. member for Limerick had made the frequent burthen of his remonstrances to that House? Was it not that the 214 Catholic, who was taxed by a vote of the Protestant vestry, had no appeal except to the archbishop or the bishop, by whose ordinance the vestry was held, perhaps, and who, at all events, was a party interested against the appellant? What then did the Vestry-bill effect? It vested a power of appeal in the Catholic to the bench of magistrates, where, perhaps, there might be members of his own communion, whose disposition to enter into the investigation of his complaint, would not certainly be questioned. This was an enactment obviously calculated to insure justice to the Catholic; a measure respecting which the opinion of Catholics had been expressed in a favourable and grateful manner. And what was his reward for his exertions? Why, an imputation that he was actuated by the spirit of persecution which animated the originators of the penal laws, and a complaint, which held him up as an object of aversion to those, with whom he felt every disposition to live in peace and harmony.—So far with respect to the personal part of the subject. He would now refer to the speech of the right hon. baronet. The right hon. baronet had stated, that the churches which were transferred to, or, more properly speaking, which were occupied by, the Protestants at the time of the Reformation, were suffered to lie in a state of neglect and dilapidation. He was ready to confess, that his inquiries into the history of former times convinced him of the truth of the right hon. baronet's statement; and that complaints had been unceasingly made of the want of edifices for the use of the established form of worship in Ireland. In the time of lord Strafford's administration, that lord Deputy's attention had been directed, in a particular manner, to the subject of this complaint. He had made it his object, in his communications with England, to represent the great respectability of the Protestants in Ireland, and the necessity of providing them with suitable means of performing the public duties of their religion. His lordship finally proposed, that a commission should be appointed to inquire into the state of Protestant ecclesiastical structure in Ireland, with a view to a thorough reform in the same. He took occasion to represent, that not only the churches, but the parsonages and the vicarages were in ruin, and that the people remained untaught. In fact, on look- 215 ing back to the history of the connection between the two countries, he thought that the crime chargeable against England was, that she did not take sufficient pains to provide places of worship in Ireland, appropriated to the reformed religion. It was not until the year 1777, that the subject received any great attention from the legislature; and not until the late Mr. Perceval's administration, that any practical measures were adopted to meet the exigencies so feelingly described by lord Strafford.—The right hon. gentle man then stated what had been done for the purpose of erecting churches in Ireland. He was ready to grant, that it was a great hardship in appearance to compel those who formed the majority of the people, to contribute to the maintenance of the, religious establishment of those with whom they altogether disagreed in matters of faith. But, whilst he was ready to go thus far, he could not at the same time stray away from the principle, that the established mode of faith claimed the support generally of that community amongst whom it existed, and that the country in the aggregate was bound to contribute towards its maintenance in a suitable manner. The right hon. gentleman then adverted to the subject of St. George's church in Dublin, and said that as a special act of parliament had been obtained for the building and repairing of that church, no argument derived from the facts connected with its history could be fairly extended to the general condition of the Irish church. He contended, that much had been done in the way of lessening the burthens of building new churches in Ireland; that a spirit had been manifested on the part of the legislature, to make those burthens light, whilst care had been taken to provide the people with suitable structures. Thus, for example, money had been advanced for the purpose of raising the edifices in the country parishes, on which no interest was to be paid, and which was to be refunded in a manner that showed at once the disposition to consult the convenience of the parishes.
§ Mr. Goulburn.
—Yes, by way of instalment; but, on the principle advanced no interest was required. It had been found that the expense of raising churches had been 1,400l. per parish. The instalment 216 required from the parish was six per cent. or 84l. a-year. Now, on this very subject, had himself introduced a bill, by which he reduced the amount of the instalment from six to four per cent, making the annual charge 56l. instead of 84l. Under the operation of this law six hundred and sixty-four new churches, and five hundred and sixty-two new glebehouses, had been built in Ireland. Each parish had now a place of worship, and a house which a minister could reside in. It was impossible for him to admit the principle of laying any further load upon the clergy of Ireland, whose incomes were already, in many instances, inadequate to their maintenance in a state of respectability. He held in his hand a letter written by a clergyman who was now, unfortunately, no more; but of whose character, if he were to mention his name, no person could entertain a doubt, which described the various heavy charges to which a living in Ireland was already subject. The living held by the gentleman in question was one of 160l. a-year. Out of this he had to pay for his first-fruits 8l. 12s. a-year, and other expenses, amounting to 20l. There was due to the late incumbent, on account of the glebe-house, 178l.; and 70l. more he had to pay for expenses upon taking possession. But, in addition to all this, he found it necessary to keep a curate; and, surely the House would not say that such a man was not sufficiently burthened. Such, then, was the real state of that clergy, whose ease and wealth it was so much the fashion to decry. On their behalf, he complained of the injustice which had been done them. For these reasons, he thought he was not acting unfairly in moving upon the resolution the previous question. If, at any future time, the right hon. baronet should think proper to propose any substantive measure, he would give his opinion upon it; but at present he thought the resolution founded upon wrong assumptions. The right hon. gentleman, after again complaining that he should have been held up, by the hon. member for Wicklow, as an enemy to the interests of that country, the advantage of which he had ever exerted himself with his best ability to promote, sat down by moving the previous question.
§ Mr. John Smith
said, that the present system of building churches by a tax imposed by half a dozen Protestants on the 217 great bulk of the Catholics in the several parishes in Ireland, was wholly indefensible. It was absurd, impolitic, and unjust. He was one of those who thought that, in a Christian country, there would be found in the zeal and piety of the people sufficient activity and abundant means to provide themselves with places for the celebration of Divine worship of their own accord; and upon this principle he had opposed the grant of public money for the building of churches in this country, a session or two ago. In Ireland, however, where the Protestants formed but a tenth part of the population, the increasing or keeping in repair the churches, would perhaps be better effected by the grant of public money, objectionable as that mode was, than by the present most absurd and pernicious system. He was utterly astonished how such a system could have been devised; and that it was continued could only be accounted for by that utter contempt of common sense, which seemed to stigmatize every measure taken with respect to that most distracted and unhappy country. Day after day was the attention of parliament called, by those few but distinguished friends which Ireland still had, to some new grievance, some freshly detected abuse, more flagitious than its predecessors. But when was a remedy offered? The right hon. gentleman opposite had complimented himself upon his friendly feeling towards the Catholics of Ireland; but what had he done for them or for their country? If he imagined that by empty professions he could stifle the universal call for reform in the public institutions of Ireland, he greatly deceived himself. The Catholics were not blinded by these measures. They had no confidence in the right hon. gentleman's professions, and if he really intended them kindnesses, he must tell him, from personal knowledge, that they were wholly insensible to his good offices. Was this motion, then, to be disposed of, as all others on the same unfortunate subject had been before? It was in evidence, that the most flagrant abuses prevailed in the execution of the process of the courts in Ireland, and that the collection of debts was beset with difficulties What remedies had been proposed for that crying evil? It was admitted, that many persons were greatly distressed by the payment of a tax for the building and repairing of churches, and yet that tax was about to 218 be continued. By the present system, it was in the power of a Protestant bricklayer or carpenter of any influence in the parish, to procure a resolution of the vestry for building a church, merely to give himself a job. He had been informed that this was actually the case in some parishes in the north of Ireland, where the poor Catholics were afraid to complain. He thought that his right hon. friend, by this motion, had added considerably to the very great claims which he already had upon the gratitude of his country. It was not likely that he would now succeed; but the day would come when common sense, and common justice, must prevail. He had many objections to the voting of public money for the building of churches; but he thought any thing preferable to the present system in Ireland. On these grounds he supported the resolutions.
Sir William Plunkett,
in rising to support the amendment, disclaimed all intention of following the hon. gentleman who had just sat down through the digressive allusions in which he had indulged. He put it to the good sense of the House, whether upon a motion relative to the building of churches in Ireland, he was expected to go at large into a defence of all the measures which had been taken by government with respect to that country? He would ask, what had the mode of collecting debts in Ireland to do with the present question? He declared, that up to this time, he was not aware of any serious complaints having been made of the administration of the law on that particular; and most certainly, he was not likely to be prepared for such a communication by the terms of this notice, or the opening speech of the right hon. baronet. Last year, he believed, some complaints had been made respecting the collection of debts in Ireland; but there had been a public inquiry since; and was he to understand, that any new ground of dissatisfaction had arisen since the presenting of the report of the commission to which he alluded? The House was aware that the right hon. Secretary had given notice of his intention to bring in a bill relative to the collection of debts in Ireland; and the hon. member might have waited the result of that measure. With respect to the resolutions before the House, he should say, that as to that part of the complaint which related to St. George's church, it was chargeable, as the right hon. baronet 219 knew, upon the act of 1793, for which neither himself nor his right hon. friend were responsible. But, if these resolutions were carried, they would not meet the complaint with respect to St. George's church. The right hon. baronet would find many of the evils of which he complained remedied by the bill of last year. He would not flatly contradict the statement of the right hon. baronet, but he was disposed to think, that he must have been misinformed on the subject of the organ. The hon. member opposite had commented upon the facility of a carpenter or a bricklayer making a job of building a new church. If he had looked into the act of last year, he would see that this jobbing was completely prevented, by the appeal which was given, not to an ecclesiastical, but to a lay tribunal, of which Catholics as well as Protestants might be members. He considered this a serious question. He did not believe his right hon. friend contemplated the decay and destruction of the Protestant churches throughout Ireland; but these resolutions would practically produce that effect. It would be a certain consequence of them to increase the difficulty which already existed, of repairing these edifices. The Catholics would think themselves exonerated altogether from the obligation of contributing to keep the Protestant churches in repair, and the supposition would produce mischievous consequences. Was the House to say that, because the number of Protestants in Ireland was small, the churches were to be therefore suffered to go to decay? Had the right hon. baronet confined himself to any particular mode of rebuilding churches in Ireland, more calculated than the present to give satisfaction, he would have supported him in it. These resolutions, even admitting them to be historically true, were yet inconsistent with themselves. They first complained that the Catholics were subjected to taxes for the building of Protestant churches in Ireland, and secondly, that the churches were not built. He would give his cordial support to a bill, which devised any particular mode of rebuilding churches in Ireland; but he protested against these resolutions, which could only produce discontent. The right hon. gentleman then entered into a defence of the bill of last year, which, he said, had been made a theme of attack in this and in other places. Being an act 220 of consolidation, it was no objection to it, that it re-enacted all the existing laws. But he defied the hon. member for Wicklow to say that there were not many amendments introduced into that act. Amongst other things, it exonerated Catholics from serving as churchwardens; provided funds for the decent burial of the Catholic poor; and gave an appeal against church assessments, not to an ecclesiastical, but to a lay tribunal. All the hardships imposed by that act were to be found in preceding acts; but all its remedies and benefits were new. Before he sat down he must say he was decidedly opposed to the application of any portion of the first-fruits to the building of churches. He could not consent to throw any additional burthens on the parochial clergy of Ireland; of whom he would say, notwithstanding all the cant about the overgrown wealth of the church, that there was not a more meritorious or worse-paid body of men in the state. These first-fruits originally belonged to the see of Rome. They then became vested in the crown of England; afterwards they came to the commissioners of first-fruits, were now settled at a fixed rate, and he would decidedly oppose any interference with them.
§ Mr. Spring Rice,
in giving his support to the motion of his right hon. friend, disclaimed all hostility to the Protestant church. He and those who acted with him were as much attached to that church as any right hon. gentleman. They only differed as to the mode of showing their attachment, and the difference was this, that when an abuse was discovered with them, it was a signal for a remedial measure; whereas with the gentlemen opposite it was a signal for resistance. The gentlemen opposite, in fact, admitted the insufficiency of their measure, when they tendered their assistance to his right hon. friend in the framing a new one. Now, when in England we refused to confide in parochial vestries to tax the parish for the building of churches, on what principle could we give this confidence to parochial vestries in Ireland? He was not surprised at the irritation which existed in Ireland respecting the church; but this was not a feeling against the doctrines or against the parochial clergy; for, although he could not support the opinion as to their poverty, he was willing to bear testimony to their worth. He would give his assent to the 221 resolutions; but he hoped, if they should be negatived, the right hon. gentleman would redeem his pledge, and come forward with some remedy.
Mr. Secretary Peel
expressed his readiness to give the hon. gentlemen opposite the fullest credit for their declaration, that in supporting these resolutions, they were desirous to promote the real interests of the established church; while, at the same time, he claimed for himself and his colleagues the same credit for meaning to exempt, as far as possible, the Catholic tenantry of Ireland from undue burthens. He hoped, therefore, that this question would be discussed upon its own intrinsic merits, and without reference to the diversity of opinion which prevailed between them upon what was called the Catholic question. He must defend his right hon. friend from the sarcasm which had been thrown upon him for his bill of last year; a bill which had materially benefitted that part of the Catholic population to which it applied. The attack upon the vestry bill was, therefore, uncalled for; and the assistance which his right hon. friend had given in the tithe composition bill ought never to be forgotten in the sister kingdom. With reference to the present question, the course of proceeding by resolutions was extremely objectionable; for it precluded that discussion, either of principle or of details, which was practicable in the introduction of a specific bill. He was sorry that this discussion had been embarrassed by allusions to cases of peculiar grievance in the levies on some parishes, and particularly the local act for St. George's parish. It ought to be remembered, that the latter was altogether a private act; and if it had inflicted a grievance, the remedy was by a repeal of the objectionable clause, and not by the introduction of an irrelevant measure. It was equally wrong to mix up cases of spoliation and outrage with the present consideration; for these ought to be punished and repressed, without reference to any of the larger topics which had been introduced into this discussion. He could not concur in the broad proposition which had been laid down by the right hon. baronet; namely, that the Roman Catholic peasant ought not to be burthened with any share of the expense for repairs of Protestant churches. If that principle were good for Ireland, why was it not equally so for England? Let the House see the length 222 to which it was capable of being carried. If one class of dissenters were to be so far relieved, what reason could be assigned for not releasing all other classes who were not within the pale of the established church? Such a proposition would require very serious consideration; for the inevitable consequence would be, that all who were indifferent to the reformed system of worship would declare themselves dissenters for the purpose of escaping this tax. Undoubtedly, he was prepared to admit, that if one class of dissenters more than another deserved to be looked upon in a favourable light, it was the Roman Catholic occupiers of land in Ireland; for they had to provide their own churches, as well as to assist in making the same provision for the church established by law. But while he entertained these feelings towards the Roman Catholic occupier of land, he felt them not for his landlord; and more particularly for his Protestant landlord; and still more so, where he happened to be an absentee. Of all men, for him he had no consideration. He would not, indeed, compel him to reside in Ireland, but he would not exempt him, if he could, by a bounty on his absence, and for the purpose of casting the price of that bounty upon others. With reference to the right hon. baronet's second proposition, for the insertion of a future clause into leases, to save the Roman Catholic tenant, and throw the weight upon his landlord, he was rather favourable to the consideration of such a regulation, if he could see his way through the prevention of any abuse of its provisions. He felt for the poor tenant who had taken his lease without any expectation that a church would be built near his land, and who had afterwards to meet the expense of such a building. With these impressions, and with the utmost desire to go hand in hand with the right hon. baronet, in giving a full and calm consideration to such parts of his plan as he had alluded to, if brought forward in the form of a specific bill, he hoped he would withdraw his present resolutions; otherwise he should meet them by the previous question, which would not prejudge the future consideration of the condition of the Irish tenantry, or decide against hearing their complaints. As to the extension of the plan to Ireland, which had been acted upon in this country in the mode of building new churches, by making certain public advances for that purpose, 223 he was not prepared to say how far that could be realized. At all events, he was not adverse to the consideration of this branch of the subject, if introduced in a different form.
§ Mr. H. Grattan
supported the resolutions, observing, that the real question at issue did not so much regard the church establishment of Ireland, as the connection of that country with England. The vestry cess was of a grievous character. It had countenanced the most extravagant and superfluous ornaments in churches, almost wholly unfrequented by those who had to pay for such extravagance. Since the year 1820, there had been levied 1,623,000l. by the vestries for such purposes. It was not now the question whether the Catholic church should be supported; but whether it should continue to exist. The Catholic places of worship, as contrasted with those of the Protestants, were in a most ruinous condition; the worship being frequently obliged to be performed in the open air.
§ Sir J. Newport,
in reply, said that he should withdraw the resolution, and simply move for leave to bring in a bill, "to amend the laws for building, re-building, and repairing, Churches, and for relieving the occupying Tenants of Land in Ireland from the burthen of Church Rates in certain cases."
The resolution was accordingly withdrawn; and leave was given to bring in the bill.