HC Deb 18 May 1830 vol 24 cc838-58
Sir John Newport

rose to bring forward a Motion that would make a large Revenue, that was once at the disposal of the Crown, and had been appropriated by it for the service of the Church of Ireland, but much misapplied, again effective to the public service. He had brought forward, in 1808, a motion similar to the present, and it was then rejected by a majority of 17. He had again submitted the subject to the House in 1824, and then it had been negatived by a majority of only 12. He then, for a third time, meant to submit a Motion which would have for its object to carry into effect the benevolent views of the Crown, which had appropriated a great branch of its revenue to the service of the Episcopal Church of England, but which had failed to accomplish the object intended, owing to the negligence of the members of the Government and of the Legislature, in not properly enforcing; the benevolent views of the Crown. At the Reformation the First Fruits became a part of the revenue of the Crown, and were regulated by the Irish Acts of 26th and 28th of Henry 8th, and continued to form part of the royal revenue till 1710. In that year, Queen Anne bestowed on the Church of Ireland the First Fruits, or the first year's revenue of all vacant benefices, for the purpose of repairing the Churches, and buying glebes, and other useful purposes. Queen Anne also remitted the 1s. in the pound, or the twentieths, which the clergy were bound to pay. The clergy of England had not been returned the tenth they were bound to pay, and they continued to pay these tenths. Their benefices also, which were valued in the time of Henry 8th, Elizabeth, and Charles 1st, were valued at a much higher rate than the benefices of the Church of Ireland. The revenue derived from the Irish First Fruits was so inconsiderable that the Parliament had frequently made grants to keep churches in repair, and provide for other ecclesiastical objects, for which these First Fruits, if properly appropriated, would be sufficient. In the ten years ending January 1821, according to Returns laid on the Table of the House, the First Fruits of Ireland had yielded 3,722l.; and in the ten years ending with January 1830, they had yielded only 5,140l. A salary of 127l. was paid out of the former sum, and 740l. out of the latter. But during these last ten years fifteen Bishopricks, and four Archbishopricks had fallen vacant. The First Fruits of all the revenues ought to have been paid, and yet only 5,140l. was paid as one year's revenue of fifteen Bishopricks and four Archbishopricks. During seven years of the same period, the First Fruits in England had yielded 14,270l. Many of the benefices of Ireland had never been valued at all, and several had been valued at a rate far below their worth. While this fund had beer misappropriated, the grants of Parlia- ment to the Irish Church had amounted to 686,000l. According to the valuation for the First Fruits made in the time of Elizabeth, ninety-three parishes were estimated at 258l. 12s.; but fifty-seven of these parishes had compounded for their tithes, and these fifty-seven alone paid the incumbents 18,259l. The right hon. Baronet then referred to the observations of the Primate Boulter, contained in a letter addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury on December 24th, in 1724, to show that the Irish clergy had always been unwilling to contribute to the wants of the Church, and had always appropriated to themselves the revenues which ought to have gone to beautify and repair Churches. He then entered into a comparison of what was contributed under the name of First Fruits, by the English and Irish Bishopricks: Derry, he said, which was a rich See, having an annual revenue of 20,000l., paid as First Fruits 250l.; while Rochester, a very poor See paid 322l. Cashel paid 93l., Cloyne paid 10l. 10s., Killaloe paid 20l., Clogher paid 350l.; Cork and Ross50l., while Winchester paid more for First Fruits than the whole of the Irish Archbishopricks and Bishopricks. Some years back, a conscientious individual, Mr. Shaw Mason, First Joint Remembrancer and Receiver of First Fruits, made an attempt to raise them to their proper amount, or take the full value of the First Fruits from the Irish clergy. By the words of the Joint Patent passed under the Great Seal, he was empowered, from lime to time, "To collect, levy and receive, and to examine and search for the just and true value of all and singular Archbishopricks, Bishopricks, and all other ecclesiastical dignities and benefices whatever in Ireland, and to compound and agree for the said Fruits according to the rates of taxation thereupon made, or thereafter to be made, and by different Statutes or Acts of Parliament made in Ireland in the 28th year of Henry 8th, ordained and established, and to do and execute the several other things therein mentioned." Mr. Shaw Mason accordingly applied to the Board of First Fruits for the money which he thought he was entitled to demand under that authority. Great alarm was at first felt, and some of the clergy who had not paid, hastened to pay their First Fruits, but upon tendering the sum at which their Sees were rated in the time of Henry 8th, they were still more alarmed at being informed that the patent required the receiver to search into, and ascertain the true value of the First Fruits and to take only that stun. They immediately applied to the Government of Ireland to interfere, which it did in a most extraordinary manner, by referring the case to the Attorney and Solicitor-generals, both of whom were ex-officio members of the Board of First Fruits. Their opinion very naturally was, that the Patentee had no right to examine into the just and true value. Mr. Shaw Mason also submitted a case to a Counsel who had no connection with the Board, and he gave it as his opinion, "that the Patentee ought to ascertain the true value." With such a conflict of legal opinions, the matter ought to have gone to the Judges for decision, but the Government of Ireland took a very different course from appealing to the tribunals of the country. The present right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer who was then Secretary for Ireland, wrote the following letter to Mr. Shaw Mason, which he would take the liberty of reading to the House:— Dublin Castle, 20th January, 1823. Sir:—The Lord Lieutenant has received from the Board of First Fruits, a memorial, in which they state, that you acting for yourself and the other patentees of the office of First Fruits, have since the month of May last, uniformly contrived to refuse, from the Archbishops and Bishops who have been appointed by the Crown, and from the several beneficed Clergymen, who have been instituted or entitled to institution since that time, the First Fruits payable by a valuation upon the records and books now remaining in the Court of Exchequer, upon the pretence of certain powers vested in you, by your patent; and as it appears that you have been put in the possession of the opinion of the Attorney General, in which he states the course pursued by you to be not justified by law, I have received the Lord Lieutenant's commands to desire that you will no longer oppose obstacles to the due institution of the several Clergy concerned, or continue by your refusal to receive the First Fruits, to impair the fund committed to the charge of the board. Impair the fund indeed! why the object Mr. Mason had in view was to augment it. In his reply he stated, "Under all these circumstances, I did not feel myself warranted in accepting from the several persons who have recently been promoted to ecclesiastical dignities and benefices, less than the just and true value of the First Fruits of the same, or the nominal value, reserving the Crown's right. And on taking into consideration the great benefit that must accrue to the Church from an improved collection of the revenue of First Fruits, without any increase to the public burthens of the country, I trust that I shall stand justified in his Excellency's opinion, in the course which I have adopted, and in waiting the orders of the Lords of the Treasury on the subject." In answer to this Mr. Mason was told, that in the opinion of the law officers of the Crown, his patent was not a commission under the Great Seal, and that he was not bound to make any valuation of benefices under the Statute. The Government added, that if he persisted in exercising a power, which it was never intended he should possess, it would be under the necessity of revoking his patent, which was held during pleasure. The reward, therefore, in Ireland, for a diligent performance of public duty, was dismissal from office: well might his poor country get the reputation of blundering! Mr. Mason consulted Mr. Allen, after this decision of the law officers of the Crown was known to him; and Mr. Allen's opinion, which he thought the House ought to be made acquainted with, was this. "I think the Attorney and Solicitor General agree with me, that the power of new valuing benefices &c. is still vested in the Crown. I have considered my former opinions, and Mr. Mason's commission, and adhere to my opinion, that the Patent, appointing Messrs. Glascock and Mason, Remembrance and Clerk of the First Fruits and Commissioners, is a commission under the Great Seal, within the meaning of the Statute of Henry 8th, referred to in that opinion, and that as commissioners appointed by that commission, they have authority to make valuation of Benefices under that Statute: such powers are expressly given them by that commission, as the Chancellor, Master of the Rolls, and Vice Treasurer had under that Statute; and they are thereby appointed commissioners. Now one of these powers, which (if that commission had not passed) would be vested in those three officers, is that of valuing benefices. The commission is under the Great Seal, and I really do not see how it is possible to mistake, or explain away the nature or extent of the powers, vesting in Mr. Shaw Mason and co-patentees. Mr. Mason should, however, in my opinion, submit to the commands of the Lord-lieutenant." Had these First Fruits remained in the possession of the Crown, there could be no doubt that they would have been augmented, like other revenues of the Crown: new valuations would have been made from time to time, and the First Fruits would have been a handsome sum, instead of that small pittance it had pleased the avarice of the Irish clergy to make them. He did not wish that any existing incumbent should be inconvenienced by a new valuation, but that all livings and sees should henceforward pay, as First Fruits, the actual amount of a year's revenue. While this money, which ought to have been appropriated to the repairs and building of churches, had been stopped by the clergy, and appropriated to their own use, the Government had been making liberal grants for that purpose. And what was worse, the landed property of Ireland had also been subjected to heavy burthens on the same account. He had to complain too of the partial manner in which the Board of First Fruits exercised its functions; and he knew several instances of their giving large sums to parishes in which influential individuals resided, and refusing assistance to those parishes that were more in need of it. Mr. Grattan had given some very able advice on this subject long ago. "Apply," he said, "the First Fruits as they ought, for the increase of the poor livings, and the repairs of the Church; but a fictitious and remote valuation for the benefit of the rich clergy has been made of these charitable funds, frustrating the purpose of the charity equally to the neglect of the Church and the poor; the luxury of the priest has usurped the funds of the poor and of the Church, and then sets up against both a miserable modus, and prescribes in this in-stance against charity and religion." He would not trouble the House further, trusting that he had said enough to make it agree in the resolutions which he would then submit. The right hon. Baronet con-eluded by moving the following Resolutions:—

"That the First Fruits or Annates, being the first year's income of every ecclesiastical dignity and benefice in Ireland, became, at the Reformation, a part of the revenue of the Crown, and were regulated by the Irish Acts of the 26th and 28th of Henry 8th, and several succeeding Statutes, and continued annexed to the Royal revenues until the year 1710. That her Majesty Queen Anne did then, as an act of grace and favour to the Established Church of Ireland, by letters patent, confirmed by Act of Parliament, vest in trustees and commissioners the produce of this branch of Royal revenue, for the purpose of building and repairing churches, for the purchases of glebes where wanting, and of impropriations whenever the benefice was not sufficient for the liberal maintenance of the clergy having cure of souls. That the Queen did, at the same time, absolutely release from the payment of the twentieth part of twelve pence in the pound, before paid annually to the Crown, out of all ecclesiastical benefices, the clergy of Ireland, although a corresponding payment annually was retained by her Majesty, and still remains payable by the clergy of England, out of their dignities and benefices. That it appears from returns laid before the House, that the gross amount of the First Fruits revenues of Ireland, thus vested in trust, and paid to the commissioners during ten years, ending in January 1821, amounted only to 3,752l., where out 827l. were deducted for salaries and incidents; and in ten years, ending January 1830, to 5,142l. 15s., from which 740l. was deducted for salaries and incidents, leaving a nett income in the former period of 2,925l., and in the latter of 4,302l. 4s. only. That during the latter period of ten years, fifteen Bishopricks, and four Archbishopricks became vacant; and in the succession thereto, liable to payment of First Fruits. That it appears from returns presented to the House, that in seven years, ending in January 1824, the Archbishopricks and Bishopricks of Ireland contributed to the First Fruits fund thereof,910l.10l.11d. and in seven years, ending January 1830, 1,798l. 9s. 7d. That 467 of the dignities and benefices of Ireland, being nearly one-fourth part, have never been rated or valued for payment of First Fruits, and 366 more, although rated, do not contribute thereto, on account of the low rate at the early period of their valuation; and the whole of the Archbishopricks, Bishopricks,and other ecclesiastical dignities of Ireland, are thereby estimated as of only 4,427l., annual value. That the grants of Parliament to the Board of First Fruits, for gifts and loans towards building new churches and glebe houses, and purchase of glebes in Ireland, during twenty years, ending in 1822, amounted to 686,000l. That it appears just and necessary, that this branch of royal revenue, liberally appropriated by the Crown to wise and salutary objects, connected essentially with the well-being of the Church of Ireland (at the same time that great remission of burthens, affecting the clergy thereof, was granted by the same royal authority), should be rendered actually efficient to the attainment of the beneficent objects to which it was assigned, and that the deficiency created by this unfair and inadequate valuation, should be no longer supplied by the imposition of additional charge on the body of the people, either as a parliamentary grant, or by parochial taxation."

On the question being put,

Lord Francis Leveson Gower

said, if he should offer nothing very luminous to the House on the subject, it would find an apology for him in his want of legal qualifications, and if he should fail to make any original observations, the House would remember the circumstance to which the right hon. Baronet adverted at the opening of his address, namely, that the subject had been twice or thrice before under discussion. In his opinion, the whole question turned upon the point, whether it were incumbent upon or lawful in the commissioners of First Fruits, to institute from time to time an inquiry into the value of the benefices of Ireland, and to take the First Fruits, not according to the original valuation, but according to the improved or reduced value, as the case might be. In his humble opinion, the affirmative of this proposition could not be legally made out. That there had been differences of opinion upon this subject between professional men he was aware, and he did not presume to decide concerning the relative qualifications of the two learned individuals who had given different opinions on the subject. Of the qualifications of one of them he was totally ignorant, but the person to whom he was opposed was no less than Lord Plunkett. There had been, and were still, persons in the House able to speak on any question, so as to render a discussion, even of a legal nature, not only clear but interesting. He had unfortunately no such qualification; but Lord Plunkett had left behind him a weapon which, however inefficiently he should wield it, would yet be sufficient to enable him to repel the attack of the right hon. Baronet. He meant to do little more than recapitulate some of the arguments made use of by him in 1824. Upon that occasion Lord Plunkett applied himself to the legal part of the question, and shewed that the English law regulating the First Fruits was passed in the 26th of Henry 8th. By what process of reasoning Mr. Shaw Mason and his legal advisers came to the conclusion they did he could not tell, but it appeared to him that they confounded the valuation of First Fruits with the valuation of benefices by another commission appointed to ascertain the value of the tenth in England which corresponded to the twentieth in Ireland. A commission, consisting of the Lord Chancellor and Master of the Rolls, had been appointed, with a view to ascertain the amount of annates or First Fruits, which formerly had been seized on by the Popes against continual remonstrances. Great complaints were made, as early as the time of Edward 1st, of the amount thus levied, more than against the principle, for although that also was adverted to, the amount was the chief subject of complaint. In the time of Henry 8th, it was stated, that the sum of 80,000l. was annually transferred to the treasury of the Vatican from this country. The commission then was instituted to ascertain the amount of First Fruits to be transferred to the Crown. The tenth section of the Statute appointed another form of commission, to be instituted, not by the Crown, but by the Lord Chancellor, distinct from the first, to ascertain the value of the tenths. To understand his remarks it might be necessary to refer to the Statutes, and those who did so would as readily follow and understand him, as those who did not would find it difficult. According to the opinion, then, of Lord Plunkett, which he was content to follow, the law as to Ireland was, with a very trifling variation, precisely the same as that of England, being comprised in the two Irish Statutes of the 28th Henry 8th; passed therefore, two years only subsequent to the passing of the English Statute. By that Statute the benefices were then valued and on these grounds he contended that the House was not entitled to affirm by its resolutions that there ought to be a new valuation, as had been often asserted by the right hon. Baronet. That new valuation was not sanctioned either by the Statute-law of the country, or the long practice of Ireland. In the opinion of the legal advisers of the Crown, no existing law authorised it. In his mind the proposition of the right hon. Baronet amounted neither to more nor less than to a question of taxing the Irish Clergy for the support of the Irish Church. Into that question the right hon. Baronet would excuse him if he did not enter, for he could not think of drawing the House by bye-paths and indirect courses into all the discussion to which entertaining such a proposition must inevitably lead. A subject of so great importance could not, with justice cither to the Church Establishment or the public service, be discussed otherwise than separately, and it would certainly be neither expedient nor proper to decide on taxing the Irish clergy by means of the resolutions of the right hon. Baronet. If the House were to accede to these resolutions, it would admit in substance, that the Church of Ireland was established for the benefit of the clergy, and not for that of the country. To mat he could never consent, and he hoped that the House would never make such an admission. He was well aware of those events in the history of Ireland which had prevented or impeded the extension of those benefits which the Church of England, by the purity of its doctrines, and the exemplary lives of its professors, was peculiarly calculated to confer, and had conferred on all who had the good fortune to live within its communion; but the Church of Ireland, burthened with the crimes, errors, and follies of preceding generations, might be considered as yet in a state of probation. Upon these grounds he was bound to withhold his assent from the Resolutions of the right hon. Baronet, but containing, as they did, many matters of indisputable fact, he must, with all due respect to him, take the liberty of moving the previous Question.

Mr. Spring Rice

observed, that this was not the first time this question had been discussed in Parliament, and that he had had the honour and the satisfaction of supporting the propositions of his right hon. friend, when opposed upon grounds somewhat similar to those taken on the present occasion. His noble friend who had just sat down had, however, very considerably narrowed those grounds; but although he thought he could refute those grounds, it was by no means upon them alone that he rested his advocacy of the present Motion. He begged to call the attention of the House to the magnitude of the interests involved in this question, and to remind it that, although upon former occasions, the Motion was resisted by the weight of Government influence, and by the legal authorities referred to by the noble Lord, still it was considered by the House, after a full discussion on two separate occasions, that so good a case had been made out by his right hon. friend, that it was only rejected by a majority, in the first instance of seventeen, and in the second of twelve. Considering these facts, hon. Gentlemen might imagine, therefore, that the case was not altogether of that extreme clearness and simplicity represented by the speech of the noble Lord, but that more might be said upon the subject worthy of full consideration. The same line of argument now used with respect to the question of the Board of First Fruits in Ireland, he had known applied to other questions, which after long discussion had been decided upon principles directly the reverse. When he first had the honour of a seat in the House, about twelve years ago, the votes annually contained charges of 50,000l., and 10,000l. to the Board of First Fruits in Ireland, and annually did his right hon. friend contend against their being granted. Year after year he failed in his opposition, but was at last triumphant, for although the task was painful, he had almost said hopeless, to excite considerable attention in the House to matters of that kind, yet at last the magnitude of the sum, in its accumulated form, forced itself into notice, and his right hon. friend, obtaining the support of the House, the Government were induced to relinquish the sums it had so long and so strenuously demanded. It might be said, perhaps, that these grants had nothing to do with the present question; but he maintained that they had, because the only plea on which they were supported was, the inadequacy of the funds in Ireland to maintain this particular branch of the Irish Church; and because, if the income of the Board of First Fruits had been made really available for the purposes for which it was intended, there would have been no necessity for coming to Parliament at all. Applying himself to the legal part of the subject; he would take that opportunity of saying, that although his noble friend professed his incompetency to deal with a legal argument, he brought forward a statement clearly and distinctly, and free from the technicalities in which he might have involved it. In support of his noble friend's opinion, he must admit that there was the authority of the Crown lawyers, to whose judgment the question was submitted; but taking that valeat quantum, it was by no means decisive of the question. If the authority were that of a court of law, to which this matter had been referred, he should bow to its decision; but if his noble friend had been armed with such a decision, the question would have been still open to parliamentary deliberation, and it would still have been competent to Parliament to say, how the Church Property of Ireland should be made available for the benefit of the establishment, and the furtherance of the Reformation in that country. He wished to state, under the correction of the gentlemen of the Irish Bar, then present, that Mr. Allen, whose opinion had been alluded to, was a man of great learning in his profession; of great research; in fact, a black letter man as well as a lawyer of considerable reputation. How then did the question stand,—Mr. Shaw Mason evinced a disposition to try the question at law—how was he met when he avowed that intention? Not by allowing him to proceed to a legal investigation, but by threatening him to proceed at his peril; if you proceed one step further, was the reply, remember you are an officer holding a patent from the Crown during pleasure, and you shall have it revoked. These were plain facts, and what was the inference arising from them? Why, that the Crown had no legal case; else why refuse to proceed before the proper tribunal for adjudicating such matters? And why threaten with the loss of his place, the man who would have so proceeded? But it was said, the Government offered to show the opinion of the law officers of the Crown, in favour of the view it took of the case. He did not mean to pronounce upon the merits of such opinions, except merely to say, that if the offer of these opinions was connected with a threat to prevent their being examined before the proper tribunals, then he must doubt the goodness of these opinions; and though he would not censure the conduct of Government, he would not adopt its conclusions. If Ministers were quite positive in their law, why should they throw any impediments in the way of legal inquiry? "All we want," they said, "was to protect the Archbishops and Bishops from persecution." But suppose that all the sees of the episcopacy in Ireland were vacant, would the Government object to Mr. Shaw Mason's going into a court of law to settle their valuation? Would it let the question go there upon the next vacancy unfettered and unthreatened? Here was a safe and sincere test, and if Government answered in the affirmative, he was persuaded that his right hon. friend, who moved these Resolutions, would immediately withdraw them, so as to admit of the subject receiving that decision and determination in a court of law, capable of investigating; it, which it ought to obtain;—but if, on the contrary, the Government refused that offer, then, with all due respect for its motives, he must say again, that he doubted its sincerity, and the validity of the law-officers' opinions, and he would call upon the House, as he had done more than once before, to support the Motion of his right hon. friend. He begged the House to look at what the question really was. Did the Motion demand any thing unreasonable—were its supporters spoliators of the Church—did they mean even to touch the ecclesiastical revenues for any thing but for the Church itself? Nay, was it wished even to apply any principle to the Church of Ireland which was not already applied to the Church of England? Suppose that in Ireland, where the smaller portion of the community is of the Established Church, a great portion of the burthen of maintaining that Church were thrown on the laity, and supposing that out of the income of the Bishop's sees, a large portion was appropriated to building glebe-houses, and to endow the smaller livings; should not we say, this was only reasonable? And if in England, where the great bulk of the people are Protestants, a large portion of the ecclesiastical incomes was left to the Archbishops and Bishops, and a small portion taken from them for ecclesiastical purposes, should we not say this was reasonable. But how different must be our language when we knew the reverse of all this to be the case, and that exactly in proportion as the followers of the Church were few, so were its burthens cast on the great bulk of the people who did not profess its doctrines; and exactly in the same proportion, was the whole of the revenues of the Church set apart for the exclusive use of the episcopacy? This was actually the case as to Church property in Ireland and England. In the latter, the revenue of the Church contributed to the repairs of the Church in Ireland; they all went into the pockets of the clergy. Let the House look, for example, to the diocese of Derry, generally estimated at 11,000l.or 12,000l. a year; and that of Rochester, the revenue of which did not exceed 800l. a year, or at most 1,000l. It ought surely to be expected, that for ecclesiastical purposes, ten times as much should be supplied by the former as by the latter; and it appeared only just, that the greater burthen should be thrown on the richer see of Derry, where there was only a comparatively small Protestant population, than on the poorer one of Rochester, the inhabitants of which were almost exclusively Protestants. What, however, was the fact? Why, the Bishoprick of 10,000l. a year paid 250l., while that of Rochester paid 320l. Was that reasonable? was it legal? and if it were, ought the law to continue unaltered? Was the Parliament interdicted from inquiring into such a state of things? Certainly not, unless there were vested rights to contend with, or protected and recognized interests, which, whatever opinions upon the propriety of their existence might be entertained, were still with in the scope of the law. In discussing this question, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would, he hoped, bear in mind, that those who were in favour of the Motion were acting upon a favourite doctrine of his, of which he would hear something more in the course of the Session—the doctrine of assimilation, which, if good as to Stamp-duties, must be good as to Ecclesiastical revenues. Was it to be only good when recommending a tax, and not good when reducing a burthen? It was not proposed by his right hon. friend's Resolutions to introduce into Ireland any one principle which was not fully acted upon already in England. He knew that there was a difference of the law as to parts of the subject; but he sought the application of the English practices only to those parts as to which the law was the same. He wished nothing more than that all Archbishops and Bishops should act on some clear and systematic principle, in valuing their income, so that the burthens should fall equally on all. Let the House look at what would be the probable effect of the proposed alteration. He had observed, that the Motion proceeded strictly upon the ana- logy of the practice in England, and he would beg leave to add, that if there ever was an application to which Parliament ought to lend a ready ear, this was one, for it involved deeply the best interests of the Church itself. In the first place, it must be admitted on both sides of the House, that every measure which could unite in the bonds of harmony and affection, and bring together into one great feeling of concord, the whole bulk of the Protestant community, ought to be forwarded, for many reasons, but for none more than its tendency to assure the safety of the Church. He would ask the Irish Members, what was the complaint from one end of Ireland to the other? Was it not the disproportion of the numbers of the followers of the Established Church, compared to the amount of the ecclesiastical revenues, and their non-application to the purposes for which they were intended? When he alluded, however, to the revenues of the Church, he did not want to denude its chief members of their incomes, nor to strip them of their wealth; he was of opinion that they ought to be highly endowed for the performance of their great and solemn duties; but he was also of opinion that the opulent churchmen ought to contribute more than at present in Ireland, towards the support of the poorer clergy, and not pile up for themselves and their families incomes which excited jealousy and promoted distrust, which were perhaps often exaggerated, but were liable to call forth uncandid vituperation. Much calumny and much hatred would be averted, were a larger portion than at present of the princely revenues of some sees devoted to purposes in which the whole Protestant community had a deep interest. A measure, then, having this for its object, ought to have the full support of every good Protestant. It could not be said, that the burthens of the Irish Church were not often complained of in Ireland, and sometimes with discouraging irritation and violence? Here, then, was a position which no man could controvert; if the Legislature diminished these causes of irritation it checked the growth of discontent, and made the wealth of the Established Church, instead of being the source of jealousy, the means of relief to those who had before complained of its unequal distribution; and precisely in that degree would it make the Church the strength, instead of the weakness, of the Protestant religion. It was however said, that the proposals of the hon. Baronet amounted to a taxation of the Established Church of Ireland. Me denied the correctness of that opinion; it was not a tax upon the property of the Church, for the purposes of the State, or for any secular purpose whatever, it was rather a reversionary payment for the uses of the Chinch itself, in conformity with the Ecclesiastical Laws, and to give her that grace and dignity which would enable her institutions to command our reason, while her splendid ceremonial attracted and affected our senses. He did not think that the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland would be looked on with less reverence if the Churches were built and kept in a state fit for worship, or as in olden times they were, out of the wealth of the Church itself, rather than by taxes wrung from the people. But even if it were a tax (which, in his opinion it was not), his noble friend, the Secretary for Ireland need not have expressed so much surprise at it, for it was one the principle of which had been sanctioned and repeatedly recommended, not by philosophers, who, it might be supposed, were not over-anxious to uphold the interests of the Church, but by practical members of the Government, and some of the highest dignitaries of the Church of Ireland itself. He would quote for his noble friend an authority upon this point, which he would not contravene. The present Lord Maryborough, when Secretary of State for Ireland, actually recommended the imposition of a tax of 2½ per cent upon ecclesiastical benefices in Ireland, for the education of the poor of that country. If the Motion involved, therefore, the imposition of a tax upon the Church of Ireland—which it did not, he could justify it by the example of a predecessor in office to his noble friend, by the authority of the then Lord Primate, Stewart, and of three or four of the most eminent prelates who ever graced the Irish Church. He had authorities, lay and ecclesiastical, for the principle which his noble friend impugned, but he must repeat, that he had not the least desire to divert one farthing of ecclesiastical property from ecclesiastical purposes; and if he had said any thing which had a tendency to lead to a contrary inference, he could not too soon, and too strongly, give that a direct negative. He looked at the property of' the Church of Ireland as being intended for the benefit of the community of that Church, and he wished to sec it fairly and fully preserved, and appropriated to that purpose. During the last ten years, he admitted that the clerical appointments in Ireland, had been, with scarcely a single exception, worthy of the duties which they involved. He wished to see that Church supported upon a sure and exalted basis; and not a word had ever fallen from him respecting it for which he had not the authority of some of the great men who had dignified it in the eyes of the community by their labours. He had not laid down one principle which had not received the sanction and the support of the writings of Bishop Bedell and of his contemporaries, who evinced by their example a desire to contribute to the alleviation of the ecclesiastical burthens, by sacrificing the incomes of their own sees. The great men of the Church in those days, did not oppose the doctrines of self-taxation for the uses of the Church, which was now condemned by laymen, even before it was brought forward. Bishop Bedell said, "It is necessary to diminish pluralities, as far as can be done, in the Irish Church. I find myself, however, reproving pluralities in others, while I continue to be a pluralist myself. I object to a clergyman who holds two benefices, but do I not at the same time possess a second Bishroprick myself?" What then did Bishop Bedell do? he came forward with honour and consistency, and sacificed his second bishoprick, because, as he said, "the retention of it would have been inconsistent with my principles, and impolitic also as regarded the character of the Church." In conclusion, the hon. Member called on the House to consider, that the Resolutions only went to apply to Ireland a principle adopted in England, which had been recommended by the highest dignitaries of the Church of Ireland, merely to give what the law intended should be given to ecclesiastical purposes, and to make the appropriation of Church property congenial to the feelings and interests of the community, for whose benefit it was instituted.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, as he had before had occasion to argue a question, if not precisely of this kind, at least of the same tenour and import, he should not trouble the House with many observations upon this Motion. He was likewise relieved from the trouble of answering many of the statements made that night, not for the first time, by the clear and lucid, as well as able exposition of the law, given by his noble friend, in reply to the speech of the right hon. Baronet. He would, with his noble friend, deny that it was ever intended, by the Acts of Henry 8th, to take one whole year's income of every see, and every living, as the first fruits for the Crown, in the manner contended for by the hon. Baronet, in support of his Motion. He agreed with his hon. friend, the member for Limerick, that we were bound to look with favour upon any measure calculated to conciliate the general feelings of the population of Ireland with the Established Church, and soothe down the animosities which had sometimes sprung up amongst them. In cultivating these feelings, however, we must take care not to sacrifice the means which that Church possessed of being useful to Ireland. We must not, by impolitic abridgments, affect its wholesome power, and impair its real dignity, so as to circumscribe its sphere, for the performance of its useful and essential duties. The hon. member for Limerick had argued this question with great dexterity. He said, that by acquiescing in this Motion for imposing a payment upon all the ecclesiastical benefices, of one year's rental, the House would render the First Fruits sufficiently available for the building of necessary Churches, save the people from fresh burthens on that account, and at the same time conciliate the public opinion, and make the Church more popularly useful. Now, although this was convenient enough as an argument in the House of Commons, it had really no bearing upon the subject. The sums were already lent for the building of the Churches that were required. They were actually laid out by the commissioners, and the people would have to pay the requisite annual instalments, whether the proposed new valuation were carried into execution or not. The question was simply this, shall we go on availing our selves, from time to time, of funds as they arise, from the First Fruits, making such additions as are necessary to give them efficacy, or shall we have continual re-valuations, by a particular rule for Ireland, which, he contended, did not prevail in England? He had to complain of the manner in which the case had been stated in respect to the valuation of the English and Irish benefices. The right hon. Baronet knew well, that in one country, many of the lands were not valued, and he knew also very well why they were not at the time of the original registration; while in the other, the commissioners received the full power of valuing the whole, and did value them. When he compared therefore, one with the other, he must take in all the circumstances which occurred at the time, or else the statement would be partial and inadequate. He had before resisted such a motion upon these grounds; and because in one country the charges on occupation already pressed heavily, he was very unwilling to impose any additional charges. The right hon. Baronet drew a distinction between the sums paid in England and in Ireland, and alluded particularly to the dioceses of Rochester and of berry. If he would take the trouble to compare the actual value of the dioceses in England and Ireland, however, he would not find the difference to be so great as he supposed. His hon. friend stated, as an encouragement, he supposed, to those who might be inclined to support the present Motion, that it was owing to the exertions of the right hon. Baronet that Government had been prevented from making grants to the Irish Church for some time past. Certainly nothing was further from his intention than to attempt to undervalue the exertions of the right hon. Baronet, which had been highly conducive to the interests of his country, though he had sometimes thought it his duty to differ from him. He could not, at the same time, give to his exertions the credit of having led to the abandonment of the grants for the building of Churches in Ireland. There was a very natural reason for the cessation of those grants, which was more influential than the right hon. Baronet's arguments. They began in 1808, upon the faith of representations which were fully justified by the facts; namely, that there was a great want of buildings for religious worship in that country, as well as for the residence of the clergy. The grants to procure these buildings were continued until the want that had been complained of was in a great measure removed. When the object was partly accomplished, the grants were reduced, and when it was fully obtained they were gradually abandoned. The first grant was for 100,000l.; then it was reduced to 50,000l.; subse- quently, to 10,000l.; and then it was withdrawn altogether. Having been connected with the government of Ireland at the period alluded to, he was able to affirm, that it was not the dread of opposition which induced the Government to abandon those grants, but because the public interest did not require the continuance of them. He objected both to the principle of the Resolutions, and also to the mode in which the right hon. Baronet had brought them forward. No good end could be accomplished by moving these Resolutions, and letting them lie on the Table of the House, and the right hon. Bart, would have better marked out the course he proposed to pursue if he had brought a legislative measure before the House, complete in its details, and pointing out the particular objects he had in view, the amount of the payments required from the clergy, and the purposes to which those payments were to be applied. Though he could not concur with the right hon. Baronet, he must say that he should have recommended him to bring forward a bill to remedy the defects of the present law, rather than to move a series of resolutions which would not cure the evils of which he complained. He would not detain the House with further arguments on this subject. His hon. friend who had just sat down, concluded his speech with some observations which had his entire concurrence. He was glad to hear his hon. friend express such feelings, and to hear him declare that he had no desire to reduce the dignity and authority of the Established Church in Ireland. He sincerely concurred in the eulogium which his hon. friend had passed on the conduct and character of the Irish clergy. If he did not express his admiration of the higher orders of the Irish clergy, it was because he was so intimately connected with the Government of Ireland, when many of those pious and excellent men were raised to the Bench; that if he bore his testimony to their merits, he might be considered as passing an eulogium on himself; for certainly the appointment of such men would reflect credit on any Government. His hon. friend had referred to Bedell, and to other dignitaries of the Irish Church in former times, in terms of great praise, but he could assure the House, that there were some men now on the Bench in Ireland, who maintained in their lives, and by their acts, that high and pious character which his hon. friend truly stated had formerly belonged to the prelates of the Irish Church. His hon. friend had alluded to the case of Bishop Bedell, who gave up a second church preferment. The present times could, he was happy to say, supply a similar case. The first act of one of the Irish Bishops, on his promotion to his present see, was to divest himself, by an Act of Parliament, procured for this purpose, of a part of his see which would have been to him a source of considerable emolument, in order to constitute a separate benefice, so that a large and populous place might have a resident clergyman, who would perform those duties which this exemplary Prelate conscientiously felt he could not discharge himself. The person to whom he referred was Dr. Brinkley, the present Bishop of Cloyne. Many other members of the Bench of Bishops in Ireland, would, he was sure, act precisely in the same way, and set a similar example, if they had the opportunity, and he only mentioned the fact to shew that there was no merit belonging to the higher orders of the clergy of the Irish Church in former times which could not find a parallel in the present times. He would not trouble the House any further. He was not willing to take the mode recommended by the present Resolutions, or to choose the present time for imposing a greater burthen on the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland. The effect of the present Motion would be, to divest the clergy in Ireland of a full year's income. He objected to it on principle, and he objected to the form in which it came before the House, and he cordially concurred in his noble friend's Motion for the previous Question.

Sir J. Newport replied.

The House divided—for the Motion 69; Against it 94—Majority against it 25.

List of the Minority.
Baring, F. Davies, Colonel
Bentinck, Lord Geo. Du Cane, P.
Benett, John Euston, Lord
Bland ford, Marq. of Fergusson, Sir R.
Brougham, Henry French, A.
Brownlow, C. Fazakerly, J. N.
Carew, R. Gordon, Robert
Cave, Otway Graham, Sir James
Clarke, Hon. Butler Grattan, James
Clements, Lord Guise, Sir Wm.
Clive, E. B. Harvey, D. W.
Colborne, R. Hume, Joseph
Davenport, E. Heron, Sir Robert
Dawson, Alex. Hobhouse, J. C.
Denison, Wm. Joseph Ingilby, Sir W.
Jephson, C. D. O. Thomson, P.
Lamb, Hon. G. Townsend, Lord C.
Langston, J. H. Talbot, R. W.
Monck, J. B. Taylor, M. A.
Martin, John Tomes, J.
Marjoribanks, S. Warburton, Henry
Milton, Lord Westenra, Hon. R.
Newport, Sir John Wilson, Sir R.
Pendarvis, E. White, Henry
Price, Sir R. White, S.
Pallmer, C. Wrottesley, Sir J.
Power, R. Wyvill, M.
Phillimore, Dr. Wood, John
Philips, G. Whitbread, W. H.
Ponsonby, Hon. W. Whitbread, W. R.
Ponsonby, Hon. F. Whitmore, W. W.
Protheroe, Edw.
Rickford, W. PAIRED OFF
Russell, Lord W. Ebrington, Lord
Russell, Lord John
Rumbold, C. E. TELLERS.
Robinson, Sir Geo. Althorp, Lord
Sefton, Lord Rice, Spring
Sykes, D.