HC Deb 18 November 1830 vol 1 cc574-5
Mr. O'Connell

presented a Petition from the Roman Catholic inhabitants of Galway, praying for equal rights.

Mr. John Wood

observed, that the real object of those who petitioned for a repeal of the Legislative Union (which would be, in his opinion, a most mischievous measure) would be best served by bringing about a Reform in the Irish Church, and he recommended these persons to come forward manfully, and petition for that which they really wanted, and they would find many English Members to support them. He considered that the system of the Irish Church establishment required revision, both as regarded expense and non-residence, and that it was only in consequence of the Legislative Union that it had been maintained up to the present time. The non-resident clergy ought to forfeit their revenues, for they had no duty to perform, and no people to instruct.

Mr. Goulburn

(the late Chancellor of the Exchequer) defended the Irish church, and stated, that it never was in a better state than at present. He denied that non-residence existed to such an extent as to be considered an evil, and he referred to the proof which had been afforded of this on the last occasion when the question was brought forward.

Colonel O'Grady

supported the Petition, but bore witness to the exemplary conduct of the ministers of the Irish church. Within a few years that had been very much improved.

Mr. Hume

denied the accuracy of the statement formerly made by Lord Plunkett that there were only twenty-five non-resident clergymen belonging to the Irish church, and gave notice that he would move to-morrow for a Return of all the Non-resident Clergy. He declared that the whole establishment required revision, and that whoever the Minister might be, he must grant it. It could be no longer borne, that clergymen, who had no parishioners should receive emoluments; or that such immense sums should be paid to churchmen. Whoever the new Minister might be, he must be subservient to the wishes of the people, and not attempt to rule them with a rod of iron. He wished to see the teachers of religion properly rewarded; but it was beyond human endurance, that they who pretended to teach the people the way to Heaven, should insist on taking from them all their worldly wealth.

Mr. Ruthven

highly lauded the zeal, piety, learning, and character of the Irish clergy. They were most assiduous in doing their duty in that part of the country with which he was connected. At the same time he should like to see a more equal distribution of the property of the church among its members. Industrious Curates ought not to be allowed to starve, while Rectors were wallowing in wealth.

Mr. D. Browne

observed, that the hon. Member who had just sat down mistook the purport of the observations of the hon. member for Middlesex, who had not attacked the character of the Irish clergy, but had merely stated, that he did not know what so many Protestant churchmen could do in that country. He must say, that he concurred with the spirit of that hon. Member's observation.