HC Deb 12 September 1831 vol 6 cc1305-7
Mr. Henry Grattan

presented a Petition from Navan, praying for a more equal distribution of Church Lands, and for the abolition of Tithes and Vestry rates.

Mr. Hume

could not let this opportunity pass without stating his opinion, that Ireland never would be, nor never ought to be at peace, until there was a more equal distribution of the property of the Church. That one man should be wallowing in wealth, by the enjoyment of Church property, whilst millions of his fellow-countrymen were starving, was a state of things which it was utterly impossible could be much longer endured. Ireland could not continue in the enjoyment of tranquillity if such a state of things were permitted to continue.

Mr. Estcourt

felt it was impossible to remain silent and hear such insinuations as the hon. member for Middlesex thought it convenient to throw out against the Established Church. Any one who heard the hon. Member would suppose, that the members of the Established Church of Ireland did nothing at all, but lived in ease and indolence, whilst their fellow countrymen were starving. The same imputation, however, might with equal justice be thrown on every man who enjoyed any other kind of property as well as Church property. He had never been in Ireland, and therefore had no opportunity of knowing much of the Clergy of the Established Church of Ireland from personal observation; but from all he had heard, he had reason to believe, that they were extremely able and efficient, and that many of them laboured very hard in the discharge of their duties. He also believed that their revenues were not too large; but, at all events, he implored the House not to allow itself to be worked upon by insinuations on this subject, insinuations which he was sorry to say, had not then fallen from the hon. member for Middlesex for the first time.

Mr. Hume

said, the hon. member for the University had not done him justice when he said, that he (Mr. Hume) had insinuated. He did not insinuate, but affirmed broadly; and he believed 999 persons out of every 1,000 concurred with him in his views on this subject.

Mr. Estcourt

had only to say, that he did not believe that to exist which the hon. member for Middlesex affirmed so broadly.

Mr. O'Connell

said, he must always protest against having Church property set down as held by the same title as other property. It was trust property, and might be taken from one and transferred to another by Act of Parliament. If a clerical person, holding Church property as a clergyman, became a Jew or a Catholic, he forfeited the property, and if the principle was adopted, that Church property could not be alienated, he begged to ask what became of the title to the estates of four-fifths of the Members of that House? Why, the Duke of Bedford and many other noblemen would be stripped of their property? No one ever objected to paying the clergymen of the Established Church according to their employment, but the complaint was, that they were not paid in Ireland according to their employment. The Rev. Thomas Perceval Magee, whose name was before the House a few nights ago, signed twice to the same petition, had no less than eleven livings. The Rev. gentleman would require more lives than a cat to want all those livings, or to attend to them. There was also another case brought under the consideration of the House a few nights ago, in a petition from a parish in the county of Kildare. It appeared that the Rector of that parish, who was an absentee, had an income of 1,100l. a-year, whilst the Curate, who performed all the duty, and had a large family to support, received no more than 75l. Irish, or 69l. 7s. 4d. English. Could any one say that, in a country where; such a state of things existed, Church property was properly distributed?

Mr. Estcourt

supposed the hon. and learned Gentleman did not mean to say, that the case he had stated was the case in all the parishes in Ireland?

Mr. O'Connell.

—I mean to say, it is the case in two-thirds of them.

Petition to be printed.

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