§ The Speaker having put the Original Question and the Amendment,
said, having been one of those who voted for the adjournment of the debate, he felt it his duty to state his views to the House. He must first deny that the proposed measure was calculated to tranquillize the country, or to settle the tithe question to the satisfaction of the people. From one end of Ireland to the other, there was a general feeling of dissatisfaction at the name of tithes, and a determination that the payment of them should cease. It was perfectly evident to him that the measure would be inefficacious. It was said, that by this Act Government only wished to ascertain the amount of tithes to which the Protestant clergy, by Common Law and by custom, were entitled. To that alone he had no objection, but he was sure the object of the Government would not be obtained. It might be, that in a future Parliament the subject would receive due attention, and, in the mean time, if Government made that declaration, he had no doubt the people of Ireland would pay the tithes, and, until then, rest satisfied. The Composition Act, he knew, was not one that would be attended with severity, but in the present excited state of the people, no persons could be found who would be willing to undertake the risk of going round parishes to value the tithes. He much regretted that feeling, but it was impossible not to perceive that it was very deeply-rooted in the minds of the people. A great deal had been said about the agitators, as they were called, of Ireland. The fact was, that those who were called agitators were far behind the people in regard to their opposition to tithes. Some 357 of the leaders of the agitation system had lately given no advice whatever regarding tithes; indeed the people had gone before them, and refused any longer to receive any advice upon that subject. The people believed, that if this Act passed, they would pay less to the clergy, but that they would pay more to the landlord, and, therefore, they objected to pay, in any shape, to a clergy from whom they received no assistance or benefit whatever, and who were, they believed, generally inimical to them. He did not wish to speak in terms of disrespect of the clergy, but it was notorious that they had been hostile to the feelings of the population, and had interfered with them against their wish, not only as to their education, but as to their civil rights, and had done all they could to abridge their domestic comforts. He was persuaded that this feeling against the clergy had been increased by their interfering with education, and the people's sense of those injuries was so great, that it was utterly impossible to make tithes, in any shape, palatable to them. Those were the precise circumstances in which Ireland now stood. He lived in a parish in which the Tithe Composition Act had been adopted without his consent, and he, for one, thought tithes a cruel robbery. He considered it a cruel robbery that he should be obliged to pay a clergyman from whom he received no benefit, and when he had never willingly promised to pay. He certainly was bound by law to pay them, but he did not pay with any feeling of satisfaction. He did not, however, on that account, bear any ill-will against the clergyman of his parish, with whom he lived on terms of intimacy and friendship. He felt much for the situation in which clergymen were placed, who had a certain portion assigned them by law, but who were now subjected to great difficulties by the almost impossibility of collecting the portion so assigned. The first great anti-tithe meeting took place in his neighbourhood. He could assure the House the feeling had grown up quite simultaneously amongst the people, and had it not been for the Catholic clergy, great disturbances must have taken place. The plan proposed by Government would do nothing to put down the feeling now abroad. It went no further than the law as it at present stood; for the Act was not to come into operation for some time, and he was sure it would be a long time 358 before persons would be got to take the risk of valuing the tithes.
§ Mr. William Peel
wished that the hon. Gentleman, and the other Gentlemen who thought with him, would reflect upon their own doctrines respecting vested rights. True it was, they disclaimed all intention of interfering with such rights; but what greater interference with a man's rights could take place than to take away his income?—and that was not only suggested, but proposed by the opponents of this Bill. The Bill itself, though he supported it, was still a measure of injustice to the Irish clergy, because it deprived them of a large per centage, under the pretext of collecting their property. Considering the advantages which the Irish landlords would derive from the Bill, he was surprised at the opposition to it; indeed, he could not understand the votes of several hon. Members from Ireland. There was a report in circulation, and it had obtained some credence, that Government acquired the support of some Irish Members on condition of abandoning this Bill. He hoped there was no truth in the statement; and, indeed, it would be monstrous to suppose that the many meritorious clergymen who were starving in Ireland for want of their incomes, and the many others who were obliged to fly from their parishes, should be any longer left in a state of uncertainty and distress. He hoped the present Session would not pass without the property of the clergy being secured, and laying a foundation for their future protection and security. If the House once allowed the spoliation of tithes, they might rest assured that the next outcry would be against taxes and rent, both of which would be resisted as vehemently as were tithes at present. It had been suggested to postpone this measure until the next (a reformed) Parliament; but to that he objected, because he had not that confidence in a reformed Parliament which would lead him to think, that it would have any very fastidious respect for the rights of property. It was his opinion, and he believed it was the general feeling, that the rights of property would not be held as sacred as they had hitherto been maintained in this country. He believed the right hon. Secretary, however anxious, would be unable to pass the measure; for it was well known that Government had been controlled for the last eighteen months by Political Unions.
§ Mr. Benett
was of opinion that tithes were not the property of the clergy, but only a payment assigned them by the State, for the performance of certain duties. The right to this payment was a vested right in each individual member of the Church; but the tithes themselves were the property of the State. He was an old opponent of the tithe system, and the very plan which the right hon. Gentleman now proposed, had been published by him eighteen years ago. He had not, indeed, gone so far as the right hon. Gentleman, for he had taken the tithes as at the same value as the land, and had assigned that value at twenty-seven years' purchase, while the right hon. Gentleman had made a change, which the circumstances of the times rendered necessary, and had fixed their value at sixteen years' purchase. In his opinion, the right hon. Gentleman had given a great boon to the landlords of Ireland. Tithes were, as he said before, the property of the State, and might be disposed of by the State. It was extraordinary to him that the Irish landlords could refuse their assent to so advantageous a scheme as that offered them by the right hon. Gentleman. The plan was one characterised by honour and honesty, as well as liberality. The purchase value proposed was not more than two-thirds of what the Church had a right to receive; but, all circumstances considered, it was, no doubt, fully as much as the right hon. Gentleman had the means to give. He wished not to be misunderstood; he was not for a wealthy provision for a Protestant Church in a Catholic country; but he considered the tithes the property of the State: he said nothing of the distribution of the property, but he thought the property itself, ought to be preserved for public purposes; and he thought the plan proposed by the right hon. Gentleman was the best that could be adopted for that purpose. He should, therefore, give it his cordial support.
was opposed to the Bill, because he had no hope that it would be made to work well, and this he believed was the opinion of all parties. Under all the circumstances he felt called upon to support the Resolutions of the hon. member for Wicklow. He could assure the hon. member for Cambridge University, that there was no truth whatever in the report that the Irish Members had agreed to support Ministers upon another subject, provided 360 the present Bill was abandoned. As a proof of the truth of his statement he would merely refer to the conduct of the right hon. Secretary, in pressing the Bill through the House.
§ Mr. John Campbell
preferred the Bill of the right hon. Secretary to the Resolutions which were proposed as an amendment, and he did so for this reason, that the Bill recognized tithes as a property, whilst the Resolutions treated them as a tax, which might be repealed [no, no]. He contended that his was the true interpretation of the Resolutions. He had read them attentively, and that was clearly their import. Was it not proposed to abolish them altogether, and substitute another tax, including different kinds of property, not hitherto subject to any payment for tithes? What was this but treating them as a tax, and substituting one species of tax for another? He should never look upon tithes in any other light than as a property, which he should certainly like to see commuted, not only in Ireland, but in England. He gave his cordial assent to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman.
I rise, Sir, to give my most cordial dissent to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Ireland, and my most hearty concurrence in the excellent Resolutions of my hon. friend, the member for Wicklow. What I have to say on the subject, however, I shall express as briefly as I can, for I do not know anything more idle—I do not know a more contemptible mockery—than the debate which is taking place on this scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. Good God! what is it? It is a discussion in which the state of Ireland is entirely forgotten—in which the conduct of the Government towards Ireland is overlooked—and in which the unanimity of the Irish nation is treated as if it were a combination of tradesmen or mechanics, who had united together for the purpose of robbing their employers. The noble Lord has said, that this is a combination which must be put down; but what I want to know is, whether a whole nation can be guilty of a combination, and whether it can be put down? A little time ago it was disputed whether the people of England were in favour of Reform; but a change in the Administration proved that a vast majority of them were decidedly in favour of it; and, no sooner was that fact evinced, than the demand for Reform 361 became irresistible, in spite of all the resistance of the upper House, and of the Throne itself. To be sure, the people of Ireland have always been treated as provincial-ists—as colonists; but, if Ireland had a Parliament of its own, I ask, could the present system of tithes exist for an hour? Who are they that oppose the payment of tithes? Not the Catholics alone—not the Presbyterians alone—not the Dissenters alone!—But even the very Protestants of the Church of England have, in great numbers, joined in this combination, as it is called, in the condemnation of a system from which only a part, and that an exceedingly small part, of the people derive profit. When, therefore, we have such a union of sentiment throughout the country, this paltry and pitiful manner shows nothing of the grasp of a statesman, or of the affection of a patriot. How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to remedy his grievance, and restore tranquillity to the country? Why, by keeping up the present enormous Church Establishment in Ireland. This is in perfect keeping with the rest of the right hon. Gentleman's conduct, which has been one career of insult and oppression towards my unfortunate country—of weak vacillation at one time, and of absurd determination at another; at one moment timidly shrinking from the most important topics; and at another exhibiting the most absurd daring, by opposing the fondest and most earnest desires of a whole people. It was rumoured, that when the right hon. Gentleman took office, it was for the express purpose of supporting the interests and freedom of Ireland; and yet, was not one of his very first acts to write a letter, in which he gave a distinct pledge in favour of the Kildare-place Society?
That letter has been acted on to the utmost extent to which it was possible to act on it.
I am glad that I have roused the right hon. Gentleman from his torpor, and that he has begun to interrupt me so very soon in my speech. What, however, I say is, that that letter contained a distinct promise, in which, I presume, the right hon. Gentleman was afterwards overruled by the rest of his colleagues, who, no doubt, felt that, after what they had said and done when in opposition, it would be impossible for them to remain in office if they were to act up to the pledge of the right hon. Secretary— 362 but it is not in this alone that the same disposition towards Ireland has been evinced. What has become of the Grand Jury Bill? Lord Leveson Gower pledged himself to the bringing in of that Bill, and I know that he is a nobleman fully capable of vindicating himself from having violated any pledge. When he went out of office it was intrusted to me; it was afterwards taken out of my hands, and passed into the House of Lords; there it has been slumbering ever since before a nameless Committee, for I have not even been able to learn of whom that Committee is composed. And why has this been done? Because, in the eleventh hour, the right hon. Gentleman has thought fit to resort to prosecutions, and because he well knows that, with a new Parliament, and a new Grand Jury Bill, there was no chance of those prosecutions succeeding. Let us remember, too, the way in which those prosecutions have been conducted. I do not hesitate to say, that those charges have been brought forward with an indecency which no Ministers would have ventured to exhibit before the English nation. But, according to the right hon. Gentleman, anything is good enough for Ireland? How has he treated gentlemen in a rank of life nearly, if not quite, equal to his own. Instead of resorting to a summons, as is usual in such cases, he obtained sworn depositions; and on those the sanctity of their houses has been violated, and they themselves dragged through the streets like common felons at the command of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not care to allude to my own case. There is no need of it. Oh, the right hon. Gentleman is very welcome to sneer as much as he pleases; but I would at least venture to take the liberty of asking, whether he imagined that there was any danger of my absconding, when he directed the privacy of my house to be violated by the thief-catchers whom he sent thither? This, too, I will tell him—that though he has thought proper to act thus towards an Irish Member, he would not have dared to have pursued a similar line of conduct towards an English Member of Parliament. But, in return for all this evil, have the Ministers conferred any good on Ireland? They have given us a stingy Reform Bill. Thanks to the people of England, we have got more than was intended; but Heaven only knows what the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues may do in the other 363 House; for any thing we know, it may be referred to a Lords' Committee, like the Grand Jury Bill, and never be heard of more. What is the principle on which the right hon. Gentleman has gone in drawing up this Tithe Bill, which he now offers to the House? His grand principle is, to keep up the present Protestant Church Establishment in Ireland—the most monstrous establishment that ever existed in any Christian country. Not the slightest hope or expectation is held out by him, that that overgrown establishment is to be reduced within the bounds of common sense or utility, and what are the colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman about all this time? Do they suppose that the people of England are indifferent to the question of tithes? Do they suppose that the Dissenters of this country, a numerous and powerful class, have no desire to cease to pay those from whom they get no value in return? Do they imagine that the agriculturists here entertain no wish to diminish the burthen arising from tithes? Do they not think that the people of England will require pledges from the candidates at a new election, that they will assist in reducing the amount of tithes? The right hon. Gentleman must certainly be aware, that this question has begun to be agitated in England. What chance, then, will the ministerial candidates possess, when it is plain, that Government have no intention of reducing the enormous Church Establishment in Ireland, but, on the contrary, have even invented a plan to keep up the burthen of that Church? 9,600,000l. is to be accumulated to purchase lands for the clergy. This is the beautiful scheme that is to tranquillise Ireland! This is the chimera which is to satisfy the people. This is the right hon. Gentleman's dream of Irish tranquillity—and, to heighten the effect, he proposes, in order that the affair may be better managed, to place it in the hands of an ecclesiastical corporation. Surely never did madman dream such a dream within the walls of Bedlam. What! does he think the people of Ireland are in love with corporations? If the Irish have any one especial disgust, it is towards corporations. The conduct of these bodies has been peculiarly marked by everything that deserves reprobation—from the lowest species of grovelling corruption to the most palpable and barefaced acts of injustice. They have been only known as the advocates of jobbing 364 and dishonesty, as the opponents of justice and equity, as keeping up public oppression, and inflicting private wrongs, as the destroyers of trade and the promoters of ignorance, and now, to make this tithe bargain more amiable, it is to be embellished by ecclesiastical corporations. Can any thing be worse than this? I now tell the right hon. Gentleman if he wishes to make any bodies odious in Ireland, let him only denominate them corporations and he will completely effect his purpose. But let the House observe the injurious consequences of committing this fund to the guardianship of corporations. Under the existing system there is at least this good, that the Protestant clergyman will oftentimes relieve the distressed and succour the helpless with the money which he receives from the people; once place that money within the iron grasp of a corporation, no motives of compassion, no feelings of humanity can ever induce them to part with the smallest portion of it. A clergyman, like any other man, is open to the better impulses of humanity; and when the Protestant pastor heard of the father of a family having died, the son having fallen sick, and the cattle being diseased, he was ready to listen to the tale of woe, and temper his demand with mercy and with pity. But a corporation cannot do this. A corporation can know neither compassion nor relaxation—and in that respect it seems to bear a resemblance to the right hon. Gentleman himself. Oh, Heavens! what species of government is this, to throw Ireland to his management, as the spoil is thrown to the hounds after the day's hunting is over, to be worried and torn to pieces! But it is said, that the object of this foolish and impracticable scheme is to conciliate Ireland; and the first thing that is done by the right hon. Secretary is, to re-enact the principle of the penal laws, by excluding Catholics from the Committee of Inquiry on Tithes. I did not require that the majority should be Catholic; but I protested against the principle which excluded the Representatives of the Catholic people of Ireland, upon whom the burthen for the most part falls. I know it will be said, the reason of their exclusion was, that they would be naturally opponents to that system; but I would ask, on the other hand, were no declared supporters admitted into the Committee? Was not the hon. member for Tamworth, whose opinions on this subject 365 are well known to the right hon. Gentleman—was he not on the Committee? Was not the hon. member for the Dublin University, who, from his position, is necessarily the advocate of the Church Establishment a member of that Committee? And were there not others on it equally anxious to support the Protestant Church? Then why, in the name of everything that is just, were not those Gentlemen, who really represent the people of Ireland, and with whom the people sympathise, admitted into the Committee? If the majority were not Catholics, surely there was no danger that the friends of the Church would be overpowered. But, Sir, I can guess the reason why Catholics were excluded. The right hon. Gentleman was afraid that they would demand what he had no disposition to grant, and would have come to no conclusion except one founded on the relative proportion of Catholics to Protestants in the different parishes in Ireland. Had I been on the Committee, I should have made inquiries, in order to ascertain the proportion of the two classes—the Catholics and Protestants in each parish, in order to see what the clergyman did for his tithe. When I demanded these returns on a former occasion, I was met by the right hon. Gentleman (who is sometimes very liberal in phrase when it suits his purpose) with this answer—" Does the hon. member for Kerry wish to keep up those distinctions between Protestant and Catholic, which should have been forgotten on the passing of the Relief Bill?" These were the miserable shifts resorted to by that incomparable statesman, when I called for those important documents. Now, with respect to the report, the people of Ireland treated both it and the resolution of the Committee so constituted as I treated them myself—with the most ineffable contempt. I say this, with every respect for the independent Irish Members who happened to be on the Committee; but, I again repeat, that the people beheld with indignation the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman, and the deliberations of his exclusive Committee, and the voice of a whole people was not to be disregarded. The sole aim and object of the Committee was, to keep up the Church Establishment in its present shape, without any diminution of its enormous wealth. I have a document which I will now communicate to the House, and which will at once show 366 the absurd and monstrous injustice of the proposed scheme. This is a return of the relative population of Protestants and Catholics in several parishes in Ireland, during the years 1828 and 1829, and I will, with permission of the House, read it.
In No. 1. there are eight parishes in which there is not a single Protestant, though 17,000 Catholics pay tithes. Not to exclude Protestants altogether, however, I next take six other parishes in 367 which there are some of them to use the church for which the Catholics must pay.
No. 1. Parish. Diocess. Catholics. Protestants Clare, Galway Tuam 2,000 — Moycullen Same 3,000 — Annadown * Same 2,000 — Kilcummin Cashel 2,216 — Kihmoon Kilmacuagh 769 — Killany Same 471 — Kilaspuglanaru Same 1,322 — Kilmeen Union Ardfert 6,351 — * A clerk of the church paid, but he is a Catholic. 17,129 No. 2. Blackditches Dublin 2,980 1 Liskerry Tuam 2590 1 Seskiriam Waterford 3,000 1 Glenmore Ossory 3,300 1 Kilbannin Tuam 1,997 1 Balnegare Elphin 2,210 1 17,077 6 No. 3. Kinvara Kilmacduagh 4,376 2 Ross Tuam 5,759 3 Kilgobinet Waterford 3,079 4 Liscannor Kilmacduagh 2,576 4 Kilvine Tuam 3,797 4 Templetopher Tuam 6,750 8 Adragool Killala 2,638 12 Ardeak Meath 3,221 9 Garrunina Tuam 5,834 12 Emly Cashel 3,234 12 41,267 70 No. 4. Dunhill Waterford 5,165 14 Killala Kilmacduagh 2,760 16 Aglis Cork 2,535 14 Toonadromin Same 2,667 18 Glanbegh Ardfert 4,016 11 Kilteely Cashel 4,040 15 Drumbane Same 4,580 17 Ballybricken Same 2,545 17 Ferriter Union Ardfert 7,721 18 Dromod Same 5,391 18 Ballyneale Waterford 4,281 12 Ratheline Ardagh 2,726 19 Kilcrohan Ardfert 3 883 20 Ballyvourney Cloyne 3,677 16 Ringana Waterford 2,464 20 Feakle Killaloe 8,184 16 66,634 259
In No. 2. there are just six Protestants to 17,000 Catholics; in the next ten parishes the proportion is somewhat greater.
The summary of the three first tables is this:—In
Many of these are extensive unions, and, taken at a low average of tithes, glebes, and parish cess, cost more than 500l. per annum each; making, in the total for twenty-four parishes, at 500l. each, 12,000l.; being, for each Protestant of seventy-six Protestants, 157l. 17s. 10d. per annum for his spiritual education. [A laugh.] The fourth table of sixteen parishes making in all 66,634 Catholics, 259 Protestants, and, at the same average, 30l. 17s. 9¾d per annum for each Protestant. In one of these returns there is a parish mentioned as containing one Protestant, to which the following curious note is appended—" Not likely to increase being an old man." In addition to these I have another return of eighty-five parishes, only one of which contains more than fifty-two Protestants. This was the system which it was proposed to preserve, and the chief supporter was the right hon. Gentleman opposite. If the last Administration had appointed fourteen Field Marshals, eighteen Generals-in-chief, and some 2,000 Colonels, to an army consisting only of twenty-five men; and if any man had risen up in that House to propose that 6,600,000l be voted for the maintenance of that force, how would he have been treated? But only transfer the scheme to Ireland, and let the right hon. Secretary bring up two or three voluminous reports to make the case complicated and confused, and I have no doubt that the right hon. Secretary will be able to convince the House that twenty-five men is a proper army for so enormous an establishment of officers. Sir, I deeply deplore the conduct which the right hon. Secretary has thought proper to pursue towards Ireland. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman that he is a greater enemy of the Protestant Church than it has amongst its opponents. If he began in time he might 368 have saved the clergy from the ruin in which they are now involved. He might have done last year what he cannot do this, and he may do this year what it will not be in his power to do next. [Hear, hear.] My assertions may be ridiculed; I may be sneered at by the right hon. Gentleman; but I solemnly assure this House that no Member amongst them can be more anxious to secure to the existing clergy their vested rights than I am. I am firmly convinced that it can never be done by attempting to exact tithe. Does the right hon. Gentleman imagine that his Composition Bill will fill their bellies? They have law in abundance at present, and to give them more law, is to give them nothing but a mouthful of moonshine. It will never fill their bellies. To make a commutation of tithes imperative, is a scheme equally unjust, ineffective, and absurd. Yet, while the right hon. Gentleman pretends to do away with the tithe system, he attempts by a juggle to uphold as great an abuse, only under another name. The clergy at present, are in the greatest distress, and all but the right hon. Gentleman feel for them. Why, we all know that men of large nominal incomes are now obliged to borrow 5l. or 10l., to live from day to day. We all know they are in a situation which calls for our pity and compassion. And in consideration of their condition, what does the right hon. Gentleman propose to do? Why, he says he will give them some more law, as if there was not law enough already. Would it not have been better if the Ministers had come down to the House with a vote of credit? Would it not have been better if they had asked for so many Exchequer bills, to be placed at their disposal, to repay which an abundant supply would have been found in the property tax, which must be adopted when we really come to an arrangement of the tithes? If this had been proposed, no one would have been more ready than myself to have concurred in the vote, in order that relief might be afforded to those whose case will only be aggravated by the present plan of the right hon. Gentleman. Does he suppose that the prosecutions to which he has now resorted will serve instead of Exchequer bills, and intimidate people into the payment of tithes? If he does, I can tell him that he is mistaken; I can tell him, that these prosecutions are only playing with the ashes thrown from the volcano, while the volcano 369 itself is boiling for another eruption, which is likely, for aught I know, to overwhelm those who are amusing themselves by looking at its former devastations. Neither let it be said, that in opposing the right hon. Gentleman's scheme we offer nothing in return. What do we propose? We propose to quiet the people of Ireland, by telling them that tithes are extinguished. The report of the Committee has already told them so in name; but we would tell them so in reality, and prevent that report being a mockery. But perhaps we shall be told, that we cannot extinguish tithes, because they are the property of other persons. I do not admit this, and I will tell the House why. If the landowner does not choose to till hi" land, he will have no tithe to pay; the tithe, therefore, clearly is a tax on the use of the land; and it is remarkable, that the raw material pays nothing towards that tax. In short, like many other taxes, it is paid by the consumer of the article. The effect of tithes is, to make provisions dearer; and, consequently, every man who eats, pays his portion of the tithe. At first the landlord, the tenant, and the public would mutually gain by the extinction; but, in a few years, the public would be the sole gainers. Ireland is essentially an agricultural country. Prior to the year 1799, many of her inhabitants were employed in manufactures; the loom in the north, and the woollen trade in the south, supplied occupation for thousands. The effect of the Union, however, has been, to send nine-tenths of the rent of the soil out of the country, into the pockets of absentees; and the consequence of this has been, almost entirely to annihilate the manufactures of Ireland. I have stated these facts, to show that Ireland is now essentially an agricultural country. I, therefore, now call on this House to untax the agriculture of the country, and to lay on property in general, that which so severely oppresses the farmer. It is the severity of this burden which is sufficient to account for the combination which at present exists in that country. This is no party matter. In the south of Ireland, many of those who used formerly to be the leaders of the Orangemen, are now in the field, for the purpose of obtaining the abolition of tithes; and I know that the Presbyterians of the north, when quitting Ireland for foreign shores, though they wrung their hands for sorrow at quitting a country they loved so well, 370 consoled themselves with the expression, "Blessed be the Lord, we are going to a country where we shall have to pay no tithes." The first part of the plan of the right hon. Gentleman is, to make commutation universal throughout Ireland. Now nothing has been so useful as this commutation; but not so to the people. At first, it seemed to hold out relief to the small farmers, and they joined the clergy in carrying it into effect. But there was hardly any necessity for this union, because the vestry commanded the commutation, and the clergy commanded the vestry, by means of having the gift of endless jobs in their own hands. Why, Sir, I actually know of one parish, in which the church has been rebuilt three times within twenty years, and it is now on the point of being built again a fourth time; and, therefore, as long as the clergyman can accomplish such things as these, there is little danger of a commutation being refused. Besides which, a commutation can only commence with the consent of the clergyman; so that, in fact, the power is given all on one side, and the clergy have exercised it over two-thirds of Ireland. Nor is this all. The courts of law have always been with them, for the Judges have always seemed to think, that the way to save their souls was by deciding in favour of the Church. We have heard a great deal about reverence for the ermine; but were I to detail only a few of those decisions, I think that that reverence would soon vanish, and would be succeeded by a feeling of a very different nature. Though the small farmers were, at first, in favour of commutation, they very soon began to discover their mistake. Under the former system, when there was a bad crop, at any rate the clergyman's share diminished; when the crop failed, the clergyman lost all; but now, under this commutation the clergyman loses nothing. They also get paid twice a-year, whereas, formerly they were paid only once; and that at the time when the farmer had housed his harvest, and had everything ready for market. See, then, the difference of the present system Now, with ever so bad a harvest, the farmer pays the same amount of commutation; and half that commutation is demanded at the very period when he has nothing to sell, and when the driver is sent down upon him, whose fees frequently amount to far more than the whole of the tithes. But what can the right hon. Gentleman 371 know of all this? He has spent half a dozen or a dozen, or, perhaps, fifty days in Ireland; and does he suppose that that will give him sufficient experience to comprehend the domestic condition of that country? As a fester on the body commences in a small, and, perhaps, almost imperceptible spot, and extends, by degrees, till it contaminates the whole human frame, so has the disease of Ireland spread, from county to county, till it is now nearly at its height. Men, most respectable in character, cannot get even their grass cut, because they have ventured to pay tithes; the mail contractors cannot get their coaches horsed for the same reason. The state of Ireland is frightful—the state of the clergy is afflicting: this question deeply interests the finest people on the face of the globe—a people great in their character, though, even yet, merry in their misfortunes. But can I believe that this is the case, when I look around me? What do I see—not more than five-and-twenty English Gentlemen who will take the trouble of listening to a debate of such vital importance to Ireland. The matter is settled, the question is determined, and the right hon. Gentleman is as sure of carrying his point, as the gamester of winning with a loaded die; he has the loaded die; but, for all that, I tell him the whole is not lost—I tell him the people of Ireland shall remain quiet, and triumph in their quiescence: they were able to triumph over Wellington of Waterloo, and they are not to be put down by an Irish Secretary. What possible benefit the right hon. Gentleman can expect from this Bill, I am utterly at a loss to conceive. Will it appease the two-thirds of Ireland that are already in commutation, to learn that the other one-third is to be put in commutation also? Will it make them more tranquil? I tell him that it will not: all the Representatives of Ireland tell him that it will not; and yet he desperately determines to try the experiment, in spite of all warning. How will he render his Bill effective? Will he introduce a clause to compel the people to cut hay, or purchase tithe pigs? Will he do this? If he does not, I tell him his tithe bills are so much waste paper, and that he is only throwing stones against the wind. Will he stop the mountain torrent? The people of Ireland, I tell him, are determined to get rid of tithes, and, let the right hon. Secretary legislate as he choose, they will get rid of them. They will imitate, 372 in this respect, the people of Scotland, who, in spite of the persecutions of men, (whose names are now blasted with the eternal execration of mankind) more bloody—for bloodshed was at that period the fashion—but not more infatuated than the right hon. Secretary—persevered until they obtained their object. But, not content with his Composition Act, the right hon. Gentleman has another plan, quite as admirable as his first. He proposes to make the landlords of Ireland his receivers. But does he know that many of those landlords are deeply in debt? Did he ever hear of one instance (surely it seems to me as if that instance had come from himself) in which a gentleman of 10,000l. a-year had a charge of 9,500l. on his estate? And would he put his tithe charge on that? If he would, the gentleman had better at once make him a present of the estate, and wash his hands of it. But, perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman intends to spread the tithe over the whole estate, including the charges: if so, it only shows the entire ignorance in which he is legislating for Ireland. Did he ever hear of the process of custodium, in Ireland? Does he know, that an estate may be seven, eight, nine deep in custodium, and that the creditors are obliged to scramble, and do the best they can? I myself knew a property on which there were eleven custodees, with the landlord himself in receipt of the rent as second custodee; and, under such circumstances as these, I should like to know where the tithe money is to come from? Does the right hon. Gentleman also know, that there are in the Irish law what are called elegits, which will stand in the way of the tithe charge? Does he know that there are trespassers in possession of estates? Does he know that there are over-holding tenants? These are things, I imagine, none of which have entered into the right hon. Gentleman's philosophy; and, I suppose, I might as well talk Arabic to him as mention them; and yet every one of these are necessary ingredients in the great revolution of property, which he is suggesting to the House. If it be the right hon. Gentleman's intention to invent a scheme, for the purpose of throwing the landlords into the hands of the people, and for making Whitefeet and Blackfeet of the gentry of Ireland, with all his ingenuity he could never have discovered a plan better suited for the purpose than this. It would be idle to threaten the Government. 373 I am the last man in the world to attempt it; but I should be wanting in ray duty to my country, if I were not to tell the right hon. Secretary, that it is not in the power of England to put down the combination in Ireland. He may make it disappear for a day, he may make it hide its proscribed head for a night; but, in spite of every effort, it will come back with redoubled force; it will come, too, in a more formidable shape, and it will do the more mischief in proportion as it accumulates; until at length, those who now distinguish between the tithes, as an odious tax, and the rational rights of property, will forget that distinction, and threaten the very elements of society with destruction, while the right hon. Gentleman is talking, and laying down his notions of right and wrong, in his Tithe Committees. What I chiefly desire is, that the people of England should fully understand what it is that we propose. We propose the abolition of tithes; we propose to respect the vested interests of the present incumbents; we do not even want to strike a single shilling a-year off the income of the present Protestant clergy. The right hon. Secretary has it in his power to make that bargain now; but he will not be able to do so next year. I would give the present clergy the full amount of their livings. Justice and humanity require this; but I would not continue, after their deaths, to pay enormous incomes to those who have no spiritual duties to perform. I also propose to levy a tax on all property, landed, personal, and funded, for I see no distinction between them, for the purposes of religion and charity. By religion, I do not mean the Established Church, or any particular Church; but I mean, to a certain extent, every Church; and, without doubt, the Established Church included among the rest; because the Protestant people of Ireland are, from their habits, peculiarly entitled to have their clergy paid out of the fund. A small glebe of ground might, I think, with advantage, be given to the pastors of each, of such a value as would prevent any necessity for their pandering to the passions of their parishioners for support, but which would not place them above the necessity of performing their duty satisfactorily. I am a decided enemy to the introduction of Poor laws into Ireland; but I am a decided friend to those charities, from the establishment of which no evil consequences can flow; I 374 mean institutions for relief of all sick, wounded, and diseased persons—of all those who have any visitations of Providence upon them. To relieve this description of persons, the counties of Ireland are already heavily burthened. By the plan proposed, the counties would be exonerated from this expense, which would be thrown upon the tax to which I have alluded, and thus considerable relief would be afforded to the whole country. The hon. and learned Member concluded by imploring the Government not to press forward their proposed measures, in the present advanced stage of the Session, but to postpone them till the meeting of a new Parliament, and, in the meantime, to take a vote of credit, for the purpose of relieving the distressed Protestant clergy. If the right hon. Secretary had the interest of the clergy at heart, he would adopt that course, and he would then meet with the disinterested support of every man who represented the people of Ireland.
Catholics. Protestants. No. 1. 8 Parishes 17,229 0 No. 2. 8 Parishes 17,077 6 No. 3. 10 Parishes 41,264 70 24 75,570 76
Lord John Russell
said, that if the object which the hon. and learned Member had at heart was conciliation, the course which he had adopted that night was ill calculated to attain it. He was one of those who had voted for Catholic emancipation, because he thought that all classes of his Majesty's subjects ought to be placed on a footing of equality: but he had never anticipated that that equality was to be converted into tyranny, and that those who had been admitted into all the privileges of the British Constitution, should make so bad a use of those privileges as to become, in their turn, the oppressors of a once dominant and intolerant party. Yet it was impossible not to see, that it was the object of a certain party in Ireland to obtain, not by legislative means, legislative remedies for what they conceived to be grievances, but by means of force and violence; and then to compel the Legislature to follow in the wake of that violence. Such conduct was injurious, not only to Ireland, but to the prosperity and order of the whole empire. It was undoubtedly a great honour to sit in the Legislature of this country; but, if ever it should be degraded to so low a point as to be compelled to give a blind and truckling acquiescence in illegal and unconstitutional mandates, it would be far more honourable to till the ground, in the most humble capacity, than be a member of that Legislature whose every act must carry with it 375 degradation and dishonour. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite had thought proper to make use of very harsh terms towards his right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley). No person who knew that right hon. Gentleman could doubt his capacity for any situation of eminence to which he might be called in this country. It might be a question, whether the right hon. Gentleman was pursuing a true course of policy with respect to Ireland; but what man, speaking with candour—speaking with the hope of impressing upon the people of England a conviction of his sincerity, would say, as the hon. member for Kerry had, that "Ireland had been delivered to his right hon. friend, like a spoil to the hunting dogs, to be worried and torn to pieces." The hon. and learned Member had attributed to his right hon. friend a total disregard of the sufferings of a class of men for whose welfare he had always felt the most powerful interest. It certainly appeared to him, that the opinions avowed by the hon. and learned Member were not consistent with a sincere desire of bringing the question at issue to a satisfactory settlement. With regard to the question more immediately before the House, he had listened to the various speeches made by the Representatives of Ireland, in the hope that some way would be discovered of conciliating the differences that existed, and of obtaining that which was most desirable, namely, a fair measure of justice for the Irish Church, together with something which those Representatives might deem calculated to secure the permanent prosperity and tranquillity of Ireland. He was sorry, however, to find, that he was so far disappointed as not to be able to see how, by any alteration of the proposal of his right hon. friend, such a result was likely to be effected. The first question, as to whether tithes could continue in their present shape, he understood to be by common consent, abandoned on all sides. This being disposed of, two other questions next presented themselves; the first, whether any other income could be substituted for the present, and the second, to what purpose the money so obtained ought to be applied. As to the first of these questions, he must say, that it seemed to him, that the Representatives of Ireland gave an importance to it which it did not truly possess, and that the real difficulty lay in the second of these questions, It 376 had been proposed that, instead of a tithe composition, there should be a land tax instituted on a new valuation; but when it was asked, what were to be the details of this measure, and how it was to be carried into effect with more satisfaction to the people of Ireland, it clearly appeared, that a tithe composition, if fairly established, would prove more effective than any land tax. By this composition, all grinding exactions of tithe would be got rid of, and the income of the clergyman being permanently fixed, there would be no raising it from year to year, or introduction of fresh demands, which, under the present system, had caused so much complaint. Having disposed of this question of a land tax, he now came to consider what were the other points of difference between the plan of the Government and the Resolutions of the hon. member for Meath. The hon. Member stated in those Resolutions, that tithes ought to be extinguished in substance as well as in name; and he was prepared to contend, that the Bill of his right hon. friend would substantially extinguish tithes; and, therefore, in that respect, there was no matter at issue between the two parties. But the Resolutions of the hon. Gentleman then went on to state, in a sort of parenthesis as it were, that the Church of Ireland ought to cease to exist. This, indeed, was a considerable difference; and he had been puzzled with the vagueness and the want of intelligibility in the Resolution, until he found that the vacuum was supplied by the evidence of Dr. Doyle before the Tithe Committee. On consulting that evidence, he perceived that Dr. Doyle had made this statement: 'I think the tithing system ought to be for ever and utterly abolished, and a land tax, not exceeding one-tenth, substituted in its place; the produce of which tax, as well as the Church lands, should be placed at the disposal of Parliament, or of a Royal Commission, to enable them to supply what was necessary for the support of the poor, for the assistance of the ministers of religion, for the education of the children, and for the promotion of works of public necessity or of national improvement.' He did not think that it was a seasonable time to discuss the plan of Dr. Doyle or the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Kerry. Considering that this was a question of tithes, and that we were now 377 far advanced in the month of July, the House would pledge itself unnecessarily, and would involve the three branches of the Legislature in some difficulty by agreeing to a Resolution, of which the effect was, that the Church of Ireland ought to be abolished, and that its funds ought to be applied to public purposes. As reference had been made by the hon. and learned member for Louth, to a vote which he (Lord John Russell) gave in the year 1824, when the question was, whether the Church of Ireland had not a greater number of Ministers, and a larger amount of revenue, than the interests of the Protestant religion required, he must say that, although he might not now approve of the form in which that vote was made, he was still of the same opinion; and he thought that the Protestant Church of Ireland was too large, not only for the purpose of giving instruction to that part of the population of Ireland which professed the Protestant faith, but he thought it too large for its own permanent stability. Therefore, whenever the question might arise in its proper day, and at its appointed time, he should be ready to maintain the views which he had formerly expressed. It was certainly the opinion which he had always held, that it was the duty of the Legislature to provide for the religious and moral instruction of the people of Ireland, in a way in which that had never yet been done. What was intended by our ancestors in the establishment of the Church of Ireland for religious and moral purposes had not answered that end: and, as the Legislature had now to consider anew in what way that end might best be attained, it was bound to respect (as he believed every Member of that House was ready to respect) the rights of those who had existing interests in the present arrangements. Preserving to the Church those rights of property which it justly claimed, the Legislature might provide for its future welfare, at the same time that it would deliver the people of Ireland from the state of ignorance in which they were proved to be by the daily accounts received from the newspapers, or from other sources of information. To that ignorance he attributed all the evils by which Ireland was afflicted; and until effectual measures were taken to educate the people, it was vain to legislate for the preservation of property, or for the maintenance of peace, good order, and tranquillity in that country.
§ Mr. Lefroy
would most heartily cheer the sentiments which had just been uttered by the noble Lord; and, in giving them his cordial approbation and concurrence, he could not but indulge a hope, that they were the sentiments likewise of his Majesty's Government. He felt convinced that they were the sentiments of every man who was a friend to social order, to the rights of property, to the establishment of religion, and to the inculcation of moral principles, among the Irish people. He could not but repeat, that he most warmly and cordially rejoiced at the decided manner in which the noble Lord had met the proposition made by the hon. member for Kerry, and which, in point of fact, was nothing more nor less than a plan of spoliation, under a specious, but flimsy disguise. To a different modification of the property of the Irish Church, among the members of the Church itself, he was far from being prepared to offer any opposition; but if, unfortunately, any view should be entertained by any persons whatever, of diverting the property of the Church of Ireland to other purposes than the support of the Church Establishment—if such had been the meaning of any part of tile noble Lord's speech, he not only regretted that such a sentiment should have fallen from him; but he (Mr. Lefroy) would be the very first to oppose such a design, as soon as it should be made unequivocally manifest. He regretted that such very unsound and erroneous notions were entertained upon the subject of the property of the Church of Ireland, for it was owing to such want of information that the calumnious and ill-founded charges against the Church were so often listened to and received. He could assert that many were the cases in Ireland in which the provision for the Rector was not in proportion to the number of Protestant parishioners to whom he had to attend. He begged hon. Members to look at the total number of persons of the Church Establishment in Ireland, and compare them to the number of benefices, and they would be surprised at the misrepresentations which had been made as to their disproportion. This would be the only fair way to ascertain whether the Church of Ireland were or were not more than sufficiently endowed. There were, according to one return, 1,244, and, according to another, 1,252 benefices in Ireland, and about 1,269,388 members 379 of the Established Church, exclusive of about 700,000 Presbyterians. For such a population, there were only 1,250 benefices, giving an average of upwards of 1,000 persons for each congregation, and the average income to the Rector of each was 299l. per annum. He took his data of calculation from the evidence that was laid before the Lords' Committee. That was the very highest sum that the benefices had been averaged at. He would ask, was that a Church endowed beyond what was reasonable and necessary for its respectability, and for the good of the people submitted to its care? He would acknowledge the right and power of the Legislature to make practical arrangements for the distribution of the Church property to the members of the Church, but he would deny that the Legislature had either the power or jurisdiction to spoliate or alienate its property. The Bill of the right hon. Gentleman would very much facilitate the adjustment of the incomes of benefices, and a division of the property of the Church, so that there might be an adequate provision for each clergyman, without an extravagant provision for any one. In the year 1806 it appeared, that there were 693 beneficed clergymen resident in Ireland, and in 1819 the number of resident beneficed clergymen amounted to 862, making an increase of 129. There were no returns on this point subsequent to 1819. Since that period, 250 glebe-houses had been built, so that if that number were added to the 862, it would appear that the number of resident Clergymen in Ireland was altogether 1,112. The number of Curates resident in 1806 was 562; and in 1829, 750; shewing an increase of 188; and altogether a resident Clergy of about 1,900. The whole increase in the last twenty years was 797. From the year 1792 the whole number of the resident Clergy had been nearly doubled. At present, in the diocese of Armagh, the number of resident Clergy was nearly equal to what the whole of the resident Clergy of Ireland had amounted to in 1792. Even the hon. Member himself bore testimony to the excellent character and conduct of the Protestant Clergy of Ireland, and the highest testimony had been borne to the same point by Major Woodward and the late Primate of Ireland, Dr. Stewart. The glebe-houses had" been increased by 473, between 1800 and 1820, and since 1820 by 250. From the year 380 1820, 376 additional churches had been built, which was nearly one-half of the number of the Protestant churches which had formerly existed in Ireland. Great obloquy had been cast on the endowments of the Bishops, and it was said that their lauds amounted to 600,000 acres. It should, however, be recollected, that the same testimony which states that fact, also declares that the Bishops derive only one-fifth of the value from that property, the remainder going into the hands of the laity of Ireland. Baron Foster stated, in his evidence before the Committee, that the average amount of the Irish Bishops emoluments was 5,000l. Considering the connexion which existed between the Church and State, and the rank and station of the Bishops, it could not be said that they were overpaid. The hon. member for Kerry, in Stating that there were large parishes in Ireland from which the Rector derived an income, although they did not contain a single Protestant, had forgotten to state whether such parishes did not belong to what were called unions. There were 690 parishes in Ireland of which the rectorial tithes were in the hands of the lay impropriators. The entire benefices in Ireland did not amount to half the number of parishes, and the necessity of the parochial unions had arisen from the nature of Church property in that country. He thought that settling the question of distribution would at once defeat any plans of spoliation that might be established by the enemies of the Church. When the hon. member for Kerry asked them to abolish tithes, and yet talked to them of preserving vested interests, his notions appeared to him as extravagant and as absurd as the famous exclamation in the Play,Ye gods, annihilate both time and space, And make two lovers happy.If there was a vested interest, it was in the successors of the existing Clergy. To destroy their interest was just the same as lopping off the heirs to an estate whilst professing to preserve the property for its owners. He trusted that he should never see the day when the House would think of entertaining a proposal to spoliate Church property. There was no instance on record of the Legislature doing this, for, in the case of the alienation of the abbey lands, they were alienated in the first instance from the Church by the Church itself, and afterwards appropriated 381 by the Crown. Any alienation of the Church property would be a direct violation of the Coronation Oath, as well as of the terms upon which relief had been recently granted to the Catholics. The hon. member for Kerry, when examined before the Lords in 1825, had said, 'I can state, under the most solemn sanction, that the Catholics of Ireland would accept of emancipation accompanied with a proviso that the grant should be entirely void, and the entire penal code should be again put in full force, the moment any claims should be made to the Church property by any considerable part of the Catholic body;' and the hon. Member had afterwards explained, that in the term Church property he had included the tithes of the Church. He was at a loss to understand upon what principle it was, now that the so much valued consideration had been paid—now that civil rights and political power had been yielded to the Roman Catholic community for the security of the Established Church—now that the Established Church had given what was demanded, in order to purchase the good heart of the Catholics towards the Establishment—he was at a loss, after all these concessions, to understand upon what principle of consistency it was, that the hon. and learned member for Kerry could advocate the proposition of appropriating the revenues of the Church to the general purposes of religion and charity—meaning to include, under those wide terms, his own Church. They were told, that Ireland would be quite pacified—that everything would be satisfactorily arranged—if tithes were abolished, and a land tax, affecting the landed interest of the country in proportion to its rental, were substituted for it. But where was the reasonableness of that proposition? Was it to be a tax imposed upon all lands, whether tithe-free or not? If it were to be put upon tithe-free land, where was the justice of the proposition? If it were not, how did it differ from tithe? Again, was this tax to be put upon all land, equally, whether good or bad? [No! No! proportionate.] He should like, then, to know how it differed from the charge made under the existing Composition Act, the object of which was, to fix an annual payment according to the value of the land? He might be told, that the proposed impost would not be productive of a quarter of the expense caused by the present Act, 382 He knew that an expense incurred in the collection of the tithe composition fell upon the owner of the land. If he did not pay his tithe, the law provided a remedy against him, and so it would if he did not pay his land tax. In short, he saw no distinction between the two plans. But he saw this secret purpose, scarcely disguised by the thin veil thrown over these Resolutions—to get rid of Church property at any rate, and thus to satisfy the demands of Ireland. The hon. and learned member for Kerry said, that Ireland was ready to make this bargain with England; and cautioned the House to accept the offer, as it might never again be made. One would suppose that there was no such thing in the country as a Legislature. One would suppose that the hon. and learned Member was not speaking in the House of Commons, but that he was a deputy from an independent Legislature in Ireland, proposing terms of adjustment to a defeated opponent. But he knew no right which Ireland had to treat upon this subject, except through the medium of her own Representatives. They had a right to petition the House, and no doubt their just, reasonable, and equitable desires would always meet with attention; but when they were told that the people of Ireland called upon the House to spoliate the Church, and said—" We will allow you to receive such a portion of its revenues, but the rest must belong to us," he trusted the House of Commons would never be so degraded as to listen to such language, or to encourage a proposal, founded upon principles so utterly subversive of justice and social order. He gave his concurrence to the Bill brought in by his Majesty's Ministers; and he trusted the House would concur in the rejection of the Resolutions which had been moved as an amendment to the original Motion, by such a large majority as should mark its decided reprobation of principles so mischievous, revolutionary, and subversive of all property and justice.
Sir John Bourke
disclaimed, on the part of the Catholics, the slightest wish to appropriate to the Clergy of their Church the revenues derived from tithe. In the wildest periods of popular excitement, he had never heard such a sentiment broached by the hon. member for Kerry, or by any other of the Catholic leaders; and it was a weak defence to set up for that impost, to say that others desired to appropriate 383 it to their own use. There was this indisputable fact, stated by the noble Paymaster of the Forces, in the importance of which he fully agreed with him, that the revenues enjoyed by the Clergy of the Established Church were wholly disproportioned to the duties they performed, and to the members of their respective congregations. It was quite a misrepresentation to say that the present measure was identical with the Composition Act; for to render that Act compulsory, was altogether to alter its character; at the same time, he could not concur with the right hon. Gentleman near him, in thinking that it was a measure, the operation of which could lead to the pacification of Ireland: he feared it was so directly opposed to all the wishes and feelings of the great body of the people, that it could not be successful: this, however, he begged to qualify by the frank admission, that some measure in the nature of land tax, or valuation, or commutation, was absolutely necessary; though he entertained the strongest apprehensions that this would not prove successful, and he regretted it the more, as the right hon. Gentleman by whom it was proposed, proceeded upon the principle of satisfying the minds of the people. He wished the right hon. Secretary would recollect that the Lord Chancellor of England said, that the first duty of a Government was to make the laws beloved, and the next, strictly to enforce them. The Bill, however, would not allay discontent, nor put a farthing into the pockets of the Clergy. He could not imagine how, between this and Christmas, a compulsory composition of tithes could relieve the distress of the Irish Protestant Clergy. If the measure were useless, he could not see the wisdom of enforcing it. There must be a commutation of tithes, either by means of a valuation of a land tax, or of some other expedient. If the right hon. Secretary, then, would introduce his third Bill—allowing landlords to redeem their tithes at fifteen years' purchase—there was no doubt that, in parishes where reasonable compositions had been made, a commutation would at once take place. In his parish, for instance, they had compounded for 10½d. per acre; and to get rid of that charge, at the rate of 15s. per Irish acre, at fifteen years' purchase, would be a very advantageous bargain. The third Bill, therefore, of the right hon. Gentleman was a practicable Bill; and, 384 if it were passed, by the next Session they might judge how far the experiment would succeed. The inducements to its success would be great, and the advantage to the Clergy would not be trifling. Suppose the tithe, as in the case of King's County, paying 6d. per acre, to be bought up at sixteen years' purchase, it would only be 8s. per acre. If the same commutation were made all over Ireland, a sum would be produced, which, with the 700,000 acres belonging to the Church, would be sufficient to maintain the Clergy of Ireland. There was one suggestion in the Report of the Committee to which he wished to call the attention of the House. It was, that where either party was dissatisfied with any existing composition, he should be at liberty to make a complaint to the Lord Lieutenant, who might order a new valuation, at the cost of the party applying. It would, however, be a violation of the pledge of the Legislature to suffer any interference of this kind with existing compositions, which had been made upon the faith of their lasting twenty-one years. He, for one, should remonstrate against any such proposition, and should resist any change of composition already agreed upon.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
thought that the hon. Gentleman had misquoted the sentiment of the Lord Chancellor, who said, he believed, that it was the duty of the Government to enforce the laws in order to make them respected, and afterwards to consider how they might amend them, so as to make them beloved. He was struck with the sentence, for it appeared to him that it was the converse which was true; for if the laws were first amended so as to make the people love them, it might be proper to enforce them because they deserved to be obeyed. It was the converse of the proposition which he wished his Majesty's Ministers to put in practice. He called upon them to amend the law; did the Bill amend it? The right hon. Gentleman had two objects to effect—one of duty, to preserve the peace of the country; and one of feeling, to secure a provision for the clergy; but he would fail in both. The words of the plan showed the impossibility of his making a provision for the clergy; he wished to make an immediate provision for them; but the House had heard, from the hon. and learned member for Kerry, the condition to which they were reduced, which no man lamented 385 more than he did. How could that condition be immediately relieved by this plan, when it was not to come immediately into operation? It was only when existing leases expired that tithe could be extinguished; for it must be paid by the tenant during all existing leases. The Legislature might affirm, that the landlord should pay it; but the landlord would say to the tenant—" You must pay me an additional rent, as I have to pay the clergy;" and thus the question of tithes would again come under discussion. The right hon. Gentleman wished to make tithe composition compulsory: did he get that plan from the witnesses? What would be thought of a lawyer who should bring into Court witnesses to give evidence against his own client? Such, however, was the case here. All the witnesses stated, that the clergy got more under the composition than they did under the old plan; and, therefore, it was looked upon as an increase of severity. When a clergyman was mild and gentle, the tithes were not well collected; but if the clergyman was extortionate and severe, the composition would be raised to an unjust height. The hon. member for Wicklow put this very forcibly when he proposed his Resolutions; and he knew a parish where the tithes were suddenly raised from 100l. to 300l. per annum. Mr. Montgomery gave direct evidence against the plan before the House, and said, "if you make the Tithe Composition Act compulsory, you will increase the dissatisfaction of the people." In fact, the majority of the twenty-six witnesses were decidedly against the right hon. Gentleman's scheme; and even Mr. Birmingham said, that the Tithe Composition Act ought not to be made compulsory, without first undergoing great alterations. Like the plan of a right hon. Gentleman, not in his place, it was no more founded upon the resolutions submitted to the Government by the Members for Ireland, than any plan having no relation to them whatever. The Irish Members, in 1822, proposed apian to the right hon. Gentleman, the member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn); but, instead of adopting it, he founded his scheme upon the miserable remnants of resolutions of 1788, and thus completely frustrated the object of Lord Wellesley, as well as disappointed the Irish Members. Those resolutions, which were signed, also, by many distinguished Peers, were in 386 favour of a commutation of tithe. These resolutions were seconded by Mr. Spring Rice, and the words used were—"a full and liberal equivalent, fairly assessed and levied," which was the meaning of the present resolutions; for the Members for Ireland believed that a commutation was not only practicable, but essential to the stability of the Established Church. Among other names attached to these Resolutions, were those of Lords Dungannon, Orrery, and Lansdown. In spite of this solemnly expressed opinion, however, and in spite of the evidence given before the Committee, the right hon. Gentleman brought in a bill for the commutation of tithe. Mr. Griffiths said, in his evidence, that the Tithe Composition Act had done great injury to Ireland; and that he, out of 1,468 valuations of parishes, found only384 correct, the others being ignorantly or unfairly made. One valuation was 4,000l., whereas he made it only 3,700l. He said that out of 1,468 parishes, there were only 384 of the valuations of which he could make any use. He was asked, "Do you mean that these 384 were the only parishes taken by actual valuation?"—"They were all entered into by agreement." The right hon. Gentleman bound the parishes not to pay what the clergyman actually received, but an amount which the clergyman and the parish might-agree should be paid. But he put it to any Gentleman to say, whether he received from his tenantry all they covenanted by their leases to pay? As the hon. and learned member for Kerry truly observed, under the old plan a distressed tenant could appeal to the charity and humane feelings of the clergyman; but now, he had nothing but a naked strict Composition Act to apply to. Mr. Griffiths went on to say then, that his valuation was upon a lower scale than that which had been entered into in the cases he referred to. Now, why was this so? It was because Mr. Griffiths and his colleagues were officers of the Government, and, in the discharge of their public duty, took the proper valuation, without regard to private interests. The right hon. Gentleman now protested against the evidence of the party he called as a witness; but there was no getting over the fact that the Tithe Composition Act had not succeeded. Landed property did not rise in an equal ratio with Church property. It appeared from the evidence, that a certain extent of Church property produced at one time 387 75l., and, eight years afterwards, it had increased to the enormous value of 500l.: this was in a parish under the operation of the Tithe Composition Act. The hon. Gentleman was very much mistaken if he meant to found this measure on the evidence which had been taken with reference to the results of the Tithe Composition Act. Every one might find a convincing argument against it in the evidence taken before the Committee of the House of Lords. It was stated that there were un compounded parishes and compounded parishes. The amount of the tithe in arrear in the compounded parishes was 62,500l.; while, in the uncompounded parishes, it was only 17,272l. This was a proof of the effects of the Tithe Composition Act in producing the payment of tithe. There were many passages in the evidence of all the witnesses very strong against the Tithe Composition Act, and clearly showing that it was inadequate for the purposes for which it was intended. It had been stated, that there was some secret intention—some hidden object—within these Resolutions, only to be elicited from the arguments which had been held respecting them. He would venture to say, that there never was a period in which the Irish Members behaved so honestly, so worthily as on the present occasion. The Irish Members stood by their country, and by its distressed people: these they would never abandon for any Administration or any party, neither for Whigs nor for Tories. The Irish Members had been supported by the Irish people; and he would tell the right hon. Gentleman, that if he thought they would enter into a faction with any Secretary belonging to the British Government, whether he be in or out of power, against the unanimous voice of the people of Ireland, he would find himself grievously disappointed. In those melancholy times which the right hon. Gentleman was so fond of alluding to in the worst stage of the history of the Irish Parliament—when the men who stood up for the people were persecuted and treated with contumely and disdain, they had no means of escaping from the tyranny of an English Secretary, until they incorporated themselves with the Irish people. Then was established a great public principle of reason, and justice, and moderation, which the right hon. Gentleman would do well to follow; and those who for years had refused to listen to the 388 voice of the Irish people, were compelled to attend to it at last. This was the state of things—this was the excitement, which prevailed in Ireland; and he entreated the right hon. Gentleman not to follow the example of those who caused it. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland had told the House, that no man could be found with temerity enough to support these Resolutions; and then he had proceeded to take them to pieces. The first resolution it would not be necessary for him (Mr. Grattan) to observe upon, because it said nothing more than what must be universally admitted. The second Resolution recognized the rights of persons having vested interests; and declared, that it was the duty of Parliament to provide for those interests by making for them a just compensation. Here it was necessary for him to answer the charge of the hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin. They did not want to spoliate the Church by these Resolutions, for they had taken almost the very words of the resolutions which were moved at a former period upon this subject. The Resolution proposed by Mr. Grattan, in the year 1788, in the Irish House of Commons, was to this effect: "That it would much tend to relieve the poor, if an exemption from the tithe of potatoes was extended to them; and that, if the owners of the tithe shall suffer thereby, this House will make to them just compensation." Thus they had adopted the very terms of the Resolution which was moved in 1788. The Ex-secretary for Ireland found fault with them, as not proposing to give a fair and just equivalent. Here was the authority of most of the principal landed proprietors in Ireland, and of the Members of both Irish Houses of Parliament, that these Resolutions were proper. Something had been said of "temerity." He (Mr. Grattan) knew what the temerity of an Irish Secretary was. What was the temerity of the Secretary to Lord Carlisle? What was the temerity of the Secretary to the Marquess of Buckingham? What was the temerity of Lord Auckland's ancestor, who drove the people, by his treatment of them, to press onward to the very verge of constitutional freedom. He it was who put 100,000 men in arms. Talk of vindicating the law! Why, in his time, a man meeting his neighbour in the street, on horseback, and offering him 5l. for the horse, had a right to claim it! Would anybody 389 tell him that the people of Ireland were notjustified in opposing such laws as these? He had said enough to vindicate the character of Irish Members from the aspersion which had been cast upon them; to show that they had proceeded on a good precedent, and followed the dictates that would actuate men having sincerely at heart, the interest of the country, and the providing a proper maintenance for the clergy. If any person examined before the Committee had been asked—"Would you not have been glad if the proposition of 1788 had been adopted?" the answer would have been in the affirmative. Dean Blakely, in his evidence on this subject, said, he would advise the Government carefully to consider the whole question of this property; he would advise them to raise a tax, to take the property away from the Church; to levy an equal tax, in order to give to each incumbent according to his deserts; and, finally, to keep the property in their own hands. He must tell the right hon. Gentleman, that his plan neither provided relief for the clergyman, nor secured the peace of the country. When he (Mr. Grattan) came down, just now, from the room up-stairs, he heard the right hon. Gentleman state, that the Bishops had 5,500l. a-year; and he found fault with the hon. and learned member for Kerry, for having made accusations against them without parliamentary documents to found them on. Let him look at the evidence of Mr. Foster—at his calculation of the value of the land of Ireland, and then judge whether or no those charges against the exorbitant allowances of the members of the Protestant Irish Church were well founded. Or at the evidence of Mr. Griffiths. The landed value of Ireland, as stated by him before the Commissioners of Inquiry, was 12,715,578l.; so that the Church of Ireland had actually one-seventh of the whole property of the country; that Church, too, not comprising a congregation of more than one million of inhabitants. Was there any other instance, or any history of a Church, comprehending within its pale so few individuals, so richly endowed? These circumstances proved that they had a right to complain; that when the people of Ireland were thus ground down to support a Church of which they were not members, their exclaiming against such treatment could not be wondered at. They had evidence that 1,100,000 acres 390 of land in Ireland were totally and entirely uncultivated. They wanted to occupy this land. What did the Committees want to do? To establish the fact, that there was not the slightest want of outlay of capital in Ireland; and it was for this state of things that the right hon. Gentleman proposed to introduce the Bill, only, which was now before the House—to which, indeed, he had tacked since two other Bills, including the most extraordinary provisions he ever heard for the establishment of ecclesiastical corporations. As reference had been made to the amount of Bishops' property, he would state to the House the substance of a very curious document which he had in his possession. It happened that, in the year 1798, there was some little danger apprehended in Ireland, arising out of the proceeding of the French in other parts of Europe, and a general subscription was entered into, in this country, for the purpose of providing means for the preservation of the public safety. The document which he held in his hand was" a return of the Probates of the Wills of three Archbishops, and fifteen Bishops in Ireland." It was a very curious document; and he was only sorry to see, therefore, that several hon. Gentlemen were leaving the House. By referring to this return it appeared, that the probate of the will of the Archbishop of Dublin was sworn under 150,000l., that of the Archbishop of Cashel under 400,000l., that of the Archbishop of Tuam under 250,000l., that of another of these dignitaries under 60,000l., and that of another under 250,000l. When these poor Bishops—these gentlemen with 5,500l. a year—were called upon to join in the subscription to which he had just referred, he found against the name of the richest a note with these words, "He gave nothing." These gentlemen, who had so often sat, at their convivial feasts, with their glasses in their hands, filled to the very brim, toasting" the Constitution" under which they lived; when they were called upon to contribute towards the preservation of that Constitution, subscribed, altogether, only 3,900l. He had a return of the amount subscribed by the Roman Catholics; and it amounted to 4,600l., so that the despised and excluded Papists, in their subscription for the preservation of the Constitution, exceeded the total contribution of this blessed Church of glorious memory by a sum of 700l. Here he must find 391 fault, in a few words, with the plan proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. In the first place, his plan must be clearly inoperative: first, because the former Tithe Composition Act had decidedly failed; and, secondly, because, even if it were put in immediate operation, it would provide nothing like the requisite assistance for the clergy, inasmuch as no immediate relief would be extended to them by the Bill. The same objection could not be raised to the arrangement proposed by the Resolutions, as it was their plan to raise the money on Exchequer bills, on the security of Irish property, and this was certainly a preferable plan. With respect to the corporations which the right hon. Gentleman had mentioned, he (Mr. Grattan) should like to know this—did he mean to offend the people of Ireland, again, really and seriously, by establishing Corporations? Had they not had enough already of Protestant Corporations, and of individuals who had pocketed the money wrung from the poor, and had afterwards refused to disgorge their ill-gotten gain? But he would conclude by expressing his regret that the right hon. Gentleman had not referred to a very old work that would have given him some valuable information on this subject The Political Anatomy of Ireland. There were, at that time, little more than 800,000 Protestants in Ireland, exclusive of a Church consisting of 2,000 priests. Now, on a comparison of the relative situations of England and Ireland, in this respect, it was manifest that 500 priests would be quite a competent number for Ireland, and might quite as well govern the whole of the Church establishment in that country, as the extravagantly disproportionate number, in relation to the extent of the Irish Protestant population, which England required to be supported as her Church establishment. He would refer to the passage. It said that 'There being now 800,000 Protestants in Ireland, and little more than 1,200 parishes, it is manifest that 500 priests may, in a competent manner, discharge the necessary duties of the different parishes, together with two Protestant Bishops.' He did omit the words "if any be necessary," which were in the book, for the sake of the hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin; for 500 priests may as well govern 1,200 parishes in Ireland, as twenty-six Bishops in England govern 10,000 parishes.' He 392 would venture to say, that in these lines there was truth, justice, and a knowledge of human nature. Even the right hon. Gentleman would admit it, if he would allow his capacity fair play. But no; the Church must be supported, even in this way, out of all proportion; it was an English Bishop who governed Ireland, and not an Irish Secretary. Perhaps the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland would listen to a passage from another authority, most apposite to the present occasion, and which was likely to crown with success the laborious and chivalrous efforts of the right hon. Gentleman, and the gallant manœuvres of the Solicitor General for Ireland. The authority to which he alluded said, 'The next attempt towards reformation was made in the 25th year of the reign of Henry 8th, by Lord Grey,'—a very ominous name, certainly, and a rather singular coincidence. It then went on to say that he proceeded to force the people of Ireland, "by personal rigour," to obey the laws; he made a laborious circuit, as the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland would do, round the kingdom, and concluded his remarkable efforts with the celebrated battle of Ballyhoo. He must once again say, that there was nothing sound or substantial in the legislation which the right hon. Secretary for Ireland proposed to introduce. He would do that right hon. Gentleman the credit to believe that it was, on his part, well meant; but it was miserably deficient. He called upon the hon. and learned Solicitor General to divest his mind of all those local partialities and unjust suspicions that might have been instilled into it by persons about him, who had not really at heart the interest of the people of Ireland. He would never succeed, unless he threw himself into the constitutional arms of the Irish people, who never wilfully committed an act of violence or an act of inhumanity. In 1782, when 100,000 volunteers were under arms, they were so anxious to uphold the constitutional law and liberty they had so gloriously obtained, that when a Bishop (not an Irish one) came into the room of the worthy and venerable nobleman who cut so conspicuous a figure on that occasion, and said, "My Lord, we shall have blood enough"—with the dignity and the manner which became him, the nobleman replied, "No, my Lord, we shall succeed by legal and constitutional means, but not by such dishonest and 393 illegal practices." That was the answer of an Irishman at the head of 100,000 armed men. That was the answer that was given to this Bishop—a Bishop in arms. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would adopt, in some degree, the mild character of the noble Lord who sat near him, he would calm and conciliate the people of Ireland much more than by following the example of another hon. Gentleman who sat still nearer to him. He had now only to thank the House for the patience with which it had heard him. On the question, whether he should take part by the unconstitutional Act of Henry 8th, or by the people of Ireland, his determination was soon made up. In the Act of Henry 8th, there was nothing valuable, nothing just, nothing to reconcile any honest man to its adoption. He would, therefore, repudiate that Act, and take his post by the people of Ireland.
said, as he had, on a former occasion, trespassed at considerable length on the indulgence of the House, it would not perhaps have been necessary for him to trouble it at all, in the course of the present evening, if it had not been for the very prominent notice taken of him by the hon. and learned member for Wicklow, whom he was anxious to thank for the very undeserved honour he had conferred upon him, by giving him an ecclesiastical preferment. He was afraid, that be had no very great chance of being a Bishop at any time; but this he was sure of—he was a sincere Protestant; and, as such, he was anxious to remove whatever he might find of abuse, of real and substantial grievance in the Protestant Church, and to render that Church as little burthen some as possible, and as much as possible conducive to the temporal and spiritual interests of those with whom it was connected, and to place upon the best and most friendly footing, the relation between the members of that Church and the people of Ireland; convinced that, by so doing, he should best serve that Church to which he belonged, that religion to which he was attached, and that people whose destinies were, in some degree, committed to his unworthy care. It was with no local partialities or private feelings—whatever other feelings he might have, which the hon. Gentleman might designate as "prejudices"—that he addressed himself to the discussion of this most important subject, which he certainly was not then considering for the first time, but to which, on the 394 contrary, he had given no little attention—to which he had looked, for many years, with no little anxiety, and of which, if he did speak "in ignorance," that ignorance was not the result of any want of pains on his part to inform himself on the question. But he was relieved from entering into the wider and more extended view of the subject, which the consideration of the whole question of the Church in Ireland naturally would, and necessarily must open, at some future period, for the deliberation of Parliament, because, by the common consent of the House, the subject had now been restricted within a much narrower compass. The Bill which he had proposed to the consideration of the House, unlike the Resolutions which had been moved as an amendment to that Bill, left open the whole of those most important questions which every hon. Member remarked, and which, he must admit, it would have been impossible to discuss at this late period of the Session. The proposed system was more practicable, less injurious, less oppressive, and less offensive, than the system under which the tithes were at present collected in Ireland. If Government did not, in all cases, meet the views of hon. Gentlemen, he would put it to the consideration and judgment of the House and the country, whether such a system in itself, as compared with the system of tithes, was or was not a benefit—whether, in short, it was a benefit or a grievance to the occupying tenant, who was the person to pay the clergyman. It was to this narrow question, and to this alone, they were now confined; and a great portion of this debate had been taken up by subjects very foreign to the matter in hand; very foreign to all the abuse which the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Kerry, lavished, not only upon him (Mr. Stanley) individually, but on every person in the Government—past and present—aye, and future too—from the earliest period down even to the date of the last subjects touched upon by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down—namely, the probates of the Bishops' wills in 1796, and the glorious results of the battle of Ballyhoo. All these questions were entirely beside the mark; and, with the hon. Gentleman's leave, he would at once proceed to touch upon those points to which he had more directly called his (Mr. Stanley's) attention—and on which he had challenged him to refer—to the evidence 395 produced before the Tithe Committee. It undoubtedly was no unimportant point of the question, in estimating the comparison between the tithe system and the tithe composition substituted for it, to ascertain, whether, in point of fact, the pecuniary burthen of the Tithe Composition Act had been greater or less than that of the tithe itself; because, although he did not admit that the amount of the burthen, and the amount of the revenue of the Church, were subjects immediately bearing upon the present consideration, yet, undoubtedly, in estimating the advantage or the disadvantage of a transfer from one system to the other, it was fair to take into consideration the pecuniary payments made under both. He would waive, therefore, for the present moment, all matters connected with these questions—all discussion of the question of extortion—all inquiry into the employment of the tithe-proctor, and all the long series of perjury, extortion, and corruption, and into the weight of that grievance from which, according to this change, the tenants would be permanently and effectually relieved. He should turn to the evidence which the hon. and learned member for Louth, on a former evening, quoted in support of some suggested provisions, with respect to which, the evidence, when examined, tended to prove directly the reverse of what the hon. and learned Gentleman deduced from it. The hon. and learned Gentleman had taxed him with not referring to the evidence which had been produced. That might be; he had been anxious, undoubtedly, to spare the time of the House, on which he was sensible he must trespass at great length. He did not mean, however, in referring to the evidence, to treat it in the same way as his two hon. and learned friends had done, who certainly only quoted half, and misquoted the tendency of even that half. The hon. and learned member for Louth referred particularly to the evidence of Mr. Delacour, a Protestant himself, the son of a Protestant clergyman, and who married the daughter of a Protestant clergyman. His hon. and learned friend had brought him forward as a most unexceptionable witness—for what? To prove that it was desirable to take the revenues of the Church, and to appropriate them to other purposes; and to show that an infinitely less sum than that now levied would be amply sufficient for all the purposes of Church property, leaving a surplus 396 for the advantage of the State. The sentence of which the hon. and learned member for Louth quoted half, was this, Mr. Delacour was asked if he meant to say, that there should be an application of Church property to any other purposes than those of the Church? His answer was, 'That is a question upon which I have conversed very little with anybody; my private opinion is, that there may be such a revenue as would amply provide for the Protestant Establishment, and also provide a fund justly applicable to other purposes' [hear! hear!]. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Sheil) cheered the first half of the sentence; but he (Mr. Stanley) would take the liberty of pointing out to him, as he had done the other day, on what this calculation was founded—that there was a general tax to be levied over Ireland, for all the purposes of ecclesiastical as well as local taxation, and that that tax should amount to 3s. an acre. Now, Mr. Delacour's own valuation—for he valued Ireland himself—took the value of tithe over Ireland at Is. 5d. an acre. He also took the valuation of local taxation at 1s. 3d., making, together, 2s. 8d.; and he said, and said truly, "If you will give me a clear fund of 3s. an acre all over Ireland, I will engage that you shall have a fund that will provide, on its present footing, for the Protestant Clergy of Ireland, and for the local taxation of Ireland, and still you shall have a residue of 4d. an acre, applicable to any purposes you please." The hon. and learned Gentleman represented this as most satisfactory evidence, that you might now apply Church property to other purposes than those of the Church; but he did not read, as before observed, that last half of the sentence, which said, that" on the whole area of Ireland, a revenue of 3s. an acre would produce two millions of money. I think," he said, "that would be more than necessary to cover the ecclesiastical revenue and local taxation of the country." "Would you appropriate the tax you propose to levy in lieu of tithes to those other purposes?"—" I do not go so far as to say that I would do that, but I think there might be some arrangement which should enable the country to contribute a moderate proportion in the pound, that might be applied to other purposes besides the payment of the clergy." Now, he would ask the House, was there ever an argument, the whole tendency of which was so com- 397 pletely—unintententionallynodoubt—misrepresented, as this authority, as quoted by the hon. and learned Gentleman? But he would turn to the passages which his hon. and learned friend himself selected. The first evidence to which he referred was that of Mr. Montgomery, who said, that his opinion was, that the Tithe Composition Act had increased the dissatisfaction of the people in Ireland. He was, no doubt, a man of great ability, great learning, and great talent, and a man of unimpeached purity, standing very high in the Protestant Church, but still maintaining his own doctrines, and holding a decided opinion that every sect in Ireland, and every religion, should be left to the exclusive and entire maintenance of its own clergymen. That might be right, or it might be wrong; but it was a doctrine at variance with all the established practices of this country, where it was laid down as a principle, that there should be an established religion, and that that religion should be furnished with the means of instruction for the whole community, if they should think fit to apply for it. With his views, he said, "So far as I can judge from the report which I have received of the working of the Composition Act, the people are not satisfied with it: and, if it were made compulsory, I conclude that their dissatisfaction would be increased. I do not speak on this point from personal knowledge, but from information I have received from credible sources. I should be prepared to recommend the very opposite." So, Mr. Montgomery would not recommend the extension of the Tithe Composition Act. It was not very likely that he would; because he thought the best plan was, that every sect should maintain its own religion, and that no charge should be made on the land for the maintenance of the clergy of the Established Church. He did not wonder at the hon. Gentleman's reluctance to proceed with that evidence. Upon the subject of the amount of the valuation, and the mode in which it was taken by the Commissioners, Mr. Montgomery said, that they (the Commissioners) had not had, in all cases, the practical knowledge necessary for making an accurate survey. Mind, Mr. Griffiths' evidence of the ignorance of the Commissioners did not go to the whole amount levied on a valuation of the whole of the parishes; but to each, with reference to the property of the land. Mr. Griffiths said, "I will take a parish which, 398 according to their valuation, is 5,776l.; in the Tithe Commissioners' valuation it is 4,085l." His hon. friend would not read, for a long time, the words, "but there is a lower scale of value." Now, what did Mr. Griffiths mean by a lower scale of value? In the preceding page, he estimated the whole amount of this burthen at about 1s.3d. an acre—at about 1s.3½d. in the pound. Thus, as the whole of the burthen, and the whole of the payment on all the land in Ireland subject to tithes, was calculated upon a valuation which was considered below the real value of the land, it rested upon a valuation which he (Mr. Stanley) considered below the actual rent now paid. Now, these were the sentences which the hon. Gentleman would not read, "Have you found any instances in which the Tithe Composition appeared to be founded upon an excessive valuation?" His hon. friend's charge was, that it was too high. "I have not," said the witness, "but I have ascertained many instances where it was undervalued." That was the evidence of the witness whom the hon. Gentleman called into Court—whom he would not allow him to cross-examine, but whom he called in to prove an excessive valuation on the part of the Tithe Commissioners; when, in the very next sentence, he said, he knew many instances in which they had not over-valued, but under-valued. His hon. friend, he saw, was averse to his quotations, but really his hon. friend must not quote particular passages for his own benefit, and blame him afterwards, when he stated them correctly. His hon. friend could not possibly think the accounts were originally made on a false estimate of the value of the land, and that the parishioners were inclined to tax themselves differently than, by the actual survey and account, and the clergyman's receipts, they would have been taxed. He understood from the hon. Gentleman, that the only objection he had was this, that whereas, under the former system, the clergyman had been in the habit of putting down as receivable, an under-valued assessment—something below a tenth part of the produce of the soil—the new system placed the clergyman in the same position, if he made no deduction, as he stood in before; but, when Government would give him greater facilities of recovering the amount of his tithes, that measure was to be opposed. If his hon. friend would inquire into the facts, he would find numerous instances 399 in which the clergyman, finding himself the weaker party, and being most anxious for the peace and tranquillity of his parish, had compounded actually for a sum infinitely lower than that to which he was fairly entitled; so much so, that, in many cases, the Bishop or the patron had in the first instance, refused his consent to such a bargain. He would now at once proceed to a comparison of the plan which he proposed, with that which was suggested by the hon. and learned Gentleman. In the first place, at this period of the Session, if there were a difference on one side or the other, it was in favour of a plan that proposed to do something, rather than in favour of a Resolution which proposed to do nothing at all, or which proposed to do just so much or so little, according to the interpretation which any hon. Gentleman might please to put upon it, but which positively stated no one certain thing whatever, except that the question should not be considered in the present Session of Parliament. The resolutions were vague enough, and if he wanted anything in proof of that assertion, be should refer to the different comments which had been made upon them by several hon. Gentlemen who had spoken, and who had been asked their interpretation of them. The hon. member for Tipperary said, "I do not wish to strip the Church of any portion of its property: God forbid! quite the contrary; I want to substitute for the present Tithe Composition, a valuation that may extend to the strict and full amount of the whole of the land, which may be calculated by Government Commissioners; the proceeding to be rigidly enforced, and the money which is afterwards to be raised, to be appropriated as the State may think fit." This tax, then, was not to be levied on all land alike, but upon different parts of the land, in proportion to their different value. The suggestion, therefore, followed up the principle acted upon in the Tithe Composition system, with this difference, that, according to the plan of the hon. Gentleman, it was, in the first instance, to be ascertained what was the amount of the sum to be levied; and that would most easily be ascertained by means of his proposed Bill. It might be said, that 1s. 2d., or 1s., or 9d. an acre would answer all over Ireland; but how was he to know what it would be fit to propose in the 700 parishes which were yet uncompounded, until he knew what was 400 the actual amount received by the clergyman? How was it possible to ascertain this amount in a fairer way than by an estimate of the annual receivable amount for the course of seven years preceding 1830? If, after that, it should be thought desirable to raise a land tax, it might come under the consideration of Parliament; but, in his opinion, it would be attended with the total destruction of all present regulations, if the proposition of the hon. Gentleman were adopted; it would make one parish pay at the expense of another, and it would break through all the rights of property, and those rules of justice which were not violated by the arrangement which he (Mr. Stanley) proposed. The resolutions were construed by the hon. member for Kildare in a very different sense; for he proposed that a tax should be levied upon houses and all other property; and the hon. and learned member for Kerry again told the House that he wanted a tax upon all property, real, personal, and funded. Now, if they were to decide according to the justice of the case—if they were to hear from the landlords of Ireland that, "God forbid! they should shift the burthen from their own shoulders;" in the name of God! what became of the arguments of the hon. members for Kildare and Kerry, with reference to a tax chargeable not upon the land alone, but upon land, houses, and funded property? But then, there was another suggestion, namely, that they should make out of the public treasury the necessary advance for the relief of the clergyman, and trust to the chance of recovering it, without any alteration in the existing law. Why, hon. Gentlemen said they had no chance by the existing law. The great complaint against his Bill was, that it gave no facilities, but it gave the weight of a decision of Parliament to this new adoption of a systematic resistance, not to tithes alone, but to property of every description; and yet the House was told, on the other hand, "show that you will yield to intimidation—show that you cannot pass even your own measure—show that you are fairly beaten out of your ground; and then, with all the advantages necessarily derivable from such a display of moral courage, and energy trust to the powers now given you for recovering from the people of Ireland the sum which we allow ought to be provided, and which, we tell you, should betaken, haphazard, from the public treasury," Really, he could 401 not view this proposition without a little suspicion, for (whatever the intention might be) it shifted the burthen oft' the shoulders of the landlords on to the tenants and occupiers of the soil in Ireland. The hon. member for Mallow was still more prudent. He had no objection to place the Established Church on a proper foundation:—how? in a moderate way. This moderate way of fixing the Church on a firm and permanent basis was one of those schemes which had been recommended by some of that hon. Gentleman's Friends, but the adoption of none of which conld take place in the course of the present Session of Parliament. Then the hon. member for the city of Cork very boldly got up and said, "This may be all very well; it is all very good, I have no doubt; but, to tell you the truth, I have no great fancy for paying tithe at all. I do not want to pay it, and, in fact, I never paid it with any satisfaction to myself." If this was not shifting the burthen off the land of Ireland, he did not know what was; but at the same time, it was a little at variance with the resolution in which hon. Members, declared, that—" we regard the rights of persons having vested interests, and declare that it is the duty of Parliament to provide for those persons, by making them a just compensation." Out of this "just compensation," a fund was to be raised for the support of religion and charity; and that fund, in the first instance, was to be quite different in the mode of collection, and much lighter in effect, than that which was raised by the system of tithes. Did it go to the maintenance of the Established Church?—No. To the maintenance of religion?—Yes, generally; to the maintenance of all religions, of all sects, and not only to these purposes was it to be applied, but to the purposes of charity also. Why, what a multitude of purposes there might be under this head of charity! Some of the landed proprietors of Ireland entertained a very natural alarm at the prospect of the introduction of Poor laws into that country, and it seemed to him, that this resolution might, in its interpretation, be a very convenient mode of levying Poor laws in Ireland on property, and there was nothing to prevent its being said hereafter—" We are covered by our Resolutions, and you may take as much for charity, and as little for religion as you please; you may give none to Protestants, and ail to Catholics; or you may give 402 nine-tenths to the establishment of Poor laws, but still you will be within the letter of the Resolutions, which declare that the fund shall be appropriated to the purposes of religion and charity." Hon. Gentlemen complained of his Bill, on the ground that it was calculated to prejudge the question, and to pledge the House. His Bill did not do so, but the Resolutions of the hon. Gentleman made an opening for the introduction of any visionary scheme, for he proposed no legislation upon the subject. It was no answer to say, that there was great dissatisfaction and discontent in Ireland, and that the people were determined not to pay tithes. That was a bad argument to use to a Legislature at any time, but least of all was it an argument against his Bill, by which he removed the real and substantial grievance of the system, by which he did, not nominally, but in substance, and unequivocally, extinguish the system in its grievous and depressive sense, and by which he afforded additional facilities to the clergyman, if not immediate, at least prospective; or, if not to the clergyman, and it should be the opinion of a future Parliament, that they had it in their power to appropriate to other purposes the revenue raised for the Church:—he afforded additional security, that these should be found so available, as to enable them to deal with something tangible, and substantial, and not be overruled or defeated by a system of combination, however widely extended, and however successful it had hitherto been. He had provided, and he acknowledged it, that the burthen should rest in future upon the land. He wished to relieve the occupying tenant—the miserable ground-down occupier of a paltry wretched tenement from the operation of this tax, and to throw upon the owners of the land of Ireland, a burthen, which, in real truth the land ought to bear; a burthen which, in point of fact, it was impossible for the poor population to bear, which was the last weight that broke the camel's back, which pressed upon the tenant who was ground down by rent and other charges, until he was rendered utterly and entirely incapable of meeting the numerous demands upon him. But it was said this proposition was only prospective. It was true he did not interfere with subsisting leases. But was that a hardship? Was it justice or injustice that this should be so? The occupying tenant had contracted 403 to pay a certain sum of money, and was under an imperative obligation to pay it. He wished to relieve him from communication with the clergyman as soon as practicable. He came forward to the landlords with a proposition that, if they chose to take upon themselves, for the relief of their tenantry, and during the continuance of the existing leases, the burthen of tithe, to which their lands were subject;—he gave them a boon of fifteen per cent. He gave them the power of raising the whole sum on their personal responsibility as to payment, and gave them, besides, the power of removing from their property one of the most fruitful sources of confusion, disturbance, and dissension. He had been asked how would the English landlords approve of such a proposition if it were applied to this country—did he think they would come forward to make a sacrifice for their tenantry? His noble friend the member for Northampton, and his hon. friend the member for Wilts, could answer how English landlords would approve of such a proposition. They would state and they would be joined by every English Member present, that if they were allowed to take upon themselves the payment of eighty-five per cent of the sum to which their tenants were liable for tithe, and if they were permitted to redeem that on payment of sixteen years purchase, they would at once do so. There was not an English Member there, who would for one moment hesitate to accept such an offer; nay, they would not only accept it gladly, but they would say that it was impossible that a greater boon could be conferred on them and their tenants. He thanked God, that in England, the interests of the landlord and his tenantry were so well understood and combined, that a vast majority of the landlords knew and felt practically, that they could not improve the situation of their tenants, without at the same time improving their own condition and benefiting their own property. To sum up the general comparison between his Bill and the Resolutions which had been proposed by the hon. Gentleman, the member for Wicklow, he would say, that his Bill did not, it was true, meet the urgency of the case; but it was admitted to be a benefit, and admitted by a vast majority of that House, to be well calculated to replace the present system of tithes. It tended to remove the facility of distraining his goods from the occupying tenant—it tended to 404 relieve both him and the clergyman from mutually unpleasant collisions—to throw the burthen upon those who could best afford to bear it—it gave to the persons by whom it was to be borne an equitable and easy mode of relieving themselves from its operation—and it left the whole question of the appropriation of the revenues of the Church just precisely where it found them—neither more nor less than they were at this moment under the direction of the Legislature. The Resolutions, however, practically, and in effect pledged the House to a reduction of the Established Church. They did not leave that question open. Some hon. Gentlemen might think this a proper proceeding, but it was a question which might very fairly be left to the consideration of a future Parliament. The charge against him had been, that he was not leaving that question to a future Parliament. In his opinion he did, but the hon. Gentleman did not—because these Resolutions imported that the revenues of the Church should be reduced and applied to other purposes by them, without taking any steps to meet the present difficulties in Ireland. The House was to pledge itself at a future period, to the reduction, if not the annihilation of the Protestant Church. This was the comparison of the two cases which he submitted to the consideration and judgment of the House, and on which, hon. Members would allow that he was justified in pressing for leave to introduce this Bill.
said, that if there existed at the present period a case in which deduction was manifestly at variance with evidence, it was to be found in the second Report of the Committee on Irish tithes, as compared with the evidence on which that Report was founded. He called, therefore, upon the right hon. Secretary to say, what part of the evidence justified him in his opinion of the beneficial results of a compulsory composition? Did the right hon. Gentleman suppose that, in the present state of public opinion in Ireland, compulsory measures would be received with satisfaction, or that a composition effected in the 750 parishes where it did not as yet exist, could, by some indirect and extraordinary process, subdue that spirit of irritated and deep-rooted opposition to the payment of tithes which, he would assert without fear of contradiction, animated at that very moment 405 the parishioners of the 1,505 compounded parishes in every part of Ireland. Such an opinion, could it be harboured, was absurd in the highest degree; the evil, therefore, still wanted a remedy: in fact, the case was simply this—"The tithe-payer complained, first, of the injustice; next, of the weight of the impost." And what did the right hon. Secretary say, in reply to his appeal? "My poor fellow, I'll relieve you, and that speedily. I'll place every one of your neighbours in a similar situation, and you shall all, henceforward, enjoy the inestimable benefit, the incalculable advantage, of a compulsory burthen." This would be the necessary consequence of the right hon. Gentleman's proposed measure, and there really appeared something so trifling in such a mode of legislation, in the present agitated state of the country, that he could hardly believe the right hon. Gentleman to be in earnest, when he called upon the House to adopt such a proposition. He was certain the right hon. Secretary must be well aware, that the enforcement of the tithe composition could not, in the existing state of feeling, place the clergy of the Established Church in a better condition, with respect to the collection of tithes, than they stood in at the present moment; for the objection, it was well known, was made, not so much to the manner of collection, or mode of payment, as to the existence of the impost itself, under whatever name or character it might be demanded. Neither was it a party question, for, with very few exceptions, Protestant, and Catholic, and Presbyterian, were equally opposed to the payment of tithes, and looked solely to the immediate, not prospective, the unequivocal and total abolition of the present system. He (Mr. Mullins) could not but feel, that a prospective arrangement, though much less objectionable than that proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, if coupled with a present infliction—which compulsory composition undoubtedly was—could not remedy the evils complained of, nor afford the necessary security to the Established Church; and that any interference with the present system, with such intentions, would inevitably lead to the most disastrous consequences. These were not his opinions alone—they were the opinions of men of every creed and every class in Ireland—they were the opinions of a great majority of the very men on whose evidence the report and proposed measure 406 professed to be founded. He would, with the permission of the House, read a few extracts from that evidence, which would convince hon. Members, that he was not led away by the spirit of exaggeration, nor by any political prejudice in the opinions he had formed. Out of twenty-six witnesses examined, sixteen were unfavourable to the composition of tithes; of the remaining ten, seven were questioned on points not immediately relating to that subject, so that there only remained three who approved of the compulsory measure. Of the sixteen, Stephen Wright, the first witness, declared the "composition not to be an improvement, but the very reverse." Robert Delacour, the second, stated, "that though the composition should be compulsory, it would not be likely to extinguish the present feeling on the subject of tithe, it being his own conviction that tithe, whether required by usage or under composition, would not long be submitted to in Ireland." John Dunn, Esq. stated, "that the Composition Act had everywhere disappointed the expectations first formed of it." Christopher James declared "the opposition to be general, as much in compounded parishes as others," that the composition was not an improvement, and that he "objected both to the principle and details of that Act." The reverend Theophilus Blakely thought that tithes should be abolished. The reverend H. Montgomery knew now that the people did not like the composition as much in operation as anticipation." Mr. William Collis said, that "so far from being an improvement, it was the very reverse." He (Mr. Mullins) would not detain the House with any further extracts; but, with such evidence before him, he could not, in his conscience, support the proposition of the right hon. Secretary, seeing that that proposition was directly at variance with the opinions of men in every way competent to form a correct judgment on the subject—convinced, as he was, that a spirit was abroad, which nothing but the just principle of complete and effectual abandonment of a system so much, and so justly complained of, could have the effect of subduing—and conscious, as all must be, that systems were not now to be respected and preserved because of their antiquity, but in proportion to the quantity of good they contained, coupled with their adequacy to suit the spirit and liberal principles of an enlightened age.
§ Lord Ebrington
gave his unqualified support to the measure of his right hon. friend. He had listened with the greatest attention to every Gentleman who had spoken in opposition to it; but he had not heard one of them propose any substitute for tithes to which he could give his assent. If he had heard any such proposition, he should have been ready to support it. What was the substitute which the hon. and learned member for Kerry had proposed for it? A tax on every species of property in Ireland—a tax by which it was proposed to take off a portion of the burthen which now rested on the landlords of Ireland, and to place it on houses and funded property. Against that proposition he begged leave to enter his protest, as an Irish landlord. To a system which relieved his land at the expense of the rest of the community he would always give his strenuous opposition. He would likewise take that opportunity of entering his protest against those combinations which prevailed at present in Ireland, to injure and oppress all persons who came forward to pay to the clergy of the religion in which they conscientiously believed. It was not to be tolerated, that an excellent country gentleman like Lord Cloncurry, who might be held up as an example to every man of his class in Ireland, and a benevolent man like Mr. Bourne, should be placed, as it were, out of the pale of society by combinations which prevented the one from getting the hay upon his estate mown, and the other from getting the horses upon his line of road attended to. Mr. Bourne had actually not been able to fulfil his contract with the Post Office, because nobody would work for him. Against such combinations he thought the gentlemen of Ireland were bound to make a stand, for they might depend upon it, that if they did not, opposition to the payment of absentee rents would come next, and then what security would there be for the payment of rents even to the resident proprietors? All persons who respected property, all the friends of order, would, he hoped, rally round the Government, and, for their own sake, support it cordially on this question. He trusted property and intelligence would be arrayed on its side, and that their efforts would be sufficient to bring back the lower orders to a sense of duty. He should be ready, if that were not the case, to give Government greater power than at present. There was no man 408 who had a more sincere affection for Ireland than he had, or a more sincere affection for liberty, but these affections should never prevent him from resisting those combinations which now existed in Ireland; for they would be fatal to the happiness of the country, fatal to the right of property, and destructive of all order. At the same time, he must say, that he was most anxious to see a thorough reform made in the Church Establishment of Ireland: for he considered such a reform to be wanted, and he looked upon a Church Establishment as an institution created for the benefit of the State; and, therefore liable to the regulation of Parliament. He should most cordially support—and, if it were not undertaken by other parties, he would pledge himself in the ensuing Parliament, if he were a Member of it, to bring forward—a motion upon that subject. He thought that a reform in the Church Establishment of Ireland was absolutely necessary to satisfy the people of that country. He did not, and could not, recognise the right of the Irish Church to its present enormous revenues, though he cordially supported the plan of the right hon. Secretary, as a means of keeping in the power of the State the disposal of the revenues of the Church. But he was thoroughly satisfied that the Church of Ireland ought to be reformed, both for its own safety and the contentment of the people.
§ Mr. Dawson
said, there was no subject that could be discussed of greater importance than the question before the House. He gave the right hon. Secretary for Ireland credit for a sincere wish to support the Church of Ireland, and he claimed for himself the merit of a zealous determination to uphold all the rights of the Irish. He, therefore, had every wish to aid the views of the right hon. Gentleman; but after all the consideration he could give to the subject, he did not believe the three measures propounded by the right hon. Gentleman would be attended by success. They would not secure the property of the Church, but overturn it altogether. The mere question before the House, whether the tithe composition should be made compulsory or not, would be of little consequence, were it not that the right hon. Gentleman had introduced it in conjunction with other measures, not to be immediately pressed forward, which other measures he looked upon as calculated to 409 overturn the independence, and destroy the property, of the Church. The right hon. Gentleman had declared that tithe in Ireland most be extinguished. The people had hailed that declaration with joy, and tithe would be extinguished for ever. The question for tithe, or composition for tithe, was at an end.
said, he had not declared that tithes should be extinguished. The word was used by the Lords' Committee.
§ Mr. Dawson
knew the feeling of the people of Ireland, and was convinced, after such a declaration, that the plan of the right hon. Gentleman would fail. He might make laws, but, after such a declaration, his enactments would be only waste paper. The right hon. Gentleman proposed a boon of fifteen per cent to the landlords of Ireland, to induce them to settle the tithe question. But the landlords of Ireland could never wish to put any part of the tithe into their own pockets. The amount was, perhaps, 700,000l. a-year, and he was sure that the landlords could not desire to appropriate the property of others. As a landlord of Ireland, he repudiated the suspicion. If the right hon. Gentleman wished to relieve the people of Ireland, he would not propose to put fifteen per cent of the tithes into the pockets of the landlords, but would devise some scheme which would put it into the pockets of the unfortunate occupiers of the soil, who groaned under this charge, whose combinations had reduced the right hon. Gentleman to the necessity of making an alteration in the law. It was unjust to the landlords of Ireland to make them tithe-proctors, and give the hard-hearted, an advantage over the humane landlord. A good landlord would probably give his tenant any benefit he might derive from this arrangement; but the bad landlord, the oppressor, the extortioner, of whom everybody complained, who would give no relief to the people of Ireland—who would not listen to Whitefeet or Blackfeet—would put this fifteen per cent into his own pocket, and leave the people to suffer all the grievances, and injuries, and extortions, under which they now laboured. Was that fair to the landlords of Ireland? After carefully reading the evidence, it appeared to him, that it would be a fair thing to assess this charge in the shape of a land tax upon the country; for the Government to become its collectors, and 410 take all the odium and responsibility of continuing the charge, instead of referring it to the unfortunate landlord. Did the right hon. Gentleman know the people of Ireland? Did he suppose that he secured Church property, by making every landlord its enemy? Was it possible to imagine that any man would have a receiver put upon his estate, because the tithes happened to be one year in arrear? They knew, from the evidence before the House, that the collection of tithes had been the subject of perpetual contest for two centuries. Since tithes were first imposed in Ireland the contest between the occupier of the land and the clergyman had never ceased; and did the right hon. Gentleman think the people of Ireland so besotted, so ignorant, so stupid, as not to see, that if the charge was transferred to the landlord, the burthen would not fall less upon them? Did he wish to array the landed proprietors of Ireland in one invincible cohort against his measures? It was unfair to place the landlords of Ireland in such a position. Let them pay their share of any burthen, but let the Government take the responsibility of collecting it. Any one who knew Ireland must be aware, that in the present excited feelings, it would be perfectly useless to transfer this charge to the landlord. The question of the Church Establishment of Ireland, either in this Parliament or the next, must come under the fair, clear, and intelligible consideration of Parliament; for, out of an excited population of nearly 8,000,000 in Ireland, there were not above 600,000 or. 700,000 who belonged to the Established Church—the great majority of the Protestants being Presbyterians, were as adverse to the tithes as the Roman Catholics. Something, therefore, must be done with regard to the Established Church; but the three Bills of the right hon. Gentleman, struck it a more fatal blow than it ever before received. He could not conceive how the Committees of cither House of Parliament, comprising many Gentlemen interested in the Church Establishment of Ireland, could bring their minds to believe that this would be a satisfactory arrangement. Let any man state the communications he had received from Ireland with respect to this plan, and he would venture to say, that they ail expressed an opinion that the propositions of the right hon. Gentleman would not tend either to the settling of this 411 question, or to the security of the Established Church. He knew, from the expressions which had dropped around him, that the opinions he had uttered were not palatable to the firm supporters of the Church; but he trusted that he knew the Church Establishment in Ireland as well as they did. He had made it his duty to refer to those interested in, or connected with, the Established Church of Ireland, and not one opinion he had received was in favour of the plan submitted to the House by the right hon. Gentleman. There was an universal feeling, on the contrary, that the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for the idea that existed in Ireland with respect to the extinction of tithes. He might explain away his words as he liked, but they never would be wiped away from the minds of the people of Ireland. He might have meant to say, not that there should be an extinction, but that there should be a commutation of tithes; but that was not what was understood by the people of Ireland, and the anathema having gone forth, the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for the combinations which had assumed their present alarming appearance. He would venture to say, that with all his ingenuity and knowledge of the country, he would not be able to reduce things to their original state. He did sincerely hope that the House, before it decided upon this question, would mark, in some way or other, its opinion as to the necessity of maintaining, in the fullest degree, the rights and interests of the Protestant clergy. He could tell the right hon. Secretary, that the landlords of Ireland would not assist him in his present plan. It was rather too great a measure of patriotism for the right hon. Gentleman to expect from them. He had heard the right hon. Gentleman say, that they were too much attached to their own interest, and demanded a higher rent than their tenants were able to pay. He would venture to say, there was no question less understood than this, and, when it came before the House, he should be ready to defend the landlords of Ireland. In the mean time, if the right hon. Secretary had predetermined to abuse and lower the landlords of Ireland, upon whom he wished to impose this burthen, he would find them a body of men very little inclined to submit to his aspersions, or assist him in his endeavour to make them more unpopular 412 than the right hon. Gentleman wished the House to believe they already were. The plan of the right hon. Gentleman would make 500 enemies to the tithe system, where there was now only one, and the landlords of Ireland would be the first to join with the peasantry of the country in resisting the payment of this charge. He should like to hear from the Solicitor General for Ireland, what chance he could have of settling the prosecutions against the gentlemen who had been taken up for encouraging combination. They would be brought to trial before a Jury of their countrymen, but the Jury would be composed of persons on whose land this charge was made, and who had been engaged in these very combinations. Was it to be supposed they would find a verdict of guilty? The right hon. Gentleman might laugh; he knew but little of Ireland, or he would see that he had began a warfare of which he might never witness the end—that he was now plunging himself deeply into that system of combination which he and his colleagues had encouraged, and the end of which could not be foreseen. The only instruments at the disposal of the Government in Ireland would be the police, and when individuals had been taken up, the right hon. Gentleman was mistaken if he supposed that Juries or country gentlemen would aid him in bringing his system into operation. After the encouragement the people had received to enter into illegal combinations, it could not be expected they should all at once give them up. He was glad that an individual might deliver his opinions in that House without being responsible for the success of any measure; for it was not his intention to support the right hon. Gentleman, or give his vote against the Bill. There was one part of the Resolutions which had some semblance of reason and truth. If the right hon. Gentleman supposed that, in the last month of the sitting of a condemned Parliament, he was to dispose of the Church property of Ireland, he was greatly mistaken. His opinion was, that the measures of the right hon. Gentleman would not be final; and he shook himself free from any responsibility of their failure. He would neither support nor vote against those measures.
§ Mr. Crampton
was not a little surprised at the conclusion to which the right hon. Gentleman had come. Having delivered 413 sentiments in one part of his speech directly opposed to those with which he concluded, he told the House that he had delivered no opinion upon the merits of the measure proposed, and that he would take no responsibility of any kind upon himself, either by approving or disapproving of that measure. If one had heard the former part of that speech in any other assembly, and had then listened to the latter part of it, he would have supposed that it had been made by two persons, diametrically opposed to each other in opinion. In the first part of his speech the right hon. Gentleman took the Conservative side, and accused his right hon. friend of having been the author of the combination against tithes, in which combination he declared, in the latter part of his speech, he was ready to join as a landlord. The ground of the right hon. Gentleman's accusation against his right hon. friend was, that he declared that tithes should be extinguished in Ireland; was that a fair charge and was it founded in fact? Did not the right hon. Gentleman know, that the resistance to tithes commenced in December, 1830, and that the combination existed full one year before that expression was uttered? And did the right hon. Gentleman forget, that with that expression, extinction of tithes, the declaration was made—that such extinction was to be by commuting them for a charge upon land. He knew that both parties had misrepresented this language, as well as the language of the first report of the Tithe Committee. In Ireland it had been asserted, that that Committee had determined that tithes should be for ever extinguished. That statement had been made by right hon. Gentlemen, and by reverend persons of high character, in loyal assemblies, who declared the intentions of his Majesty's Government were directed against the existence of tithes, forgetting to add, that they were to be extinguished by a commutation on land. The right hon. Gentleman said, that tithes could not be said to be extinguished if there was to be a commutation; but the expression was proper and usual. Were not tithes extinguished when they were entirely at an end, and when, in point of fact, rent became payable instead? Did not the right hon. Gentleman know, that it was quite a common species of legislation to extinguish tithes in that way? The question had been very much mooted in 414 the House, and had been the subject-matter of several Acts of Parliament; but he would take the latest as an instance, which was passed in the first and second years of the present reign: and what was the title of that Act? It was "an Act for extinguishing tithes and customary payments in a certain parish in the county of Caernarvon, and for making a compensation in lieu thereof." Did the right hon. Gentleman ever consider that the Church was in danger by the Legislature thus extinguishing tithes? the very preamble of this Act of Parliament stated that it was in consequence of the contentions and disputes which had arisen in this parish, on the subject of tithes, between the payers and the lay owner, that it became desirable to substitute a commutation for them. This was precisely the doctrine which had been adopted by his right hon. friend, and, therefore, he trusted no more would be said about the extinguishment of tithes. Another statement made by the right hon. Gentleman was equally inaccurate. He stated that tithes had already ceased in Ireland; that the people would pay them no more, and that, therefore, this measure was entirely useless. If, indeed, such were the case, he knew not what measure the right hon. Gentleman would propose; but he begged to state, that the evidence before the House, as to the state of Ireland, would not warrant his assertion. It was not the fact that tithes had ceased. He knew that in two provinces in Ireland there existed a combination most formidable and dangerous, not because it was a combination against tithes, but because it was a combination against the law of the land; and as he had said before, if the law of the land did not put down that combination the combination would put down the law. The Bill was not for the purpose of despoiling the Church, but to do away the grievances of the people, and to improve the condition of the peasantry of Ireland; he considered it a measure not merely of policy, but of absolute necessity. It was the duty of Government to step forward in this crisis of danger to the Established Church of England, as well as Ireland, and vindicate the law by putting down this combination. He admitted that the evil was great, but it had been grossly exaggerated. Let him tell the right hon. Gentleman, whose speech had been directed with such force against this measure, that if he were even canvassing 415 a Presbyterian county in the north of Ireland, as of course he was not—but if he were actually making an electioneering harangue, he could not have made a better speech.
§ Mr. Dawson
rose to order. He had not made a speech for electioneering purposes. He was not an Irish Member; but, as a Member of Parliament, he asserted his right to speak on Irish affairs, in which, as an Irishman, he felt a deep interest.
§ Mr. Crampton
was sorry inadvertently to have offended the right hon. Gentleman. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman was an English Member, and therefore he had said, that if an Irish Member—looking to an Irish county of Presbyterians—had made such a speech, it would have been the very best electioneering speech that could be imagined. That had no reference to the right hon. Gentleman, who was an English Member. To resume his argument; he was correcting the statement of the right hon. Gentleman as to the universal resistance to tithes in Ireland, and was ready to assert that the combination did not extend over the whole of that part of the kingdom. It existed in Leinster and Munster. And how did it grow up in Leinster? It was very easy for agitators, whether Whigs or Tories, Conservatives or Radicals, to excite the people in Ireland to a high degree; and, as a proof of this, the history and origin of the combination in this province might be quoted. It took its rise in a particular parish in the county of Kilkenny, where the schoolmaster was the first agitator. From this particular parish it extended over the whole province, by the united means of intimidation, seduction, and the most unfair and odious artifice and sophistry. By the same means it was afterwards extended over the province of Munster; but beyond these two provinces that combination had not gone. It existed neither in the Protestant province of Ulster, nor in the Catholic province of Connaught. The agitators would not take the trouble and expense to send forth from their political arena in that province their denunciation, and, therefore, the tithes were still regularly paid in Connaught. But the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, which now was only prophesy, might, before many days elapsed, become a truth. The prophesy might accomplish itself, and the people might make common cause and combine, even in these latter provinces, if 416 such declarations were to go forth, as those just made by the right hon. Gentleman. What did the right hon. Gentleman tell the people, and what had he told the House?—that if the measure of his right hon. friend was carried into law, the landlords of Ireland would feel themselves compelled to unite with the people in their resistance to tithes. But did the right hon. Gentleman know that those combinations were against the law—that they were confederacies for the purpose of openly violating that law; and did he know by what acts those combinations were characterized—by midnight robbery, violence, and murder, and by everything vile and odious in the sight of man; and did the right hon. Gentleman think it consistent with his dignity, station, and high character, he being a landlord, to countenance and unite himself with these confederacies? But he would not dwell upon this—he was sure that the expression escaped the right hon. Gentleman in the heat of the moment, and he could not suppose him capable of pursuing such a course. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, taken upon himself the task of advocating the cause of the landlords of Ireland. He said they could not suffer themselves to be made tithe-proctors. There was no intention to make them tithe-proctors—there was nothing in the Bill of a coercive nature—it merely offered the landlord the option of taking upon himself to pay the tithe, but there was nothing in the Bill which could compel him to do that. Let him explain this in a few words. By the common law if the estate were occupied by the owner, he was bound to pay the tithe; but, if he granted a lease, the tenant was bound to pay the tithe. What was the source of the grievance in Ireland? Why, the poor occupant alone laboured under the obligation of paying the tithes. It might be, indirectly, a grievance to the owner of the estate, but the poor and wretched occupier of the land suffered most. The first object, then, of the Bill was, to put an end to the liability, of the occupier, and relieve the tenant-at-will, who might be turned out of possession at any time, from this charge. The Bill, therefore, in the first instance, would benefit the tenant, but the landlord would equally derive advantage from it; for there would be no such pressure on him as the right hon. Gentleman supposed, because the Bill only offered him the option of becoming the 417 tithe-payer, and, should he take that upon him, he would receive a per centage for his trouble. The misrepresentation, therefore, of the right hon. Gentleman was obvious, but that had arisen only from the circumstance of his never having seen the Bill, which was not yet printed. The right hon. Gentleman also conceived that a receiver would be appointed in all cases where any temporary delay in the payment of the tithe, took place, and, therefore, he talked of the grievous oppression of the landlord which this Bill would occasion. Let him undeceive the right hon. Gentleman. In the first place, the landlord must voluntarily take upon himself to pay the tithe before this odious receiver could be put upon his estate. If he took upon himself to pay the tithe, he might then become a debtor, and should he become a defaulter for 10l. or 20l., was the receiver to be put over the whole of his estate for its recovery? No; but the provisions of the Irish Act of Parliament, in reference to receivers under mortgages, were to be adopted, and the receiver would be appointed over only so much of the estate as was sufficient to meet the demand. That was the whole charge which could be fairly brought against this measure, as far as concerned the receiver. He did not intend to address the House on this occasion, wishing rather to reserve what he had to say until the Bill should be before the House; but he felt himself called upon to answer some, of the objections of the right hon. Gentleman, who had evidently spoken in entire ignorance of the details of the Bill; showing how exceedingly inconvenient it was to enter upon the discussion of a measure which had not yet been introduced. But strong as might be the objections of the right hon. Gentleman, to this particular measure he must be of opinion that something ought to be done. It was agreed on all sides, that some legislative enactment was necessary to put down that combination and conspiracy against the law, which existed in Ireland. Whatever might be the cause of that conspiracy, it was the bounden duty of the Government to assert and vindicate the law; while, at the same time, it was the duty of the Legislature to make the law popular. He meant not, by that expression, that they were to make the law pleasing to the schoolmaster who had been lecturing in Kilkenny, or to the agitators and demagogues of the day—those were not the 418 persons with whom he wished to make the law popular; but to the sound, and rational, and untainted, and sober-minded portion of the people—who formed he trusted the great majority of the people. It had been said, that the law was not enforced, and that Juries would not convict. He had received that day a communication from Ireland, in which he was informed that in the county of Wicklow no less than six persons had been convicted of offences arising out of these combinations, and a plea of guilty had been entered by forty-six other individuals. The law would be vindicated, and let not the right hon. Gentleman tell the House, or the country, that the Juries of Ireland would not do their duty. Why should Gentlemen think that the combination against tithes would become more general in consequence of the declaration on the part of Ministers, that they never intended to extinguish tithes in the sense in which the right hon. Gentleman, and others, who ought to know better, had persisted in ascribing to them? If anything were wanting it was a legislative declaration that tithes were to be extinguished by commutation. Such a declaration was necessary in order to undeceive the people who had been deluded upon that subject, and to show the Church of Ireland the Government was not about to abolish the property of that Church, and to convince the landlords they were not to be allowed to put, as spoils, that property into their own pockets. He knew that the landlords of Ireland were incapable of committing such an act of spoliation, nor did he impute to them such a base and odious idea. But with reference to the mode in which tithes were to be commuted, there might very fairly exist differences of opinion. He could well imagine that the right hon. Gentleman might prefer a land tax to the mode of commutation proposed by the Bill. He did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman; but they ought to go into Committee for the very purpose of discussing what should be deemed the best mode of commuting tithe. The object of the Bill was, to make a commutation, and it might possibly turn out, that that might be effected by a land-tax. Much as he lamented the existence of those grievances of which the people of Ireland complained, he conceived that it was the bounden duty of Government, and of the Legislature, to put down combination and conspiracy 419 against the law, and if they did not, that combination would finally throw the whole powers of legislation into the hands of the peasantry of Ireland.
§ Mr. Dawson
begged to say one word in explanation. What he had said was, that if this measure were passed, the landlords of Ireland would necessarily be obliged to combine; but, as far as he was concerned, he should join in no such combination; because, in those parts of Ireland where he had property, tithes were already compounded for. So far from joining any combination he should feel it his duty, as an Irish Gentleman, to give it his utmost opposition.
§ Sir Robert Peel
rose, and proceeded to address the House, but was received with loud cries of "Spoke! Spoke!" Since he had spoken, amendments had been made and questions of adjournment put, and on every one of those he had a right to speak. He was about to say, that he approved of the first part of the speech of the noble Lord, the member for Devonshire, [renewed cries of "spoke]."
§ Mr. Lambert
rose to order. The right hon. Baronet had spoken on the main question in answer to his (Mr. Lambert's) observations.
rose to order, but his words were quite unintelligible from numerous cries of "Spoke" and "Chair."
§ The Speaker
on being appealed to, said—If any hon. Member is able to say that he perfectly recollects at what period of the two nights' discussion that we have had on this subject any other hon. Member addressed the House, he is able to do more than I can. During those two nights we have had three or four motions for adjournment. On each of those motions each Member, although he had before spoken, was again entitled to address the House. Many did avail themselves of that privilege; and in these discussions on motions for adjournment the main question was frequently introduced into debate. If, under these circumstances, I am called on to say at what period of each distinct discussion any hon. Member spoke, and whether he spoke only to the question of adjournment or introduced into his speech the main subject of debate, I shall be called on to do that to which I am quite unequal.
§ Sir Robert Peel
proceeded. He would compromise with hon. Members opposite by assuring them that he should be very short in the observations he had to address 420 to the House. He was chiefly anxious to declare his entire concurrence in all that fell from the noble Lord opposite in the former part of his speech. He looked upon it as the paramount duty of that House, without reference to divisions of opinion upon party questions, to support the Government in their efforts to put down the conspiracy against the laws now existing in Ireland. It was of the utmost importance, too, that throughout Ireland and England it should be known that they were ready and determined, under all possible circumstances, to support his Majesty's Government in enforcing obedience to the laws. It was totally unnecessary for the noble Lord to vindicate his character against any imputations of being unfriendly to the liberty of the subject in the course he was determined to pursue. How could he show himself a greater friend to the liberty of the subject than in opposing with all his force those enemies of all liberty, the abettors of the vilest system of tyranny that the friends of liberty were ever subjected to? Liberty? Good God! what liberty could there be where, if a man showed a disposition to pay his just debts, he became the object of immediate and almost unanimous persecution? It had been wall said by Madame Roland, as she was hurried to the scaffold, "Oh Liberty!" (she was passing the statue of Liberty)" what crimes are perpetrated in they name!" What could be worse than the system of terror at present going on in Ireland? It was their duty to assist the Government in causing the law to be respected, and if the existing law, in which he had great confidence, had been exhausted, and had failed in restoring order and obedience, let the executive Government resort to Parliament, and doubt not they would be supported. What was the question? It was, not whether a receiver should be appointed, but whether a conspiracy to defraud men of their legal rights should be triumphant or not? The proposition of the noble Lord was most reasonable, and it was highly beneficial and consolatory in its nature to the Roman Catholics. God grant that those who set the example of the non-payment of tithe might never profit by it. It would be much better hereafter if spoliation were not now successful, for those who were urged on to the plunder. He had no interest in the avowal of these sentiments. He was not now connected with the Church 421 of Ireland or of England, as he had formerly been, neither did he expect again to be so connected. But wishing what was right to be done, and that an illegal combination should not triumph, he was determined to give all the support in his power to his Majesty's Government in whatever measures might be necessary. He had heard of conspiracies against Governments; he had heard of conspiracies against party ascendancy, conspiracies to put down one form of Government and to set up another; he had heard of conspiracies against illegal ordinances, as of late in France; but of all the ignoble conspiracies he had ever heard of, that was the basest which sought to defraud individuals of their just dues. The Government, he hoped, would be firm. Combinations of physical force must be put down by law; but he would prefer seeing them put down by the influence which men of education ever possessed over the minds of the ignorant and deluded. Depend upon it, if the conspiracy against tithes remained, and the Legislature suffered it to triumph, there would be no security for any species of property, or for the execution of any law by which property and life were protected.
said, the operation of the Bill would be very partial, and that it would not affect property under existing leases, and for land of which the lease was about to expire, a higher rent would be demanded, which would excite dissatisfaction. The terms, too, of the proposed commutation were unjust, and he should oppose the Bill, because it would not work, and would only add to the complexity of the system.
adverted to the irregularity—as he maintained it was—of the right hon. Baronet's addressing the House a second time, and observed, that he hailed the anxiety which the right hon. Baronet had evinced to palm upon the House a second address upon this subject, as a good omen to the cause of those who opposed the measure. He must maintain, however, that, independently of his allusion to Madame Roland's exclamation, which had no reference to the question, the right hon. Baronet, in his speech of that evening, had said nothing. If, instead of introducing the expression, "Oh Liberty! what crimes are committed under your name," he had exclaimed, "Oh Order! what anarchy do you create," he certainly 422 thought it would have been much more to the point. The only way to do away with the conspiracies, or combinations, as they should more properly be called, which at present existed in Ireland, was to remove the grievances which had given birth to them.
§ Mr. Praed
observed, that the little he had to say might have been uttered whilst hon. Members were preventing him from speaking by cries of "Question." He had much to say upon the subject under discussion, and should have been well pleased to have had an opportunity of declaring his sentiments at length; but he was aware that at that time, when the hour of the night was so late, and when the patience of the House appeared to be exhausted, he should not find such an opportunity as he could avail himself of. He could not help thinking with the hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the House, that it was a good omen for the righteous cause that the powerful eloquence of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) had been called forth in its defence; and, he hoped he might be permitted further to say, that he thought it also a good omen that he had been answered by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chapman). He rejoiced that the right hon. Baronet had persisted, in spite of the interruptions by which he was assailed, in repeating the declaration that his valuable and powerful support would be given to Ministers throughout the whole of the discussions upon this question. That hon. Gentleman told them there was nothing in the speech of the right hon. Baronet unless it were the passage he quoted from the French lady. Surely the hon. Gentleman could not have heard the speech upon which he pronounced such condemnation. In his opinion, that speech teemed with the most powerful argument against the illegal combinations which existed in Ireland. He did not rise to enter into any argument or make any speech upon the question before the House. He rose merely to deliver a single opinion upon the subject, which, after that night, he feared he should have no opportunity of doing, however many opportunities there might be for other Members of the House. In case, therefore, he should have no other opportunity he wished then to declare that his most earnest support should be given to his Majesty's Ministers in their measures for the suppression of the conspiracy 423 against the payment of tithes. And as far as he had opportunities of judging they already had the sympathies of the well-disposed and right thinking part of the community. That those conspiracies were incompatible with the peace and welfare of the country must be obvious to every man who would condescend to think upon the subject. His Majesty's Government had met in him a bitter opponent of many of their measures; but in the policy of the right hon. Gentleman who conducted the affairs of Ireland in that House he was prepared to repose unlimited confidence. He could not but see the difficulties which stood in the way of legislation upon this subject. He saw that there was a conspiracy not against tithes only, but against every species of property—a conspiracy which was not confined merely to the uneducated, the illiterate, and low born, but extended to the educated, the enlightened, and the exalted in birth. He was glad to see two Gentlemen who generally agreed upon the subject of Ireland differ as to this fact. He was afraid the fact could not be denied. When he saw a man with a supposed mitre on his head stating historical facts with a degree of perversion which would be absurd were it not productive of mischief in the minds of the ignorant and low born to whom it was addressed, how could he doubt that the conspiracy against truth and justice in Ireland extended to those who ought to know better? As he had already said, he had not risen to argue the question, but merely to declare his entire confidence in the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Stanley), so far as his measures with reference to Ireland in her present condition were concerned.
§ Mr. Maurice O'Connell
said, the hon. Gentleman was quite right in saying the spirit of resistance to tithes was not confined to the illiterate. This never could be said when landlords and landowners were seen coming forward and taking part with the people. Influential men took the lead, proving that the ulcer was not merely raised by the blister of the moment, but went to the heart's core. This circumstance in itself ought to arrest the attention of Government, and teach it to pause ere it forced this system upon the reluctant people of that country. The origin of resistance to tithes might be traced at least up to the organization of the White Boys, in 1755; and that resistance 424 was not confined to two provinces of Ireland. The fact was not so; the organised resistance to tithe had extended itself through the province of Connaught. The hon. Gentleman had talked about a "supposed mitre." He could tell him that before ever a mitre was worn by any Bishop of the hon. Member's Church, one was worn by a Saint, the predecessor of the reverend person to whom he alluded, four or five hundred years after Christ; and never did a mitre fall on brows which did more honour to it. Before the hon. Gentleman treated lightly the dignitaries of his (Mr. O'Connell's) Church he ought to look to the conduct of his own.
concurred in the objections made by his hon. friend, the member for Kerry, to the proposition before the House. Ireland had never got anything except by agitation. She got the Relief Bill by agitation, by the apprehension of physical force, and would get relief from tithes by no other means, except through the interference of Parliament.
gave his Majesty's Ministers his most cordial support on the subject under consideration.
§ The House divided on the Amendment:—Ayes 32; Noes 124;—Majority 92.
|List of the AYES.|
|Bellew, Sir P.||Macnamara, Major|
|Blackney, W.||Mortimer, Hon. H.|
|Blamire, Wm.||Mullins, F.|
|Brabazon, Lord||O'Connell, M.|
|Browne, J.||O'Connor, Don|
|Bulwer, E. L.||O'Ferrall, M.|
|Callaghan, D.||Power, R.|
|Chapman, M. L.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Doyle, Sir J. M.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Fitzgibbon, Col.||Torrens, Col.|
|French, A.||Walker, Wm.|
|Grattan, H.||Waller, T.|
|Hort, Sir T.||White, S.|
|Hume, J.||Wyse, T.|
|Jephson, C. D. O.||TELLERS.|
|Killeen, Lord||Grattan, J.|
|Lambert, J.||Lambert, H.|
|Leader, N. P. L.|
§ Original Question put, and leave given to bring in the Bill.