moved the Order of the Day for going into Committee on the composition of Tithes (Ireland) Bill.
§ Mr. Ruthven
said, he could not consent to the further progress of the Bill, without expressing his entire dissent from it, and protesting against the enactment of new laws for the enforcing the collection of tithes in Ireland by oppressive and unconstitutional means, which naturally tended to increase rather than to allay irritation and litigation in that country. The present moment had been ill selected for interference with these matters, which would have been better reserved for the consideration of a Reformed Parliament than for the hurry at the close of a Session immediately consequent upon passing the Reform Bill,—a great and valuable measure, which had received no small support from the hope of its being the prelude to another Reform, revision of the Church property and establishment in Ireland. Nor had this object been entirely overlooked in this country, for it had been stated in that House, without contradiction, that there had been a manifestation of great discontent in some parts of the north of England with English tithes, and an approach towards the sanction of this passive resistance. It had been well observed by his hon. friend, the member for Clare (Major Macnamara), on a former evening, that Ireland owed much to agitation—that the great benefits which it had received were principally produced by that cause. He fully concurred with him; nor was that opinion without a concurrence from those distinguished by the complimentary appellation of "the lower orders." The advice, the recommendation, of the Marquess of Anglesey had been recorded under his own hand; he had written in a letter, which the public had read, "agitate, agitate, agitate!" Well, then, they went on with agitation for Catholic Emancipation and Reform. Agitation was useful to the objects of great political parties; but then the Government said—" stop"—" take care"—" not a word about tithes." The people, then, must be kept down; new laws must be 686 resorted to; oppressive persecutions must be followed up by cruel and tyrannical sentences and punishments, and which were to be sought for to terrify and drive the people from seeking upon their part the interference of the Legislature in relieving them from burdens become intolerable from their odious and unjust nature. Arrests had taken place; men of character, station, and respectability, were hunted after for the purpose of offering them up as examples of terror, while they more probably would be considered as victims to be immured in dungeons and immolated by the merciless hand of legal harpies upon the altar of their country. But do not be mistaken; Ireland would produce men, who would suffer with submission to the laws, and their cruel, partial application, while they were sustained by a sound conscience, and the sense of suffering in their country's cause. It was impossible effectually to carry into execution laws made in direct opposition to the feelings and interests of a whole people. There ever must be a concurrence of circumstances existing to prevent it; the simultaneous feeling would produce simultaneous opposition. They might make laws purporting to regulate different matters; but they would become a dead letter on the Statute book. An Act of Parliament could not effect the violation of all moral feeling extended over a country. He used the words "moral feeling" advisedly. There was a moral combination in strong operation in Ireland, from a decided concurrence of public opinion; but there had been no proof of any thing illegal or unlawful; no proof of a preconcerted combination among the people to resist the taxation of tithes; the denunciation of the petitioners for the abolition of tithes, as combinators, conspirators, anarchists, rebels, and all sorts of bad names, recoiled upon itself, and proved the emptiness, and high sounding insignificance of the misapplied terms, The present proposed tithe laws could only be sustained under the protection of, and in union with, the bayonet, Ireland might be converted into a garrison, as long as it suited the means and inclination of England to pay and employ her soldiers, but was Ireland worth having upon such terms? Armies, if not commanded, at least directed, by Government tithe-proctors; artillery, cavalry, infantry, all the materiel of an army might traverse 687 Ireland in the tithe campaign, and be the support of an Act of Parliament only existing by those military means; but no Act of Parliament even united with military power could manufacture bidders for the tithe-cow, or the tithe-pig. Where would they find those who would purchase, or who would eat the food offered even to their hungry stomachs, if procured from such a market? He regretted the whole course of this tithe crusade, which was still advancing with a frightful rapidity, every day announcing new arrests, and new invasions of the people's right to petition. There had been no instance of tumult or riot at any meeting held for petitioning against tithes; yet Magistrates were encouraged to array themselves against the people, and by a construction of law only to be supported by ignorant and partial juries, to use a force, and a vigour beyond the law, which would never be regarded as contributing to the respect in which the magisterial character ought to sustain itself. To resort either individually or generally, to such proceedings could only meet the struggling exigency of a moment, and was unworthy of the Government of a great country. Yet Ireland was doomed to be the theatre of trying, difficult events, and people might be found who would level themselves to every purpose, which would gratify their thirst for power, and the more depraved corrupt appetite for public plunder, the vile rewards of informers and persecutors of the people. He had opposed this Bill in every stage; he had expected little good from the construction of the Committee, upon the Report of which the Bill was founded. The construction of that Committee was a bad omen for Ireland; those who were connected with, and who formed a part of the great Catholic population were sedulously excluded from it. Was that not sufficient to make the public mind suspect the probable nature of the Report, and the consequent nature of the proceedings likely to be recommended by them? Ecclesiastical corporations to be erected! Why, centuries had passed away since the absurdity of such a proposition could be tolerated and swallowed, and yet the present Bill was to be a preface to such establishments. That was not the way to uphold the spiritual doctrines of any church, nor could the good qualities of any religion be taught and disseminated with effect, while tem- 688 poral power, while the corruptions of overgrown wealth and riches, embarrass and hold out political and worldly temptation to its teachers; they were but the more prone and liable to the infirmities of our common nature. The whole evidence to sustain those novel Church-militant campaigns, had been selected, with very few distinguished exceptions, from very extraordinary and suspicious materials. Police-officers had cut a conspicuous figure; and they could not read that evidence over without sensations of disgust, he might add horror, in finding military execution and martial law suggested and recommended by a beneficed clergyman, as a proper instrument to resort to and apply in the collection of tithes. He would take the opportunity of observing, that he had some time since moved for a return of the number of curates in Ireland. That had not been made. Why, he knew not; but their situation, and very small compensation for the duties, he might say labours, performed by them, should not be forgotten, even in the anxious desire to protect the collection of the revenues of their more wealthy brethren. Such persons were not entirely without the good feelings and sympathy of those who were not satisfied with the immense accumulation of Church property in the hands of a few, perhaps he should say of many, with reference to a hierarchy composed of four Archbishops and eighteen Bishops, great landed proprietors, a species of sinecurists, and certainly admitting of a great diminution of their numbers, as well as a better regulation of their ecclesiastical revenues. The lands of the Church in Ireland were of immense value, and in themselves would afford means to be of important consequence in relieving many suffering individuals among the working classes. It was an idle dream to suppose the Catholic population of Ireland could ever be content under the present appropriation of the tithe and Church property; such an opinion would be opposed by the natural and frank acknowledgment of those who would speak the truth, and express the honest impressions of their mind. The contrast of numbers between those of the Established Church in Ireland, and those who did not belong to that communion, prohibited the belief of the people of Ireland ever giving it their contented support. It might be kept up, but only so long as "right" and "might" were 689 synonymous terms; and what a prospect was that for the reflecting mind of a statesman in casting his glance over the present and future state of Ireland. He would not longer observe upon those unhappy circumstances, so deeply connected with the peace of Ireland, nor refer to the condition of the clergy in that country at present, further than to say—satisfy the country with a fair prospect of just and future equitable arrangements, and all would be calm and tranquil. The present incumbents would be sustained in their place in the relationship they ought to stand in with their parishioners; they would receive their accustomed dues, with the opportunity of reciprocal good feelings being interchanged and practised. Their present incomes would be received in peace; but as to their successors, whose imaginary claims to be supported by the people who never existed, depend upon it, to make provision for them by ecclesiastical corporations—by military force—by Acts of Parliament, all solely held up as long as the bayonet could be effectual, was not the way to make Ireland happy and prosperous, or to add to the stability and real strength of the British empire. In Ireland, the people had been deceived; the common understanding of a word imposed upon them. In the guile of their hearts, they never thought of a "parliamentary construction of words," or sentences. They were not acquainted with secret articles, and they read "extinction of tithes," in the common and ordinary sense of the English language. Tithes were to be sold. Who were to be the purchasers? There had frequently been a great deal said about forfeited lands in Ireland. Never was there more flagrant injustice committed, than the sale of Irish tithes and Church property would be, unless the amount of the sale was diverted to the public objects to which they ought to be applied. That would be not only a practical, but a real robbery of the poor, diverting from the proper objects, revenues originally collected for religious and charitable purposes. But those persons who might buy, ought to be considered in the situation of purchasers with notice of a bad title; then they would have no reason to complain of a future revision. He perceived the right hon. Secretary was determined to pursue the unfortunate course he had laid down. Should that be the case, and the right hon. Secretary would not allow himself to retrace his 690 steps at a future day, he would hope that Ireland would not deliver itself into the hands of its enemies, by the people being urged on, either by their own irritated and exasperated feelings, or by the indiscreet excitement of ardent and misguided, though perhaps honest minds, to resist by violence or force, the constituted authorities, in the name of order and of law. He had, however, to fear the machinations of those who, from wicked and diabolical intentions, would provoke and goad, if possible, into insurrection and rebellion, the unhappy people, whose situation was almost desperate; but he trusted they would show examples of a patient bearing, and a submission on their part, which must and would prove successful. The Government as well as the people were placed in an awful situation, their responsibility was vast. They should recollect, that although the stream might be directed in its course, and fertilize the land, yet impediments and obstacles, injudiciously opposed to its quiet passage, might cause it to become a mighty torrent, overwhelming every barrier, feebly and rashly placed in its way. The hon. Member moved that the Order of the Day be read that day six months.
§ Sir John Brydges
said, there was an Irish party in that House, who, arrogating to themselves an exclusive love for that country, would have it believed that they alone felt an interest in her welfare. The truth of this he denied, and declared that, though he could not boast of being an Irishman by birth, he felt he had an Irish heart within him, and that he would yield to no man in an anxious desire for the prosperity of that distracted country. He was ready to grant, that for years Ireland had been misruled; that she had not been fairly dealt with; that her interests had been made too subservient to English purposes alone, with too little consideration for individual benefits to Ireland; by which means her attachment to England had not been so secured as it would have been had a different line of conduct towards her been pursued. Upon the question immediately before the House, he should only observe, that the Committees of both Houses of Parliament had, he thought, laid sufficient matter before them in the reports, to enable any one to form an opinion whether it was desirable to pass the Bill or not, without the necessity of debating it at length, at this late period of the Session. For himself, he was of 691 opinion it was a wise measure, and he approved generally of its provisions, though he should always lament the use of the term, "extinction of tithes," that had been used; it was improper, nay false, for tithes would still exist, though under a different denomination. But this unlucky term had again contributed to the agitation of the country, and would serve as a handle for mischief, to be employed by those who were desirous to see the Protestant Church demolished. It had been boldly asserted, by those who had this object in view, that tithes were virtually abolished, and that no power could compel the people to pay them any longer; at the same time they were advised not to violate the law. Had Great Britain the power to make laws or not, to bind Ireland? If she had, he would remind those persons that she possessed at the same time the power to enforce them. He remembered, he said, an expression in that House of a late gallant admiral, whose untimely fate every one who had the happiness to know him must lament, that it would be happy for England, if the ocean were to roll for twenty-four hours over the Emerald Isle. But as that could not be, and as she never could be permitted to be in the hands of the foreign enemies of England, he would recommend the Irish party in that House to endure the evils which they could not cure; and, instead of employing agitation, to bring about any object they might have in view, that they would patriotically use their best endeavours to uphold the united interests of both countries, so that Ireland, instead of being a curse to England, might prove, as she was well calculated to be, the brightest jewel in her Crown.
§ Mr. Ruthven withdrew his Amendment.
§ The Order of the Day read.
§ On the question that the Speaker leave the Chair,
said, he rose to move an instruction to the Committee to recite in the preamble of the Bill, that the tithe composition should be extended, with a view to the levying of the first-fruits according to their real value, and to such future appropriation to the purposes of religion, education, and charity, as, after making a due provision for the maintenance of the Church, should to Parliament seem proper. This Motion embraced two objects. The preamble already stated that the object of the Bill was, to effect commutation. Thus a view was stated in the Bill. The Go- 692 vernment ought to stop there; they bad themselves declared that they intended to relieve the people from the Church-rate, by levying the first fruits to their full extent—that it was their object to ascertain the full amount of tithes through Ireland, in order to tax the Church. The Committee had reported that the people ought to be relieved in this particular; wherefore, then, was it not set forth in the preamble? These declarations by the Minister were not sufficient; they should be embodied in the Bill, and the Legislature should give an earnest of their determination to rescue the Irish nation from an imposition, the most odious in the annals of ecclesiastical taxation—the building of the temples which were dedicated to a religion with which they had no concern. This proposition was not unreasonable; it was in accordance with the pledges given by the Ministry. The introduction of this undertaking in the Bill would mitigate its bad effects, and neutralise, to a certain extent, its bad and baneful qualities. As to the Bill itself, he should revert for a moment to its history. It was necessary to go back to the King's Speech. In that speech it was stated, that the just causes of the complaint against tithes should be removed, and internal discord should be prevented. In pursuance of this recommendation, a Committee was appointed. He should pass over all the unfortunate incidents connected with its function. They reported that measures of coercion should be adopted. The Chancellor of the Exchequer declared, that he should never assent to measures of coercion, unless they were to be followed by measures of relief. What were the measures of relief? They were these:—A receiver was to be sent on an estate; in default of payment, a new remedy was to be given to the Church, its powers were to be trebled, and its ascendancy to be raised with more secure and complete domination. He was not so captious or sophistical, or so much disposed to cavil with this Bill, as to say that the principle of it was to be entirely rejected; but he would state, that the Bill did not remove a large portion of the just causes of complaint, on the part of the people of Ireland. One of those just causes of complaint, admitted in the report, was the levying of the Church-rate in Ireland, and, accordingly, the Tithe Committee proposed to substitute such a system as would abolish the grievance. 693 This was one of the bonuses held forth by that Committee, as as inducement to the adoption of these three Bills, or, at all events, of this one Bill. The conclusion of the report distinctly stated, that it was the opinion of the clergymen themselves, that the Church-rate, which was of a peculiarly galling and exasperating character, should be abolished. He recollected that the right hon. Secretary for Ireland had it in contemplation, many months since, to introduce an Act with reference to the Church-rates. That Act, however, was not introduced, because it was conceived that it would not effect the purposes to which it was intended to be applied. The right hon. member for Waterford then made a motion upon the subject, to which the Government acceded, and it was understood, on all hands, that a measure was to be introduced for removing several of the evils connected with the Church-rates of Ireland. One of the arguments of the noble Lord, the member for Devonshire, to whom he must refer as one of the leading Members of this House,—one of the arguments of the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, was, that, without the Tithe Composition Act, there was no means of ascertaining the full amount of the tithe of Ireland. Did not Ministers state, in effect, that it was necessary to ascertain the full amount of tithes, with a view to ulterior measures? Was not that so? Then, he said, show by the preamble of the Bill that you have in view, not the mere composition of tithe, but the ascertaining of the full amount of the tithes of Ireland, with a view to ulterior measures of relief. The noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as he had already stated, said—"I will not consent to measures of coercion, unless they are accompanied by measures of relief." Where were the measures of relief? In proposing the insertion in the preamble of the Bill, he was taking that view of the case, in which the noble Lord must participate. If this Composition Act be a measure of relief, it extended only to one-third of Ireland, so that two-thirds of the relief to be gained by this Bill really belonged to the right hon. Gentleman, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, for he was the person who originally introduced the Tithe Composition Act. But look at the complicated and involved system the Bill would introduce. It said that, in all leases hereafter, the tithes should be paid by the lessor;—very well: if all the land 694 of Ireland were let on leases—plain straight forward leases—that might be reasonable; but a great part of the land of Ireland was let on under-leases, so that, under this Tithe Composition Act, the landlord would not be liable to the payment of tithe, but it would be the occupier of the soil who would be called upon to pay it. It really would be, in future, a misfortune to a man to have a lease. The Bill provided, that if a man has only a three years' interest he shall not pay tithes; but if there be a lease in existence under which the occupier of the soil held for a longer term than three years, he would be subject to the payment of tithes. Suppose that he had an estate, let in different portions—Black Acre, let on lease for twenty-one years. Blue Acre, which would be out of lease in a year, and White Acre, which would be out of lease in five years: why, there would be three different classes with respect to the payment of tithes in these three portions of his estate. In the case of the lease for twenty-one years, the tithes would be paid by the tenant, who would be subject to every species of inconvenience inflicted by the tithe proctor, and whose goods might be distrained. Blue Acre would fall in in a year; during that period he was not liable, but his tenant. White Acre would be out of lease in five years, and then the Act would first come into operation. Now, this was not an overstrained case; it was one which was very likely to occur. They could not hope, therefore, to produce internal peace in Ireland, until they introduced an equal system, making the charge in every case either upon the landlords, or upon the occupiers of the soil. According to the present system, if Patrick Murphy held one part of an estate, he would be subject to the payment of tithes, while Thomas Murphy, who held another portion of the same estate, would pay no tithe at all. It was almost an offence to common reason to designate such a proceeding as the means of confirming concord in Ireland, and removing "the just complaints of the people." What were the complaints of the people? The enormous opulence of an establishment belonging to a minority, designated as miserable by the hon. member for Norwich, in a speech which a few nights ago astonished the House by the evidences of miraculous conversion which it displayed. Was that complaint just? He (Mr. Sheil) thought it was, and was convinced, that internal concord never 695 would be obtained until the abuses of the establishment were corrected. He, therefore, called on Government to embody in the preamble a declaration that this evil should be removed. He was the more induced to do so by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland having declared that he never would consent to a different appropriation of Church property. It was idle for the Secretary for Ireland to say, that he only spoke as an individual. He could not be said to have a right to speak as an individual. The Minister could not supersede Mr. Stanley, nor Mr. Stanley supersede the Minister, according to their reciprocal convenience; his identity could not be split; he was one and indivisible, and his announcements on the Irish Church must be regarded as official, and his principles must be held to afford the rule by which Ireland was to be governed. As, therefore, he set up for the champion of the Establishment, as its "preux chevalier"—as he was the Bayard of the Protestant religion, it became incumbent on those who differed from him, to avail themselves of every opportunity to assail his doctrines, and to resist his legislation. Were there a hope that he would change, that he would abandon his erroneous opinions, and that events could make a convert of him, these were then reasons not to press him, and to abide, perhaps, until, next Session; but when not the least chance existed that he would recede from his sinister fidelity to the Irish Establishment, how idle the suggestion that we should tarry and wait the Ministerial convenience. From one Minister he (Mr. Shiel) should pass to another. The noble Paymaster of the Forces had declared, a few days ago, that he entirely dissented from the Irish Secretary. Many of the Cabinet entertained the same difference of opinion. The Lord Chancellor and ten members of the Government, or gentlemen attached to it, had voted with the member for Middlesex when he moved an inquiry, with a view to its reduction, into the wealth of the Irish Church. But amidst these differences of sentiment, was Ireland to be sacrificed, and, lest there should be a quarrel in the Cabinet, were all its members to immolate the country and they: own dignity to the pertinacious prejudices of the Irish Secretary? He (Mr. Sheil) called on the Paymaster of the forces to come forward and vindicate himself, and not to put Ireland off with an intimation that we should wait for 696 a new Parliament. If they were to wait for a new Parliament, wherefore not leave this very Bill to it? and if they were to legislate on this Bill. why not prefix to it a parliamentary declaration, that the crying grievances of Ireland were to be redressed? On the abstract question of Church property, he should say very little; it was not necessary to resort to abstract speculations—to the distinctions between corporate and personal rights, and to the positions laid down by men of the first eminence, that Church property belonged to the State. He should not go back to the history of this country, and show the numerous instances in which the State had not only modified, but appropriated the ecclesiastical revenues. He should not appeal to the many proofs afforded by the examples of continental nations, that personal property would not be endangered by an interference with the estates of the Church. He would content himself with referring to an Act of Parliament in his hand, the Bill for the Establishment of an University at Durham, out of the estates of the Dean and Chapter. What was this but an interference with Church property, and a diversion of it from the purposes to which it was now devoted? Would any man contend, that the institution of professorships of mathematics, and of chymistry, and natural philosophy, and of Latin and Greek, and of the Oriental languages, was an appropriation to the purposes of the established religion. It was idle to say the Dean and Chapter consented. They could not consent. They had but life interests. They had no right, according to churchmen to rob their successors. They could make leases only for twenty-one years. The estates vested in them were the property of the great Corporation of the Church of England. Yet here was an Act of Parliament authorising the sale of their estates, to build colleges, and establish profane and purely temporal institutions. What said pious Protestants touching this most important subject? He had before him Lord Henley's pamphlet, complaining of this proceeding as a violation of the rights of the Church. This was a triumphant precedent—a case distinctly in point, which was far more valuable than any ratiocination—a decision of the Legislature, in which all parties concurred, which must shut the mouth of any Minister, and strike him dumb, who maintained the sacred intangibility of corporate pro- 697 perty; and mark the conclusion. If in a country where the religion of the State was the religion of the people—where the wealth of the clergy was not in such gross disproportion with the duties—apart of the opulence of the Church had been cut off—was it to be asserted that where there were 8,000,000 of one religion, and 700,000 of another, not a sacrilegious finger was to be laid on an institution which might be regarded as the greatest moral monster that was ever yet set up in the name of the Christian religion? Yes, he would repeat the phrase. He was no enemy of the Establishment, if its true purposes and intent were pursued, and its abuses were corrected; and if it were reduced to more simple and apostolic dimensions; but he should not hesitate to denounce it, in its present condition, as a mass of insufferable anomalies—a heap of disproportions—a mere monster—out of all shape and symmetry, and adaptation, either to the state of the country or the true interests of religion. It was of its opulence that the people of Ireland complained; and until it was cut down, and that with an unsparing hand, there could be no hope of tranquillity in Ireland. What was the state of the country? If it was formidable when the King's Speech was pronounced, it had now become terrific; and to what expedient did Government resort? They gorged their gaols with the leaders of public assemblies. But would these proceedings allay or mitigate the feeling which prevaded those assemblies, and by which millions of men were swayed, and taught to feel with the unity of a single man? If the processions at Birmingham had been dispersed, and its banners levelled to the earth, and its leaders flung into gaol, would the call for Reform have been suppressed? As idle was it to hope that strong measures of the Executive would in Ireland supersede the necessity of wise and salutary legislation. They had refused the Reform; and in refusing the Reform, the Whigs had charged the Tories with their fatal delays. "Had you," they said, "availed yourselves of the opportunity given by East Retford—had you availed yourselves of Mr. Huskisson's admonition—how much evil might have been averted—what a cloud charged with peril might have passed away." And now the Irish Members addressed to them the very same admonition—called on them—entreated them—implored—supplicated them—to 698 apply measures of prompt, of immediate Reform to the Irish Church. The abuses of rotten boroughs were not worse. The cry from Ireland for the Reform of that Church was as strong as that which appalled the Government into concession of Parliamentary Reform. It was said wait till the new Parliament—wait for eight months;" but would events wait? What would befal at the next election? What could those who were disposed to be the friends of Government tell the people? What would they be able to say in its defence when the Bill was brought forward, and they were asked whether an Irish Parliament would ever have passed a Bill like this? He implored them for God's sake to awake to a sense of their own and of Ireland's condition, and of the perils that environ, and threaten such calamity to the entire empire! There was yet time—the precious opportunity had not passed—it was irrevocable—and if permitted to go by, would be for ever lost. He must conclude by moving an instruction to the Committee "to recite in the preamble that the composition was to be extended with a view to levying the first fruits according to their real value, and the appropriation of tithes to such purposes of religion, education, and charity, as to Parliament, after making a due provision for the Established Church, should seem meet."
said, I have not troubled the House with any observations since the right hon. Secretary for Ireland has introduced those measures. I have abstained, because I have not been able, either from the speech with which the right hon. Gentleman introduced them, or that of my hon. and learned friend, the Solicitor General for Ireland, to understand distinctly what was the exact import of the intended Bills, One of the Bills is now before the House, and with the distinct view which I have of it, I feel I should not act as an honest man, either towards Ireland or the House, if I did not state my full and honest conviction, that it is not a measure such as the country had a right to expect; that it is not a measure of relief, such as had been promised by his Majesty's Ministers, and on the faith of which they obtained their coercive tithe measure, and their grant of 40,000l. for the clergy—that it is one which deceived the hopes and wishes of the country—in its main principle obviously unjust—it will be found 699 impracticable in its working, and can be productive only of mischief and more extended discontent. The country has a right to expect a bill which would in sense and substance extinguish tithes, and in their stead establish another mode of supporting the Protestant clergy. The whole history of the tithe opposition proved this. The complaint of the country had been, not merely against the petty vexations which had attended the collection of tithes, but against the whole tithe system, tithes, in substance and in form, tithes levied on the Catholic population, for the support of a Protestant clergy. These are the subjects of complaint. The country has called for their abolition—the country has resisted the payment of them. The King's Government had felt this, and, to provide a remedy, they submitted the question to Parliament, through the Speech from the Throne. The right hon. Gentleman, early in the Session, brought the question before the House; he appointed his Special Committee. He did not, upon that Committee, name a single Catholic. Though I blame this exclusion, I admit that delicacy may have been the motive, as it was the Catholics of Ireland who were mainly aggrieved by the tithe-system, and Catholic Members might have considered themselves interested judges. But even that Committee, appointed as it was exclusively of Gentlemen whose principles and habits of thinking were strongly biassed in favour of tithes, and of the Protestant Establishment and institutions—even they found themselves constrained to recommend extinction, the complete extinction, of tithes in Ireland, and the substitution of another fund. The extended resistance to the payment of tithe, and the increased distress of the Protestant clergy, impelled the hon. Gentleman, in a few weeks after the Committee had begun their sittings, to call for a first report, whereupon to found his application for a coercive measure to bring in the arrears of 1831, and for a grant to relieve the alleged poverty of the clergy. A report was, at the same time, obtained from the Lords' Committee, which in the precise words of the Commons' report, recommended the complete extinction of tithes, as necessary both for the security of the Church, and the safety of the country. On two subsequent occasions, after the coercive measure and the grant had been obtained from this House, 700 it was found convenient to deny that the reports had recommended a literal extinction of tithes; and it was found convenient, also, to deny that the Committees, or the Ministers could ever have thought of totally "extinguishing" this legal right and property of the Church; and the expression relative to the "extinction of tithes" was afterwards explained. The expression was, "that such changes, to be satisfactory and secure, must involve a complete extinction of tithe, including those to lay impropriators." This is said to mean not an "extinction" of tithe, but something different—some modification of them; but I submit to any man who understands the English language, whether any words could have been used better calculated to express a complete abolition—a thorough annihilation of tithes—than those which have thus been employed, not by the one Committee only, but by both Committees, who must be taken to have used them deliberately, on mature consideration, and by mutual consent, as, in both the precise phrase "complete extinction" was adopted. It has been contended, but vainly I think, that the concluding words of the sentence in each report, qualify and reduce the meaning—namely, the words—" by commuting them for a charge on land, or an exchange for an investment in land." These words, however, only strengthen the construction which the public has given to the Report; for it is impossible to commute tithes for a charge on land of a different nature, or for an investment in land, without the tithes themselves being extinguished, abolished, or done away with. But what makes the case still more plain in favour of the people is, the solemn pledge given by the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, during the debate on the Tithe Coercion Bill in March last, when the noble Lord said, on the Irish Members pressing for a present instead of a future remedy lest Ministers might change their opinions with circumstances—an event which I am sorry to see has occurred:—It was the duty of the House, as it was certainly the duty of Ministers, indeed both would be acting inconsistently with honour and duty if they did not promptly apply themselves to affording a remedy to the urgent grievance, whilst they devoted their best attention to preventing a recurrence of the causes of that grievance. This was all that Ministers pro- 701 posed in the present instance, which was merely a fulfilment of what he had stated on a former occasion, namely, that a measure coercively asserting the authority of the law should not be had re-recourse to without a pledge of an efficient remedy for the evil effects of the tithe system in Ireland, which had led to that state of things which called for this extraordinary measure.'* Such were the Reports of the Committees, and such the pledge of substantial relief given by the noble Lord; and now what is the relief afforded? A Tithe Bill! a Bill to make the composition of tithes permanent and compulsory over the whole surface of Ireland! The people complained of tithes—compositon tithes. Relief is promised; Abolition is recommended. And now, the relief for tithes comes—as a Tithe Bill! The measure is a mockery, if not an insult. Am I to be told, that the people liked the Compostion Tithe Act in preference to tithes in the ordinary way? The report of the Lords' Committee proved that the composition tithe met with more resistance than the uncompounded tithe; for it appeared by that Report, that, in the diocese of Ossory, there was due, for Composition Tithe, 14,345l.; for uncompounded tithe, 18,092l.; for Leighlin, compounded, 18,092l.; uncompounded, 2,700l. In Cashel and Guily, for compounded, 23,490l.; for uncompounded, 4,197l. Total in these four dioceses, 55,927l. compounded; 17,027l. for uncompounded. Thus, then, the resistance to the composition tithe was three times as great as that to the uncompounded. But will it be said, that this Bill comprises but one the three measures which the right hon. Gentleman intends to introduce, and which together, are to make up his relief? If so, a new argument against proceeding with this Bill arises; for why should the House enact, piecemeal, a fraction of a measure? Why not postpone the one until the whole system is placed before the House, in order that the efficacy of the whole may be judged of? Who can tell whether the right hon. Gentleman will ever have an opportunity of laying those reserved measures before the House? But even if he had now laid them before the House, will any man say that his "Ecclesiastical Compositions" to levy* Hansard (third series) vol. x. p. 135,702 tithes would be efficient? Oh! the dream of the Irish landlords redeeming the tithes of their lands at sixteen years' purchase, will it ever be realized! 'The whole relief, then, that the country has really to expect, is in this tithe Bill! But it will not relieve—it will greatly aggravate all the evils—all the discontent which has already distracted the country, and will infinitely increase the distress of the clergy, whom the right hon. Gentleman has unluckily taken under his protection. I will now proceed to show that the principle of the measure is unjust. The first great feature of the Bill is to throw upon the lower class of landlords the tithe of the occupiers, who hold at will or as yearly tenants. This is adopted on the trite, but false maxim, that tithes are a charge on the land, and therefore the landowner is justly liable to them. Nothing can be more unfounded than that tithe is a charge on the land, as land. Tithe is a charge only on the produce. The occupying tenant who takes land and pays a rent for it, and then, by his industry and expenditure, raises produce, is the person, and the only person, of whom tithe can be demanded, the tithe itself being only a portion of that produce. But the mere owner of the land can never be considered liable in any way to a tithe demand; and yet this Bill seeks to relieve the occupying tenant, the person really liable to this bad tax, by throwing it upon his immediate landlord, whom no law, either civil or ecclesiastical, ever considered liable to a tithe charge. It does this, without giving any consideration to the landlord, or even alleging against him any culpability! It transfers one man's debt to another, without a pretence of justice or reason! Nothing in legislation was ever so monstrous!—The occupying tenant might and ought to be relieved by an abolition of the tithe, and providing some other more fit fund for the maintenance of the clergy; but to take the burthen from the tenant and throw it on the landlord is neither more nor less than legal robbery. But the Bill is unjust in another respect. Even if tithes were, as they are not, a charge on land, yet the charge should effect proportionally all the persons who have an interest in the land as landlords. But this Bill, passing over the owner of the fee, and all who under the fee down to the lowest landlord of the occupier, throws the whole burthen on the lower class of landlords, leaving the others free 703 of all liabilities! The whole of the tithes of Ireland, now chargeable on yearly occupiers, are thus, during the present leases, thrown on one class of landlords, and that the class least able to bear the weight. Can this be justice? The right hon. Gentleman may be assured, that whatever may be the degree of resistance at present made to the payment of tithes, this change will increase it, and render combination, as it has been called, more universal against the system than it has ever yet been! But the whole scheme of the Bill is impracticable—it cannot work. How can the clergy recover under it? when the bill shall have passed, and the parson comes to demand his tithe, he cannot come to the occupier, the yearly tenant who has raised the crop; he has to inquire, in the first place, who is the landlord? Where is he? If the tenant on the land will not inform him, he must range about to find who is the present landlord of the occupier. The Irish tenants will not be likely to assist the parson or the proctor. He must employ an agent, an attorney, to make a search in the registry to see whose name is on record. If he discovers that at some expense, he comes to the landlord. The landlord may before the tithe became due, have assigned over either fairly or collusively. The parson is to search again, and new difficulties may arise which may not now be foreseen. But if he discovers the landlord really liable, that landlord may not pay—may not be able—may be absent. The parson then must apply himself to the remedy which this Bill gives him—an action of debt—a civil Bill (which he already has, as well as the power of distress by the present law), or to a receiver of the rents of the landlord. This leads the parson to the necessity of employing a solicitor; then to the making an affidavit, not only, that the tithe is due, but of the title of the person as landlord. If he is able to make that affidavit, then his solicitor proceeds to require the fee for the lawyer, fees to the officers of the Court. He perhaps succeeds in his motion for the receiver: he must then go with his solicitor and his counsel, perhaps, into the office of the Master in Chancery to have the receiver approved of. When he leaves the Master's office, sick of the expense and trouble, he then sends his receiver to the lands to receive the rent, to discharge his tithe debt. The tenant may have al- 704 ready paid his rent to the landlord, and cannot be called on to pay again, or what is more likely, he may refuse to pay, or may not be able, and then follows the distress of the cattle or other goods; then an auction; no bidders, and, after all the expense, trouble and vexatious proceedings to which the Bill gives rise, the parson finds himself precisely in the same hopeless situation in which he now is at a tithe sale! But this would be a simple case, compared with others which must arise out of this Bill. By the Bill, all new leases must be made free of tithes to the tenant. When, therefore, the landlord next above the occupying tenant shall have taken a new lease, the parson will not be able to come on him, for he will, by his lease, be tithe free. The parson then must have a double search to make, or to find the landlord next above the last, and demand his tithe of him. When the parson finds him, he may find that this landlord also has taken a new lease, and is tithe free; and if so, he has yet further to search, or perhaps the landlord may have mortgaged or assigned a part of his land; in any of which cases, and numberless others the parson must be disappointed. But suppose, after all, he finds this upper landlord to be liable, but that he is absent, he is then driven to all the former law proceedings, from the affidavit through the Chancery, the Master's office, and into the cottier's cabin, and he has then his tithe seizure, tithe auction, and all the blessings with which it is accompanied, and which he may, at the present moment, have and enjoy. Is it for this, then—for these benefits—that the right hon. Gentleman means to press this measure at the point of the bayonet on the people and clergy of Ireland? Is it for this that he is ready to immolate public rights—disperse meetings plainly legal—give a mortal stab to the Constitution of the country, by rescripts from the Executive to the magistracy, goading them on in a course which, to his (Mr. Wallace's) understanding, is clearly illegal? Is it for such benefits that he presses this fragment of his relief system on an expiring Parliament, and refuses to wait the meeting of another Session, when he might have his whole plan ripe and ready for adoption, or to avail himself of the interval of recess, to fix upon a fund that he might substitute for this odious impost, and by extinguishing tithes, give peace to the country, 705 maintenance to the clergy, and redeem the pledge which Ministers have given to the public? Does the Right hon. Gentleman really and seriously believe, that by pressing such a measure as this, he will be able to procure for the clergy a single: shilling in Ireland; or that, by this Bill, he will allay in a single parish the ferment which his former measures have raised? Let him not so flatter himself. His Bill will be efficient in nothing but mischief. I would, therefore, beseech the right hon. Gentleman to stop short in this unwise and unprofitable course, but that I know how inflexible the right hon. Gentleman is in pursuit of a favourite object. I would supplicate him but for this, to adopt the advice which has been given to him by the friends of Ireland. That advice has, in fact, been given to him by the Resolutions which were moved on the last debate on this subject by the hon. member for Wicklow. Those Resolutions may, perhaps, be somewhat vague by being necessarily short; but they are at least sufficient to vindicate the Gentlemen who oppose the present measure, and contend for a complete extinction of tithes, from the charge that they aim at abolishing the present provision for the Church, without establishing anything else in its place. Those Gentlemen never intended to leave the Church without a provision, but to substitute for an unproductive, a failing, and uncertain provision, one which will be fixed, adequate, and meeting the wishes of the people of Ireland, and with which all classes would be satisfied. They offered the whole property of Ireland, landed and personal, as a security or a subject for furnishing such provision; and though there might be a momentary difficulty in ascertaining the exact amount, or the arrangement of such a fund, shall I be told that his Majesty's Ministers, with the aids within their power, are unable to devise how an annual sum of 500,000l. may be raised on the whole property of Ireland? Why will they not yield to the urgency of these requests—and of the crisis? Why not avail themselves of this golden opportunity of at once revising the Church—adopting the advice pressed on them by the Amendment of my hon. and learned friend (Mr. Shell), of applying first fruits to their legitimate purpose—extinguishing a tithe system which reduces Ireland almost to a state of anarchy—and, by providing for the Irish Church such an ade- 706 quate support as will make this just claim of the Establishment safe, and restore tranquillity and good order to the country.
said, the long speech of the hon. Gentleman opposite seemed little calculated to second the instructions moved by the hon. and learned member for Louth, for, during the whole of that long speech, not one word had been said of the Motion of that hon. and learned Gentleman, which reflected the highest credit on him, as well for the temper and ability which it displayed, as for keeping close to the object which he had in view, a merit which could certainly not be ascribed to the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, who had endeavoured to prove, through the whole of his speech, that all the measures of the Government were calculated to deceive the people, by holding out promises of relief which they had no intention of fulfilling. The scanty number of Members now present was not very tempting to any discussion; but he hoped he might be excused in saying a few words upon the ground of this charge, and, first, with regard to the King's Speech. One of the subjects most prominent in that Speech was the state of Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman had, however, quite forgot to mention that the recommendation in the King's Speech was, that they should endeavour to combine the necessary measures for the safety, peace, and prosperity of Ireland, with measures which should ensure the existence and safety of the Established Church. But if the House were to adopt the suggestions of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that Established Church would stand upon a footing which the hon. member for Mallow would call a state of security in a very moderate way. Then, the hon. and; learned Gentleman asked, what was the real cause of complaint? That was the point of importance, because by ascertaining that, they would ascertain what were the grievances to be removed. But, upon that point, he differed altogether from the hon. Gentleman; nor did he, in any degree, conceal that difference. The King's Speech did not hold out a promise of relief from the payment of tithes, with-out the substitution of an equivalent; neither did the Committee of the House of Commons, nor his noble friend's declaration, nor the measures which had been already introduced, hold out any promise that an exemption, and an absence 707 of all payment, was to be the relief afforded. The hon. and learned Gentleman had quoted that passage in the first Report of the Committee which had been so often referred to, and he had repeated over and over again, that ten-times-refuted quibble about the extinction of tithes. He quoted, as others had done, one-half of a passage in that Report, in order to show that the Committee held out the promise of an entire abolition of the payment of tithes without any equivalent whatever. He read that portion of the Report which spoke of the extinction of tithes; and then he stopped, and commented upon it, suppressing points, and deducing from it an argument that the Committee had recommended the total extinction of tithes; whereas, the hon. and learned Gentleman must well know, that both the Report of the Lords' Committee, and of the Commons' Committee, distinctly stated, that the extinction of tithes was to be effected by commuting them for a charge upon land; or an exchange for, or an investment in land, by which the revenues of the Church should be effectually secured, and the clergy, as far as possible, removed from all collision with the occupiers of land. This was the measure of relief held out by these preliminary Reports, and which, it was intended, should follow the measure of coercion, as it was called. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that though he (Mr. Stanley) might rely upon carrying the other two measures as well as this, he should be no nearer effecting an extinction of tithes than at the present moment. What could extinction of tithes mean, if one fixed payment in lieu of tithes, or a fair exchange for land, did not constitute that extinction. Would the hon. and learned Gentleman tell him, that was not an extinction of tithes? In what way would the hon. and learned Gentleman extinguish them, unless he would defraud the Church, by putting into the landlords' pockets that which at the present moment belonged to the Church? His notion must be, either the taking away the Church property altogether, or the making a fair commutation of it for a charge upon landed property. Then, what could the hon. and learned Gentleman mean by saying, that if he carried the two other measures, he should not be a bit nearer the extinction of tithe than he was at the present moment? This measure was a substantial measure of 708 relief—a real and effectual extinction of tithe, unless by extinction of tithe was meant the getting rid of tithe without an equivalent. It removed the grievances of the tithe system—a system which was injurious to the operations of industry, and the employment of capital—that imposed a tax upon production, and operated oppressively upon the lowest classes of the people, collected as tithes were in the smallest portions, from a population differing in religion from those to whom they were paid. The mode, too, of enforcing the payment was disproportionally and extravagantly expensive, as compared with the sums sought to be recovered, and gave rise to those just complaints which it was the object of the Legislature to remove, and which, by that Bill, it had removed. The argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman appeared to him to look forward to something not before the House. The principle objection which he took to this Bill was, that it relieved the occupying tenant and charged the landlord. Was that the humanity, the patriotism, and the liberality of feeling towards the lowest class of the people, who were suffering under this grinding oppression, which animated the hon. Gentleman when he said, "I will agree to the payment—take the full amount of your charge, but, for God's sake, do not shift it from the occupying tenant—for God's sake do not impose it upon the land?" Why, this was the very merit of the Bill; it was by imposing the tax upon the land, that they removed the grievance from those who were ground down by the present system. They imposed the charge upon those who were properly liable, and who, at the present moment, ultimately paid it. The hon. and learned Gentleman had endeavoured to show, that tithe was not a charge upon the land; that, however, at all events, Ministers proposed to make it so; but, the hon. Gentleman said, it was not a charge upon land, because it was a tax upon produce. If he (Mr. Stanley) did not know the sincerity of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he should be almost inclined to call that a quibbling interpretation. He said, that tithe was not a charge upon the land, but a tax upon the produce of the land. That might be all very true; for, if the land were suffered to run to waste, the clergyman's charge, though not lost, would be in abeyance. But would the hon. Gentleman tell him, that the landlords were 709 likely to suffer their land to go to waste for the purpose of defeating the charge of tithe? The very curse of the system was, that tithe was a tax upon produce—a tax upon industry, the more a man laboured, the more he paid, the more capital, skill, and perseverance he employed in the cultivation of his land, so much the more heavily did this tax press upon him; that was one of the great evils of the system which it was the object of this Bill to do away with altogether. He was told, that the measure was inexpedient, because it was no other than the extension of the measure of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, which had already been applied to two-thirds of the property in Ireland. He did not deny to that right hon. Gentleman the merit of that measure, because, he believed, that the Tithe Composition Act had materially benefitted the occupying tenant; but did not Ministers go further than the right hon. Gentleman? He fixed an annual payment in lieu of tithe, for the periods of twenty-one, seven, or three years. During this time, the tithe-proctor, and the tax upon industry were got rid of; but at the end of that period all the evils of the system returned with accumulated force, because the encouragement which had been temporarily given to the investment of capital, and the improvement of the culture of the land, by the suspension of the yearly increase of the clergyman's demand, only tended to make that demand so much the greater, when the term for which the composition was made expired, and the tithe system recurred with all its deformity, and all its oppression. Then, what had Ministers done? It had been said, that it was a great additional injury to the landlords, to make this measure compulsory and permanent. But would the hon. and learned Gentleman have the tithe system again, or would be not admit that, it was a benefit, that, from the present moment, the increasing demands of the Church was for ever put an end to? Whatever improvements there might be hereafter made in the land—whatever skill might be employed in its cultivation—whatever the additional investment of capital might be, no further advantage could be hereafter derived by the Church; but with a fixed charge upon the land the Church must henceforth be content; so that it would no longer operate as a tax upon the industry of the country. This was one of the points for 710 which the Church had constantly struggled; it never would willingly forego this advantage of an yearly increase of its revenue, in proportion to the increased produce of the land. By this Bill, however, the clergy did part with this for ever; and if it accomplished that alone, the measure would be a material improvement upon the present system. He had thus established this proposition—that, from the passing of the Bill, tithes would be abolished for ever in Ireland. But the hon. and learned Gentleman said, that Government was only introducing a new species of tithe; true, it was a new species, it was a fixed and certain rent-charge, as a substitution for an indefinite, uncertain, oppressive and increasing payment. No man in Ireland would hereafter be charged with paying a certain proportion of the produce of the land, this Bill substituted a fixed money payment for it. And what was this fixed payment? The hon. and learned Gentleman said, "I will not quarrel with you if you will introduce a land-tax." This was a land-tax. What was the hon. and learned Gentleman's notion of a land-tax? Did he mean an assessment on the land of exactly the same amount on every single acre in Ireland, whether good soil or bad? Most likely he did not, but would regulate the charge according to the quality of the soil. The quality of land varied even in the same parish; and was it not according to that quality that the charge was apportioned under the Tithe Composition Act. By any other mode of charging the land, great injustice would be done to individuals, although, looking at Ireland in the aggregate, the whole amount of the charge would not be increased. For instance, a large sum of money was to be raised throughout Ireland, and it was proposed to tax those parishes which were at the present moment taxed lower than others, with an additional charge for the benefit of those which were now taxed higher. This might be a good argument for Gentlemen living in the province of Leinster, for instance, where the tithe composition was at present at the rate of 2s. 2d. an acre; but not for Connaught, in which the average of tithe, was about 11d. an acre upon land, good, bad, and indifferent. Now it was proposed to take from Leinster a specific portion of this charge, and throw a corresponding burthen upon the province of Connaught. This certainly might not, ulti- 711 mately, do any injury to the Church, or to the country, looking at it as one and indivisible; but how could it be reconciled with the interests of the persons who were to pay, and those who were to receive. It was true, it might be very benevolent on the part of the clergymen in Leinster, for instance, who, though they would be receiving less than they now received, yet would console themselves with the reflection, that there was an excellent rector in Sligo receiving more than they now did. This might be all very right, but it was not according to his notions of justice, and he should have thought not strictly according to the notions of justice even of the landlords, as it would operate upon them after the expiration of the covenants which they had entered into. Thus, then, the Tithe Composition Act was, at the present moment a land-tax on the most equitable terms. But suppose, that the land all over Ireland was of the same quality, and that the same amount of tax was, therefore, to be imposed; how would that affect the landlords who had purchased their property under the present system? One individual purchased property upon the faith that the tithe was only 11d. per acre, and gave so much the more for that property; another person, in another part of Ireland, purchased his property, subject to a charge of 2s. 2d, an acre for tithe, and, in consequence, paid proportionably less for that property. Now, if a new arrangement was to be made, by which the tithe should be made an equal charge throughout Ireland, thereby doubling the amount which the first individual had hitherto paid, and proportionably decreasing the sum paid by the other party, upon what principle of equity could this be done? And did not this sufficiently demonstrate, that tithes were, in this sense, a charge upon land, inasmuch as they entered into all the calculations respecting the buying or letting it. No man would purchase an estate without inquiring whether it was tithe-free or not, and if tithe-free, he let it for a proportion-ably larger sum; so that tithe was, in that sense, as strictly a charge upon land as any thing could be, a charge to which the present landlords were ulteriorly liable. He admitted they had made their covenants upon the faith of this, that during the continuance of the lease, the occupying tenant should pay the tithe. It would be a hardship to throw upon those landlords who had let their land upon these terms, the 712 charge which the tenants had covenanted to pay. But was this charge to be imposed on those landlords? So far from that being the case, it had been made a charge against Ministers, that a considerable time would elapse before the system would become generally applicable to the country, in consequence of the various leases now existing; and it had been endeavoured to throw ridicule upon the subject by supposing that a man on one side of a hedge paid no tithe, while the man on the other side paid tithe. But the ground on which they stood was this—let the tenant, holding under a lease, pay the tithe till that lease expired, and then let the landlord have the opportunity, in making a new lease, to take into consideration the additional amount of rent to be paid in consequence of the transference of this change from the tenant to himself. By thus affording the landlord time to enter into a new agreement, they were doing no injury to either party. The hon. Gentleman, then, complained that this was an arbitrary imposition on the landlords of Ireland. He had no sympathy with the tenant. Tax him; grind him as much as you please, but do not touch the landlord,—the moment a man was invested with that sacred character, then were his interests to be taken into consideration. But he did not throw upon the landlord the burthen, so long as his property was in lease, although he did afford him the opportunity of taking that burthen upon himself, because he had the power of commuting it for a fixed sum. How, then, could it be said, that, in any case. Government dealt hardly with the landlord? It threw no burthen upon him except prospectively, but it gave him the power, if he wished, to promote the tranquillity of his country, and the prosperity of his tenant, of putting himself in the clergyman's place for the recovery of tithes; not, however, adopting the hon. Gentleman's phrase, by making him the clergyman's tithe-proctor; but, by being, as he was, in a situation which enabled him to recover tithes from his tenant without expense, and of preventing his tenant and the clergyman meeting in collision, Government afforded him the opportunity, which, if he were a humane landlord, he would embrace, of doing these things, and, at the same time of putting a considerable sum of money into his own pocket. He acknowledged himself incompetent to enter into those legal 713 difficulties which the hon. and learned Gentleman had suggested; but he certainly did not expect to hear, considering all the ingenuity of the legal profession, that those difficulties were insuperable. The hon. Gentleman asked what the clergyman was to do when he entered, an entire stranger, into his parish? He had nothing to do but to look at the Act of Parliament. That act fixed the period up to which the occupying tenant should be liable, and from that time he would cease to be liable. Up to that period the clergyman must levy by distress upon the occupying tenant, and from that time he was to levy upon the landlord. But the hon. Gentleman again said, how was he to find out the landlord? He did not think there would be any difficulty; because, when the tenant was no longer responsible, he would produce his lease, and it did not require any great ingenuity to find out the person who granted that lease; and he was the responsible person. And if there should be several intermediate landlords, it was only to trace back their various leases until they arrived at the original landlord. The hon. and learned Gentleman next adverted to the appointment of a receiver, and he had, in this instance, argued very unfairly. He said, that Government was about to appoint a receiver on the landlord's estate immediately. It did no such thing: it gave the landlord all possible opportunities of avoiding the appointment of a receiver. It first proceeded by action of debt and by civil bill process; but if the landlord would not comply with this, or if he contrived to defeat it, or if he was not in the country, how would the hon. Gentleman proceed otherwise than by appointing a receiver? If the hon. Gentleman could show him a process by which the payment of the money could be as effectually secured, he was ready to enter into the consideration of that question. But the hon. and learned Gentleman was not to turn round upon him and say, "you will, in the first instance, take the harshest measures you can pursue," and, after expatiating upon the erroneous mode of proceeding, say, "that this harsh remedy will not be effectual." With regard to the question more immediately before the House, he would say a few words only upon it. The hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Louth, proposed that it should be an instruction to the Committee that they should have power to insert in the pream- 714 ble certain declarations us to the intention of the future proceedings of the Legislature. In the first place, the hon. and learned Gentleman said, that the preamble should express the intention of the Legislature with regard to the first fruits; and, in the second place with regard to the appropriation of the Church property. With regard to the first fruits, he went with the hon. and learned Gentleman in principle to the full extent; believing as he did, that it was both practicable and desirable, and consistent with the intentions and object of the first-fruits fund, that that fund should be made available to the purposes of repairing and building of churches; and the hon. and learned Gentleman would not find a more warm advocate for carrying that into effect, when circumstances permitted it, than himself. But, said the hon. Gentleman, why not say in the preamble that you mean to abolish the Church-cess and Church-rates for the future? He was not prepared to say, that he would do so. The hon. and learned Gentleman was aware that the first-fruits' fund could only come into operation very gradually, as, of course, he would not apply his principle to the present holders; therefore he was not prepared to go so far as the hon. and learned Gentleman. But if he wanted a warning as to pledging himself in terms for any future proceeding, he had had that warning in the present Session, with regard to the abolition of tithes, when he knew that his words had been taken up, and perverted to a meaning which they did not really bear. If he were to insert in the preamble of the Bill that Church-rates were to be abolished, the people would have nothing more to do than to take it into their own hands at once, by declaring that they would no longer pay Church rates; and if they were to be called upon to do so, they would say, "We have the sanction of Parliament, who have specified, in the preamble of this Bill, that it is desirable to abolish Church-rates and cess, and therefore we will pay them no more." But the hon. Gentleman called upon the Ministers to state that which would not be true; he required them to state, that the object of this Bill was, the extinguishing of Church-rates and Church-cess, and establishing a more regular payment of the first-fruits fund. But that was not the object of the Bill, and never was; what it was he had already stated. There could be no more convenient mode 715 for ascertaining what ought to be the real amount paid to the first-fruit fund than what was afforded by this Composition Act, estimating it according to the price of corn. Upon these grounds it would be inexpedient to introduce a pledge into this Bill upon a subject respecting which it would not be fair to call upon the House in the present stage of the Session to give a decided opinion. He could not, however, forbear repeating, that, at the time the first fruits were created, the legitimate appropriation of that fund was for the very purposes which the hon. and learned Gentleman had pointed out, and to the resumption of which, for those purposes, no person could, however attached he might be to the Church, advance a fair and reasonable opposition. The hon. and learned Gentleman next called upon Ministers to say that the object of this Bill was the future appropriation of Church property for the general purposes of religion in Ireland. When the resolution was brought forward upon this subject, at an earlier period of the Session, he (Mr. Stanley) objected to it; and he now objected to this declaration, which embodied the substance of that resolution, because it was vague and indefinite, and pledged the Legislature to a measure, upon the nature of which a great difference of opinion prevailed. He entirely dissented, for instance from the appropriation of Church property to any other than ecclesiastical purposes. But let not the hon. Gentleman misunderstand him. He had called upon Ministers to use the same arguments with regard to the Reform of the Church as were applied to the question of Reform generally. He admitted the whole force of the hon. and learned Gentleman's reasoning. He had himself employed those arguments. He had said, that great evils had been occasioned by the too long suspension of the remedies required to be applied to the Establishment. Suspicions and jealousies had been excited towards that Church by the perpetuation of those abuses which time had suffered to creep in, and the rational members of that Church had long desired to do them away. But as he did not admit, that the principle of Reform was to destroy the Constitution of the country, neither did he admit, that a Reform of the Church implied the taking away the property of that Church. Until the Church in Ireland should be what it was intended it should be, not one single 716 shilling of that property could or ought to be applied to any other than ecclesiastical purposes. He asked the hon. and learned Gentleman, whether he considered the Establishment in Ireland was in that complete state in which the property of the Church was designed to place it? Was there in every parish in Ireland a resident minister? [Mr. Sheil: They were not wanted.] Not wanted! The property of the Church in Ireland was held in trust, and the first trust was the extension of the Protestant Church throughout Ireland? While there was a single church out of repair—a single parish without a resident minister—the purposes for which that property was vested in the Church were not fulfilled, and his opponents, upon their own doctrines, could not apply it to any other purposes than for the maintenance of the Protestant Church, He might be told they did not want a Protestant Church or Protestant ministers. [No, no!]. If not, who was to be the judge as to the extent to which that Church should go? But the hon. and learned Gentlemen said, that he (Mr. Stanley) on this occasion, was at variance with many of his hon. friends around him. Undoubtedly, there were, among those with whom he had the greatest satisfaction in acting, some who entertained a modification of opinions upon this subject different from those which he himself entertained. He did not believe, that there was any difference of opinion between him and any of his colleagues on the subject under discussion: but if he believed that there was an insuperable difference of opinion between himself and those with whom he acted, he would not hesitate for a moment as to whether he should adopt his own principles or follow those of any individual, whoever he might be. He did not think it was within the range of possibility that he should be called upon to make this decision. It was probable that differences might exist between different members of the Government, as to the amount of Church Reform, but he was happy to say, that, both with respect to the principle and details of this measure, himself and his colleagues were perfectly agreed. He put it to the hon. and learned Gentleman, whether, at this period of the Session, it was advisable to introduce a pledge which the larger portion, even of those Members who opposed this Bill, would not agree to? The hon. and learned 717 Member had referred, in support of his argument, to the recent appropriation of part of the revenues of the Dean and Chapter of Durham, but that appropriation had been made for ecclesiastical purposes. It was the foundation of a university for the purpose of bringing up the youth in the north of England to the service of the Church of England, and the institution was entirely under the management of the Bishop, and the Dean and Chapter of Durham. He did not mean to say, that Dissenters might not incidentally take advantage of this college, but the main object of its foundation was the advancement of the Established Church. For the reasons he had stated, he must give his vote against the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
was willing to give the Government credit for good intentions, and all he asked was, that they would extend the same liberality to those who opposed them. He and his friends were placed in a difficult situation between the Government on the one hand, and their constituents on the other. He could not, however, concur in some of the observations which the hon. and learned Member for Louth made with reference to the relation in which the Irish Members stood to their constituents. It was improper whilst discussing a question of this general importance, to have the hustings, as it were, introduced into the House. Upon this occasion, he trusted that the Members for Ireland would consult only the interests of their country. It was, however, gratifying to him to know, that on this question he concurred to the fullest extent, in the opinions of his constituents. The people of Ireland did not desire to commit an act of robbery or injustice. In the settlement of this important question they desired that vested interests should be protected. The right hon. Gentleman must admit, that the phrase "extinction of tithes," had been taken in a literal sense in Ireland. Now the measure before the House would effect, not the extinction, but the extension of tithes, by giving additional force to the existing Acts for the commutation of tithes. In many parts of Ireland, landlords had refused to enter into a composition for tithes, because, by so doing, they would be for ever bound to pay them, and would thus be placed in a different situation from that in which they at present stood. Suppose a landlord let 718 a grass farm to a tenant, he would get a higher rent for it because it was not subject to the payment of tithe, but when the farm was subjected to the compulsory commutation, the tenant would demand an abatement of rent. Was it fair to place landlords in this situation? Were his countrymen who had been able to preserve a remnant of the properly which they derived from their ancestors,—were they, in the nineteenth century, after all that they had suffered, in maintaining their principles to be subjected to a new penal law, for such he would maintain this Bill to be? The right hon. Secretary said, that this Bill, was opposed because the Irish landlords wished to save themselves. He knew it was a popular thing in the House to attack the landlords of Ireland, and those who resorted to the practice were always cheered. He believed, however, that this class of persons in Ireland would not object to any fair settlement of the question. The right hon. Gentleman said, that the present system of tithes operated injuriously on agriculture. So also would his Bill. Under this Bill, the landlords who had expended the largest capital in the improvement of their land, would be compelled to pay the most tax. It would be the fairest course to assess the tax upon the intrinsic value of the land. Another objection which he had to this measure was, that it would be inoperative. It would render the law more detestable than it now was. but, in other respects, it would be inefficacious, and thus would give an additional triumph to popular feeling in Ireland. He would recall to the recollection of the right hon. Gentleman a speech delivered by the hon. and learned member for Kerry during the discussion of the Reform Bill, which was loudly cheered by the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues. "An Act of Parliament, the enactments of which are in direct opposition to the feelings of a whole people, is no more than a sheet of waste paper with the King's arms at the top, and the printer's name at the bottom. It must remain inoperative." These sentiments were cheered by the House then, why should they not be cheered as much now? What was complained of in Ireland was, that the same principles were not applied to the Reform of the Church, as were applied to the Reform of the Parliament. If the peace and safety of England were involved in the settlement of the Reform question, 719 assuredly the well-being and quiet of Ireland were involved in the satisfactory adjustment of this question. The attempt to dispose of the tithe question in any way but that which would be satisfactory to the whole people of Ireland, must lead to consequences which every person of right feeling must deeply deplore. Suppose that England was obliged to go to war with Ireland in support of the Church, and that, after thousands of lives were sacrificed, she should be successful, what would happen then? She must colonize the country, and if she did, would the inhabitants submit to the payment of an immense sum to persons for performing duties from which they derived no benefit. He remembered an observation made by a great authority in the House of Lords. Lord Plunkett, when he was a Member of the lower House, when speaking on the Catholic Question, he said, addressing the then Ministers, that "to some persons history was no better than an old almanack." He (Mr. O'Ferrall) was sorry to say, that that observation was applicable to the present case. He would have the Government look back to the history of a former period, and consider the consequences which resulted from passing an Act contrary to the feelings of a whole people. Let them remember the Stamp Act. The proceedings which occurred in America at that period were precisely similar to those which were now taking place in Ireland. The higher orders at Boston looked on passively, or expressed direct approbation, whilst the mob assembled and paraded the streets, and the Act was burned by the hands of the common hangman. Every one knew the result: America was lost to England. He hoped to God that the result of this Bill would not be the ruin of his unfortunate country.
§ The House divided on the Amendment: Ayes 18; Noes 76—Majority 58.
|Part of the AYES.|
|Bourke, Sir J.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Callaghan, D.||Power, R.|
|Chapman, H. L.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Doyle, Sir J. M.||Walker, C. A.|
|French, A.||Westenra, hon. H.|
|Jephson, C. D. O.||Wyse, T.|
|Leader, N. P.||TELLERS.|
|M'Namara, W. N.||Sheil, R. L.|
|O'Connor, Don||Wallace, T.|
§ The House went into Committee; considered the Bill; and resumed.