HC Deb 29 June 1832 vol 13 cc1159-62
Mr. O'Connell

said, in answer to a question, he should be exceedingly happy if he could, consistently with his sense of duty, comply with the request to withhold enforcing his call of the House, of which he had given notice for Thursday next. The question then to be discussed (the Tithe Question) was one which was of so much importance, that he should not be acting properly if he did not enforce the call. He was exceedingly sorry to give trouble to any hon. Member, but he considered it his imperative duty to act as he had done. The intention of amalgamating tithes with the rent was, in his opinion, merely a bonus to the people of Ireland to withhold the payment of their rents. Whatever might now be done with respect to that question, tithes would never again be paid in Ireland. He felt very sorry that he was obliged to trouble a House which had already declared that it did not represent the people; but the question was one of very great importance, and he should be under the necessity of taking the sense of the House upon every question that was put from the Chair. The Government would have acted much better had they deferred these bills till another Session of Parliament.

Sir Matthew White Ridley

was sorry to hear what had fallen from the hon. member for Kerry. He could not agree with him in the opinion which he had formed with regard to the tithe commutation. He knew, from great personal experience in England, that where landlords had entered into an arrangement with the clergyman, by which tithes and rent were all paid as rent, there neither was difficulty in getting the rent, nor were there any complaints of the plan; but, on the contrary, it was very much approved of in the north. He hoped the hon. Member would reconsider his intention, and not give the House the unnecessary trouble of dividing upon every question from the Chair.

Sir Charles Wetherell

was decidedly against the bringing in these Bills at the present late period of the Session. They might lengthen it to an indefinite period.

Mr. Shaw

was afraid, as the hon. and learned member for Kerry (Mr. O'Connell) said, that, whatever plan Government might now propose with regard to tithes, they would never be paid in Ireland. In the hon. and learned Member's opinion, they were already extinct, and he (Mr. Shaw) was much afraid rents would soon follow the same course. He had read in The Dublin Evening Mail, an account of a meeting of 100,000 people, who assembled to carry in procession to the grave two coffins, on which were inscribed Tithes, and Rent. At the interment of these two coffins a Catholic priest presided, and the mob after burying both tithes and rent, defaced several monuments and cut down trees. They must look, he was afraid, for a repetition of such scenes. He trusted, however, that the hon. Secretary for Ireland would persevere with his plan, in order that the clergy might be enabled to live. They were now living merely upon the bounty of their friends, and as they had had their hopes raised by the promises held out by that hon. Gentleman, he sincerely trusted that they would not now have to complain of the right hon. Gentleman deserting them. He begged to ask the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, whether it was the intention of the Government to press on the measures of which he had given notice with respect to tithes; for he could not help fearing lest the right hon. Gentleman might be overborne by the threats or the solicitations of the hon. member for Kerry, and induced to postpone them.

Mr. Stanley

said, he would not, nor would it then be proper, to enter into the general question; but, in answer to the hon. and learned Recorder's question, he would state, that undoubtedly it was not the intention of his Majesty's Government to postpone these measures, as they were of too great importance, both to the clergy and to the people of Ireland, to allow them to stand over until another Session. At the same time, although it was their intention to introduce three distinct measures, it did not follow that they should all be passed into a law before the prorogation. The first Bill, however, at least, if not the first and second, would be carried through Parliament. The first, independently of anything else, would be a material improvement on the present system, without which the ulterior part of the plan could not be carried into effect.

Mr. Leader

could see no benefit which would result from going into the consideration of these measures at a late period of the Session, as they must necessarily be left incomplete.

Mr. O'Connell

was really glad to hear that only one of the Bills was to be carried through this Session. He begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman the nature of the first Bill. If only one of the Bills was to be passed, he would not persevere in the Call of the House which he had given notice of for Thursday.

Mr. Stanley

said, he would on Thursday move for leave to lay on the Table three distinct Bills. The first was, to make certain amendments in the existing system of composition, rendering it both permanent and compulsory, to which it was the intention of the Government to attach a clause which would render the landlord, not the tenant, liable. The object of the second was, to vest the Church revenues in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; and of the third, the redemption of tithes by a land tax.

Lord Killeen

agreed with the hon. and learned member for Kerry, in thinking that the plan adopted by Government was not a wise one, as it would create great jealousy in Ireland, but he acquitted Ministers of any intention to cause such a feeling.

Mr. Goulburn

suggested, that it was, at all events, fitting some support should be secured for the clergy, until this question was finally decided. Otherwise, from the present state of things in Ireland, the incumbents and the whole body of the clergy would be left without any means of existence.

Mr. O'Connell

did not often agree with the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, but he did in this instance. Supposing that the Government were ever so right, and the people quite wrong, still the sentiment against the payment of tithe was now almost unanimous in Ireland, and so strong, that even those who were desirous to pay them, dare not, from the fear of that civil excommunication which would be the result of such payment. Under these circumstances, the contest being now kept up would only tend to deprive the clergy of every thing, for out of their livings they would get nothing.

Mr. Stanley

rose to order, and complained of Mr. O'Connell going into details, and entering upon the general subject.

The Speaker

decided that there was no breach of order.

Mr. O'Connell

would give one instance with respect to a living which had been lately divided, leaving all the duty and all the Protestants to one clergyman, with 100l. a-year, while another was to have 900l. a-year, without either a church or a Protestant in his parish.

Sir Charles Wetherell

repeated the suggestion made by Mr. Goulburn, and said, that it was too late to consider the whole of this subject in the present Session.

Mr. Ruthven

said, that the right hon. Secretary's proposition, in making a compulsory composition, was deceptive, and. he hoped it would be postponed, for he was confident it would give great dissatisfaction in Ireland.

Subject dropped.

Back to