HC Deb 05 March 1832 vol 10 cc1112-3
Sir Robert Bateson

presented a Petition from the Ministers of the Seceders in Donegal, for an increase and equalization of the Regium Donum. These individuals composing the Society over which the petitioners presided, were unexampled for good conduct. He was authorized to state there was no instance of one of the Members of their body having forfeited his life to the laws of his country: such persons certainly deserved every favour. He was of opinion that the prayer of the petition ought to be complied with, and that the Seceding Synod, and all the unendowed congregations, ought to participate in the grant. At present the bounty was distributed to the ministers in three classes; the first received 70l.; the second 50l.; and the third, 30. These sums were wholly inadequate to maintain the families of gentlemen who had received an excellent education, for such the petitioners were—and when it was considered that the country was at no expense in sending down Special Commissions, or employing an army in that part of Ireland, from which this petition proceeded, he thought the subscribers to it had every claim to the consideration of the House.

Lord Acheson

said, the petitioners were a most estimable body of men, and he understood many of them received only 45l. per annum, while some few had as little as 20l. He thought they were justly intitled to a larger allowance, and he could assure the House, such a measure as increasing their incomes, would be received with the highest satisfaction in that part of Ireland in which the petitioners resided, and where they were much respected.

Mr. Stanley

said, with respect to the inequality in the distribution of the grant, he doubted if the petitioners were those who had the best ground of complaint. He must state to the House, that he had caused inquiries to be made into the subject, and found that the ministers of the petitioning Seceders were better provided for than those of the Synod of Ulster.

Mr. Hume

regretted the grant was to be continued, as it was obvious, from the present petition, that it only led to envy and dissention. With regard to the disposal of it, he thought the best course to pursue would be, to put all the dissenting congregations upon the same footing, and make each pay its own Ministers. He saw no reason why the Presbyterian clergy were to receive the royal bounty, from which the Catholics were wholly excluded. He strongly recommended the withdrawal of the grant altogether.

Lord Castlereagh

assured the hon. member for Middlesex, that, if an attempt was made either to diminish or withdraw the grant, he would oppose it to the utmost of his power.

Colonel Conolly

said, he must also add his voice in support of the prayer of the petition. He knew the petitioners to be a most excellent and deserving body of men. The chief ground of complaint was, that the petitioners were not placed on an equal footing with the Synod of Ulster, from which they had seceded. There was no reason why any distinction should be made between the two parties.

Petition to be printed.