§ Mr. Littleton
moved the Order of the Day for the second reading of the Arrears of Tithes (Ireland) Bill.
§ Mr. Wilks
put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether he would proceed with a measure of this kind without further estimates as to the sums which were to be supplied. This Bill was to grant an advance of 538 1,000,000l. of the public money to the clergy of Ireland, who could not collect their tithes. Surely they ought to have some correct estimate before them, in order to justify them in voting so large a sum.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, that there were two points in which this grant was to be looked at—first, one of regret, that a sum of this amount was to be screwed out of the pockets of the people—and next, of satisfaction that the people of England must now see, that if the Government would force a religious establishment upon the majority of the people of Ireland, they (the English people) would have to pay for it. We had before to pay for this establishment directly and indirectly; but the measure now before the House asked for direct payment from this country; and for his own part, in order to spare the shedding of blood, if the establishment were to be kept up at all, he preferred the direct mode of paying; but he hoped the people of England would consider well that this was the effect of continuing to force a religion upon a people which they did not like.
§ Mr. Littleton
hoped, as the question now before the House was only for reading the Order of the Day, that hon. Members would not go into the discussion. He hoped they would allow the Order of the Day to be read, and the discussion to come on in its proper place, when he should be able to satisfy the House that, though a million was nominally to be voted, the whole of that sum would not be required.
§ Mr. Hume
had every objection to allow the Bill to advance even so far as the reading the Order of the Day. The proposition which it involved was most monstrous; that a grant of 1,000,000l.—for he could not view it in any other light—was to be made from the pockets of the people of England to keep up an establishment which the majority of the people of Ireland did not want, but which was even far greater than was necessary, for those for whom it was more immediately intended. If such a measure as this was now necessary, he would say that Ministers ought to be impeached for their conduct in the last Session in bringing forward a grant of a large sum to be paid in lieu of tithes. What had they done? They stated that if that sum were advanced, and if the claims of the clergy were transferred to 539 the King and collected in his name, there could be no difficulty about the collection, and that the money then advanced would be easily repaid. The King was thus made a sort of general tithe-proctor, and to be enabled to use the military force of the land in the collection of those transferred arrears. He knew, and he stated at the time, that the project would not succeed; and how, he would ask, had it turned out, after this advance of 100,000l.? The Government proceeded to the collection, and out of the sum of 104,000l. they collected only 12,000l., and that, too, it should not be forgotten at an expense of 28,000l. To get even that sum they were obliged to increase the military force of Ireland to a considerable extent. He had stated at the time that if, instead of sending over five battalions, they were to send over fifty battalions of troops, the effect would be the same; the people of Ireland would not pay while under the indignant feeling that a religious establishment had been forced upon them, and he was sure that that feeling was continued up to the present hour. Yet now Ministers came with this proposition for granting a million of money instead of tithes, which they ought to know it would be impossible to collect. He would ask was it decent to force on a discussion so important as the present, when the Bill itself had been in the hands of Members only that morning? He hoped that Ministers would consent to put it off till to-morrow, in order to give time for its better consideration. He had read the Bill three times over, and he had asked the opinions of others upon it, and he protested that he did not understand it himself, nor had he met any one who did. It was his intention to move a call of the House for to-morrow, in order to get as large an attendance as possible, for he was sure it would not give satisfaction to the constituency, if a measure so important as this was passed in a House of only eighty or ninety Members out of 658. It was monstrous that such a proposition should be made at all after what had taken place last year. How was the money then voted to be repaid? He would contend that Ministers should be made to repay it if they could. It was his intention to have proposed to refer the matter to a Committee up-stairs, in order to have it considered whether there was good security for the money to be advanced. He should have no objection to consent to the Bill, 540 provided the repayment of the money was to be secured on the temporalities of the Irish Church. But no such security was offered; the whole was to fall upon the people of England, and this, too, at a time when they were crying out under the pressure of taxation and praying for relief, and when they were told that the Government could not afford to remit any of those taxes of which the people complained most loudly. He understood that the proposition was to be, that from November next the tithes were to be collected from the landlords where there were only yearly tenants, and from the tenants where the land was held by lease, and that the collection was to extend to the arrears of three years. Was this fair to the landlord or the tenant, or would the people of Ireland submit to it? It was said that the people of Ireland would be quiet after this. They might indeed well be quiet if their tithes and their taxes were paid by the people of England; but if the money now advanced were to be repaid, and to be collected from the landlords and tenants of Ireland, would they consent to pay for an establishment which they did not want, and which they felt was forced upon them? The Irish landlords said "Show us what this is for, let us see an estimate of what is actually wanted for your establishment; let us have some evidence of your disposition to bring down the expense of that establishment to the wants of the country, and then we shall be content to pay a statutable cess; but until then we will not pay it." He would ask whether, after paying for a military establishment of more than 20,000 men, they were now to pay 1,000,000l. from the pockets of the people of England to keep up that rotten establishment? Were they prepared to go on paying this sum of 1,000,000l. from year to year? He was sure that if the present House did it, the people of England would, when the opportunity offered, mark their sense of the conduct of those who dared to dispose of the public money in such a manner. He would say, then, let the Church establishment in Ireland be reduced to its proper limits, and if there were any deficiency in the amount of tithe, or difficulty in its collection, as no doubt there would, let that deficiency be made up out of the temporalities of that overgrown establishment, and thus the matter would be set right; for he had no hesitation in saying that if the noble Lord 541 (Lord Althorp) would give up the Church property, and come to the House with an estimate of the expenses which the Protestant establishment in Ireland really required, and no more, the House would have no objection to assent to it. He for one would be ready to give it his hearty concurrence; but it was too bad, that after the whole of that immense property accruing to the Church in Ireland had been swallowed up, the Government should come to the people of this country and ask for a million of money to make up the deficiency of the tithes in Ireland. The people in this country would not be satisfied with such an application of their money, and he was sure that the people of Ireland would not consent to repay the money when advanced. The attempt to collect it from them would, he was sure, be attended with more discontent, and probably disturbance. The people of a country were never discontented without a good cause, and he was convinced that in the measure then before the House such cause would soon be afforded. If the Government had acted with firmness, and not yielded to the advice of the Tories—if they had acted independently, they would not be in the difficulty in which they were now placed. If they had appropriated the revenue which would accrue from the proposed change with respect to the Irish Bishops to the purpose of making good any deficiency in the tithe, the case would be different. He repeated, that he should have no objection to the Bill, and he was sure the public would have no objection to it, provided the money thus advanced were to be secured upon the property of the Irish Church. He should like to have a lien upon that property. He thought they ought not to advance one step until such security was given. He hoped that his right hon. friend would allow twenty-four hours at least for the better consideration of the Bill.
§ Mr. Littleton
observed, that the hon. member for Middlesex begged delay—delay even to the moderate extent of twenty-four hours, and to that request he should not perhaps have been disposed to refuse his consent, had it not been accompanied by a speech, the character of which was anything but moderate. That speech compelled him, however reluctantly, to enter somewhat into the details of the question. He thought that on a former occasion, he had laid before the House 542 details amply sufficient to satisfy every hon. Member, and to supersede altogether the necessity of again troubling the House. The hon. member for Middlesex had complained that sufficient information had not been laid before the House. Now he was at a loss to see what information could be required beyond that which was contained in the estimate, and the papers by which it was accompanied. The hon. Member had fallen into a grand error if he supposed that the money required was only for the compensation of the clergy; it was no such thing; it was for the lay impropriators. The question resolved itself into this, would the Parliament, or would they not, support property in Ireland, and yield it the necessary protection, not merely the property of the Church, but property generally? He felt it would not be necessary for him to detail minutely what had been the nature of the extensive attacks made upon property in general in Ireland, but the hon. Member had in some degree driven him to say something. Since the commencement of the present Session, there had been as many as 210 applications to the Irish Government for military assistance to aid in the collection of the tithe. The right hon. Gentleman then went into the particulars of the affray at Middleton, in the county of Cork, and into several of the cases that occurred in Kilkenny and other parts of Ireland. He had no difficulty in saying, that if the present Bill were not passed, war, in its most alarming form, must be the immediate consequence, and the most grievous sufferings to individuals of all classes must ensue. Such was the state of things at the present moment in Ireland, that, within the last three or four days, a process server was in such imminent danger of being assassinated, that' had he not been lodged in the county gaol as a place of security, no power in that country could have saved him. As to the amount which formed the principal object of the Bill, it certainly was a million, but he did not think that so much would be necessary. He entertained very little doubt that not above 600,000l. or 700,000l. would be required. The tithes of a single year did not exceed 670,000l. The hon. member for Middlesex asked for security to guarantee the repayment of the million now proposed to be granted. He thought, that the Bill offered abundantly good security for that purpose, and he was 543 sure the House would, in that opinion at least, agree with him, and not with the hon. Member. He would repeat, that unless they were prepared to agree to the present measure, they must be prepared for bloodshed—for civil war, with all its aggravations—during the whole time from the rising of Parliament until its re-assemblage. Supposing, then, that the Bill should prove unsuccessful with the House—an event he could not contemplate without the deepest apprehension—he must then prepare for the painful duty of using those powers which resided in the Executive for the repression of disorder. The duty would be most distressing, but it was one from which he should not shrink. He should be prepared to direct the whole force of the constabulary body, and even of the army, against the resistance which had been raised to the levy of tithes, for with them was bound up the whole property of the country—all must share the same fate.
§ Mr. Harvey
was of opinion, that the measure before the House would act as an encouragement to resistance in all similar cases—that it would give some satisfaction to the Irish people he had no doubt, for, of course, no people could be dissatisfied when others come forward to pay their debts for them; but it was a measure every way worthy of the Government, which professed to reform the Church by perpetuating every one of its abuses. They talked of the Church Establishment in Ireland; and how had they dealt with it, and in what manner had they gone about reforming it? By fixing and perpetuating an income for its use of one million and a-half—an establishment not of the slightest advantage to more than half a million of the inhabitants. What would be the next application to Parliament? Why, when landlords found that their rents were failing, they had nothing to do but come to the House, and state, that an unconquerable combination againstrents had been formed, that nothing could at present be obtained from their tenants, and that they must request of Parliament to recognize—such would be the delicate phrase—a loan for five years to meet the emergency. But had all that come upon them as a matter of surprise? Had Government no intimation of the approaching storm? Were there no symptoms to warn them of the danger of endeavouring to oppress nine- 544 tenths of a nation for the advantage of the remaining tenth? If they went on with Bills such as that, they might rest assured that they would have nothing but complaints of the non-performance of contracts—the case of tithes was nothing but the non-performance of a contract. If the clergy of Ireland were in distress, why did they not apply to those who were the same cloth? The Established Church was the United Church of England and of Ireland, and there was a large fund in this country applicable to any of the purposes of religion—he alluded to Queen Anne's bounty. It might be said, that that fund, though it amounted to 1,500,000l., was not applicable to any but defined purposes, and could not be diverted from these. Perhaps the House would recollect that it was only two Sessions ago when 60,000l. of that fund was taken for the improvement of the Archiepiscopal Palace on the opposite side of the river. The fund might be diverted into such channels as that, and in order that the turrets and the battlements of Lambeth might overawe that House. The sum in question was to be repaid by the Bishop. Let the Irish clergy go to the same fund, and then there would be some chance of any advance that might be made being repaid; the trustees would probably take care of that. He objected to the proposed grant of 1,000,000l., which was to come from the pockets of an over-burthened people, in payment of the arrears of a clergy the most richly endowed, and the greatest paupers in labour in the world. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to have screwed his courage up to the point of vindicating Christianity by depopulating mankind; but if the right hon. Secretary continued long in office, he would see the tithe-payers of England imitating the non-tithe-payers of Ireland, and the latter imitating and extending their own examples by resistance to rents. When such a crisis should arrive, how would the present Government, if still in office, act? Of course it would proceed as it now did, in that manner, which of all others, was most satisfactory to debtors, by giving them the money which they refused to pay. Such a principle carried with it not only an invitation, but a reward for resistance, and struck at the root of all property. He objected to the present mode of dealing with the Irish Church, as 545 being not only bad in itself, but bad as an example to England, and tending to shut out those hopes of reform in the establishment which the people of this country entertained. The revenues of the English Church did not exceed 4,000,000l., and the number of persons in communion with it might be taken at 7,000,000 or 8,000,000. Now, if a revenue of 1,500,000l. were not too much for the Irish Church with its congregation of half a million of people, it followed that the present income of the English Church was by no means too great, and thus all hope of Church Reform was put an end to, not only in Ireland but in England. Parliament was expected to wind up all by calling on the people of England to subscribe a million of money to pay the deficiencies of tithes in Ireland. It really appeared to him, that it would be impossible for the greatest enemy of Government, with the most malignant heart, and by an exercise of the most perverted ingenuity, to devise a plan more fatal to the expectations of the people, or the character of the Government, seeing that it was directly at variance with the principles on which they had hitherto professed to act.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, there were three points in the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Harvey). He stated a principle in which he (Mr. Shaw) entirely concurred. He entered into a calculation of figures which he (Mr. Shaw) would prove to be completely erroneous; and then the hon. Member indulged in some eloquent declamation against the Irish Church, which appeared to him (Mr. Shaw) to be altogether inapplicable to the question then before the House. The principle in which he agreed with the hon. Member was, that the whole course adopted by the present Government, in respect of the clergy of the Established Church was holding out a bounty to insubordination, and affording an example of successful resistance to a legal demand which no doubt would be followed in other cases. With regard to the assertion of the hon. Member, that the property of the Irish Church amounted to one million and a half he was grossly mistaken; he had exaggerated its value more than double; and the fact was, that, instead of 1,500,000l., the whole annual income of the Irish Church was not 700,000l. The matter was reducible to a certainty 546 from official documents before the House. The clerical tithes very little exceeded 500,000l. The joint incomes of the Bishops were calculated at 130,000l., and the glebe lands amounted to about 20,000l.; so that he had left a considerable margin for the hon. Member's fancy, when he denied that the entire property was the half of what the hon. Member had stated. Then nothing could be more foreign to the present subject, than whether or not the real and permanent interests of the Established Church in Ireland were to be supported or not; for he (Mr. Shaw) fully coincided in opinion with the hon. member for Bridport (Mr. Warburton), and those other opponents of the Church, that these annual grants and temporary expedients being substituted for the long established and legal rights of the Church had a far different tendency than to its ultimate advantage; and this led him to give to the hon. member for Boston (Mr. Wilks) the answer to the question which he had asked his Majesty's Government, and which they had declined to give, but which was nevertheless the true one. The hon. Member had inquired, what was the ground of their applying to the country for 1,000,000l.?—why they did not lay something in the nature of an estimate before the House? He would tell the hon. Member the real, general, and what must be the principal, item in their estimate—and it was this: that, in the month of June last, when the influence of the law had been in some degree restored in Ireland, and the Government had tardily entered upon the duty of vindicating its desecrated authority, the clergy, like every other class of the King's subjects, began to feel the effect, and were recovering, by legal means, their long and unjustly withheld rights; the tithe was being gradually and regularly paid; when suddenly the Government, which had the week before been proceeding with all the vigour of the offended law, relaxed every effort, and proclaimed, from one end of the country to the other, that all proceedings against lithe defaulters should cease—that they would withdraw all assistance from those who were on the point of establishing their just claims against those who had been leagued in an unlawful combination against them; and the consequence was, that in proportion to their obedience to the law were those who obeyed it made to suffer; and in exact 547 proportion to their resistance to it were the most refractory rewarded. The Government, but more particularly the noble Lord (Lord Althorp), at the same time, undertaking to pay to the clergy the tithes of the present and the last two years: thus, in his (Mr. Shaw's) mind, producing a great evil, and providing a very insufficient remedy. However, such was the ground of the present measure. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Littleton) denied, that the law could have been enforced—but the very case of Midleton, to which he referred, proved the very reverse; for though those at Midleton, who were, be it observed, merely serving processes, were driven back the first day, in some manner which he certainly had never heard satisfactorily accounted for—yet, on the matter being followed up with vigour on a succeeding day, the object was accomplished, and the law maintained. As to the numerous other cases cited by the right hon. Gentleman, most of them occurred before the period he alluded to; and outrage was giving place to some return of order, when the extraordinary change was made in the conduct of the Government; but even supposing it to be as stated by the right hon. Gentleman, was not yielding to the lawless opposition he described falling into the error which he himself deprecated, and which the hon. member for Colchester so well described, of sanctioning insurrection, and encouraging violence? He was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say, at length, that supposing the Bill to be rejected, the Government must again resort to all the means they had before taken, and so suddenly relinquished, of enforcing the just demands of the clergy against whom this organized combination had been entered into, should even bloodshed and confusion be the consequence. But under what great disadvantages would they recur to it after having shown so much timidity and indecision before playing this see-saw game—one time too relaxed, and then necessarily too severe. Ireland would be sacrificed to this miserable and temporising policy. A little firmness in due season would have saved all the necessity for the undue and unconstitutional harshness which must now be used. It was owing to that system, as well as to the provision in the Bill of last year, which the Government would introduce in spite of the remonstrances 548 against it—that no costs should be recoverable against a party, however vexatious in his opposition—that the Government had not recovered more of the tithes of 1831—but the show of determination with which they commenced had the effect of causing the tithes of other years to be paid to the clergy, who could recover costs against contumacious defendants. The question now was, whether the Government, having caused the mischief, as he sincerely believed from all the information he had received on the subject—and having reduced that most ill-treated body of the Irish clergy to the utmost destitution—and left them no other redress but that promised by the noble Lord, the House would refuse to give them relief. For his own part he felt no gratitude was due to the noble Lord for the proposal; on the contrary, he considered that it would inflict a lasting infamy on the interests of the establishment, and entail on the country the evil results of a successful resistance to a lawful right. If the whole sum were granted (to say nothing of the exorbitant and unjustifiable deductions) it would be no equivalent for the ill-advised interruption of its recovery by the ordinary and accustomed remedies known to the law, and the influence of which would have incidentally benefitted the whole state of society. Sooner or later the question must be decided, whether the authority of the law, or of those who systematically opposed it, was to be permanent in Ireland; but now he must give his reluctant support to the only measure of relief which the weakness of the Government had left open; and after the manner in which the noble Lord had committed himself on the subject—the noble Lord could not deny it—he would say, without hesitation, that, as a man of honour, the noble Lord must resign his office if the House rejected the Bill. He repudiated the notion of the grant being a boon to the Church; he denied that it was even an act of common justice to the clergy, who had been deceived by the Government; but the Government could not now desert them in the difficulties which the Government had occasioned, without a violation of every principle of honour and good faith.
§ Mr. O'Ferrall
regretted to hear from the right hon. Secretary, that, in the event of 549 the Bill not being carried, there must be a renewal of the scenes of last year he believed that the people of England would rather risk the loss of the whole sum than contemplate a revival of those scenes. For his own part he should support the measure, not only with a view to avoid such a crisis, but because, it having been admitted, that the Protestant Church of Ireland was imposed upon that country by England, and that its maintenance was necessary to uphold the union of the two countries, he thought it only fair that this country should pay for it. This he must state, that great danger would arise from placing the landlord in the place now occupied by the clergyman. He (Mr. O'Ferrall) had only left Ireland on Friday last. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman had then arrived there, and he (Mr. O'Ferrall) had a conversation with several landlords on the subject, who unanimously expressed an opinion as to the danger of mixing up tithe with rent. The question here was, whether 20,000,000l. might not be lost in attempting to recover 1,000,000l. The attempt, besides, after renewing the scenes of disorder and bloodshed that had been witnessed in Ireland, might prove to be a fruitless one.
§ Lord Ebrington
said, that he would very briefly state the reasons which induced him to support this measure. He would not support this Bill if he thought that it went to give, as some hon. Members had said, a premium to violence and insubordination in Ireland, neither would he give it his support if he imagined that it would have the effect which the hon. member for Middlesex seemed to wish for, namely, that of sweeping away the Church of Ireland altogether.
§ Lord Ebrington
said, that while he was one of those who thought that that Establishment was much greater than it ought to be, yet he must say that several measures had been brought forward this session by his Majesty's Government to reduce it, and establish it upon a better footing, and he considered the present measure as one amongst the number. He would not support this measure if he thought that it meant, as some hon. Members had said it did, that this should be considered as 550 a tax imposed upon the people of England, for there lief of those persons who had resisted the payment of tithes in Ireland. He had heard what had fallen from the hon. member for Kildare with great regret, the more especially, as on the occasion when his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, originally broached the present proposition of the Government, that hon. member, if he remembered rightly, stated, on behalf of the landlords of Ireland, that they would willingly undertake the burthen which it was proposed to throw upon them for the sake of pacifying the country, and of putting an end to the conflict that existed there with regard to the collection of tithes. By this measure relief would be afforded to the clergy of Ireland. A great inducement was also held out by it to the Irish landlords and their tenants to relieve their country from the distracted state in which it was at present, owing to the collection of tithes. He trusted, that the spirit of liberality with which this was now granted by the people of England would be met with a corresponding spirit of liberality on the part of the Irish landlords and the people of Ireland, and that the people of this country would not ultimately have to complain of a want of good faith with respect to the repayment of this loan.
§ Mr. O'Ferrall
, in explanation, begged to say, that the statement to which the noble Lord had alluded had been made in the last Session in a discussion on the measure with regard to tithes, then brought forward by the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. On that occasion, when some Protestant landlords, members of that House, protested against having such a burthen thrown on them, he (Mr. O'Ferrall) said, that the Catholic landlords would not refuse to take such a burthen on themselves, if they thought that in doing so they would rescue their country from the disturbed and distracted state into which it was plunged. That was what he said then; he said the same now.
§ Mr. Warre
said, that feeling it to be his duty on this occasion to dissent from the proposition made by his Majesty's Government, he was anxious, in a few words, to explain the reasons which induced him to do so. From the first moment that this proposition had been made he could not avoid regarding it with a degree of suspicion, and after looking 551 carefully through the Bill, he could not find any provisions in it that could prevent this loan from being converted, as no doubt it would be converted, into a gift. Now, for his part, he could not consent to put in jeopardy so large a sum as was proposed to be granted by this measure. If he thought, that there was the least chance that this Bill would produce ultimate tranquillity in Ireland, he would not oppose it; but viewing it as he did, seeing that there was no probability of its producing permanent security—seeing that the sum was one that should not be given as a grant, in order to be converted into a gift—and being certain, that if it should be now voted, the burthen would ultimately fall upon those who should not bear it, namely, the people of England, he should oppose the present measure.
§ Mr. Aglionby
said, that he could not allow this Bill to pass a single stage without expressing the strongest opposition both to its principle and its details. This measure offered a premium to the violators of the law, and instead of being one that could be described as intended for the protection of property, it was a direct spoliation of, and attack upon, property. He trusted, that the House would not sanction such a measure. Parliament ought to have taken steps long ago to reduce the Church Establishment of Ireland, and, until that was done, there would be no chance of the restoration of tranquillity in that country.
§ Lord Althorp
was anxious to state to the House the circumstances under which this question was now being discussed. It had been said, that his Majesty's Ministers had, by different measures in the course of the present Session, endeavoured to settle the question of tithes in Ireland, and a measure, the Coercion Bill, which had been passed at the commencement of the Session, had been quoted as one of those measures. He was aware, that during the progress of that measure through the House, several of those Gentlemen who opposed it had, amongst other objections to it, repeatedly asserted, that it would be employed for the purpose of enforcing the payment of tithes in Ireland. To that assertion his Majesty's Ministers had over and over again given the most unqualified contradiction, and in order the still more completely to convince the House that the Coercion Bill was not intended for the purpose of enforcing the 552 collection of tithes, he (Lord Althorp) recollected that, upon one occasion, in the course of those discussions, he stated in his place in that House, that it was the intention of Government to submit a proposition to the House that would render the future collection of tithes in Ireland unnecessary. It was too much then to assert, as some hon. Members now asserted, that the Coercion Bill had failed in enforcing the collection of tithes. It was never intended for any such purpose. If his Majesty's Ministers had thought proper to break faith with the country and with Parliament, the collection of tithes might be secured under that Bill; but if they had done so, they would have committed the grossest breach of faith towards the people of England that could have been committed. The effect of the Coercion Bill had been the suppression of outrage, and the restoration of peace and tranquillity in Ireland, as had been anticipated by Government when it was brought forward; but no sooner had that effect taken place, than they found that generally all over the country processes were set on foot for the payment of tithes, and it was plain, that advantage would be taken of the Coercive measure for the purpose of enforcing such payment. Now, the Government had pledged itself that the coercive measure should not be employed for that purpose, and he did not deny, that one of the objects of the Government in bringing forward the present measure was, that the issuing of processes for the collection of tithes in Ireland should cease. The Government had redeemed its pledge to the House and the country in bringing forward this measure, and the question was, whether proper security was not afforded for the repayment of the money which the House was called upon now to advance. He did not ask the House to assent to this proposition, except upon that condition. With regard to the details of the measure, and the means by which it was proposed to carry the objects which it had in view into effect—in the first place, it was proposed to advance a certain sum to the clergy of Ireland, who in receiving it, would become debtors to the Crown for the amount. It might then be asked, what were the means by which it was proposed to secure the repayment of this sum? It was proposed, that the money so advanced should be paid out of the tithe composition money. Thus to 553 the clergy would be afforded a less onerous and difficult mode than they at present possessed of recovering their dues, while ample security was given for the money so advanced by the Government. But it might be said, that the measure he had alluded to would not succeed. It was possible that the measure for the composition, or rather, as it might be more properly termed, the measure for the permanent commutation of tithes in Ireland, might fail, and that the clergy would receive nothing under it. No Gentleman in that House, however hostile he might be to the Church Establishment, or to the system of tithes in Ireland, had ever said, that the present incumbents should not be paid their incomes. He was therefore justified in saying, that it was the unanimous opinion of the House and of Parliament that the present existing incumbents should be paid their incomes. Now that being the case, it being acknowledged by all that no matter what arrangement might be made prospectively with regard to the Church Establishment in Ireland, the living incumbents had undoubted claims to their incomes. This sum would be advanced upon the security of those incomes, and would, in fact, be advanced to the clergy of Ireland as a lien on their incomes, payable by the people of Ireland. The security was as good and as certain as could be had for the repayment of any loan. Government would not be justified in proposing this advance as a grant; it was only justified in proposing it under the provisions for repayment contained in the Bill. He was willing to acknowledge, that the Government was bound in honour to the clergy of Ireland, whom they had prevented from proceeding with the enforcement of their claims under the existing law to bring forward the present measure. They had brought it forward, and they should feel it their duty to carry it through Parliament.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
said, that however he might differ from the noble Lord with respect to the principles of this measure, under the circumstances of the case he felt it his duty to give it his support. The question in this instance regarded not the expediency or inexpediency of a Church Establishment in Ireland; but the question, as had been properly stated by the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, was, whether law and property should be upheld in Ireland? The hon. member 554 for Cockermouth was altogether wrong in attributing the disturbed state of Ireland to the existence of the Church Establishment in that country. With the exception of the Munster insurrection, about fifty years ago, there had not been a single disturbance or general insurrection in Ireland which had been characterised by a resistance to the payment of tithes, until a very recent period. The House should not forget, that the present measure went to secure the recovery of their property to laymen as well as to clergymen. It was not fair, therefore, to say, that this advance was made for the support of the Church Establishment of Ireland. It would be quite inconsistent with the duty of the noble Lord not to bring this measure forward, and it would be inconsistent with his (Sir Robert Inglis's) duty not to give it an unqualified support.
said, that, upon principle, he felt it his duty to oppose the measure now before the House. He could not give his vote for a proposition which would prove only a temporary expedient for continuing a Church Establishment in contravention of the feelings of the vast majority of the people of Ireland.
Mr. Poulett Thomson
said, that he had as yet never taken any part in the discussions upon this Bill, but he owed it to the House and to himself to give some explanation of the vote which it was his intention to give. He found those hon. Gentlemen who might fairly be presumed to represent the extreme opinions prevailing in Ireland differed materially concerning the measure now under the consideration of the House. The hon. and learned member for Dublin had expressed himself willing to support this vote, because it was a grant from England in aid of the distresses prevailing in Ireland. The hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Shaw), although he did not altogether support the vote upon these grounds, yet he had expressed the strongest doubts as to the repayment of these monies, in case, by the decision of the House, it should be granted. He must say, that however painful it might be to him to differ from those with whom he had been accustomed to act, yet, if this measure should be passed on such grounds, he should not hesitate to sacrifice his personal feelings, and give his vote and raise his voice against the proposed grant. Nothing would be more improper or more at 555 variance with his own feelings, and also contrary to what was due to his constituents and his own character, than to vote away the money of the people of England for the support of a Church Establishment in Ireland, without the chance of repayment to this country, as had been thrown out in the course of the present debate. But he should ground his vote upon the present occasion upon the assurance of his noble friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and of the Government generally, that the money should not be so taken from the people of England without means being resorted to for the collection of the debt owing to the Irish Church from those from whom it was due. If he was not assured of the security of the repayment in this respect, he should most unquestionably vote against this grant. He must also remark, in reference to what had been urged in the course of the present debate, that in his judgment tithes which were not collected for the purposes of the Church should not go into the pockets of the landlords, but, on the contrary, should when so collected, be applied to the purposes of the State. He never would consent that such property should be alienated from state purposes for the benefit of the landlords in Ireland. Relying, however, as he did, that means were provided for the repayment of this grant, he should give his vote in support of it. He should do so under the full conviction, that it was merely a loan to Ireland; if he could imagine it was designed as a gift, he should be the first man in the House to oppose its being made.
observed, that Mr. Pitt, in his speeches upon the Roman Catholic question, had opposed the maintenance of a Church Establishment in Ireland, and the same feeling had been expressed by Dr. Paley. He should give his vote for the present measure. It had been said, that it was possible to put an extinguisher upon the demand for Church Reform, but he would remind the House, that the Dissenters having attained a pro-eminent weight in this country, they had heretofore directed their attention to the great question of slave emancipation; but that question having now been put an end to, they would at once apply their attention to a full and efficient Church Reform, both in Ireland and this country. He (Colonel Torrens) relied upon the 556 liberal opinions expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, the present Secretary for Ireland; and, convinced, as he was, that no Ministry would long exist which should refuse such a Church Reform, he should give his most cordial support to the present Motion for a grant, and with the full persuasion that the grant was a loan, and not a gift, and that if the Church property in Ireland should be found insufficient for this purpose, the loan should be fixed upon the whole property of Ireland. He was also fully satisfied, that the people of England would not accede on other terms to so profligate a waste of the public money.
§ Mr. O'Reilly
was of opinion, that some gratitude was owing to the Government for bringing forward a measure well calculated to put an end to a system which had already given rise to and occasioned so much bloodshed in Ireland. He protested strongly against the supposition which had been much promulgated, that a wish prevailed to put the tithes in the pockets of the landlords. The tithe system was not new to the House or the country; history presented the same story for the last hundred years. He should not vote for the measure, on the grounds that the grant would never be recovered; on the contrary, he was satisfied, that Church property in Ireland afforded an ample and a full security. He also would, as a Roman Catholic, say, that the Roman Catholics had no wish to resist the payment of that which was legally due, or to uphold a resistance to tithes because they were paid to a Protestant clergy. He was most ready to deprecate the tithe system, established as it had been by the Roman Catholics themselves. He only hoped, that there would not be left in the tithe owner the power of keeping up the excited feeling which it was the object and design of the present measure to allay.
§ Sir Samuel Whalley
rose to oppose the measure. Great as were the difficulties which surrounded the Government regarding the situation of the clergy, he could not but oppose it. He was surprised, that the hon. member for Oxford had been able so soon to overcome the difficulties which he himself had raised. He thought, that the hon. Member had forgot, that this measure would be a blow, not only to Church property, but to property of every description both in England and 557 Ireland. For these reasons he should think it his duty to give this measure, in all its stages, his most decided opposition.
Mr. Edward J. Stanley
said, that he never could consent to such an appropriation of the money of the people of England, unless he felt fully satisfied that the proposed grant would be repaid. If some easy means were not secured for the ensuring the recovery of these advances, or, in other words, that the repayment of the loan should not be secured, he would himself move the introduction of a clause into the Bill, to the effect that the first deductions from the sale of church lands should be appropriated to the repayment of the present proposed loan of one million.
§ Mr. Dominick Browne
understood the opinion of the Government to be, that the Church-property in Ireland should be diminished, and given to the State, for the purposes of assisting the Roman Catholics and the Protestant Dissenters of this country; and he must assure his Majesty's Government, that they would find it to be their duty, early in the next Session of Parliament, to bring forward a measure of that kind. The Government could not be aware what was the opinion of the majority of the House relative to Church-property; but he sincerely hoped, that majority would be in favour of taking away at least one half million of that property; and he further trusted, that in the next Session his Majesty's Ministers would come forward with a measure for that purpose. He could say, that unless this were done, the proposed loan would never be repaid. He would put it to the English, Irish, and Scotch Members of the House, whether it was worth while to ensure the peace of Ireland for four or five years longer, by the advance of 1,000,000l. as proposed. If, however, that grant was not now made, the peace of that country could not be maintained.
§ Mr. Philip Howard
felt that, however deplorable the system of tithes in Ireland might be, it was the duty of Government to enforce it, so long as it existed, in the way least onerous and irritating to the people. The present Bill went to vindicate the rights of property, lay, as well as clerical; it would, he trusted, afford that calm and breathing time requisite to prepare the way for improved arrangements and a better system—a truce preparatory to a lasting peace. The prophe- 558 cies of those who asserted that the loan would turn out to be a gift, would not, he thought, be verified, as Government had ample security for its repayment. But, be that as it might, consistently with maintaining public tranquillity, they had no other course left to pursue.
§ The Order of the Day read.
§ Mr. Littleton moved, that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Mr. Hume
objected to keeping up a Church Establishment, which was the cause of continued dissension in the country, and to support which establishment this grant was now sought. The admission of the right hon. Gentleman opposite was, that he would place himself at the head of the troops, in order to enforce the payment of the arrears. The admissions which had been made equally proved that all the disturbances arose from the Church Establishment; nay, even the noble Lord had admitted, that such was the feeling of resistance, that he had taken upon himself to forbid all legal process for the collection of tithes. What was this but a confession, that the people of Ireland had so great an abhorrence of tithes that not even the powers of the Act of last year, nor the unconstitutional measure of the present Session, with all the aid of military force which this country could command, could not carry the payments into effect. The right hon. Secretary for the Colonies would not deny, that when hs asked last year for the powers which he obtained, that he fully anticipated to be able to vindicate the law. The result, however, had been otherwise; and every month's experience must have taught him that all these powers against the majority of a nation availed him nothing. He (Mr. Hume) was surprised, after this experience, that the Government did not take a lesson, and at once submit to the House the question, whether, by Martial Law should be enforced an establishment which breathed peace and goodwill towards all mankind. It was time now the Church should be so modified as to meet the views and feelings of the majority of the people. The present grant was unwise, and such as no reasonable man could recommend; and feeling satisfied that it never could be repaid, he felt it due to the people of England, who were crying out for relief from taxation; and seeing also that an objection prevailed that this grant should meet the least 559 delay, be should move, that the Bill be read a second time this day three months.
§ Mr. Cobbett
admitted, that the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, could not do less than bring forward the measure now before the House, but, if the noble Lord had gone a little further, and said this Bill was the first instalment towards paying the Irish clergy their salaries, in order that tithes should no longer be collected, the noble Lord should have had his support. The noble Lord, however, did not go that length, and he felt convinced that Ireland would never be at peace, until there was an entire and complete cessation from the collection of tithes. If peace could be restored, he was sure that his constituents, and indeed the people of England, would be glad to make any sacrifice; for when millions were granted to the West Indies, in order to settle quietly the question of slavery, 1,000,000l. would not be grudged to Ireland—a country which England ought to estimate 10,000,000 times more dearly than the colonies. It had been clear to the understanding of every man, that so soon as the Catholic Emancipation Bill passed, the Church Establishment could not be continued in Ireland; and unless he had some promise that tithes would not continue to be exacted, he should support the Amendment of the hon. member for Middlesex.
§ Mr. Perrin
supported the Bill. It could not be denied, that the present incumbents must be supported, and it was equally plain that, in Ireland, the tithe composition measure could not efficiently be carried into effect.
said, that, on this occasion, he felt it his duty to offer a few remarks to the House, and he regretted he should be now met, as on all former occasions (humble and young a Member as he was), by such cries as he now experienced, and amidst which he recognized the voice of the hon. member for North Wiltshire.
§ Mr. Methuen
rose to order. He understood, according to the rules of the House, any hon. Member was at liberty to say "Hear, hear!" to any observations which might fall, and until he (Mr. Methuen) heard from the Speaker that such was disorderly, he should not yield in the course he should pursue.
said, that the voice of the hon. member for North Wiltshire 560 was perfectly familiar to him on these occasions, though he had not turned his eye to the situation which the hon. Member occupied. He was sure the hon. Member had pursued his course with the same good humour as he (Mr. Halcombe) alluded to it. He felt it his duty to vote for extending relief to the clergy of Ireland, and therefore supported the Bill.
§ The House divided on the Amendment—Ayes 53; Noes 109: Majority 56,
§ Bill read a second time.
|List of the AYES.|
|Attwood, T.||Shawe, R. N.|
|Beauclerk, Major||Strutt, E.|
|Benett, J.||Thicknesse, R.|
|Bewes, T.||Thompson, Alderman|
|Blamire, W.||Todd, R.|
|Brotherton, J.||Tooke, W.|
|Buller, C.||Tynte, C. J.|
|Cayley, E.||Walter, J.|
|Clay, W.||Warre, J. A.|
|Cobbett, W.||Whalley, Sir S.|
|Cornish, J.||Wilks, J.|
|Dykes, F. L.||Williams, W. A.|
|Ewart, W.||Gordon, Captain|
|Fielden, J.||Parnell, Sir H.|
|Hall, B.||Pringle, R.|
|Hardy, J;||Sinclair, G.|
|Harland, W.||Wallace, R.|
|Harvey, D. W.||IRELAND.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Blake, M.|
|Hodges, T. L.||O'Dwyer, A. C.|
|Kennedy, J.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Methuen, P.||Ruthven, E.|
|Potter, R.||Talbot, J.|
|Rickford, W.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Robinson, G. R.||Aglionby, H. A.|
|Romilly, J.||Hume, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|ENGLAND.||Estcourt, T. G. B.|
|Althorp, Lord||Fenton, Captain|
|Baring, F.||Fitzroy, Lord C.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Fox, Colonel|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Graham, Right Hon. Sir J.|
|Briggs, R.||Gordon, R.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Burrell, Sir C.||Halcombe, J.|
|Buxton, T. F.||Heathcote, J.|
|Byng, Sir J.||Home, Sir W.|
|Campbell, Sir J.||Howard, P. H.|
|Carter, J. B.||Hyett, W. H.|
|Chapman, A.||Inglis, Sir R.|
|Childers, J. W.||Labouchere, H.|
|Codrington, Sir E.||Langton J. H.|
|Duncannon, Lord||Littleton, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Dundas, Sir R.||Lumley, Lord|
|Ebrington, Lord||Lushington, Dr.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Lyall, G.|
|Ellice, Right Hon. E.||Maberly, Colonel|
|Macaulay, T. B.||Vernon, Hon. G. S.|
|Mangles, J.||Ward, H. G.|
|Marshall, J.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Marjoribanks, S.||Wilmot, Sir J. E.|
|Moreton, Hon. A. H.||Young, G. F.|
|Mosley, Sir O.||Dalmeny, Lord|
|Nicholl, J.||Elliott, Hon. Capt.|
|Ord, W. H.||Ewing, J.|
|Palmerston, Lord||Grant, Right Hon. C.|
|Peter, W.||Haliburton, Hon. D. G.|
|Pinney, W.||Hay, Colonel L.|
|Price, Sir R.||Jeffrey, Right Hon. F.|
|Pryme, G.||Kennedy T. F.|
|Rice, Hon. T. S.||Mackenzie, J. A.|
|Ryle, J.||Macleod, M.|
|Sandon, Lord||Murray, J. A.|
|Sebright, Sir J.||Browne, D.|
|Sheppard, T.||Cole, Hon. A.|
|Skipwith, Sir J.||Evans, G.|
|Spankie, Sergeant||Fitzgerald, T.|
|Spencer, Captain||French, T.|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. E. G.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Stanley, Hon. H.||Jephson, C. D. O.|
|Stanley, J.||Jones, Capt.|
|Stewart, P. M.||Lamb, Hon. G.|
|Stuart, Lord D.||Mullins, F. W.|
|Talmash, A. G.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Tancred, H. W.||O'Reilly, W.|
|Thomson, Rt. Hon.||Perrin, Sergeant C. P.|
|Torrens, Colonel||Sullivan, R.|
|Townley, R. G.||Walker, C. A.|
|Townshend, Lord C. J.||TELLERS.|
|Tracy, C. H.||Smith, V.|
|Troubridge, Sir T.||Wood, C.|
|Verney, Sir H.|