§ Mr. Barron
rose to submit to the House certain Resolutions respecting Tithes in Ireland His Majesty's Government had brought forward measures for the coercion of the people of Ireland, but none for their relief. A bill for the latter purpose had indeed been introduced; but it had not been carried into effect. The evils which were caused by tithes in Ireland, were not evils of the present day; they were evils which had existed for upwards of three hundred years. The tithe system had been pronounced in a Report of a Committee of that House, to have been the cause, for a long series of years, of confusion and bloodshed. He wished the House to confirm that by a declaration? The next point was, would the House continue a system which had been so characterised? Another Committee had declared, that such a change alone could be satisfactory as would involve the utter extinction of tithes in Ireland, and the substitution of such a tax on the land as might be necessary for the support of the Protestant clergy. He was convinced that the only mode of allaying the great excitement and irritation which existed in Ireland, would be, to put an end to tithes entirely. The people of Ireland would not be satisfied with any temporising measure; they would never be content until the whole system was got rid of. It was by no means his wish to propose any measure that was not perfectly practicable. The hon. Gentleman referred to the evidence of the reverend Mr. Montgomery, and of other Gentlemen, in the Reports of Committees of that 38 House, to show, that not only the Catholics, but the Protestants of Ireland, were opposed to the system of tithes. The proposition which his second Resolution involved, respecting a tax on land for the support of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland, was countenanced by the Protestant clergy of that country; in proof of which he could refer to the petitions which had been presented from the clergy of the Dioceses of Ossory, Dublin, and Ferns. This showed he was not proposing any thing likely to be offensive to the Protest-ant clergy in Ireland. Indeed, he was most anxious to act in a spirit of conciliation; and, if possible, in a manner consonant to the wishes and feelings of the Protestant Establishment. But, above all, he was anxious to do justice. His principal object was, that the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland might henceforward live in good fellowship and neighbourhood, as Christians ought to live, and not in rancorous enmity, which was at present but too frequently the case. This, however, could not be accomplished by half and half measures. It could not be accomplished by proposing one thing to-day, and giving it up to-morrow. Such weakness would only expose the Legislature to contempt and derision. With respect to the principle of his plan, it had always appeared to him that the existing incumbents ought to continue to receive the amount of their present incomes. That was due to them, on every principle of public policy and of private feeling. He was by no means, however, prepared to say, that such property ought to be irrevocable, and that it ought to go to any successors of the present incumbents. Many of the Protestant clergy in Ireland had little or nothing to do in return for their incomes. Now, it was contrary to all the principles of justice and good government, that a portion of the public property should be given to men who did nothing for the public. Those who had opposed the rotten boroughs and nominations of our political Constitution, ought to be equally opposed to the rotten boroughs and nominations of our Ecclesiastical Constitution. He called, therefore, upon those who had so fiercely and so successfully fought the battle of Parliamentary Reform, to support his Motion; and on the same principles upon which they had purified the representation of the people, to purify the Constitution of the Church. He called 39 upon them to assist him in converting to useful purposes the property with which the members of the Church Establishment had originally been invested, as trustees for the benefit of the people at large. He did not wish to cut down the reward of the working clergyman; far from it; his object was, to adjust remuneration to service, and not, as at present, by paying a clergyman who had done nothing, because, among other reasons, he had no flock. English Members could hardly be aware of the number of parishes in Ireland in which all that was known of the Established Church was through the rigorous exactions of the tithe-proctor. They, perhaps, would be surprised when he told them that there were not less than 649 parishes in Ireland in which there was no Protestant Church—no resident Protestant clergyman—in which, though the Protestant rites had never been performed, the tithes were rigidly exacted. This was out of a total of 2,400 parishes, leaving thus nearly one-third without any resident rector; and beside this, there were a vast number of parishes where the parties who took the tithes, far from residing, were never even seen by their parishioners. In Mocullagh, a parish in the county of Kilkenny, joined, although ten miles distant, with that in which he resided, there was not a single Protestant; the rector had never been in the parish; and yet, within the last ten days, writs had been served there for 3l. 10s. The rector of this parish, for he liked to give names with facts, was Mr. Alcock, and he was one of those persons who had last year written piteous letters to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley); and his case was one of those pressed into the Report to excite the compassion of the people of England. This unhappy victim complained that these people of Mocullagh would most unaccountably pay him no tithes, whereas he (Mr. Barron) contended, that it was contrary to common sense, and to common justice, that they should be called on to pay him any thing. This he would put to any Englishman, and he had no doubt of the reply he should receive. In Scotland, religion cost one shilling and nine-pence per head; in Ireland, 1l. 13s. Ad. to every Protestant. He did not object to a full allowance being made where there was in truth and reality a Church and Church-going people—where, in short, work was done in that case 40 he should always be ready to uphold the Establishment in respectability and comfort. But what he maintained was, that the State had a right to interfere with the property of the Church, that it had often done so, and that it was incumbent on the State to do so now, in order that the revenues might be so regulated as really to be applicable to the purposes of religion and of sound and useful education. In conclusion, he would assert, that the House, by agreeing to his Resolutions, would do great good, inasmuch as they would show a sympathy with the people of Ireland; and, after 300 years of misrule, take a positive step towards reconciling them to the Government and institutions of this country. The hon. Member concluded by moving the following Resolutions:—" That the tithe system in Ireland has been the fruitful source of misery and crime, and should be totally extinguished.—That a Land-tax ought to be substituted for the support of the Protestant Establishment and such other purposes of general utility as the Legislature may deem necessary."
§ Mr. Littleton
did not think it necessary to enter into any lengthened reply to the observations of the hon. Gentleman; for although he would be the last person to object to any hon. Member bringing forward any measure for the removal of Irish grievances, yet he could not but express his opinion, that the present was a most inconvenient opportunity for the introduction of these Resolutions. He would beg to ask whether any one subject had occupied so much of the time of the House as this very one of Irish tithes? He thought not; for not only had it been discussed on the Coercion Bill most fully, but the other day upon the Church Temporalities Bill, when his noble friend, (Lord Althorp) had given every opportunity to hon. Members to make any proposition they thought proper, as well as given notice subsequently of a resolution relative to the application of the tithe bill to lay impropriations. There did, therefore, appear no necessity for the present motion at this period of the Session. Far was he, however, from asserting, that upon some future occasion it might not be for the benefit of the empire at large that other measures should be introduced; but he must also say, that in the next year we, should be in a better situation to come to a calm judgment upon 41 this topic, as by November next the occupying tenants would be relieved from all contact with the tithe-owners, and all future leases would exempt them immediately from the payment of tithes. Another reason for delay with respect to any more permanent arrangement was, that the Bill of his noble friend would leave the country in a state of greater tranquillity than heretofore, as, up to May next year, there would be no demand for any species of tithe made. The hon. Gentleman had indulged in many observations, with regard to clergymen claiming tithes where they had performed no duty, but those ought to have been made the other day upon the discussion of the suspension clause. Undoubtedly he was the last man who would defend the propriety of upholding an Establishment and its expenses in parishes where clergymen had no congregations, as this would in itself be one of the first grounds to be seized by its enemies for making an attack on the whole Church. But the present was not the proper occasion for discussing that question. With respect to the question of tithes, he wished to say a few words. He earnestly trusted, that the Irish gentlemen would not be indisposed to make some sacrifice on this subject; for it was only by the instrumentality of their aid that the British Parliament could effect a satisfactory arrangement of the question. If they were determined to oppose every measure, whatever its nature might be, he would not say, that in such a case he despaired of seeing any satisfactory arrangement come to, but he believed it could not be attained without much confusion, and, he feared, the spilling of blood. But, whatever form the property of tithe might assume—and he admitted that it was a fair question whether it should remain as tithe—that property must as such be maintained; for no individuals had a right to that which belonged to the Church; or, if not to the Church, belonged, as all men must admit, to the State. That property was not the property of individuals, and the law which protected it must be asserted and maintained. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the previous question.
§ Mr. Fergus O'Connor
observed, that they were told that the law must be enforced with respect to tithes as with respect to other property. There was one 42 difference, however, which the right hon. Gentleman did not seem to have adverted to. It was this—that the law created the property in tithes, while it only protected property of another description. It could not be denied, that tithes had been a great source of discontent in Ireland, and the people would not be satisfied till the Ministry did something really to put an end to them. It was said, that the Members who opposed the ministerial measure, did so from a feeling of self-interest. He was ready to admit, that some had an interest in this question, but he denied, that that interest affected their general conduct on this question. As for himself, he should be ready to give his assistance to the Ministers in imposing a Land-tax that would utterly get rid of the present system of collecting tithes, and altogether abolish them, for they could not be persevered in without confusion and bloodshed. When this was done, and not till then, the Protestant pre-eminence in Ireland might be maintained at a less price than at present.
§ Mr. O'Ferrall
hoped, that it would be remembered, that the Secretary for Ire-land was opposed to keeping up an establishment where clergymen had no congregations, though he doubted the propriety of making such a declaration unless the colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman were prepared to act upon it. The people of Ireland had already suffered very much by the Government making them believe that it would abolish tithes, when in fact Ministers had no such intention. When the question was first introduced, if his Majesty's Government had met it fairly and openly, and had said at once: "Tithes must be paid; we can give you no relief; and we will perpetuate the old system," the people would not have been deceived. They would have known what they were about; instead of which, they had one day one thing, and another, directly the reverse. One day a bill was proposed, which contained provisions that met with the approbation and support of a great majority of the members for Ireland, and the next day, the only valuable principle of the Bill was given up. When the Ministers laboured under any little embarrassment, and wished to increase their popularity, they expressed an opinion which could not fail to have that effect; but when the emergency had passed away, it was found no longer 43 convenient to act upon the opinion; and those who expected they would, were led astray. On the first Resolution there could be no difference of opinion, and his Majesty's Government could not oppose it, because the very terms of the Report were the same as the Resolution. With regard to the second Resolution, that a Land-tax ought to be substituted for payment of the present incumbents, and for the support of the Protestant Establishment, and for such other purposes of general utility as the Legislature may deem necessary, the Bill introduced last year was to effect a similar object. It declared, that by a compulsory commutation a Land-tax should be substituted for the former system of taking tithes in kind. It was, perhaps, necessary to inform some hon. Members, that during the last year there were two Bills passed on this subject. The first was to levy a tax to compensate his Majesty's Government for an advance of 60,000l. for the relief of the clergy of Ireland; and the noble Lord at the head of his Majesty's Government fully admitted, a short time since, that that Bill had signally failed. When that measure was in progress, many hon. Members—of whom he was one—stated to his Majesty's Government, that it would not succeed—that the expense would be twice the sum to be levied—that it would throw the whole country into confusion—and that the tithe-system, so far from being settled at the end of twelve months, would be in the same state as when they began to legislate upon the subject. For that they were described as factious, and English Members complained, that they were unnecessarily taking up the time of the House. A second Bill was introduced, to carry into effect the Bill for the Composition of Tithes in Ireland. When that Bill was introduced, it was left to the option of the different parishes in Ireland whether they would adopt it or not; several of them did adopt it; some of them did not; and the object of the Bill was to compel every parish in Ireland to come into the composition. By the first Bill the parish had the power of appointing one Commissioner, the clergyman had the right to nominate the other. By the late compulsory Act, if, within three months, the parishes came forward and appointed their Commissioner, they might have the option of selecting the person who should act on their behalf; but if they did not do 44 so within the three months, then the Government was authorized to appoint the Commissioner. Now, this period of three months commenced about the 16th of August, during a time of the greatest excitement that Ireland had ever known; it was just previous to the election. The consequence was, that during that time no Commissioners were appointed on be-half of the parishes; and, therefore, that part of the Bill not having been complied with, his Majesty's Government came forward and appointed the Commissioners themselves. He had two petitions in which the petitioners complained bitterly of the ignorance and injustice of these officers. Under the old law the tithe-proprietor might levy his tithes for a given time, through the farmer, who paid a stipulated sum to the tithe-owner, and, of course, sought to make a profit for himself. Under the new Bill, the tithe-proprietor had a right to levy on the parish, not only what he received from the tithe-farmer, but also the profits made by the latter. He had a right, of course, not only to what he actually received, but to all the sums stipulated to be paid. It was very well known, that in many parishes, the peasantry, rather than have the cause tried, would pass a note for a larger sum than they could pay. Under this Bill, in future, all the sums these persons had promised to pay were to be levied by the tithe-proprietor. That was giving the proprietor a property he never had before. Under the former law the tithe was a tax on the produce; by this Bill it was made a tax on the land; so whether the land be tilled or not, the landowner would be obliged to pay the tithe. It was the first charge made on the estate of every owner of land in Ireland, and the situation of the tithe-owner was better than that of any other claimant. In fact, the security of the owner of tithe-property is just double what it was before. To carry the proposition for the Land-tax into effect, and to make it satisfactory, it must be made on just and sound principles. All he asked was, that the defects of the Bill of last year should be remedied during the present Session; that the appointment of the Commissioners should not be compulsory, and that those provisions which might give rise to future discontent and ill-treatment should be abandoned. If that measure were not amended, by allowing the commutation to depend on the will of all parties concerned, 45 a ground-work would be established for greater evils and more disturbances in Ireland, than any that had hitherto existed. They stated that to the House last year; they were not believed; they now stated it again; and if their remonstrances be disregarded, the consequences must rest with the Ministers. His Majesty's Government could not be expected to bring forward the settlement of the question this Session; but they could either suspend the Bill of last year or amend it. By the Resolution of the other night, it was agreed, that money should be advanced for the settlement of the tithes of 1831, 1832, and 1833. The tithes of 1834 would not be due until the 1st of November next. And, therefore, if a Billon this subject were passed previous to Easter, there would be plenty of time for the settlement of the question; but if his Majesty's Government continued to send captains of the navy to value land, one at one price, and another at another, he did not know how they would succeed in overcoming a spirit of discontent which their measures must generate in Ireland, and under which he should think it scarcely possible for any Government to exist.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
could not object to the principle of the first Resolution, because he believed it was copied from the Report of the Tithe Committee, to which he himself had agreed; neither could he deny that tithes had been the fruitful parent of misery and ill-will in Ireland; but the question was, whether the evils which had arisen from this source, were not now about to be got rid of by the measure which the Government had introduced. In fact the hon. member for Kildare had already stated, that last year a Bill was introduced which would have the effect of converting tithes into a tax upon laud, and, therefore, of putting an end to the misery. But, before entering on that question, he must say a word or two on the often misrepresented expression of "extinction of tithes." Having done so now, he should consider it as done once for all, and never would enter on the question again. He begged the attention of the House to the occasion on which that expression was used, and the circumstances attending the use of it. The hon. member for Wicklow, who had introduced the debate on that occasion, had said, that 'The system of tithes was unjust in prin- 46 ciple, and tyrannical in operation; and that it made a difference between the rich and the poor, because the rich man, by turning his arable land into pasture, might evade the tax, which it was impossible for the poor man to do, who was compelled to live on the produce of his potatoe ground.' Why, it should be recollected in the first place, that that was the system created by the Irish Parliament, so often the subject of the praise of the hon. member for the city of Waterford—for it was they that made agistment the exception to liability to tithes, and thus created the invidious distinction between the poor and the rich.
§ Mr. Barron
had not eulogised the system, he had only given it as an instance of the interference of the State with tithe property.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
That might be so; but still it was true, that this sort of interference, so favourable to the rich and unjust to the poor, was the work of the Irish Parliament. In answer to the observations thus made on the evils of the system of tithes, and in answer to a question from Mr. Croker, he (Mr. Stanley) had said, that the object the Government had in view was, "the extinction of the present system of tithes." The Report of the Committee, too, said, that tithes were to be exchanged for a commutation on land, or for a charge on land. It was quite impossible that the public should have been misled by such an expression, uttered under such circumstances. The promise he then held out had been strictly fulfilled by the introduction of a measure which had got rid of the objectionable parts of the former tithe-system, and had virtually converted tithe into what the hon. member for Waterford wished to see substituted in its place—a system of Land-tax. Tithe had been converted into a charge on land—and in what respect did it differ from a Land-tax? He admitted, that the present system of tithes had been the parent of much misery in Ireland; but in what manner? It was in their mode of assessment, in the various modes in which they were collected, and in all the practical details connected with their collection; and all of these objections would be done away by their conversion into what was virtually and really a Land-tax. The difference between the present system and any other must be in the persons by whom the tithes were collected, 47 or the persons by whom they were paid. He much suspected that the objections to the Ministerial measure proceeded from those by whom the tithes must be paid. The burthen would now be taken from the shoulders of the poor and put upon those of the rich—upon those who in the Irish Parliament had had sufficient influence to get passed such a system as that which he had read and described in the sentence taken from the speech of the hon. Member, whose sentiments he had quoted. All would now pay according to the value of the land of which they were the occupiers. All the small charges that were so oppressive in their operation would be got rid of—the tithes themselves would no longer be a direct tax upon industry—they would be paid, not by the tenant, but by the landlord. And if the tenant suffered from a heavier burthen than at present, he would know to whom to impute the evil; and that to the landlord, and not to the clergyman, he must look for relief [An Hon. Member: That is unjust towards the landlords]. Unjust towards the landlords! Would the hon. Member tell the House what he meant by the expression, whether he meant by relief from tithes to get a pecuniary benefit to the landlords? He believed that they might think—intend—wish—that it should be so; but were there any hon. Members who would get up in that House and declare that such were their sentiments? Why was the altered system unjust towards the landlord? The hon. Member said, that "the land was his." So it was; but he had bought it and paid for it either subject to tithe or free from tithe. If subject to tithe, he had paid less for it than he would have been obliged to pay if it had been free from tithe. If the clergyman was to be deprived of his tithe, the landlord, then, was not the person who ought to benefit by it; and it was no injustice to make the tithe directly payable by the landlord, which he before paid indirectly, and the amount of which he extorted from his suffering tenant, whom he described as oppressed by the exactions of a greedy and grasping clergy. He contended, that no pains had been spared on the part of his Majesty's Government to carry into effect the Tithe Composition Act of last Session; and he might also add, that no pains had been spared on the other side to prevent it from producing any beneficial 48 result to the deluded people of Ireland. He thought that the Resolution of to-night was rendered totally unnecessary by the alteration which it was proposed to make in the measure introduced during the present Session by his Majesty's Ministers. He would not enter at all at present into the last part of the hon. Gentleman's Resolution, and for this reason, that the discussion on it, though repeatedly taken during the interminable debates on the subject of Irish tithes, had better be reserved to a more fitting opportunity. He contended, that the House ought not to divert the property of the Church of Ireland away from that Church until they saw that the purposes of the Church were fully answered. The object of the Irish Church Reform Bill was to produce a better and more equitable division of the revenues of that Church among the Ministers of it. The distribution of the surplus, if surplus there should be, was still left open for the consideration of Parliament. Upon that subject he had his own opinions; what those opinions were, he would not state at present, all he would say was, that the subject was still an open subject. He cordially agreed with his right hon. friend the Secretary for Ireland in saying that he should vote for the previous question, because he thought that in continuing the present discussion, they were raising not merely an irrelevant and useless debate, but also one that was absolutely mischievous and injurious to the tranquillity and all the best interests of Ireland.
said, that he saw in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down the same unrelenting disposition towards Ireland, the same inflexible determination not to concede any thing to his unfortunate country, which had always hitherto distinguished the right hon. Gentleman. He hoped, that in consequence of that speech, the Government would, in future, exclude the right hon. Gentleman from all interference in the affairs of Ireland. Ireland was not a colony or a province—it was an integral part of the empire; and he therefore, trusted that the right hon. Secretary for Ireland would take his department into his own immediate keeping, and would not give it up to the management of the right hon. Secretary for the colonies. He could not help admiring the wonderful special pleading of the Colonial Secretary. The Colonial Secretary had not, he said, 49 used the term "extinction of tithes" in its ordinary signification—no, he had qualified it; he had spoken only of the "extinction of the tithe system;" and in using that language he had spoken to the Irish peasantry, whose knowledge of the English language was not so critical as to be able to discern the wide difference between the "extinction of tithes" and the "extinction of the tithe system." But all these points were foreign from the matter of debate. The real question, disguise it as they might, was nothing else but this—ought any set of Christians to be obliged to pay for the expense of supporting the pastors of another set, in whose doctrines they did not believe, and by whose admonitions they did not benefit? Every man speaking before the public should be frank and candid in his declarations, and that had always been his practice. Now, if he had understood the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies correctly, that right hon. Secretary maintained that it was right to keep up a Protestant establishment at the expense of a Catholic people. He could tell the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, and the House, that the people of Ireland never would, indeed never ought to, be content, whilst such an establishment was kept up among them at an expense which, even if they received advantage from it, would be objectionable. The indignant cry which the Roman Catholics of Ireland were raising against that over-grown establishment would be re-echoed by the Protestant Dissenters of Ireland, and of England too, until common sense had produced its natural effects even upon the understanding of that House. He put it to the gentlemen of England whether such an anomaly as the Established Church of Ireland ought to exist any longer? Did such an anomaly exist else-where? Was there any other country in the world in which a Church Establishment to which only 1–20th part of the population belonged was supported at the expense of the remaining 19–20ths, who neither believed in its doctrines, nor received consolation from the religion which it taught? But the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies was for supporting that establishment, in order to convert the Roman Catholics of Ireland into Protestants. As an additional inducement to that conversion, he supposed that the right hon. Secretary had rained down upon Ireland that shower of latitats from the Exche- 50 quer which had succeeded in some few cases in recovering 20s. at the expense of 50s. Yes, let the Government set up in Ireland the Colonial Secretary, with all his kindness of manner, and benignity of temper, and no doubt he would make all the people of Ireland converts to that Church to which he was so much attached, and for which he made them pay so dearly. What had the late right hon. Secretary for Ireland done for that unhappy country? Nothing, or worse than nothing. He had introduced two Bills on the subject of tithes. He was told, that his first Bill, the Bill of last Session, would increase the disturbances of Ireland; but he would not heed those who told him so; and what had been the result? Blood had been shed in various parts of the country, and no tithes could be collected except at the point of the bayonet. It appeared as if he had thrown Ireland into disturbance in order to introduce his favourite measure, the Coercion Bill. By the aid of that Bill tithe had been collected with greater rigour than before, and as the last feather broke the camel's back, so the last exertion of the power of that Bill had driven the unarmed peasantry of Ireland to resist its execution at Middleton, even when enforced by detachments of police and military. The King's Ministers too had come down to the House and obtained a unanimous vote of credit to pay off the tithes due to the clergy of the Established Church of Ireland. He hoped that they would come down on a future day and ask for a similar vote to pay off the tithes due to the lay impropriators. If they did, he was certain that no man who wished well to the settlement of Ireland would refuse to give them a similar vote of credit. The right hon. Secretary to the Colonies had held out to the people of Ireland the prospect that tithes should be extinguished altogether, when in stepped the present right hon. Secretary for Ireland and said, "Oh, no! they must be kept up to pay the present incumbents of the Church of Ireland their full salaries." Now he appealed to all who heard him, whether it was just to follow such advice, now that they had it stated on the authority of Parliamentary Returns, that, taking Ireland throughout, there was one-eighth of its, benefices in which divine service according to the Protestant ritual had not been performed for the last three years? Why should not tithes be 51 abolished in those parishes at once? Why should any payment be made to those pastors who performed no duty? If they wished to procure tranquillity in Ireland, and to maintain it when procured, they must get rid of the temporalities of the Church of Ireland, which pressed upon her like an incubus.
did not rise for the purpose of entering into a discussion of the general question involved in the proposition submitted to the consideration of the House by the hon. member for Waterford, as it seemed to be admitted on all hands that this was not the time for a consideration of the subject—but he could not permit the observations of that hon. Member, nor those which fell from the hon. and learned member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell) in reference to the alleged number of benefices in Ireland, in which it was stated there was neither a church nor a resident clergyman, to puss without a reply. The hon. member for Waterford stated, that there were 649 parishes in Ireland in which no incumbent resided, and in which there was no church. The Representation made by the hon. Member in respect of parishes was calculated to mislead the House, inasmuch as many hon. Members might be induced to believe, that all these parishes were benefices—that there was this number of benefices in Ireland in which there was no resident clergyman. He challenged the hon. Member to state the name of a benefice in which no clergyman resided. It was true that there were many parishes so circumstanced, but this arose from the fact of the revenues of many small parishes not affording a competency for the clergyman; the consequence was, that several of these small parishes were united, and the union made up an adequate benefice, amounting to between 200l. and 300l. a-year, and in each of these unions a Protestant rector or curate was resident. The statement, therefore, of the hon. Member could not be supported.
said, that in Kilsheda there was no resident clergyman, though the living was worth 1,000l. a-year.
The statements of hon. Members, supposing them to be correct, fell very short of the representation made, namely, that there were 649 parishes so circumstanced. There might be so many parishes in Ireland, in which there was no church, but he would venture to say that they were either united with other parishes 52 in which there was a church, or had the accommodation of some neighbouring church. There was another observation made by the hon. and learned member for Dublin, to which he must reply. That hon. Member stated, that there was a hardship and an injustice in maintaining the Established Church in Ireland, as the great body of the people were of a different religion. He (Mr. Lefroy) begged to know, where was the injustice in making the Protestant proprietors of Ireland, paying for the maintenance of their own church? Nineteen-twentieths of the land belonged to Protestant proprietors, and it was admitted that the tithe was in effect paid by the landlords. The crying injustice, therefore, was, that the Protestant proprietors paid for the support of their own religion. As well might it be said that in some of the counties or great towns in England, where Roman Catholics resided, or dissenters formed a majority of the population, the Established Church ought not to be maintained. Now, he (Mr. Lefroy) contended that the establishment ought to be taken in reference to the whole body of Protestants in the United Kingdom, and not with reference to the local circumstances of Ireland or England. It was manifest, that the great majority of the population of the United Kingdom were Protestants; the establishment, therefore, was not for a portion, but for a great majority of the people.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that he should not have troubled the House upon this occasion, had not the hon. and learned member for Dublin made upon his right hon. friend, the Secretary for the Colonies, one of the most unfair and unprovoked attacks which he had ever heard in the whole course of his parliamentary experience. He could conceive no other cause for that attack than this, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had been so often engaged in contest with his right hon. friend, and had been so often worsted by him in debate, that there rankled in his mind a sense of his own inferiority, and that, therefore, an opportunity having been offered him to attack his right hon. friend, when his right hon. friend could have no opportunity to reply, he was to be attacked whether he had given cause for the attack or not. The hon. and learned Member had avowed that his object was not alteration in the Establishment of the Church of Ireland. No, his object now 53 was, that there should be no Church Establishment, or no Protestant Church Establishment, in that country. He had always been aware that there were Gentlemen who entertained that opinion. He was not sure whether the hon. and learned Gentleman had not avowed that opinion before out of the walls of Parliament. But of this he was sure, that never on any occasion had his Majesty's Ministers either expressed or entertained an intention to destroy the Protestant Church Establishment of Ireland. They were anxious to effect, and they had endeavoured to effect such a Reform in that Church as would be a benefit to the Establishment itself; but as to subverting or destroying it, they disclaimed the idea. All they wished to effect was, to place it in such a condition as would press the least possible on the people of Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman had also taunted his right hon. friend with interfering in the affairs of Ireland, now that he was removed from the Irish to the Colonial Office. Now he had yet to learn that his right hon. friend, in accepting the Secretaryship of the Colonies, had given up any of his rights as a Member of the Imperial Parliament. As a Member of the Imperial Parliament it was part of his duty to attend to the affairs of Ireland, and if he were to fail in that part of his duty, he knew no man more likely to make it matter of charge against his right hon. friend than the hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman had also expressed a hope that in any future measure which Government might intend to adopt towards Ireland, they would not take the advice which his right hon. friend might be induced to give upon them. Now, to that hope he would give at once this reply—that on whatever political subject his right hon. friend should be inclined to offer him his advice, he should be most happy to take it.
§ Mr. Sheil
did not wish to say anything which would add to the acrimony of the present debate, but he could not refrain from stating that in his opinion the observations of his hon. and learned friend, the member for Dublin on the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies were perfectly justified. They were not unprovoked, as most of them turned upon the general principles which the right hon. Secretary had declared ought to guide them in legislating for the Established Church of Ire- 54 land. All the measures which the right hon. Secretary had introduced upon those principles for the removal of the ecclesiastical grievances of Ireland had met with a signal and disastrous failure. His Bill of last Session for the commutation of tithes had excited disturbance instead of allaying it; and as to his Bill of the present Session, could anybody say what it was? They knew what the plan of the Government was with respect to the Bank Charter, the abolition of slavery, and the renewal of the East-India Charter; but could anybody tell them—could the Cabinet itself tell them—what the Irish Tithe Bill was? As far as he knew anything of the present project of Government, it was not likely to succeed in pleasing any party, it would not conciliate the peasantry of Ireland; and, by fixing the tithe as a land-tax on the landlords of Ireland, it would place the aristocracy against them. He called upon the House to do justice to the people of Ireland. The Session, it was true, was now far advanced, but it was not too late to consider the Bank Charter, the East-India Company's Charter, and the abolition of slavery. He, therefore, hoped that it would not be considered too late to do justice to his oppressed and injured countrymen.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, it was a mistake to suppose that any measure for the permanent arrangement of the system of tithes in Ireland, had been announced by the Government during the present Session. On the contrary, it was upon the very ground that the Act of last year was to take effect from the 1st of November next, that the Government had proposed an adjustment of the tithes of 1831, 1832, and 1833, by means of an enactment limited to that specific object, and to that particular period. The observations of the right hon. Secretary were certainly liable to misconstruction, and perhaps calculated to do mischief by raising expectations which it was not intended to realise. As regarded any ulterior measure relative to tithes, it was plain that his Majesty's Government contemplated none. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Littleton) appeared to him to have very inconsiderately assented to a principle frequently advanced by the opponents of the Church—namely, that no tithe should be paid in a benefice where circumstances prevented the celebration of divine service. 55 That was going entirely beyond the clause in the Church Bill of his Majesty's Government, which only gave the power of suspending an incumbent where service had not been performed, but made no alteration in the payment of the tithe. The evil tendency of the clause as it stood in the Bill, wanted no aggravation from the comments of the right hon. Secretary. He (Mr. Shaw) denied the assertion of the hon. and learned member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell) that one-eighth of the benefices in Ireland had been without service for the last three years; one-fourteenth, when the Returns were properly compared, was about the proportion; but this defect was rapidly diminishing, when the Government interfered to check the diminution. Out of 1,400 benefices there were, as he had before stated, about 700 at the time of the Union (in 1,800) where there were no churches. In 500 of these, churches had since been built, and there were about 100 other places licensed for divine worship. That left 100 still unprovided, and while thus the benefits and blessings of the Established Religion were spreading throughout the country, and six-sevenths of the previously unoccupied ground had been covered by them, his Majesty's Ministers cut a trench to interrupt the further progress of improvement, and leave the remaining seventh destitute of the means of religious instruction, according to the form of the Established Church. The simple question was, whether, admitting it to be an evil that any benefice should be without service, the mode of remedying that evil was to remove the clergyman, or to provide him with a church or other place, for the celebration of divine service? And all he could say was, that had that principle been adopted thirty years ago, six times the number of benefices that now were would have been returned as having no service in them. He was surprised that the hon. and learned Member (Mr. O'Connell) could seriously contend that tithe was a tax upon the mere occupying tenant, when he well knew that tithe free land would either let or sell for a greater sum than was paid for land subject to tithe—and that it would make no real difference to the tenant whether he paid nine-tenths to the landlord and one-tenth to the clergyman, or the whole to the landlord in the shape of rent. He allowed that it would be an improvement as to 56 future contracts that the landlord should pay the tithe and receive in one sum the whole value of the land from his tenant, for it was always desirable, that what was done virtually should also be done nominally; but he considered that principle wholly inapplicable to the tithe measure of the Government, which alone had reference to the past and present time, and affected pre-existing contracts; and, however, some such expedients might have been rendered necessary by the want of vigour and firmness in the Government, and for the relief of the suffering clergy, under the severe pressure of distress in no way occasioned by themselves, yet there could be no doubt that the proposed plan would bear most unjustly on the landed proprietors, would be a premium to insubordination and outrage—and the man who had resisted the law, in a better condition than the man who had obeyed it. He would always maintain that the opposition to tithes had been altogether excited by the Roman Catholic priesthood, and the agitators and disturbers of the public peace. The poor deluded Roman Catholic peasantry would willingly have continued a payment to which they took their land liable, had not pains been taken to pervert their understandings and encourage them in acts of violence and outrage. The old hackneyed argument of a majority of a population paying for a religion which they did not profess, was at once refuted by the simple fact that the land paid the tithe, and that at least nine-tenths of that land belonged to Protestants, who not only, as well as all proprietors, held their property subject to the charge, but cheerfully contributed to the support of an establishment for which they entertained the sincerest and warmest attachment.
§ Mr. Lambert
denied, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland had ever paid tithe to the Established Church with great willingness, and asserted that the various Insurrection Acts which had been passed against Whiteboys, Rightboys, Peep-o'-day-boys, Hearts of Oak, &c, had all originated in the hatred of the people to tithes. As this was only the second night on which they had given the subject of Irish tithes their consideration during the present Session, he would beg leave to call their attention to one or two facts connected with that subject which had not yet received the notice they deserved. They had heard a good deal of passive resistance in Ireland; 57 now, he would state without any reserve that he highly approved of that passive resistance—indeed, he approved of every species of resistance which did not violate the law, because he considered it as the last resource but one which the people had against an unjust and oppressive demand. The people of Scotland had been driven in former times to that last resource. He hoped that the wisdom of Government would prevent the people of Ireland from being driven to it also. He had to complain of the police system of Ireland. Nothing could be more different than it was from the police system in London. It was kept up in a state most mischievous in its effects. He could mention many instances in which some of its Orange members—even privates—had shown a contempt for the authority of the Magistrates, relying, no doubt, on the influence which had appointed them. One case was that of a man named Kennedy, who was fined for some offence. He told the Magistrates that they might fine him, but that he had friends and would get the fine remitted. The Magistrates reprimanded him for his insolence, and told him, they would represent his conduct and recommend his dismissal. He answered that they might do that too, but that he did not care for it; and the man was right enough, for so far from being-dismissed, he was in a short time promoted. He admitted that the present Government were not to blame for that, but his complaint was, that the system had not been improved since they came into office. He contended that as in Catholic times the Archbishops and Bishops swore to hold their temporalities not of the Pope but of the King, such property could be considered only as the property of the State.
§ Colonel Conolly
said, that when the hon. Member came before the House as the advocate of what he termed passive resistance, he only attempted to impose upon the community, when in the same breath in which he denounced tithes, he set himself up as a vindicator of the law. The hon. Member must have calculated greatly upon the credulity of the House as well as upon his own ingenuity, if he could persuade them into a belief of the latter part of his assertion. He (Colonel Conolly) could not help calling the hon. member for Wexford's recollection to speeches made by him in that House of 58 the most inflammatory nature, and as it was well known that what was said in that House more or less reached the public, the effect produced by such harangues must be most prejudicial. He (Colonel Conolly) begged to call the hon. Member's attention more particularly to the piteous narrative which he detailed to the House of the case of Mary Mulrooney; and he would assert that a more exaggerated or unfounded statement never was uttered by the lips of man than the statement made on that occasion by the hon. member for Wexford. He, therefore, thought that the hon. Member was rather unfortunate in vaunting of his own moderation, for never did he see any man split more infelicitously upon the rock of self-eulogium than had the hon. Member. These inflammatory statements were so many appeals to the passions of the ignorant, and stimulated them to acts of violence and insubordination. The House would perhaps feel amused at finding that he agreed in any statement put forth by the hon. and learned member for Dublin; but there was one proposition laid down by the hon. and learned Gentleman to which he did assent. That hon. Gentleman asserted that no payment ought to be made to any man where no duty was performed. He (Colonel Conolly) should like to know, then, on what principle it was that the hon. and learned Gentleman received 12,000l. a-year, extorted as it was from the people of Ireland without his performing any duty in return. The hon. and learned Gentleman decried the neglect of the Protestant clergy, and refused to give them any payment where no duty was performed. He (Colonel Conolly) should hope that in vindication of his own principle, and in justification of his own conduct, the hon. and learned Gentleman would see the necessity of showing what services he rendered in return for the 12,000l. annually extorted from the starving peasantry of Ireland. He had in his possession a card which had been sent to him from Cork, bearing the names of collectors, secretary, and other officers, showing that an organised system had been adopted to extort money from the people.
§ The Speaker
No one was more sensible than he was to the impropriety of personal 59 attacks being introduced into the discussions of that House, but he was afraid that it was rather too late in the night, after what had already occurred, to complain of those attacks.
begged to be allowed to say one word in reply. Nothing could be more untrue than that extortion was employed in collecting the money alluded to. He would, in the strongest terms consistent with the dignity of that House, deny the charge. Nothing was ever asserted so little liable to credit as the statement of the hon. Member.
said, that he was surprised, and that he saw with regret, that any one should jest upon and treat lightly, as had been done that evening, the atrocious murder committed by the yeomanry at Newtown Barry.
§ Mr. Barron
replied, that he did not know in what way he was to understand the consistency of those who, having voted on Thursday and Friday week last, for measures similar to what he advocated, should now think fit to vote against his Resolutions. The present Resolutions were moderate, and were intended for the peace of Ireland, and did not go further than the sentiments frequently expressed by Gentlemen opposite. He maintained that five-sixths of the tenants under lease in the South of Ireland would be compelled to pay this tax to Protestants by the Act of last year, and that the consequence would be a repetition of the scenes of bloodshed which had taken place in Ireland during the last century. It was that the repetition of those scenes should be avoided that he brought forward his Resolutions. He would not detain the House any longer. His plan was, to have the working clergy of Ireland paid, and to take away the sinecures enjoyed by those who had no cure of souls. However, when he called to mind the result of the division on the 147th clause the other evening, he considered it useless to divide the House on his Resolutions.
§ Resolutions withdrawn.