HC Deb 04 July 1833 vol 19 cc117-20

On the 3rd Clause, relative to the appointment of the Commissioners, being-read,

Mr. Lloyd moved the insertion in the clause of the words "not in holy orders." There were the two Archbishops, and four Bishops, already appointed by the Bill in addition to the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice, so that, even were the other three to be laymen, there would still be a majority of ecclesiastics.

Lord Althorp

could not agree with the Amendment. He did not see, that a person in holy orders should be disqualified. It would, in his opinion, be better that the choice should be left in the discretion of the Crown.

Sir Robert Peel

thought they had not yet come to the time when the House would say, that ecclesiastics should not be appointed to a Board that was to deal with ecclesiastical matters. There were here six of the Commissioners already appointed by the Crown—he would suggest that the other three should be elected by the Bishops—that plan was now pursued in the lay appointments to the Board of First Fruits.

Mr. Sheil

thought the House ought to bear in mind what the Commission might eventually have to do. In case there was a surplus, the Parliament had not yet determined what was to be done with it—it had not been determined that it should be applied to purposes exclusively ecclesiastic. If the surplus was to be applied to temporal purposes, he would ask whether it was not reasonable that there should be temporal Commissioners for applying the fund to temporal purposes. Why should it be left entirely to clerical? In his opinion, there should be the check of lay Commissioners, and he, therefore, thought it the duty of the hon. Gentleman to insist upon his Amendment, even to a division.

Lord Althorp

thought there was very little chance of all the three Gentlemen being clergymen. On this point, the Crown ought to have unrestricted power.

Sir Samuel Whalley

thought, considering the very extensive powers which, under the 68th, 69th, and 71st clauses of the Bill, were vested in the Commissioners, to deal with any surplus fund which might come to their hands, in the building of glebe houses and additional churches, and in the increase of small livings, as in this respect, a duty of a very delicate nature would devolve on them, it was very desirable, in order to raise them above a suspicion, that there should at least he some laymen in the Commission, who could not be suspected of any other object than a wish to support the general interests of the Protestant religion.

Mr. Andrew Johnston

could not approve of the constitution of this Ecclesiastical Commission. In Scotland, every matter regarding the interests of the Church itself was regulated by the Ecclesiastical Courts, but when the temporalities were concerned, they then came to the supreme civil court, where justice was dispensed. At present the power of the Crown was so extensive under this Bill, that the nomination of the Commissioners might just as well be at once vested in the right hon. Secretary for Ireland.

Mr. Lloyd

did not contend, that ecclesiastical persons were incompetent to the proper discharge of the functions which the Commission would impose; but in order to obviate the possibility of a suspicion, that a not illaudable, but indiscreet zeal might be exercised by the ecclesiastical members; and at the same time, to secure the independence of the Board, it would be proper that laymen should be eligible.

The Committee divided on the proposition—Ayes 47; Noes 149: Majority 102.

On coming to the 50th Clause, which stated, that the revenues of the Archbishop of Armagh and Bishop of Derry exceeded the others, and should, therefore, certainly be reduced,

Sir Robert Inglis

objected to it as establishing a most pernicious principle. If the House passed it, then how could they refuse to entertain such a motion as this, if he were to bring it forward—"Whereas, the revenues of the Dukes of Sutherland and Cleveland, far exceed those of other Dukes"—[the conclusion of the sentence was drowned in cries of "Oh, oh!"]

Mr. William Evans

thought the income of the Bishops of Ireland was much too large for their duty, and that the diminution of their wealth and splendour, woulds not produce a diminution in their efficacy or respect. In the notice which he had given, he had intended to have proposed that the income of the future Bishops of Derry should be reduced to 5,000l. a-year. Since that period, however, he had been induced by several Gentlemen to alter that sum to 6,000l. a-year. The incomes of the Bishops of Kilmore, Cashel, and Tuam, were, in his opinion, too large; but he did not feel himself competent to take up so great a subject as dealing with them. He should, therefore, move that an addition be made to the clause, to the effect that the income of all future Bishops of Derry should be reduced to 6,000l. a-year. He thought there was no hon. Member who would not join with him in thinking that sum quite adequate.

Lord Althorp

remarked, that although it was undoubtedly true, that the present Bi-shop of Derry had accepted that see, upon the understanding that it was to be subject to any deductions that might be decided upon, without any limit whatever, yet, in his opinion, upon the construction of that understanding, it would not be expedient that he should be placed in a worse situation as Bishop of Derry than he was as Bishop of Killaloe. He did not object to the proposition of his hon. friend, as he had now brought it forward, but he should have given his decided opposition to it, if its effect had been to place the Bishop of Derry in the situation to which he had alluded.

Mr. Sheil

said, he did not rise to make any objection to the present Bishop of Derry retaining double the income he enjoyed as Bishop of Killaloe. They were at once adopting the example of reducing the salaries of the Bishops; but were they aware that, while they were diminishing their revenues, they were doubling their patronage? For example, they were combining Raphoe with Derry, and, at the same time, throwing the whole of the patronage of the former into the latter, for the purpose of compensating for the reduction of the salaries. It was much better, when they had merged one bishopric into another, that instead of extending the patronage, they should convey it at once to the Crown—or even to the Commissioners. He particularly called the attention of the House to that fact. This was a Church reform, and yet the patronage of Bishops in Ireland was doubled by it. Besides, the reduction of salary was founded on the present actual salary, and not on the real duties to be performed. If 4,000l. was enough for A, why should B receive 5,000l., and C 8,000l.? There was no fair adjustment, no proportion in the case; and, condemning the augmentation of patronage, the reduction of revenue was far from meeting the justice of the case, so that the real nuisance, or abuse, was substantially untouched. He declared his intention, on the third reading of the Bill, to bring up a clause by way of rider for reducing the salaries of the Irish Bishops.

Mr. O'Connell said,

he should resist the reduction of the Bishop of Derry's income, because he was the only Bishop who had advocated the cause of religious liberty, when he (Mr. O'Connell) was advocating the cause of Catholic emancipation; and he knew that the people of Ireland would not desire such reduction. He should certainly oppose its reduction below that of the Archbishop of Armagh.

Sir Robert Inglis

said, that the benefits derived by the Bishops were in the nature of income, and that was different from salary in a legislative sense; and therefore it could not be dealt with, as the hon. member for Tipperary (Mr. Sheil) seemed to think it could be.

It being three o'clock, and several Members rising to speak, the further proceedings were adjourned.