HC Deb 05 July 1833 vol 19 cc210-9

The House immediately on meeting at twelve o'clock this clay, resolved itself into a Committee on the Church Temporalities (Ireland) Bill.

The debate on Clause 50 was resumed.

On the question of reducing the incomes of all future Bishops of Derry to 600l a-year,

Mr. Shaw

said, that he considered it a matter of no great importance whether the future revenue of the bishopric of Derry was 8,000l. or 6,000l. a-year. He thought the principle of reducing the incomes of the Bishops to fixed salaries was in itself objectionable, although he would greatly prefer it, as a choice of evils, to a reduction of their numbers, which he could not too much deprecate; however, the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. Evans) involved no principle which the clause had not previously contained. It was a mere question of degree, between 8,000l. and 6,000l., and therefore he (Mr. Shaw) would not oppose it. He certainly had always understood, that whatever was to be the ultimate arrangement with respect to the revenues of the see, the present Bishop had taken it subject to that arrangement. While he could not agree in the extravagant praise which had been lavished on the Bishop of Derry's political creed, at the expense of the rest of the episcopal bench, by the hon. member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell), he had every respect for the personal character of that right reverend Prelate, and would not object to any peculiar advantage the present Bishop might derive from the operation of the Amendment, being only prospective.

Mr. Sheil

asked, what was the amount of patronage to be added to the see of Derry in consequence of the other see merging into it. The Government apparently reduced the income of the Bishops, while they doubled their patronage, thereby affording them additional means of providing for their families. He thought the patronage of the suppressed bishoprics ought to be vested in the Crown.

Sir Robert Inglis

said, that much as be was opposed both to the principle as well as the details of the Bill, he was yet bound to state, that his Majesty's Government had shown a very disinterested feeling in one respect. It was evident, that they might if they pleased have transferred the patronage of the suppressed bishoprics to the Crown. Such a course would have rendered the measure so much the worse, that he (Sir Robert Inglis) could not but feel grateful to them for allowing the patronage to remain with the Bishops.

The Amendment was agreed to, and the clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

On the 89th Clause being read,

Mr. Finn

proposed, that a clause should be introduced between 88 and 3;), to the effect, that in all cases in which the value of a benefice should amount to the sum of 500l., the salary of the curate employed by the rector should not be less than 100l., to be paid out of the said benefice.

Dr. Lushington

said, that in point of practice the adoption of the clause would rather be injurious than otherwise to the class of persons whom it was intended to serve. He apprehended, that as the law stood the Bishop had a power of fixing the remuneration of the curates in his diocese. The rector would decline making any agreement with his curate if the income of his parish did not yield him a sufficient return to pay it; he would drag on in the business himself, perhaps with all the disadvantages of old age attending his exertions; and then the Church would be injured by its service not being properly performed, and the curates would be unemployed.

Mr. Sheil

said, that the opinion of a Gentleman so closely connected with the Established Church as the hon. and learned Gentleman (Dr. Lushington) opposite must be received with respect. But he (Mr. Sheil) submitted to the hon. and learned Gentleman himself whether it might not be, that as objects might be sometimes so close to the eyes as not to be seen, so the hon. and learned Gentleman might be too close to the Church to take so telescopic and comprehensive a view of its interest as others who stood in a position of less proximity. Surely, if a rector received an income of 500l., an educated Gentleman assisting could not be considered overpaid by a salary of 100l. Surely 400l. was quite as ample for the support of the rector as 100l. for that of the curate. In the Scotch Church there were very few clergymen whose income came up to 400l. a-year. Indeed he believed, that most Scotch clergymen would consider 400l. a-year a very peculiar godsend. Now, although he dissented from the doctrines of that Church, he considered its pecuniary condition to be very apostolical. It was to be recollected, too, that the curate could marry; and they bad beard the other day a great panegyric upon the marriage of clergymen, and a censure upon celibacy. There was a long and pathetic expatiation from the other side of the House upon the wants and necessities of Gentlemen of education with large families, and of the most distinguished virtues, in the situation of incumbents; but the compassion of the other side did not extend to the curates. He thought it necessary to compel the rector to give 100l. a-year out of 500l. to prevent ecclesiastical pauperism, which was in Ireland a fruitful source of evil.

Mr. Secretary Stanley

opposed the introduction of the clause, as calculated to injure the curates. He thought the subject required to be introduced by a separate Bill, and would therefore state, that it was the intention of Government to introduce a measure next Session for the regulation of non-residents and pluralities, which should be equally applicable to England and Ireland.

Mr. Sham

remarked, that if the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Dr. Lushington) was in too close proximity to the Church to see its perfections distinetly, the hon. and learned member for Tipperary was at too great a distance from it to sec them at all. As to the proposed clause, he objected to it for the sake of the curates themselves, whom it would materially injure.

Colonel Perceval

suggested, that the minimum of a curate under an incumbent of 500l. a-year should be 75l., in the currency of the country.

Mr. Finn

said, that the amount of property in the possession of the Established Church of Ireland was sufficient to pay for the competent discharge of all its duties. The superior clergy were eulogized on all sides of the House; but he would ask, did they appoint those to benefices who actually wanted them? The curates were as well educated as the rectors, or even the Bishops or Archbishops; yet they had not a tenth of the income of the one, or a hundredth of the income of the other. Besides, competence was not an essential qualification to their appointment to a living; on the contrary, he knew few who had been appointed for other than political reasons, or through the influence of political connection. He also knew, that many curates in Ireland were driven to do things unbecoming their character as clergymen and gentlemen simply to obtain the mere means of existence. In making these observations be was solely influenced by a feeling of justice and charity; and he was well aware that they would petition, individually and generally, but that they were afraid of their diocesan.

Sir Hussey Vivian

believed, that there were numbers of curates in Ireland in great distress, but that arose from the tithes being paid to lay impropriators in place of the incumbents. He, however, thought the present clause would do them more injury than good.

The Committee divided on the Amendment—Ayes 35; Noes 130; Majority 105.

List of the AYES.
Baldwin, M. Fitzgerald, T.
Bernard, hon. W. S. Grattan,
Bellew, R. M. Gully, J.
Blake, Sir F. Hall, B.
Browne, D. Handley,
Browne, J. Hulse, J.
Chapman, M. L. Lloyd, J. H.
Chichester, Lord A. Lynch, J.
Dykes, F. L. B. Macnamara, F.
Faithful, G. O'Brien, C.
Fenton O'Connell, Morgan
Fitzsimon, C. O'Dwyer, A. C.
Finn, W. F. Perrin, L.
Roe, R. Vigors, N. A.
Sheil, R. L. Walker,
Stawell, S. Wallace, R.
Sullivan, R. White, S.
Turner, W. Williams,

On Clause 114 being read,

Mr. Shaw

said, the clause had stood 110 in the last copy of the Bill—and he had to move the Amendment of which he had given notice. The power conferred by that clause, of suspending incumbents where service had been intermitted for the last three years, he always regarded as one of the worst features in the Bill; and the reason he had reserved his Amendment for the present stage was, that he so much deprecated the whole of the clause, he would not move an Amendment until he had first taken the sense of the Committee upon omitting the clause altogether. He had already argued the question at much length, and he would not detain the Committee further than to remind them, that in the last thirty years four times as much had been effected in providing for the celebration of divine service according to the forms of the established religion in Ireland as in the preceding century. In 1800, there must have been 700 benefices where service had not been performed for the three years preceding, for there did not exist the means of its performance; since then, 500 churches had been built, and he supposed about 100 places of worship licensed where there were not funds for building a church. This progressive and rapid improvement bad left but about 100 benefices unprovided. The influence of the Protestant established religion was extending itself over the whole country, and, in three years more, if uninterrupted in its course, would perfectly cover it. The Bill before them cut off half of the episcopal bench, under whose au-spices and close personal superintendence the process of advancement was taking place; even the Commissioners who were substituted for them were to be directed, by the clause under consideration, to cut a trench between the cultivated district and that which still remained unimproved, (being in the proportion of but one-seventh to what had been accomplished), and there to stay the benefits and blessings which it was but reasonable to infer would soon have been supplied to every part of Ireland. This was the proposition of those who called themselves the friends of the Church. If such friends had proposed a similar law twenty years ago, it would probably have I kept half instead of the fourteenth of the benefices unprovided with places of worship. He did not deny that it was an evil that there should be any benefice having an incumbent and not having service—but the way to remedy the evil was not to take away the incumbent, but to supply the service. He maintained, and he had on the former discussion proved by returns, that where there were churches built and divine worship established, congregations were not wanting. He would move, as an Amendment, "that in case the Commissioners suspend the appointment of a clerk to any benefice where divine service shall have been intermitted for throe years, the emoluments of such benefice during the vacancy shall be applied for the purpose of providing the means of the celebration of divine service within such benefice."

Lord Althorp

thought the better way would be to leave the application of such fluids to the discretion of the Commissioners. If the proposition should be adopted, it would tie up the Commissioners to the appropriation of the funds in a specific manner. In cases where no service had been performed for three years the probability, was that it had arisen from there being no Protestants in the parish. In such a case it was too much to apply the funds to the purposes suggested in the Amendment, and the Commissioners were not precluded by the clause as it stood from the application of the funds in the manner suggested in case there were Protestants in the parish.

Mr. Lefroy

said, that the clause provided for the cure of souls, and the noble Lord could not therefore go on the assumption that there were no Protestants in the parish. He would appeal to the noble Lord's candour and fairness whether it was just that the funds arising out of a parish should be applied otherwise than in providing for the spiritual wants of the parishioners. He should support the Amendment, and suggest that the objection of the noble Lord might be met by the addition of the words "except in parishes where there were no Protestants."

Mr. Secretary Stanley

thought the Amendment was quite unnecessary. If the want of churches was complained of, the Commissioners were already provided by the Bill, with means to interfere; but the Amendment would tie them down to supply that which was neither wanted nor desired in parishes where there were no Protestant inhabitants.

Mr. Finch

supported the Amendment, and maintained, that as Protestantism was increasing in Ireland, churches ought to be provided. He said this from inquiries he had made, the result of which was, that since the year 1807, in the diocese of Cork alone, no less than twenty-six churches had been built. It was notorious, that if a congregation was sought to be collected in this country, the first thing to be done was to build a church for their reception. The church of Rome had already its missions out, endeavouring to proselytize the country, and he should support the Amendment.

Mr. Ward

said, the hon. Member (Mr. Shaw) boasted much of the new churches and the number of places of worship the Bishops had established. He wished to know if there were Protestants to attend them? for it was easier to build churches than to find congregations for them.

Mr. Dominick Browne

said, he was satisfied that of late the Protestants had much decreased in Ireland. He admitted, that several hundred new churches had been built, but he was certain that many of those churches had no congregations. He himself knew parishes in Galway and Mayo in which there were only two Protestant families—those of the rector and clerk. He was ready to support the Church as far as the Protestants required it, but would not go one shilling further; and he should therefore oppose the Amendment.

Mr. Shaw

said, that if his hon. friend (Mr. Dominick Browne) had taken as much pains to ascertain the fact as he had, he would have learned that generally in the new churches that had been built there were congregations averaging from three to four hundred. He had, without any returns being moved for, and merely through some friends who were casually in London, ascertained that such was the result in three or four dioceses. He had before stated the minute details of these cases to the House; and in the diocese of Tuam, which his hon. friend ought to know, the establishment of these new places of worship (more frequently in licenced houses than in churches, owing to the poverty of the parishes) had been attended with the most beneficial effects. It was not of new churches but new congregations (which with attention were sure to follow them) that the opponents of the Church were so much afraid.

Mr. O'Connell

was surprised the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Shaw) should go to the Quixotic length he had done. He had first found new churches, and since had found new Protestants, to the amount, according to the hon. and learned Gentleman's average, of at least a million. Now that it was found that preaching would not do, it was thought by the hon. member for Stamford that building churches would answer in increasing Protestants. That was indeed "setting traps to catch Popish rats." But would the hon. and learned Gentleman seriously tell the House that Protestantism was increasing in Ireland?—["yes," from Mr. Shaw.] Well then, after that he had done.

Major Macnamara

said, that he could state that in one district of the county of Clare there was not a Protestant in the whole barony, and much less in any of the parishes in that barony.

Colonel Perceval

could not permit the speech of the hon. member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell) to impose upon the House. He knew little of those parts of Ireland which heretofore returned the hon. and learned Gentleman to that House; but if his statements referred to Dublin, or to those parts of Ireland with which he was acquainted, he must be permitted to say, that they had more of good humour than of fact to recommend them. He could state, that in places where churches had been built since the Union, the average number of Protestants attending exceeded 300. The hon. member for Mayo (Mr. Dominick Browne) took upon himself to answer for Connaught. He (Colonel Perceval) had heard of persons assuming to themselves the right of representing all Ireland, and he supposed that the hon. Gentleman wished it to be imagined that he was the representative of all Connaught. Now he (Colonel Perceval) had the honour of representing zone of the counties in the kingdom of Connaught, and he would inform the hon. Gentleman that he was misinformed with respect to the Protestant population in that district. He could state, that in Sligo every church was attended both by congregations and communicants. In the parish in which he (Colonel Perceval) resided, the church, within his own recollection, had been enlarged, and it was now much too small for the congregation. In all the churches in his neighbourhood, the number of persons attending divine service was much more than the buildings could accommodate.

Amendment negatived. At three o'clock the House adjourned and resumed at live. The Committee was then continued.

On Clause 138 being put,

Lord Althorp

said, he had an alteration to propose in the terms of this clause. As it originally stood, it stated that the Commissioners to be appointed under the Act should inquire respecting, and ascertain the full improved yearly value of the lands and premises cited in the Bill, according to the usual mode of estimating and ascertaining the same. It was further stated the com-missioners were empowered to deduct 4l. per cent from the value of the fee-simple and inheritance of the land referred to, as a kind of bonus to the lessee; but as the valuation was, according to the amendment agreed to the other night, to be taken according to the custom in the respective dioceses, and as this alteration would occasion a diminution in the amount of the valuation, it was thought advisable to leave out the words in the clause which guaranteed the reduction of four per cent in the amount of the value of the fee-simple and inheritance. The valuation not being required according to the original mode, the bonus consequent on that valuation was, of course, judged unnecessary.

Mr. O' Connell

said, it was perfectly clear that in a great majority of cases the proposed alteration would operate most unjustly. Where ornamental improvements had been made, their value was not to be estimated, but what would be the case with the poorer tenants? Their interests would be calculated upon the full value, and they were to lose the bonus of four per cent because another class of tenants were to have the benefit of the custom. He was opposed to the alteration, because he conceived it was calculated to relieve the wealthy tenants alone, while it placed the poorer class of tenants in a worse situation than before. The clause as it stood had given great satisfaction to the Irish people, and now the government were about as usual to throw cold water on the feeling of satisfaction which they had engendered by the provision as it originally stood.

Lord Althorp

said, that the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman showed distinctly that the alteration made in a previous Committee was a wrong one. The Act made the lease perpetual, and that he considered a sufficient bonus in itself. He should be sorry that great dissatisfaction should be felt in Ireland upon the subject as he really felt obliged to persist in deducting the bonus.

Mr. O'Connell

asked whether because the House did an act of justice towards one class of tenants they were to do an act of injustice towards another class?

Sir Robert Inglis

was sorry to have differed from the first on this clause from his hon. friend (Mr. Shaw), and he thought the bonus ought not to be given.

Mr. Aglionby

said, that taking away the bonus would be an act of injustice towards the poorer tenantry. All that was required by the clause as it stood was, that the tenants should have the benefit of the existing custom. It was plain that it was the custom in some dioceses to charge for the improvements, and in others not.

Mr. George Young

supported the clause as it stood, and hoped the noble Lord Would not press the Committee to a division upon the Amendment.

Mr. Shaw

said, there were two distinct questions—first, whether the bonus of four per cent should ever have been given to the tenants; and next, whether, at all events, having been given, it could then be withdrawn, in consequence of what he believed sincerely to have been but an act of strict justice being done to tenants—for he must ever maintain that it was no more than justice that a man should not in a purchase from the Commissioners have to pay over again the value of a building, or ornamental improvement, which had been undertaken upon the faith of the Bishop not valuing it in the calculation of his renewal fine. As to such improvements, he denied that it had been the custom to charge them in any diocese. Whether the noble Lord was right or wrong in first granting the bonus he would not say; but he certainly thought it ought not to be introduced on the ground the noble Lord had put it.

Lord Althorp

said, he felt the force of the arguments adduced against his Amendment; and as it appeared that it would have the effect of giving a bonus to the richer tenant, which was not given to the poorer, he should withdraw it.

The clause was ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The remainder of the clauses were agreed to—the House resumed, and the Report was received.

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