§ On the Motion that the Speaker leave the Chair,
§ Mr. Lambert
rose to move an Amendment. He did not wish to embarrass the Government, or throw the least difficutly in its way; but he felt that he had no other course to adopt than to move an amendment to be Motion of the noble Lord. He had been prevented, last night, from making the Motion he intended to make, and from giving that explanation he 623 thought, it his duty to give; and having been prevented from then making his statement, he felt himself obliged to bring it before the House as an Amendment to the Motion of the noble Lord. He could assure the House, that he never felt greater pain and anxiety than he did at being compelled to pursue this course; but it was the only one which was left him, in order to do justice to himself, and to those hon. Members who, like himself, would not have supported the Irish Coercive Bill, had they not been assured that it was not to be applied to the collection of tithes. He had no other means of doing an act of justice to his own character, and the character of those who had supported that Bill, than to place the circumstances fairly before the country. It would be, no doubt, distinctly in the recollection of the House, that at the time the Coercive Bill was introduced, he stated that some measure of that nature was necessary to restore tranquillity to that country'; but he had declared, at the same time, that no consideration on earth should make him consent to any such Bill, so long as it was to be applied to the enforcement of the collection of tithes in Ireland. The House would recollect that the noble Lord had then given a solemn pledge to the House, or rather two pledges, on the subject: and confiding in those pledges, conceiving that they would be redeemed, he and others had voted for the third reading of the Bill. He had taken every possible pains to have a correct account of what the noble Lord then said, and had collated two short reports of the noble Lord's speech. From these reports (and he would read The Times which was the same as that of the Mirror of Parliament), it appeared that the noble Lord had said, It had been stated as another objection to the Bill, that it was only a cover to enable Ministers to collect tithes. He was anxious to be clearly understood on this point. He could assure the House, that so far from that (the collecting of tithes) being the object of Ministers, they should feel, that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland would abuse the discretion which the Bill would invest him with, if he declared, in the exercise of that discretion, that any district was liable to the application of the provisions of the Bill merely because tithes were not paid in that district. To make the refusal of tithe payments a pretext for 624 enforcing the Bill would be, he repeated, acting quite contrary to the feelings and intentions of its framers; indeed, quite foreign to their views and determination. He would go further, and say, that though the suppression of Whitefeet offences was the main and sole object of the Bill, and though he had reason to believe, that the resistance to tithe was, in many instances, mixed up with these offences—indeed one of them—yet, in order to convince the most sceptical that Ministers had no other object in proposing the Bill than restoring and preserving the peace of the country, he should have no objection to the insertion of any clause or provision which would prevent the application of the Bill to any offence of which the resistance to the payment of tithes was a portion. He repeated again and again, that Ministers had but one sole object—the asserting the authority of the law. The Bill had no reference to the collection of tithes or any other individual purpose, and, he would add, could or should be applied only to the maintenance of social order.' That was the noble Lord's statement; and relying on the personal character of the noble Lord, he had brought forward an Amendment which was in perfect unison with the language of the noble Lord. It was, he thought, admitted that the Bill was not to be employed in levying the arrears of tithes, but he had also thought that fact ought to be stated. He, therefore, did bring forward an Amendment, which he would again bring before the House by reading it. It was this, "Provided always, and be it hereby enacted, that it shall not be lawful for the Lord Lieutenant or other Chief Governor or Governors of Ireland to apply the powers conferred by this Act in any way to any county or district merely because tithes shall not be paid in such county or district; and be it further enacted, that the provisions of this Act shall not be applied in any way for the purpose of levying tithes, or enforcing the payment thereof." He had found, however, that objections were made to his Amendment. The noble Lord stated, that he had no objection to the first part, which was indeed, in the letter and spirit, a mere copy of the declaration of the noble Lord, that the Act was not to be applied to the levying of tithes. The noble Lord stated, that he did not oppose the first part of the Amendment, but first part of the Amendment approve 625 of the latter part. He acquiesced in the lopping off a part of his Amendment, conceiving that what was essential was retained, particularly as the noble Lord then repeated his declaration, that—'It was intended by Government, as he (Lord Althorp) had already stated, to propose a plan to the House which would render it quite impossible that this Bill could be applied to the collecting of tithes. The plan which would be proposed by Government would be one whereby the arrears of tithes would be got rid of, the only thing to which this Bill, during the time that it was likely to last, would, by possibility, be applied.' That declaration of the noble Lord removed every shadow of doubt from his mind. The noble Lord had repeated the declaration he had made on introducing the Bill, and had said distinctly that it was not to be applied to the collection of the arrears of tithes. It was said, at the time, that the declaration of the noble Lord was uncalled for, and that it was imprudent. He had, however, never doubted that that declaration was most necessary and most called for; for, if the Bill had come before them without that declaration, certainly it would not have been possible for him—and he believed for many others—to give their assent to it. But for that declaration, he believed that the House would have scouted the Bill; and certainly but for that declaration he should have considered the measure most unjust. But how could it have been passed but for that declaration? The House would recollect, that a Bill had been passed vesting in the Crown all the rights to the arrears of tithes, and enabling the Crown to collect those arrears by all the powerful means at the disposal of the Crown, as a creditor. That Bill was a failure—a mischievous failure—as had been foretold by those who best knew the state of Ireland; but those who did not know the state of Ireland were determined to pass it, and it was passed. Now, would it be supposed, that any assembly of honest men would have listened to any Minister who should have come down to the House and stated, that "the Tithe Bill, with all the powers it gave to the Crown, has been a failure; but do you give us the high pressure-engine of despotism, and we shall succeed; do you suspend the Con- 626 stitution —enable us to imprison men at our pleasure—try them by Courts-martial—abrogate all their rights—and we have no doubt we shall prevent all those disturbances which have been created by this very Tithe Bill of ours, which has been so complete a failure?" It was quite impossible, therefore, to suppose, that without such a declaration as that made by the noble Lord, which he had quoted, that the House would have suspended the Constitution to support the Ministerial failure. The declaration of the noble Lord, therefore, was prudent, and even necessary. He had been warned not to place confidence in that declaration; but he had stated he should be sorry to believe, that the Bill, in spite of those pledges, would ever be applied to tithes. When the Ministers had also pledged themselves to bring in a plan by which the arrears of tithes were to be got rid of, he confided in that pledge. He wrote immediately over to Ireland to all the persons in his own neighbourhood, and to many persons living on the borders of the county of Kilkenny, telling them, that the Irish people might rely on the Ministers, who meant kindly towards them, and the Bill would surely never be applied to the collection of tithes. He had quoted the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He regretted that he had done so, but he could not believe, that the word of the Minister would not be kept. He had succeeded to a considerable extent in convincing the people that his own opinion was correct; and what had been the consequence? He stated, that the Ministers had pledged their most sacred word that the Bill should not be applied to collect the arrears of tithes, and that pledge had been most scandalously and most disgracefully violated. It was on the 6th or 7th of April, he believed, or about the time that the county of Kilkenny was proclaimed, that a party of police went round the neighbourhood of New Ross, and gave notice to all the farmers round, that they must have the names of the inmates of their houses written on their doors, and cautioned the farmers to appear at their doors—for so the police said—and answer to their names when called upon by the police. The farmers did as they were directed by the police. On the very first night that the Coercive Bill came into operation and was enforced, the police in a large detachment went round to fifty- 627 seven farmers, many of whom owed money for tithes, and had kept out of the way, but who, relying on the security they had been promised, and which he in fact on faith in the noble Lord's assurances, had promised them, had returned; the police, however, came down upon them with a large military detachment, called out to these farmers, obliged them to come down, and arrested them for arrears of tithes. For claims made on the part of owners of the tithes, ill the dead of the night, when these men had been gathered together by their confidence in the Government pledges, down came the police and arrested them! They were marched off to prison at the point of the bayonet; and though some of them were eighty years of age, they were not permitted to rest, but were urged forward by threats and insults. In another part of Kilkenny a more outrageous case even than this occurred. He alluded to the case of Serjeant Shaw, of the police, who arrested about thirty persons for arrears of tithes in the night time, at the suit of Dr. Butler, and most of them for small sums. The first was of a man who was sent to prison for an arrear of tithe amounting to 1s. 8d.; another for 4s. 2d.; a third for 5s. 2d.; and a fourth for 8s. 4d.; all of whom were arrested and sent to the county gaol. In other cases, in which the men owed 2s., 7s., 2s. 2d., they had found the means of payment, and were released. These men were seized by night, and some of them kept a night in gaol, and then discharged. Shaw came to them, and declared that he arrested them under the Coercive Act, and threatened them with alt the penalties of the Act, unless their tithes were paid. It was true, that these men had complained to the Magistrates, and the Magistrates had, after an investigation of the conduct of the police, pronounced it injudicious. It was high time for the House to interfere when such a scandalous outrage was passed over as an injudicious act on the part of the police. Whence came the authority so to act? Surely it would not be said, that Shaw would have dared to be guilty of such a glaring violation of the law, unless he were acting under the orders of some superior power which he was bound to obey. What power then was this? He came before the Commons of England to ask what power it was, that had the audacity to interfere and falsify the pledges of his Majesty's Government? That there 628 was such a power was clear. This was a question of vast importance; and he was quite sure the noble Lord could not say, that in bringing it forward he had acted unfairly by him, or that he had urged on the matter with indecent precipitation. He had done everything in his power to avoid the necessity of bringing this before Parliament. As soon as he was aware of the circumstances he communicated all he knew to his Majesty's Government. So far back as the 15th May he had written to the noble Lord, to acquaint him with the outrages which had been committed in violation of his word. Not that he conceived for a moment that the noble Lord knew anything of them—such an idea never entered his head. But what he thought he had just reason to complain of was, that after this notice, nothing was done to check the system. The work still went on—night after night the unfortunate people were taken out of their houses for tithes, in violation of the solemn pledges of his Majesty's Ministers. It appeared that the parties in Ireland to whom tithes were due had looked upon the Coercive Bill as a godsend—and as they knew not how long it might be before its powers were put an end to, they were determined to make hay whilst the sun of Coercion was shining. No notice whatever was taken of his representations. When he said, that no notice was taken, he could only speak of their practical result—no step was taken in consequence, that he could hear of. He had used every exertion in his power to find out who were the persons who had dared to stand between the Government and the people of Ireland, and break the solemn pledges which that Government had made. He was unable to succeed in discovering these persons, nor could his appeal to the Government put a stop to them. What, he would like to know, would have been the situation of Ireland—what would have been the condition of hon. Members, who, like himself, had been held up as deliberate traitors to the country, if Parliament had not fortunately been sitting at the time of these occurrences? The first moment possible he placed upon the books of the House a motion on this subject, which unfortunately he was unable to bring forward at an earlier period. He, therefore, thought it right to insist upon bringing the question before the House to-night—not out of any unkindness to the noble Lord, but in 629 justice to the people of Ireland, and in justice to the motives which induced him to support his Majesty's Ministers on the occasion of the Coercion Bill. In his opinion, the Bill of last year was most mischievous, and had been the fertile cause of disturbances in Ireland. The people had been promised an extinction of tithes; and when they found their hopes raised at one moment, and dashed to the ground the next, it was not in human nature, that they should be quiet. What had been the result of last year's measures? By such returns as they had been able to procure (and it was singular that in many cases where it was most important to procure information, that information was most assiduously concealed), it appeared that the sum claimed at that time for arrears of tithes was 52,328l., whilst the sum actually obtained up to the 3rd February was 2,929l., and yet it had been said of this Bill that it had worked well. Probably, since that time some further amount had been received; but if so, that amount had only been obtained by a violation of good faith to the people of Ireland, which they would never forget. The number of decrees pronounced was 30,000; the number of attachments issued by the Court of Chancery was 1,258; the number of proclamations was 236; and of persons against whom proceedings had been had for sums not exceeding one shilling, 4,600. It was just, however, to say, that some of the proceedings had not been acted upon. But what, he should like to know, could be more absurd, than to commence proceedings which there was no intention of following up? Many of these proceedings were for sums not exceeding one farthing—he, of course, did not complain that they had not been prosecuted; but he complained that they had ever been instituted—their only apparent object being to increase expense; though, with the amount of costs paid to the Crown Solicitor, and other Law Officers of the Crown, they were of course not acquainted. If, as he had heard some hint, the Counsel for the Crown had waived their claim to fees, still, he presumed, they must be compensated in some way; and it appeared, that the Counsel attending the Quarter Sessions were entitled to five guineas per diem. All this expense had been incurred—for what? In the first place, to transfer to the Crown all the odium of collecting the debts due to the 630 clergy; in the next place, to receive the sum of 2,929l. out of 52,000l. and upwards; and finally, it was considered the grand point of all to vindicate the law. He should really be glad to know what was the meaning of vindicating a law admitted to be bad? What, he should like to know, was the meaning of vindicating a system devoted to extinction? There were persons now living, who remembered the period when it was in the power of the Protestant to go to a Roman Catholic and offer him 5l. for his horse, which he was compelled to accept. When it was proposed to extinguish this law, its absurdity and unjustness were fully admitted. But suppose some able debater had then got up, and contended, "that so long as it should continue to exist, it ought to be enforced," which, in fact, amounted to this—that for so long as they could possibly keep the power, Protestants should be entitled to supply themselves with Roman Catholic horses at their own price—would not the orator, however able, have been deservedly laughed at. The hon. Gentleman then referred to the Report of the Tithe Committee, which had raised such expectations among the people of Ireland. The words of that Report were extremely remarkable, and served to account for much of the disturbance which had taken place. He begged the attention of the House to the following passage:—'In recommending to the adoption of the House immediate measures for the enforcement of the law, and for the relief of the urgent distress of the clergy, your Committee cannot shut their eyes to the fact, that there must be an extensive change of the present system of providing for the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland. Into the details of the measure we are not prepared to enter, but your Committee do not hesitate to express an opinion, that such a change, to be satisfactory and secure, must involve the complete extinction of tithes.' He prayed the House to recollect by whom the Report was brought up, and by whom it was sent forth to the world. It was needless to say, that the promises which were held out were believed. What was the change that had taken place?—what was this extinction, which was to prove so safe and satisfactory? The right hon. Gentleman, the member for the University of Cambridge, had, some years 631 ago, brought in a Bill for the Composition of Tithes in Ireland, which Bill was considered a great aggravation of the evil, inasmuch as it took away from the tithe-payer all remedy, and made large tracts of land, such as grazing lands, &c., which were before exempt, liable to this impost. The right hon. Gentleman, however, in his Bill, allowed the tithe-payers the option of remaining under the old law, or of claiming the benefit of that Act; whereas the present measure was little more than an arbitrary and compulsory application of the provisions of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman to the people of Ireland. It appeared as though every Administration in this country felt itself bound to oppress and injure Ireland. Was Ireland never to have anything like fair play? He was justified in saying, that the moment Government gave the pledge, it ought to have adopted measures to see that the pledge was fulfilled. But the moment the Bill was sent to Ireland, it appeared there was a party there, strong and bold enough to arrest the declared intention of Government. He appealed to the noble Lord by that which had often been the prop of the country in times of difficulty—he appealed to him by that high character which he had hitherto maintained, that he would not suffer his solemn pledge to be violated. He appealed to his better and more generous feelings, that he would not suffer the Irish, because they were beaten down to the earth—because they could not lift their hands in their own defence, and could with difficulty find a way for their petitions to that House—he called on the noble Lord to interpose, and say: "These things shall not be. We have put down disturbance in Ireland by means of this Bill—we pledged ourselves to employ it for no other purpose—and we will punish any person who dares to use it in another way." He implored of the House, and of the noble Lord—justice—and nothing but justice—for his unhappy countrymen. He stood on the noble Lord's bond—not, indeed, a legal instrument signed and sealed according to law; but he took his stand on a higher and nobler obligation—the word of a British Minister, given in the face of a British Parliament. In the name, then, of that honour which ought to be dearer to us than life—in the name of his unfortunate and long misgoverned country—in the name of the God of Jus- 632 tice and of truth—he claimed redress for injured Ireland. The hon. Gentleman then concluded by moving, as an Amendment to the Motion for the Speaker to leave the Chair, a Resolution to the following effect:—"That it is the opinion of this House, that the pledges given by his Majesty's Ministers, that the Bill for the Suppression of Local Disturbances in Ireland should not be applied to the collection of tithes, and that the arrears of tithes should be got rid of, have not been fulfilled; and also that the employment of the Military and Police Forces in serving Civil Processes, and levying tithes, is highly unconstitutional, and ought to be discontinued."
§ Lord Althorp
thought, as he had already stated, that it would have been more convenient if the hon. Gentleman had refrained from entering on this subject till after he had made his statement. The course, however, which the hon. Gentleman had pursued, rendered it necessary for him to state to the House such reasons as he hoped would induce them not to concur in the Amendment of the hon. Member. With respect to the statement which the hon. Gentleman had made, that the members of the Government had pledged themselves that the Coercive Bill should not be used for the purpose of collecting tithes, he did not in the least deny that such pledges were made, both by himself and the other members of his Majesty's Government. It had certainly been the intention and object of his Majesty's Government to act on this pledge. At the same time he begged the House to recollect, that he said, that the Coercive Bill would not prevent the law from taking its ordinary course, and that tithes would still be open to collection, although the Coercive Bill was not to be applied for that purpose in any way whatever. He did not hesitate to say distinctly to the hon. Gentleman, that if in any case whatever, that Bill had been applied to the collection of tithes, he admitted it was a breach of the pledge of his Majesty's Government, although, of course, he did not admit that such breach was intentional on their part. Certainly, such use of the Coercive Bill was in contradiction of the pledge which had been given. With respect to the case which the hon. Member had stated as occurring in the neighbourhood of New Ross, he admitted, that if any person, or any police 633 officer, acting under the provisions of the Coercive Bill, had induced persons to come out of their houses, and had then arrested them for tithes, such conduct was certainly a direct contradiction of the pledge which had been given. With respect, however, to those cases stated by the hon. Gentleman, he had inquired in the proper offices, and had not been able to find any account of the circumstances mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. With regard to the case in which Serjeant Shaw's name was mentioned, and which he believed to be, in a great measure true, he was certainly prepared to say, that the conduct of Serjeant Shaw, on that occasion, was entirely unjustifiable. The hon. Gentleman had referred to another pledge which he had made. He had readily consented to pledge himself, that the Coercive Bill should not be applied to the collection of tithes, because he intended to propose a measure which should render the collection of arrears of tithes unnecessary. He was not able to recollect precisely the words he used, but they were to this effect—that the measure which he contemplated proposing for the relief of the clergy, was such as would render it unnecessary for them to institute proceedings under the measure of last Session, for the collection of their tithes. The hon. Gentleman asked whether, in the mean time, it was proposed to support the levying of tithes? and he expressed his opinion that any attempt of that kind was likely to lead to bloodshed. His answer was, that until they knew whether the new Parliament would consent to the remedial measures the Government was about to propose, they could not at once drop the collection of tithes. He did not, however, mean to say that the hon. Member wanted any justification in writing, as he did to Ireland, in consequence of what he (Lord Althorp) had said. And, if it were satisfactory to the hon. Gentleman, he would readily admit that the hon. Gentleman was open to no imputation of treachery, or anything of the kind, for he was perfectly justified in the statements he made, that it was not the intention of Government to proceed in the collection of tithes under the Bill of last Session. The hon. Gentleman had said, that Government might have sent orders to stop the collection of tithes under this Bill: but on looking into this question, considerable difficulties arose. The hon. 634 Gentleman had said, that, on the 15th May, this case had been laid before him. It certainly was so; and upon the receipt of the statements, he made inquiries into their accuracy, and he found that there had not been any suspension of proceedings under the Bill of last Session. Orders were immediately, on receiving the information, sent out to suspend all further proceedings for the future. This was about ten days ago. It might be said, that time had been lost—perhaps that was the case; but from what he had said before, it would be clear to the House that the pledges which the Government had made they were determined to act up to. The proposition which he intended to make, when the House went into Committee, was such as would render it highly improbable, that any proceeding would take place under the Act of last Session. The difficulty which prevented his bringing forward this measure before still existed—namely, that they were not aware of the amount which would be required. But knowing the circumstances which were daily taking place, and the disturbed state of Ireland, he thought it better to come forward with some general Resolution, pledging the House to take such a step as he was sure ought to, and he hoped would, prevent any further proceedings being adopted. His proposition was this:—An advance of money, in order to take away from the clergy the necessity of prosecutions for the arrears of tithe of 1831, 1832, and for the tithe of the present year; the advance to be repaid by a land-tax charged upon all lands which were liable to tithe in Ireland, and on which no tithe had, during those periods, been paid. He was sure the House would see that the effect of this would be to render it unnecessary to prosecute for the arrears of tithe, or to collect the tithe for the present year. It was also proposed to exempt all yearly tenants at will from payment of tithes after November next. By this Resolution, he hoped to put an end to the irritation now existing in Ireland, in consequence of the collection of tithes at the present time. He had admitted the statements of the hon. Gentleman as to his pledges; and he had given such explanation as he was able to give, of the conduct of his Majesty's Government in the transaction. He had explained briefly the outlines of the plan, which he would give more in 635 detail in Committee; and he was not aware that it was necessary for him to say more, than that he would not consent to a proposition which he could not but regard as a vote of very strong censure on his Majesty's Government generally, and particularly on him individually.
§ Mr. O'Ferrall
said, that the noble Lord's explanation was most unsatisfactory. The noble Lord admitted that his pledge had been violated, and though he believed the noble Lord to be perfectly innocent on that score, it was evident that some person must be guilty. If the noble Lord had stated that he would use his exertions to discover and bring to punishment the person who had caused the solemn pledge of the Government to be nullified, there would have been reason why the hon. Member should be perfectly satisfied. The people of Ireland would not be satisfied unless justice were done in this case. The hon. member for Wexford had omitted to mention many circumstances which would have strengthened the case which he had brought forward. Amongst other things he might have stated, that the first act of the Government after the passing of the Coercion Bill, was to cover the trees and the walls of the hon. Member's domain with tithe proclamations. That was the hon. Member's reward for the sacrifices which he had made in supporting the Coercion Bill. He could, by certain depositions which he held in his hand, show that the police and the military had actively assisted in the collection of tithes contrary to the pledge of Ministers. In one case a cabin was forcibly broken open, and the occupier arrested for a tithe debt of 18s. 4d., though Ministers distinctly pledged themselves, that the Coercion Bill should not be so applied.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
wished to know whether the complaint of the hon. Member was directed against the Tithe Commutation Act of last Session, or the existing Coercion-law? He understood the hon. Member to complain that the harsh cases he had just cited occurred under the colour of enforcing the Coercion Bill.
§ Mr. O'Ferrall
had to complain that both acts—the Tithe Act and the Coercion—had been much abused in the collection of tithes, particularly the latter, which Ministers pledged themselves should not be applied in any way to enforcing the payment of tithes. It was undeniable 636 that the police and the military were every day employed in civil processes and tithe cases, though the 3rd of George 4th distinctly prohibited the employment of the policeman as a tithe-proctor; and the 7th and 8th of the same King prohibited the employment of the military in levying tithe distresses. The noble Lord had just told them, that Ministers proposed to advance a certain amount of the public money to the Irish clergy in lieu of the arrear of tithes, and that the Crown should stand in their shoes in reference to their claims upon the land. Now he last year voted with the noble Lord for advancing 60,000l. to the suffering clergy of Ireland. He did so, because he knew that, owing to the refusal of the people to pay tithes, many innocent families were reduced to a state of want; but he solemnly declared, that at the time nothing was further from his expectation than that Government should turn out more severe tithe proctors than their clerical predecessors. Indeed, he owed it to the Irish clergy as a body to state, that they were far less exorbitant and grasping, and inconsiderately exigent of their tithes, than the great lay impropriators. And he owed it to truth to declare, that the vacillating, neither one thing-nor-the-other policy of Ministers touching tithes in Ireland—their this day declaring, that tithes should be "extinguished for ever"—their to-morrow recanting, and saying, they meant no such thing—that this trimming dastardly policy had created much dissatisfaction among their well-wishers, and indignation and contempt among their foes. Far better for the peace of Ireland would it have been had they declared, that they would not, or could not, redress the monstrous abuses of the Irish Church Establishment, had they refrained from professions and promises, which it was hardly possible they could, under existing circumstances, speedily realise, and had they, instead of meeting all difficulties with their coercion, come down and endeavoured to amend the thousand-and-one defects and abuses of the tithe collection measure. God knew he did not make these complaints willingly—that he spoke as much in sorrow as in anger. In truth, he had in no slight degree incurred the displeasure of his constituents by continuing to support Ministers after they had neglected to confer practical benefit on Ireland. His answer was invariably: "Wait a little—give them 637 time—they are yet but young in office; but I am confident they are honest men, and mean well." But how could he again attempt to defend them to his constituents? and if he and those who, like him, were well disposed towards the noble Lord and his colleagues, were compelled to withdraw their support, where were they to look for reinforcements? Not surely among the Tories, who hated them with all the rancour of unsuccessful graspers for place and power. Though generally inclined to support his Majesty's Government, he must on this occasion vote for the Motion of the hon. member for Wexford.
Sir Hussey Vivian
felt too deep an interest in the welfare of Ireland to give a silent vote on the present occasion. He had very recently stated, and he would then repeat, that he hoped to see the day when tithes should be extinguished altogether in Ireland—and he trusted that that day was much nearer than even he at first supposed; for till the tithe system was abolished, in name and fact, Ireland would be a stranger to peace and prosperity. Hon. Members who asserted, that if the outcry against tithes were acceded to, they should next be called upon to give up their rents, knew little of Ireland, and of the angry feelings with which tithes had been long regarded in that country. The anti-tithe resistance was not the growth of yesterday, and was based on far other principles and feelings than the refusal to pay a lawful debt. It had of late years, owing to a variety of causes, assumed so formidable and universal a shape, that it might now be considered a deep-rooted national feeling. The schedules laid on the Table of the number and character of tithe debts in Ireland during the two years preceding the Bill of last Session, exhibited this fact in a striking point of view. He had carefully examined these schedules, and he found that in fifty parishes there were not less than 19,000 tithe defaulters. Of these 19,000 defaulters, 1,000 only were for sums above 5l.; 1,400 for sums above 1l. and under 5l.; 1,800 for sums under 1l. and above 5s. (the remainder being for debts under 5s.); a great many for not more than 6d., and even 2½,d. and 1½d. He would ask, should such a state of things be permitted to exist in a civilized empire? Was it not idle to keep cavilling about the abstract right of the 638 Established Church to tithes, when the Catholics felt that reason and even religion denounced the monstrous principle of their being taxed for the support of a Protestant hierarchy? Let them, then, provide the remedy in time. He warned them as a staunch friend of the Church of England. "Coming events cast their shadows before," and he who ran might read the signs of the times, indicating that not only in Ireland, but in England, the whole tithe system should be wholly redeemed and extinguished. He trusted that Ministers would speedily follow up their Commutation Bill of last Session by a measure for the total redemption of tithes. There surely was not more difficulty than in redeeming the Land-tax; and, as to the principle of compulsion, surely it was as just to make a compulsory redemption as a compulsory commutation of tithes. Such a measure, he was convinced, would not only tend to restore peace and social order in Ireland, but essentially benefit the Church itself With regard to the complaints of the hon. members for Wexford and Kildare (Messrs. Lambert and O'Ferrall) of police and military having been, under the Coercion Bill, applied to collecting of tithe arrears, all he could say was, that he held an official station, in which he should have quickly heard of the instances and circumstances of such enforcement of the provisions of that bill, had any occurred. He was sure the hon. Members were misinformed. With respect to the statements as to the alleged transactions at New Ross, he was disposed to think the hon. Gentleman had been misinformed. He had been at Now Ross within the last fortnight, but had not heard a syllable of the circumstances alluded to, except with regard to Sergeant Shawe, whom he had himself reprimanded. There was, unfortunately, much to correct in Ireland, but it was much which could not be corrected by legislative measures. It was only to be corrected by the gentry possessing the property of that country. The possessors of its estates, to whom they had descended by confiscation, continued too much, he was sorry to say, to treat the people upon them as a conquered people. He wished the real state of Ireland was better known than it was to the gentry of this country. If so, he was sure that her interests would be better understood and provided for than they now were, He did not mean to east blame 639 upon the present proprietors for the tenure upon which they held their estates, but, unless they pursued a different system, he was sure that legislation could not improve the condition of the country. He believed that, although some legislative measures, such as the Subletting Act, were working generally well, yet that even these were made the instruments of oppression in some cases. As long as such a system continued, disturbance must be its natural consequence. He should be ashamed to presume to undertake the defence of his right hon. friend the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, who was so much more competent than any other man to defend himself; but he begged to deny the charge made by the hon. member for Cork, with regard to the spirit in which his right hon. friend used the expressions "extinction of tithes." Every man who heard them must have understood his right hon. friend to mean a commutation of tithes—or for what purpose could he have promised measures to substitute another system for the old one? With respect to the general state of Ireland, he begged to observe, that hon. Members who judged of that country by the circumstances of this, fell into a very great error. The circumstances of the two countries were different—unfortunately widely different—and the difference was of all importance in legislation. There was much to correct in the institutions and management of Ireland, much which admitted of a legislative remedy, much which admitted of no legislative remedy, and which could only be amended by the moral influence of its resident gentry. The English rule there had been always that of a conqueror; and the habits of the people were, in every relation, early and permanently affected by the difference of feeling and habit between the semi-barbarous conqueror and the somewhat less civilized conquered. No man could legislate for Ireland with advantage that overlooked the original source of much of the national prejudices, and party and religious antipathies, which had so long marred the fair face of that naturally fine country. Then there was the widest difference between the public opinion, the local habits of thought and conduct, of the Irish and the English working classes. In England the landlord resided on his estate, and was acquainted with, and took a warm interest in, the welfare of his tenants, and still lower, the farmer with his workmen— 640 all knew and were mixed up with each other's prosperity. Even the alien and the chance-vagrant had the overseer to secure him necessaries of life. But no such state of things, unfortunately, obtained in Ireland. There the great landlord knew nothing of his estate but through his agent. Thousands upon thousands eked out existence on small fractions of land without any soul to look after their well-being except the middlemen. Then this cultivation merely raised as much as kept body and soul together, without anything like full employment, while the very poor braved a desperate fate between famine and rapine. Was it surprising that an excitable people should, under such circumstances, be easily moved to acts of disturbance and lawlessness? Would it not indeed be wonderful if they remained supine and apathetic? They were easily worked upon; and the disturbances in Ireland were thus easily accounted for. The hon. member for Cork had said, on a former occasion, that all the blood which had flowed in Ireland was in consequence of the expression of the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies as to the extinction of tithes. Now, he (Sir H. Vivian) had never met with any one who did not understand extinction of tithes to mean commutation, and, therefore, the interpretation put upon his right hon. friend's words was most unjust. But did the hon. member for Cork attribute nothing of the state of Ireland to the burning eloquence in which all the misfortunes of Ireland were attributed to England, and this country was called the country of the foreigner and the enemy? Did he attribute nothing to the resistance to the authorities which had been shown from one end of Ireland to another by persons who ought to have known better. Then, again, there was the deplorable party spirit which distracted Ireland from the highest to the lowest—from the seat of justice to the most lowly cabin—influencing the Grand Jury to throw out a bill in the teeth of facts, and the petit Jury to return a verdict contrary to all evidence—which no man unacquainted with Ireland could easily estimate, and which must be wholly extinguished before Ireland could be, what he trusted she would at length be, a flourishing and peaceable portion of the united Empire. No man laboured more anxiously to extinguish that baneful party spirit than Lord Anglesey, than whom no man could 641 be more devoted, heart and soul, to the welfare of Ireland—and, as might be expected, no man was so assailed by the virulent abuse of both the parties which infested that country. This led him to the repeal question. He was one who could never believe, that the advocates of that question could possibly be in earnest in their schemes and assertions—and he bad carefully attended to their proceedings at their so called "National Council," in order to learn some argument for their conduct, and what object they actually proposed to themselves to attain. But he had watched in vain—no argument touching the repeal by the members of that council—unless, indeed, some discussion respecting the duty on soap, some story of a woman who sought for relief for a bastard child—could be received as argument in point. He was, therefore, compelled to guess at the intentions and meaning of the repeal advocates, some of whom had declared that they wished to see Ireland independent like Belgium. But did they forget, that Belgium was described in history as the "prize-fighting ground" of Europe; and that if Ireland were to be in the same way separated from England, it would, in the same way, become the prize-fighting ground of Europe? There were two words which were applicable to Ireland—concede and coerce. Let him not be supposed to mean by coercion, bullets or bayonets, but there must, no doubt, be security for property. In this respect the Coercion Bill had produced the very best, and in the county where it was in operation he had not heard of a single act of oppression under it. He would say, look into the state of Ireland; concede what ought to be conceded; correct what ought to be corrected; and then, indeed, they might look for tranquillity and prosperity.
§ Mr. Barron
was ready to assert, that from the councils of Lismore and Cashel down to the present time, tithes had ever been the source of discontent and disunion in Ireland. This he instanced by reference to the preamble of the Whiteboy Act, and to the Whiteboys, Rightboys, Peep-of-day-boys, and others, the germs of the present associations amongst the peasantry for the abolition of tithes. Thus, therefore, even in modern times, there was on their records proof of constant disorders for the last sixty years proceeding from this cause; and, no matter what tax was 642 imposed, or what denomination it might go by, if it were in lieu of tithes it would continue to be equally odious to the people of Ireland, unless a share, according to the original intent of these donations, were bestowed upon the poor. In proof of his assertions, the hon. Gentleman referred to the evidence before the Committee last year, and to the report of that Committee, which was understood to have been drawn up by the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies. Until the system was totally changed they would labour in vain for the pacification of Ireland, and that they might do so, and devote the tithes to the purposes of hospitality and instruction, the hon. Gentleman quoted various statutes, from the time of Richard 2nd to the reign of George 4th, imposing these duties upon all holders of Church livings. He then referred to Scotland, which had been relieved from tithes, after a sanguinary struggle, by the indomitable valour of her sons, and instanced her as a country where every man paid only the clergy of his own persuasion. A great debt was due from England to Ireland, and it ought to be paid. The Government bad not come forward early enough in the present Session, but let them now do so in earnest, and they should have his support. He said this, because the present system had engendered a hatred to the name of England, and to every thing English, in consequence of the association between tithes and Protestantism, to which the feelings of the Irish people were altogether averse. This system ought, even on grounds of economy, to be changed, as it required an army of 30,000 men to support it, and otherwise it could not be maintained, so contrary was it to Irish feelings, or, if it pleased some Gentlemen, to Irish prejudices.
§ Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
hoped, that the open and candid statement of the noble Lord would be sufficient to induce the hon. member for Wexford to withdraw his Amendment. The noble Lord had admitted, that the proceedings had been improper, and that he could not give his sanction to them. He (Mr. Fergusson) had declared, when the Coercion Bill was brought forward, that if the military were to be employed in the collection of tithes, he would not vote for the Bill. He thought the Legislature had been abused upon this point. He now said, that more than a reprimand was required—that dis- 643 missal was necessary. He had heard, that an opinion had been given by the law officers of the Crown, that a power which vested in the Crown under the regulations of the extant law of breaking into houses, might be exercised in the collection of tithes, and that persons had been seized under that pretext. He was convinced that the noble Lord could not sanction such outrageous proceedings as the employment of the military in civil process.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
asked the noble Lord, whether the Government would dismiss the Attorney General, and the law officers who had given such an opinion? He asked the noble Lord, whether the law had not been violated? It was easy for him to say, that he knew nothing of it; it was his duty to know of it. What was the use of a Lord-lieutenant? Would Ministers enforce their orders, or would they suffer themselves to be mocked at? Their own officers in Ireland were deceiving or disobeying them.
§ Mr. Fergus O'Connor
said, that when, at the passing of the Bill, Members had spoken against vesting such power in the Irish government, it was asked, will you not trust the Lord Lieutenant? All the pledges given by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) on the passing of the Bill had been violated. As to the noble Lord saying, that the proceedings were not had with the sanction of the Government, at all events they were with the sanction of the servants of Government.
§ Mr. Montague L. Chapman
said, that all he wished for was, that the Government should show their sincerity by exposing those who had disobeyed their orders. The Irish government had acted in the most strange and inconsistent manner. He knew one case in which a Magistrate wrote to the Irish government to know whether he would be justified in ordering out the police to enforce the service of processes for tithes due at May last. The answer of Sir William Gosset was, that the case was laid before the law officers of the Crown, but that his Excellency did not feel himself warranted in stating any opinion as to the legality or illegality of such an employment of the police force. Here then was the Irish government refusing to give any instructions to the Magistrates as to a point which created the greatest uneasiness and alarm in Ireland.
§ Mr. Nicholas Fitzsimon
said, that he 644 thought a case had been clearly made out,' and he should give his support to the Motion of the hon. member for Wexford. He could not but express his surprise at the speech of the hon. member for Kirkcudbright, whose observations all tended one way, though his vote was to be given another.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
said, that in common fairness his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, might have been permitted to bring forward his plan for the settlement of all the difficulties arising out of the present system of collecting tithes before this attack was made upon the conduct and character of the Administration. He thought that the hon. member for Wexford had displayed considerable ingenuity in the mode in which he had framed his Amendment. That Amendment contained two questions perfectly distinct from each other: the first was, that "it was the opinion of this House that the Coercion Bill should not have been applied to assist the collection of tithes, and that the pledge given by the Administration that the arrears of tithes should be got rid of had not been fulfilled;" and then came the other, "that the employment of the military and police force in the serving of civil process, and in the levying of tithes, was highly unconstitutional, and ought to be discontinued." Now, the hon. member for Kildare had brought forward a number of cases, in which the military and police force had been attending for the protection of those persons who served civil process; and from his speech it would appear that, for their assistance in the collection of tithes, the powers of the Coercion Bill had been called into employment. Now, before the House came to that conclusion, it ought to separate the two questions which had been thus ingeniously connected together; and, in order to effect that separation, he would just inform hon. Members that, in the county of Kildare, the Coercion Bill had never yet been put in operation at all. There could, therefore, be no ground for the allegation which the hon. Member had so needlessly made, that, in the county of Kildare, the Coercion Bill had been used for the collection of tithes. It would be in the recollection of the House, that when the Coercion Bill was under discussion, it had been said by himself and others, that the tendency of that Bill would be to make the law gene- 645 rally respected throughout Ireland; and the fact was, that individuals, knowing that Bill to be in existence, had proceeded to enforce the rights which they might have been induced to abandon without it. He defied the hon. member for Kildare to point out any instance, save that of the police serjeant Shaw, in which the Coercion Bill had been used as a pretext for collecting tithes. He admitted that Shaw, in direct violation not only of the wishes, but of the express orders of Government, had employed that act for purposes to which it was undoubtedly intended that it never should be applied. He thought that the Magistrates who had conducted the investigation into the conduct of that officer had passed a very lenient sentence upon him. The hon. Member, however, said, that he did not want to have Shaw punished, all that he wanted was, to know by whom Shaw had been authorized to act as he had done. Now, he (Mr. Stanley) had no hesitation in saying that Shaw had not been authorized to act so by the Government. Whilst on this subject, he would beg leave to call the attention of the House to the language used by the Magistrates in passing sentence upon Shaw: they told him, "that they reprehended him; and that, if it had not been for his excellent character, they should have recommended his dismissal, for they wished it to be distinctly understood in all quarters, that it was not the intention of Government to use the Coercion Bill for the collection of tithes." He, therefore, thought that, when the hon. Member brought forward the case of Shaw, who, he admitted, had violated the law, he ought in common fairness to have stated, that the Magistrates, after reprehending that officer, told him that they would have dismissed him from his situation, on account of that misconduct, had it not been for his previous excellent character. This was literally and simply the only case on which the hon. Member had fixed his charge against the Government. [Mr. Lambert: No; I have fifty-seven others.] At any rate that was the only case which, with the circumstances of time and place, had been brought to the notice of Government. He had no knowledge of it when he first entered the House that evening, and the paper which he had just read to the House had been put into his hands not many minutes since. Of the other cases to which the hon. Member alluded 646 he had no knowledge whatsoever; but this he would say, that if the hon. Member would mention the times and places at which they occurred, and would substantiate his mention of them by distinct proofs, and not by mere vague allegations, Government would not only disavow them as acts authorized by the Government, but would also visit with suitable consequences those who had so offended against the law. He warned the House, however, against mixing up the operation of the Coercion Bill with the employment of the military and police force in various parts of Ireland. He was sorry to say that for some time past it had been quite impossible for any individual to collect tithes, or to serve civil process for the collection of tithes, without the presence of the military or the police. Those forces, however, had only been present to guard those who served the process, and in doing so, they neither overstepped the strict line of their duty nor acted unconstitutionally, so long as tithes were to be collected. Great stress had been laid upon the fact that the police had broken open doors to collect tithes. Now, what might have happened since he had ceased to fill the office of Secretary for Ireland he could not precisely state; but this he must say, that, so long as he was Secretary, the impression of the law officers of the Government was, that the police had no right to break open doors to serve a civil process. [An Hon. Member: "Captain Gunn—Captain Gunn."] He could not, he repeated, answer whether such an opinion had been given or not; but of this he was certain—that whilst he was Irish Secretary he had not heard or known of any house having been broken open by the police. It had also been said, that excessive severity had been displayed by the clergy in the collection of their tithes. He could not pretend to explain how gentlemen who ventured upon that assertion could reconcile it with another which they had made in the course of that evening, that only 2,000l. had been recovered by the clergy out of 104,000l. which was admitted to be due to them up to last February by all parties, and which he contended to be much less than their strict due, owing to their reluctance to enforce their claims to the full extent in the present excited state of Ireland. His noble friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the discussion on 647 the Coercion Bill, had said, that it was the intention of Ministers to submit a proposition to the House, which would render it unnecessary to carry into effect the Bill of last year, and which would provide for the arrears of tithes due for the last three years; and, in point of fact, his noble friend had that night intended to introduce a bill for that purpose, founded on the proposition of a land-tax, which had come from the Gentlemen on the other side of the House last year, and which they then declared to be a proposition which would spread universal satisfaction throughout Ireland. He regretted exceedingly that his noble friend had not been permitted to accomplish his design; for his noble friend, on one of those discussions, distinctly stated, that until that proposition was adopted as a substantive proposition by that House, he could not put an end throughout Ireland to all processes for the collection of tithes in Ireland. He believed, however, that the collection of tithes had ceased throughout Ireland on the part of Government. He believed such to be the case in consequence of the correspondence which had taken place between the officers of Government and the police-officer who, in the county of Kildare, had broken into several houses to collect tithes. That police-officer, in reporting to Government, had stated that, "finding it impossible to collect the tithes for 1831, in spite of the great lenity which had hitherto been displayed in collecting them, and finding it also impossible to arrest the defaulters in open day, he had gone with part of his force before daybreak, and having broken open ten houses, had carried off the inmates to gaol." And yet upon a motion of censure upon the Government, and upon his noble friend as the head of it—[Several Members: "No, no."] No? (said Mr. Stanley) Let any man with the slightest spark of honour in his breast tell me that it is not a direct censure upon the Government to say, that the pledges which they gave to pursue a certain line of policy have not been, and yet ought to be, fulfilled. I trust that I shall never see any Government which will tamely submit to such a censure from the House, or which having received such a censure, shall be deemed worthy of its confidence in future. Not a censure! ["Yes; it is a censure."] Well, then, it is a censure; that is one point at least gained, for it has 648 been hitherto denied during all this evening that any censure at all was intended upon the Government." The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to say, that the report of the police-officer to which he had just been alluding was made on the 5th of June 1833. On the 7th of June 1833, was this answer sent to him from the Castle:—"Referring to your report of the 5th instant, from which it appears, that in order to arrest certain tithe defaulters in the parish of Rathangan, you broke open the doors of certain houses, I am desired to acquaint you that you have done this in direct violation of your orders, and that you are expected to offer immediately any explanation which you may have to give of the causes which led you to adopt this extraordinary conduct." [Mr. O'Connell: To whom was this letter directed?] To Captain Flinter. Now, he thought that if the case rested here, the paper which he had just read would be in itself a justification of the conduct and of the feelings of Government. But it so happened that in another part of this letter reference was made to the orders issued to the police on this very subject, on the 12th of May last, on which day the Government of Ireland received the first intimation of these improper practices. He thought, then, that, with these papers to back him, he had a right to say, that Government stood entirely acquitted of the heavy charges which hon. Members that evening had preferred against it. He had, on former occasions, admitted the great difficulty of collecting tithes in Ireland; and he would not now, for the thousandth time, refer again to the words "the extinction of tithes," or to any plans for the extinction of the present system of tithes; for he supposed that he must submit to the misrepresentations which had been so sedulously spread abroad of what he had before said upon that subject. But he had never meant—and no man had ever ventured to say, that he meant—by the extinction of tithes that there should be a cessation of every kind of payment for land which was now subject to payments for tithes; and when the hon. member for the county of Cork came forward and said, that the Government was only adding insult to injury by proposing a land-tax in lieu of tithes, inasmuch as the landlords would be more severe in exacting the value of it from their tenants than the clergy had been 649 in exacting their tithes from their flocks—
§ Mr. Fergus O'Connor
I never said any such thing. I merely quoted that as an opinion stated by the right hon. Baronet the member for Tamworth.
understood the hon. and learned member for Cork, to represent the right hon. Baronet the member for Tamworth as averse to any plan of commuting tithes, because it might be abused by the landlords so as to compel their tenants to pay them 1s. 3d. hereafter for every 1s. of tithes which they paid at present to the clergyman. But the hon. Gentleman had not stopped there, for he had used this argument of the right hon. Baronet as a reason why tithes should not be commuted at all: and therefore, he felt himself justified in calling upon the hon. Gentleman, and also upon the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Dublin, if they would neither have a commutation of tithes nor a land-tax in lieu of tithes, to give to the House their views as to what they meant by the extinction of tithes, and how they meant to get rid of the present system. If they were to be told, that the tithe system was bad, that the commutation system was no better, and that going from a commutation system to a land-tax was only going from bad to worse—[Mr. O'Ferrall, "I never said so."]—"Not say so? (continued Mr. Stanley) I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon, but those words are too remarkable to be soon forgotten. Yes, the hon. Member, after a severe comment upon my noble friend for proposing to pay off by a land-tax the loan to be advanced to the people of Ireland, to meet their arrears of tithes, used this expression: 'So, you go on from tithes to commutation, and from commutation to a land-lax, and so on, step by step, from bad to worse.' Now, if the hon. Member and his friends intended to get rid of the payment for tithes altogether—["No, no."] I am glad that the hon. Gentlemen opposite have made that disavowal; but as it has been extracted from them now at this the eleventh hour, I feel myself justified in calling upon them—and I hope that the House will join with me in calling upon them—if they find fault with the system of exchange which we propose for tithes, to state what system of exchange they have in their contemplation, and to take the sense of the House upon it."
§ Mr. O'Ferrall
wished to say, whatever 650 words he might have used, that he by no means meant to express the sentiment which the right hon. Gentleman had, by misinterpreting his words put upon them.
§ Sir Robert Peel
, in allusion to what had fallen from the hon. member for Cork, (Mr. F. O'Connor) during his absence from the House, said, that he had never, to the best of his recollection and belief, expressed himself adverse to any reasonable plan of tithe commutation. He might have said, that the absolute extinction of tithes would not be of great benefit to the Irish tenant; for as the Irish clergymen, generally speaking, made a large reduction in the value of the tithes which they had a right to claim from the farmers, and as the Irish landlords would, if tithes were abolished, have a right to demand from the farmer an equivalent for the tithes which they formerly paid to the clergymen, it might turn out, that the landlords would demand more from them than they had hitherto been accustomed to pay to the clergy. More than that he did not believe that he had ever said—and certainly he had never expressed himself hostile to any well-arranged plan for the commutation of tithes.
said, the right, hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) had asked him what he meant by the extinction of tithes, consistently with a payment out of land. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman what he did not mean by the extinction of tithes. [Cries of "oh, oh!" and laughter.] He would ask what had he done, or what had his country done, that Members should dare to put him down in that ruffianly manner? [Cries of "oh, oh!" and "Order, order."]
rose to order, amidst loud cheers. He apprehended that no hon. Member was justified in using the word "dare" as applying to the course which any other hon. Member might choose to pursue.
would ask how any Members could presume to raise such ruffianly shouts as had been raised against him on that occasion.—Loud shouts of "Oh, oh!" and "Order, order," in the midst of which—
§ Lord Sandon
rose to order. He hoped that if the House wished to preserve the character of an assembly of gentlemen, they would not allow such language to be used in that House, whatever might be its cause. He would not justify the in- 651 terruption that had been given; but he must say, that if that House was fit to represent the people of England, they should not allow such language to be addressed to them in the House, whatever they might do with respect to language held out of it. He would call on the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair to declare his opinion of the language which had been used by the hon. and learned member for Dublin.
§ The Speaker
said, that the call made upon him by the noble Lord was such as he could not but answer. The language of the hon. member for Dublin was undoubtedly disorderly, and the provocation which he received was equally disorderly. He was sure, that the House would feel indebted to the noble Lord for calling its attention to the subject, and that it would give its censure equally to both sides; and he hoped that what had been said by the noble Lord would bring back the attention of the House to what was before them, and be a proper guide to them as to the course they ought to pursue.
wished he knew how adequately to receive what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair, and adequately to express his apology for anything he might have said. He would wish to express himself in terms as happy as those in which that reproof had been conveyed; but finding it impossible to do so he implored the right hon. Gentleman (the Speaker) to consider of a suitable apology for him—to consider what he ought to say, and to believe it to be said. He was saying, when he was interrupted, that he would tell what he did not mean by an extinction of tithes—he did not mean that there should be regiments of horse, foot, and artillery to collect them—that there should be military and police employed in their collection—and, least of all, he never meant that there should be breaking into houses with respect to them. He did not mean that such scenes should take, as had taken place in the county of Kildare—that the daughter of Mr. O'Donnell should be dragged from her residence, and not allowed time to dress herself before she was hurried off to Clonmel gaol with her father; or that Mr. O'Regan should have been used as he had been. He meant something very different by the extinction of tithes. He meant something very different from what had been 652 the effect of the passing of the Coercion Bill. Several charges had been brought forward by the hon. member for Wexford. He gave credit to the hon. Member for not intending to censure the Government by his Motion; but the terms of that Motion certainly did convey a censure upon Ministers. There were two things complained of—the abuses of the Coercion Bill, and of the Police Laws. Were any of the cases cited denied? The case of Shaw was brought forward, not with a view to punish him, but in order to ascertain upon what authority he acted. If Serjeant Shaw had acted upon his own authority he ought to be dismissed; but it did not appear that he had been. As to the 57 cases quoted, it was said by the right hon. Gentleman, that if they were established, he would visit the offenders with punishment. That declaration was cheered by the House; but had those cases, or could those cases, be denied? He would state the case of the reverend Mr. Thompson, of the parish of Myross, in which there were 3,347 acres let at a rack-rent of 2,937l. Upon this rack-rent, the reverend Gentleman exacted a tithe of 550l. or one-sixth per annum. There was the additional aggravation that in his parish there were scarcely three Protestants. The case of Archdeacon Trench was another of great hardship, for he held one living at Ballinasloe, and another in Louth. At the latter place his tithes were collected by the police, at an expense of 10s. upon every 1l. 7s. 6d. that was due, and these for tithes, which fell due on the 1st of May. Here, too, it was to be observed, according to a letter which he had in his pocket, the reverend Gentleman's person was unknown, for he had never been in the parish. In various counties the police were going about collecting tithes, and all this in direct violation of the law; but then it was in Ireland that these violations of the law took place, and redress, therefore, was not to be expected. He only stated the fact that the police were so employed, and he attributed no blame to the noble Lord, for he believed that the noble Lord was not acquainted with the fact. The noble Lord had said, that he would inquire into the facts, and would censure the Irish authorities for permitting it. He (Mr. O'Connell) wished the noble Lord had added, that he would remove the present authorities and substitute others—he 653 cared not whom. He recollected having stated what had been done in the county of Roscommon for collecting tithes, and he had received a letter that very day mentioning the violation of the law, and saying, that the Coercive Bill was established to collect tithes, and that the police acted under it. He should agree with the hon. member for Kirckudbright, that the noble Lord ought not to be censured if those cases were not proved, and if the noble Lord had punished those who had been guilty of them. But, as the noble Lord did not censure them, he would appeal to the hon. member for Kirkcudbright if the noble Lord was not pursuing the course formerly adopted by Lord Anglesey and his then Secretary? When the noble Lord identified himself with those under his command, he was equally liable to censure with them. For his own part, he doubted whether they had a right to break open houses, or whether the police could, by law, act as they had done—he had his opinions upon that head, and he should like to see them tried. A wise Government ought to take care that the police should meddle as little as possible with a man's castle. It was stated that the law-officers had given no such opinion as that attributed to them. If that were the case, why had not Captain Gunn been dismissed? His defence was, that the opinion of the law officers of the Crown justified his conduct. And these things were called "the extinction of tithes." As to the speech of the hon. and gallant Commander-hi-chief of the Forces in Ireland, he knew not where to find its parallel, unless indeed in the speech of the Marquess of Anglesey at Cork, in which he piteously lamented that the people did not take off their hats. The hon. and gallant General said, that he found in England a most profound ignorance of the state of Ireland; and yet he said: "Don't let them have a parliament of their own, or anything of the sort." That might be very excellent gallantry, but it was admirably bad logic. That done, the gallant General told the House tithes could never again be collected, and he at once knocked up the Established Church, for he said not a syllable of any substitution. From the Church the gallant General proceeded to the landlords, who fell under his peculiar displeasure; as did the courts of law, in which he said there was no justice. So 654 that there was to be no law, no peace for landlords, and no keeping up of the Established Church, unless tithes were abolished. Some Gentlemen had said, they had once confidence in the present Government; for his own part he never had, and he knew from the beginning that the Bill was mainly meant for the collection of tithes. Was it known what had happened last week at Middletown with respect to these tithes? The officers and soldiers were obliged to retreat into the town—of course they did not fire upon the people; but they gave the people a triumph which would have dangerous consequences. All this happened about tithes, and it was for establishing and bringing about this, that that House so vehemently cheered the late right hon. Secretary for Ireland. Well, at any rate, for that night he had used his great talents in a fresh way—he had condescended to quit the colonies, and throw a little slavery over the whiles of Ireland. He would not close his observations without answering one challenge of the right hon. Secretary. He had never given it to be understood that he wished the ministers of the Established Church in Ireland to lose one farthing of their incomes during their life-time. He also denied, that he wished to see the Clergy of the Establishment reduced to a smaller number than was necessary for the spiritual wants of the Protestants. But he would not have the present system of payment pursued; he would have tithes extinguished. Tithes were composed of two ingredients—the land of the landlord and the capital and labour of the tenant. What he wanted was, to save the Established Church as little trouble as possible—that it should have nothing more to do than to go to the Treasury and receive its salary half yearly. Such a plan would give satisfaction and he begged to mention that the landlords of Ireland were not what they were represented to be. Certain representations might be well applied to absentee landlords, but could not be, justly applied to the resident landlords. He repeated, he had no confidence in Ministers; they had deceived the Irish, and the Catholics above all were deceived with respect to Vestry Cess. They no longer attended the Vestries, because they thought it would not be levied, and thus they allowed it to be voted, and it in consequence continued to be collected. He would not follow ail that had been 655 said by the right hon. Gentleman, but he would mention the fact, that not less than thirty-one Bills were filed in the Court of Exchequer for tithes, with at least 900 defendants, and allowing the costs of each defendant to be 10l., there would be 9,000l. expended for the costs of levying tithes. How, then, when such was the case, could he be accused, when he said that Ministers had violated their pledges? Perhaps they bad not done so designedly; but facts, bore him out in saying, that they virtually had. Ministers might be ignorant of the violations of the law, but they ought to punish other violators of it when they were pointed out to them.
§ Mr. Shaw
could not help agreeing with the hon. and learned member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell), that the gallant General's speech was well calculated to give offence to every class of persons in Ireland; and he must add, that he never heard a speech less likely to produce submission to the laws, or that could be more easily turned into a justification for the resistance to all constituted authority. He (Mr. Shaw) bad merely risen in consequence of the attacks which had been made on individuals belonging to the Irish clergy. It was impossible to be prepared by anticipation with facts to meet the various charges brought, with out any previous notice against the clergy; but in the case of Archdeacon Trench, to whom allusion had been made, it did so happen, that although it had been stated that night that he had never been seen in his parish, he (Mr. Shaw) had received within the last few weeks a letter from him, dated from that very parish; and he had known of his having been frequently there. Archdeacon Trench had been charged with oppression, for having put the collection of his tithes into the hands of a professional person; and the very letter to which he (Mr. Shaw) had alluded was to inquire from him if the Government had any plan to propose of giving pecuniary assistance to those of the clergy who had been deprived of their incomes, as he (Archdeacon Trench) was unwilling to resort to legal proceedings while any other expedient remained to him. Now, this instance, where his (Mr. Shaw's) having the means of explanation was merely accidental, might serve as a specimen of the unjust accusations habitually brought against the Irish clergy, whose extreme moderation and forbearance, take them as 656 a body, had been unexampled, and which he verily believed had led to their greater oppression on the one hand, and—because they have had too much spirit and good feeling to clamour as others under their circumstances would have done—to their more unmeasured and unfeeling vituperation on the other. With respect to the hon. member for Wexford (Mr. Lambert) it was a question entirely between the hon. Member and his Majesty's Government, and in which he was not inclined to interfere. He must say, however, that the hon. Member's attack was but a just retribution to the Government, for their weakness and folly in allowing his amendments about tithes to be made to the Coercive Bill, for the mere purpose, as they admitted at the time, of humouring the fancy of the hon. Member, although their own law officers declared, as well as the right hon. Secretary (Mr. Stanley) that it was a silly amendment, and that the Bill would be much better without it. But the consequence was what he predicted. Others did not suppose his Majesty's Ministers would suffer an amendment to be introduced which was to have no meaning, and therefore they drew from it a meaning which never was intended. No person had been so absurd as to contend that a district could have been proclaimed merely because tithes, or any other legal dues, had not been paid. But if the Government for a moment maintained, that the clergy were not to have the protection of all existing laws in pursuing a legal remedy for the recovery of their just right, he would tell them that such a doctrine would be subversive of all government, and destructive of the rights of all his Majesty's subjects, and would shake the very foundation of all the property of these countries. Allegations were made that individual clergymen had transgressed the law. If they did, no doubt, there would be found an abundance of willing witnesses against them, and he (Mr. Shaw) claimed no exemption for the clergy from the strictest rigour of any penalty they might legally incur; but he well knew that, generally speaking, they had been enduring the severest privations, far within the limits of the law, and he would never admit that they were to be marked out as a proscribed class, or that either his Majesty's Ministers, or the hon. member for Wexford, could refuse them any more than other men the full benefit of the law.
, in the absence of the Secretary for Ireland, offered an explanation relative to the severity exercised in the county of Tipperary in the collection of tithes. Mr. Gunn applied, not to the regular law advisers of the Crown, but to the Crown solicitor, to ascertain whether he was at liberty to break open doors in serving Crown processes. Mr. Gunn, acting under a misapprehension, did resort to this mode of proceeding, and, as had been stated by the hon. member for Clonmel, great severity was exercised in the district in question, which, however was the only part of Munster where such cases had occurred. As soon as the proceedings became known to the Irish government, an order was sent down to put a stop to it, and there was no repetition of the severity. The same sort of misapprehension having occurred in parts of the county of Kilkenny, he did not say that some cases of a like nature might not have happened there, but means had been taken to prevent their recurrence.
§ Mr. Fitzgerald
stated, that Archdeacon Trench held the living adjoining to the parish in which he (Mr. Fitzgerald) lived, and that the reverend Gentleman had not resided there since he got the incumbency. The name of the parish was Dunleer; and he held in his hand a letter, which showed that the daily occupation of the police was serving latitats from the Court of King's Bench, for tithes due to Archdeacon Trench on the 1st of May. This would prove to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that considerable severity had been resorted to, and that the police were employed in the collection of tithes.
§ Mr. Ronayne
said, that Gunn was not the only person who had been guilty of undue severity. If the House wanted to know who was Gunn's evil genius or adviser in this matter, he (Mr. Ronayne) could tell them, for he could produce the written opinion of one Green, the Attorney General's (Ireland) deputy, authorising Gunn to take the course he had taken.
§ Mr. Denis O'Connor
read a letter from the Chief of Police of Roscommon, detailing the circumstances attending the serving of tithe processes by him there. By that it appeared that the police were authorized to go out, not merely as protectors to tithe-collectors, but as tithe-collectors themselves. There had been a violation 658 of the pledge that the Coercion Bill should not be put into operation for the collection of tithes, he should therefore vote for the Resolution of the hon. member for the county of Wexford, without, however, wishing to impugn the conduct of the Government. He repeated, the pledge given to the House had been violated somewhere—it devolved upon the Government to ascertain in what quarter, and to punish the parties. Perhaps if the noble Lord undertook to institute an inquiry on the subject, the hon. member for Wexford would consent to withdraw his Motion.
§ Lord Althorp
observed, in reference to what had fallen from the hon. Member who spoke last, that he entirely concurred in the statement made by his right hon. friend, that undoubtedly the Government would punish those who might have misapplied the Coercive Bill to enforce the collection of tithes. He thought if it were proved that parties had used the Bill for the purpose of collecting tithes, an inquiry should be instituted, and it would become the duty of Government to punish the offending parties by dismissal or otherwise.
§ Mr. Anthony Lefroy
said, he did not rise at so late an hour to take part in the discussion which had so long engaged the House, more particularly as it appeared to be confined to the party of the member for Dublin and his Majesty's Ministers. He had long foreseen the flame which the promises given by the late right hon. Secretary would be calculated to excite in Ireland; and though he sincerely regretted it, he was not the less sure that it would extend till it would endanger all property. He wished, in consequence of what had fallen from the member for Westmeath, as a charge against his noble friend, the Marquess of Westmeath, to state, that when the hon. Member complained that the noble Marquess had taken legal proceedings to enforce the payment of tithe due to him to the 1st of last May, he should have informed the House that that noble Lord had done so in consequence of his having received no tithes for the last three years. This he believed had been the case in those instances where the clergy had been compelled to take a similar course for the recovery of their just rights, though, even in such cases, he would not allow it to be stated in the House without contradiction, that the ex- 659 actions had taken place, which were so often this night urged against them.
§ The House then divided on the Amendment, when there appered: Ayes 45; Noes 197—Majority 152.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||O'Connell, Morgan|
|Bainbridge, E. T.||O'Connell, John|
|Baldwin, Dr.||O'Connor, D.|
|Barry, G. F.||O'Connor, F.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Oswald, R. A.|
|Blake, M. J.||Perrin, Sergeant|
|Butler, Hon. P.||Roche, William|
|Chapman, M. L.||Romiliy, E.|
|Evans, G.||Romilly, J.|
|Finn, W. F.||Ronayne, D.|
|Fitzgerald, T.||Ruthven, E.|
|Fitzsimon, C.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Fitzsimon, N.||Strutt, E.|
|Gillon, W. D.||Sullivan, R.|
|Grattan, H.||Talbot, J.|
|Grattan, J.||Talbot, J. H.|
|Gulley, John||Vigors, N.|
|Kennedy, James||Walker, C. A.|
|Lynch, Andrew||Wallace, T.|
|Macnamara, Major||Wallace, R.|
|Nagle, Sir R.||TEILERS.|
|O'Brien, Cornelius||Lambert, H.|
|O'Callaghan, Hon. C.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|O'Connell, D.||PAIRED OFF.|
|O'Connell, Maurice||Roebuck, J. A.|
§ House resolved itself into a Committee.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that according to promise, he would now proceed shortly to state the objects he proposed to effect. By the Act of Parliament passed in the last Session for the composition of tithes in Ireland, from and after the month of November, 1833, tenants of land were not to be liable to the payment of tithes. The effect of this measure would be, that after the tithes of this year had been paid the occupying tenants would be no longer called on to pay tithes. He thought if would be admitted to be most desirable that Parliament should take measures to relieve occupiers of land in Ireland from the payment of tithes from the present time. It was not in his power to state accurately at the present moment the amount of money which it would be necessary to advance to the clergy of the Established Church in order to effect that purpose; but he thought it would be admitted that' the House ought to pledge itself generally that a sum of money should be advanced with a view to afford this relief, and that Government should be empowered to abandon (as it had the power to suspend) all process under the existing law. He trusted, when this pro- 660 position should be agreed to, that the clergy, feeling there would be no pressure upon them, would perceive that there was no longer any necessity to press the tithe-payer for money, and that in consequence of this altered feeling no future case of harshness or severity would arise. The mode in which the money to be advanced should be repaid would be by a land tax in Ireland for a limited number of years. This tax would be charged, in tile first instance, upon all land, but persons who should have paid the amount of tithes to which they were liable for the years 1831, 1832, and 1833, would be exempted from payment of the land-tax on the production of their tithe receipts, or upon otherwise proving that they had paid their tithes. This would be in the nature of a full acquittance of the tax. The noble Lord concluded by moving: "That it is the opinion of this Committee that an advance of money should be made to the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland, to relieve the occupying tenantry from payment of the arrears duo for tithes and composition for tithes during the years 1831 and 1832, and from the payment of tithes and composition for tithes, in the year 1833. That such an advance shall be repaid within a limited time by a land-tax in Ireland, chargeable on all land liable to the payment of tithes, the owners of which shall not have paid the tithes, or composition of tithes, which became due during such years."
§ Sir Robert Peel
asked, whether all anterior demands on the part of the clergy for arrears of tithes would be extinguished by the Resolution? It was possible that there might be arrears of an older date than 1831. He thought it desirable that the Resolution, if agreed to, should be carried at as early a period as possible, and that it was of the utmost importance to have the true intent and meaning of the measure clearly and distinctly understood in Ireland.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that considering the situation in which the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland were placed, it was proposed by the Resolution, that an advance should be made to them by 661 Government, in lieu of the arrears for tithes due for 1831 and 1832, and for the whole of the tithes of 1833, and he was sure that, on that advance being made, the clergy would give a receipt in full for the three years in question. With regard to the other portion of the right hon. Gentleman's question, he (Lord Althorp) had only to say, that this was a temporary measure, and that it would not interfere with any existing law upon the subject.
§ Mr. Shaw
begged to remind the noble Lord, that it was ill the year 1830, that the systematic opposition to tithe commenced in Ireland; and he believed, that in a majority of cases, the tithe of that year was now due. He was however persuaded, that the proposition of the noble Lord would be received by the Irish clergy in a spirit of the utmost fairness and liberality—with a desire on their parts, to make no captious objections, but as fur as possible, to facilitate any arrangement for promoting peace and good-will amongst all parties concerned in the adjustment of their claims.
§ The House resumed. The Committee to sit again.