§ Clause 39, as to the Archbishoprics of Cashel and Tuam, being read,
§ Mr. Shaw
said, he hoped the whole arrangement with respect to the Archbishops and Bishops, would be reconsidered by his Majesty's Government; but as there was a confusion between the words Tuam and Cashel, he merely for the present suggested as a verbal Amendment, that they should throughout the clause stand, "Tuam and Cashel," as under the present arrangement, the archiepiscopal jurisdiction of Tuam was to merge in Armagh, and Cashel in that of Dublin.
§ Amendment adopted, and the Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 42, as to the rotation of Bishops sitting in Parliament.
rose pursuant to notice, and proposed that all the words after the words "Episcopal See," in that Clause, should be left out for the purpose of inserting the following Amendment:—" And be it enacted, that no Bishop, who was not, at the time of passing this Act, in possession of an Episcopal See in Ireland, shall hereafter sit in rotation in the House of Peers; and that whenever the number of the Irish Bishops who now possessed sees, shall, by decease or demise, be reduced to twelve, then two Irish Bishops only shall sit in the House of Peers: and whenever the number of Bishops who are now in possession of Sees in Ireland, shall be reduced to six, then one Bishop only should sit in the House of Peers; and whenever all such Bishops shall become extinct, then, that the right of all the Irish Bishops to sit in Parliament shall entirely cease; provided always, that nothing in this clause contained shall prejudice the right of an Irish Archbishop to sit in Parliament." His object was to separate the offices of politician and churchman, which were not compatible. By relieving the Irish prelates from the burthen of acting as legislators 982 in Parliament, he felt he should be promoting their ecclesiastical efficiency, and thereby the interests of the Established Church. He framed his clause so as to preserve the existing interests of the Established Church.
had, on a former occasion, objected to a Motion in reference to the translation of the Irish Bishops, on the ground that such a proposition was ill-timed, as not being consistent with the object and details of the present Bill; a fortiori he should, therefore, object to the present Amendment, which involved a great principle, that required not only a separate, but a most serious consideration; and which, therefore, could not be properly discussed in that House unless as a distinct substantive Motion. The proposition was neither more nor less than the expelling the Irish Bishops altogether from Parliament. Now, this involved a great constitutional principle, which could not be thus introduced in a side-wind. If the circumstance of the parliamentary duties of the Irish prelates being likely to interfere with their ecclesiastical functions should be admitted to be a just ground for the present Amendment, in common fairness how could they avoid extending it to the English Bishops, and exclude them also from the Legislature? [Cheers]. He could not mistake the import of that cheer, and therefore begged leave not to be misunderstood. He did not mean to express any opinion on the principle involved in the hon. member's Amendment, and should not be understood as at all sanctioning it. All he meant was, that no argument held good for the expulsion of the Irish Bishops from Parliament, which would not equally apply to the English Prelates.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, he could not, on hearing the amendment proposed by the hon. Gentleman, avoid turning to the order book, as he recollected that on that night week the hon. Member had a notice for a substantive Motion on the same subject standing in his name. But, strange to say, upon reference to the terms of that motion, it appeared to have for its object the removing of all disabilities that prohibited clergymen from sitting in that House. Now, he would leave it to the hon. Member to reconcile the inconsistency between that Motion and his present Amendment, the more particularly as the ground upon which he rested his Amendment that night was the "incompatibility of the offices of politician 983 and churchman." He could not really suppose that the hon. Member was serious in his Amendment, and as he had quite sufficient to do to combat the real innovations of his Majesty's Ministers in reference to the Irish branch of the United Church, he would not waste the time of the Committee by seriously discussing the crude proposition which the hon. Member had submitted.
§ Mr. Hume
said, it seemed to be admitted that the ecclesiastical duties of Bishops were interfered with by their sitting in the Legislature; but that injury would be less by their sitting only occasionally, as in the case of the Irish Bishops, than by their occupying seats permanently. The question then ought to be put—what was intended to be done? The Act of Union could not be taken to be in favour of the abolition of the ten Bishops, and at the same time construed against the abolition of them all. The Union with Scotland had never stood in the way of any improvement that was deemed necessary, and he hoped that there was no Irishman in the House who would urge the Irish Union as an impediment to improvement. The best thing for the Bishops was to place them in the best situation with their flocks, and his belief was, that the removing the Prelates from the House of Lords would do very much towards setting them right with those under their charge. If this were a good thing it were best to have it done at once; and why, if it were good, should it be postponed for years, as was now proposed? But the right hon. Secretary (Mr. Stanley) had said he was not prepared to propose for Ireland what he would not do for England. He was, however, quite ready for both. He would, therefore, only ask of the hon. Member to alter his Motion, and make the Bishops cease their attendance at once, or after the next term. It was, to be sure, only a small reform, but it was good; and if it were to be greater in future, there was nothing like a speedy beginning.
§ Colonel Perceval
said, that the hon. member for Middlesex had contended, that political and religious duties could not go hand in hand. He knew well the sort of friendship the hon. member for Middlesex felt for the Established Church; but he (Colonel Perceval) viewed the hon. Member's attack upon the Irish Representative Bishops as a direct attack upon the House of Peers. It was well known that 984 the Established Church in Ireland had no direct representative in that House. He (Colonel Perceval) meant the clergy were not represented by any one of their own body in that House; and unless it was intended to sweep away the whole Establishment, he did not know what was the meaning of this atack upon the Irish Representative Bishops silting in the House of Peers.
said, this was a most serious question—for on what right did the Irish Bishops hold their seats in Parliament? Upon a solemn compact, agreed to between the two nations, when there were twenty-two Bishops holding seats in the Irish House of Peers. It was by that compact agreed that they should be represented in the United Parliament by one Archbishop and three Bishops. Others might insist that absenteeism was the great bane of Ireland, and on that ground propose that the twenty-eight temporal Peers should be reduced to sixteen, or to eight—leaving the remainder to reside in Ireland for the benefit of the country. If the one proposition were adopted, there was no reason whatever which could be urged against the other.
§ Lord Althorp
would observe, that, from the arguments brought forward, this was rendered a more important question than any other connected with the Bill. It appeared certain to him that no one could argue this question upon any other principle than this—whether any spiritual Peers should be permitted to sit in Parliament at all; and to declare that they could not, would be a sweeping change in the Constitution. Every law was at present passed by the Lords spiritual and temporal and the Commons in Parliament assembled, and such had been the practice of the realm. The hon. Member had, however, brought forward this subject rather as a question of convenience than of principle; but he (Lord Althorp) could not agree to the propriety of this—for there was no one who would say, that it was improper for the Irish Bishops to sit in Parliament, if the English Bishops were permitted to retain their seats. But to effect this change would be to make an entire alteration in the Constitution; and he would ask whether it was either proper or possible that such an alteration could be made by an Amendment upon a clause in an Act of Parliament relative to the temporalities of the Church of Ireland? If 985 such a question were to be entertained, it ought to be brought forward separately, and deliberately and attentively considered. He was sorry to find such a question at all mooted in that House; and he hoped and was confident that no such feeling was entertained as to induce a doubt whether it was the wish of the country or of the House of Commons, that the Church of England should not be represented in the House of Peers. Every one was aware of the animadversions and sarcasms which were uttered on this important subject out of doors; but he did not suppose that there was any person, acquainted with the Constitution of the country, who would wish even to attempt such a change without the most serious consideration. He should feel grieved to find a precedent of this description sanctioned by the House; and he should be most sorry to see such a motion as that of the hon. Member acceded to without a due consideration of the general principle.
§ Sir Edward Knatchbull
had listened with infinite satisfaction to the sentiments of the noble Lord, who, as the organ of his Majesty's Government, had declared that the representation of the Church of of England in the other House of Parliament was an indispensable part of the Constitution [cries of "No, no.!"] Did those hon. Members who cried "No, no!" mean to say that the Bishops did not hold their seats in the other House of Parliament by indefeasible right? By what tenure did the Irish Bishops hold their seats there? By the same tenure as the Irish lay Lords—the Act of Union. It would be impossible to deny, that Ireland would be treated with the greatest injustice, if a successful attempt were made to remove the Irish Bishops from the other House of Parliament. The Committee had been truly told by the noble Lord, that if they entertained the present proposition, they would in fact entertain the proposition that the Church of England should be altogether unrepresented in Parliament. He had been delighted with the noble Lord's distinct declaration on the subject; and he congratulated the country upon it.
§ Mr. Hume
, in reply to the observations of the hon. Baronet, that the Irish Bishops held their seats by virtue of the Act of Union, observed, that one Act of Parliament was good, and ought to be obeyed, until it was rescinded; and no longer. Two 986 Acts of Parliament had declared that Bishops should sit in the other House of Parliament. If an Act should be passed declaring that they should not sit, that Act would be as good as its predecessors, and ought to be as implicitly obeyed. The noble Lord had contended that there was no wish whatever for such a change—
§ Lord Althorp
observed that what he had said was, that he was persuaded the general feeling in the country was against any such change.
§ Mr. Estcourt
admitted that, to a certain extent, there was such a feeling in the country as that described by the hon. member for Middlesex; but attributed it to the lessons which the people had received from most unworthy and unjustifiable instructors. With respect to the Amendment, the hon. mover of it was utterly mistaken in one respect, for he seemed to consider that the right of the Bishops to sit in the House of Peers was founded not on considerations of public good, but on personal considerations merely. That was a great error. The hon. Member proposed that the right should cease as those who at present enjoyed it dropped off. Now he (Mr. Estcourt) agreed with the hon. member for Middlesex, that if it was unfit that the Bishops should sit in the House of Peers, the best course would be, instead of allowing them to die off, as the hon. mover of the Amendment proposed, to sweep them all away at once. The hon. mover of the Amendment treated the subject as if it were one of mere personal gratification to the Bishops themselves. Now that was not the view taken of it by the Act of Union. The Act of Union provided that the Representatives of the Irish Episcopacy should sit in the House of Peers for the public benefit, not for their own personal gratification. If the Irish Bishops were to be excluded, there could be no reason why the Irish lay Lords should not be excluded also. Perhaps the hon. Member would include them in his proposition. They stood upon an equal footing. They all sat in the House of Peers, not for their own gratification, but for the public benefit.
§ Mr. Gisborne
recommended the hon. member for Huntingdon to withdraw his Amendment. Of this he was quite sure; 987 that by dividing the Committee upon it, the hon. Member would not do justice to himself. He himself (Mr. Gisborne), although he would not say what his opinions might be if the question were brought separately and distinctly under the consideration of Parliament, could not vote for the proposition thus irregularly introduced.
, as he found that the sense of the House was against his proposition being brought forward in its present shape, expressed his disposition to withdraw it.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, that this discussion had incidentally taken a very serious turn, which could not at all have been anticipated from the Amendment introduced by the hon. Member. He had heard, as well as his hon. friend (Sir Edward Knatchbull) with pleasure, the distinct disavowal of the noble Lord, of the extraordinary doctrines which had been broached, with reference to the House of Lords. But he must say, that the noble Lord had not been equally explicit with respect to the new and highly dangerous construction that it was sought by hon. Members to put upon the Act of Union. He solemnly protested against the Act of Union being treated as an ordinary Act of Parliament. It had been well described by his right hon. friend (Mr. Wynn) as a national compact, and if that compact were violated, he for one, as an Irishman, independently of all peculiar or party politics, would deny the competency of any other than the original contracting parties to resettle that great question. The hon. and learned member for Dublin might well remain quiet, and rest satisfied, while English Members were doing more to promote the great object of his wishes, than any individual exertion of his own could possibly accomplish. His Majesty's Ministers were greatly mistaken, if they for a moment supposed that there was not much nationality of feeling in Ireland on this exciting subject. And he thought a more inappropriate opportunity could not have been selected by his Majesty's Ministers to evince indifference to the levity with which the Act of Union had been treated by English Members, than upon a discussion relating to the church establishment in Ireland; for he could not repeat too often that the continuance and preservation of the Irish branch of the united church, which had that night been so lightly spoken of, indeed, so openly denounced, was not only an essential and fundamental part of 988 the Union, in the express terms of solemn compact made between the countries—but he would go farther, and say, that the maintenance of the Established Church in Ireland was, independently of that express contract, the real bond which united the feelings and the interests of the Protestants of Ireland with this country. He need scarcely say, that the Roman Catholics, almost to a man, were opposed to the legislative Union. It behoved then his Majesty's Government to take care how they estranged from it the affections of the Irish Protestants. He did not so much complain of the hasty and inconsiderate expressions that might fall in the heat of the debate from individual Members of that House—but he did feel that the conduct of his Majesty's Ministers was wholly inexcusable in allowing it to be advanced in their presence that the existence of the Established Church in Ireland depended upon a common Act of Parliament, which it was competent to the present Legislature to make or unmake at their pleasure. It was time that the members of the Established Church in Ireland, should be distinctly told whether or not that establishment was to be supported. He (Mr. Shaw) had always endeavoured openly and plainly to declare his sentiments on that all-important subject; he hoped that the noble Lord and his Majesty's Ministers would not shrink from a distinct avowal of their opinion upon a question which, though incidentally and somewhat irregularly introduced, was second to none, in its bearing upon the best interests of Ireland, and he might add of the empire at large.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ On Clause 45, for the reduction of the revenues of Armagh and Derry, being read,
§ Mr. Estcourt
objected to those prelates having to pay over a large sum annually without reference to their actual receipts.
§ Mr. Shaw
fully agreed with his hon. friend (Mr. Estcourt) that it was unfair to bring the full charge against these prelates, when possibly their rents might be in arrear. Such a mode of taxation would be considered unjust in the case of other landed proprietors. He particularly objected to this principle, as in case of his suggestion being adopted of reducing the incomes rather than the number of the other bishoprics, it might be generally applied. He had before slated that in 989 reference to the bishopric of Derry, he considered it would be much more desirable to retain Raphoe and Derry at 4,000l. a year each, than Derry alone at 8,000l. a year. Still he felt that every justice should be done to the present Bishop of Derry, who had been appointed with an understanding that the arrangement now proposed should be carried into operation.
proposed an amendment, to reduce the annual value of the Irish bishoprics, on the next avoidance, to a sum not exceeding 5,000l.; and of Irish archbishoprics, to a sum not exceeding 6,000l.
said, he understood the object the hon. Member had in view, but he did not perceive how that object could be achieved by the Amendment he had proposed; and if the hon. Member's Amendment should be adopted, the preamble to the clause would run thus—" Whereas the revenues of the archbishopric of Armagh, and bishopric of Derry, and the other archbishoprics and bishoprics in Ireland, greatly exceed the other bishoprics in Ireland, it is expedient to diminish such excess." Such would be the wording of the clause, and he need not say that it was impossible that it could be agreed to in that shape. Undoubtedly they had left to the Primate of all Ireland a large, and perhaps in the opinion of some, a splendid income. Allusion had been made to the present primate, and he (Mr. Stanley) was sure it would be readily admitted by every one who had the least knowledge of that distinguished individual, that there never was a prelate whose conduct was more exemplary, and however large his See might be, it was impossible that it could have been expended in a manner more serviceable to the Church, or more beneficially to the community at large, than it had been by the distinguished prelate at the head of the Irish Church; and as to the patronage which his Grace possessed, he believed that not a single relative of the primate's had been promoted by him to a benefice. The present income of the primate was to be continued to him for life, but afterwards the revenue of the archbishopric would be reduced to 9,000l. a year; and he did not think that for the Primate of all Ireland, the head of the Church in that country, and upon whom necessarily many expenses were entailed, that 9,000l. a year would be a 990 very large income. The revenue of the archbishopric nominally would be 10,000l. a year, but when the per centage was deducted it would be something under 9,000l. The revenue of the other archbishopric would be 7,500l., and deducting the per centage it would be less than 7,000l. The Archbishop of Dublin was to have the whole of the South of Ireland under his charge, and there were in his diocese a greater number of poorer clergy than he believed in any other diocese in Ireland, whom of course he would be expected to assist and relieve. The incomes of the Bishops would fluctuate between 4,000l. and 5,000l. a year. The greater part of them receiving between 4,000l. and 4,500l. a year, he confessed he did not see any great advantage that would result from making the revenues of the Irish bishops uniform. There was an approximation to equality, but it did not actually exist. He saw no reason for making such an alteration as that proposed, and he should therefore oppose the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member.
objected to the Bishop of Derry having a higher salary than the Archbishop of Dublin. He also thought that 10,000l. a year clear income would be little enough for the Primate of Ireland, who was next in rank to the Lord Lieutenant of that country.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, with respect to the Archbishop of Dublin, he could bear testimony to the great expenses that were incident to that particular See, and he heard individuals who had been translated from smaller sees with nominally a less income say, that they found themselves losers in a pecuniary point of view. As regarded the Primate, it was quite impossible that any income however large, could be expended with more advantage to the country, or so as to reflect more honour on the Established Church, than by leaving it at the discretion of the distinguished and revered individual who then adorned that high office. He felt, that the system of equality in the incomes of the Bishops was not free from objection and difficulty; but he still considered it far preferable to a reduction of their numbers, and to the last moment before this Bill should pass into a law, he would cling to the hope that the Government would abandon that most objectionable portion of it, which went to diminish the influence 991 and efficiency of the episcopal bench in Ireland. It would be at all events but reasonable in the filling up of the blanks in this clause to postpone the payments to the Commissioners until the 1st of July and January which should occur next after the first half-year alone should be payable.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clauses to ninety agreed to, when the House resumed; Committee to sit again.