§ Clauses, to the 131st inclusive, were then agreed to.
§ Clause 132, relating to the mode in which the sums to be paid for the Bishops leases should be determined—
§ Lord Oxmantown
said, he thought the clause could be considerably improved by the insertion of new words; and for that purpose he had prepared an Amendment which he begged leave to submit to the Committee. The clause, in its present shape would render the Bill inoperative. Where the tenant had made valuable improvements, the Bishops in Ireland, practically speaking, in regulating the fines on renewals, never took those improvements into their calculation. Unless the clause were amended, the object of the preamble of the Bill could not be carried into effect; and so far from a bonus being held out to the tenants, the value of their property would be deteriorated—and the tenants, in place of being bettered in their condition, would be worse off than before. The noble Lord moved an Amendment to the effect that the Commissioners should be directed, in estimating the purchase-money, to calculate it upon the same principle as that hitherto adopted by the several Archbishops and Bishops in Ireland.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
said, he could not conceive how the noble Lord could contend that the tenants did not receive very considerable benefits under the clause as it stood. The noble Lord must recollect, that they need not purchase unless they pleased, and might renew with the Commissioners as before. They had, therefore, nothing to complain of.
§ Mr. Shaw
admitted to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) that the change by which the Commissioners would be obliged to renew with the tenants in case the tenants did not desire to purchase, must be considered a great improvement, compared with the condition in which they would have been placed by the clause as it originally stood. That would have forced them to purchase upon terms however dis- 1066 advantageous—or else to lose the property which their families might have held for centuries. There was one case within his own knowledge. A friend of his own, whose family had been possessed for the last 200 years of a large estate, held that estate under a Bishop's lease, in the north of Ireland. This property had been made the subject of marriage and other family settlements, and in all respects treated as a fee simple estate for that long period of time. His friend and his son both were at that moment strict tenants for life of the interest in question—morally if not legally certain of that interest not being evicted, and under the former arrangement, (if the Commissioners had not been compelled to renew), the father and son must either have raised money at any sacrifice, to make the purchase of the perpetuity, which would in no degree have improved their estate, or else have forfeited that which they had, from long possession, justly considered as their family inheritance. The alteration, therefore, he would allow was beneficial to the tenant, but still it was not just; and he so far agreed with the noble Lord (Lord Oxmantown) that the Government owed it to all parties interested in these tenants' lands, to resettle their rights upon a foundation as secure as it was possible—inasmuch as the very proposition to modify and alter a tenure which had so long existed undisturbed, was itself an evil, tending to unsettle men's minds and raise doubts as to the permanency and stability of their property. He thought the Amendment of the noble Lord, that the Commissioners should value the tenant's interest upon the same principle as the Bishops had acted, just and reasonable, and it should have his support.
§ Mr. Aglionby
said, that the right hon. Gentleman (the Secretary for the Colonies) had not answered the objections urged by the noble Lord. The noble Lord had stated, that the Bill, as it stood, would prevent the tenant from purchasing the perpetuity, inasmuch as it would be better for him to remain under the Bishop. Supposing the tenant had laid out 10,000l. in improving the property, it would manifestly be much more for his advantage to renew with the Bishop than to purchase the perpetuity from the Commissioners.
said, that if the clause remained in its present state, the tenant would have to purchase the amount of what he himself had laid out. The Bishops, in calculating the renewals, never took 1067 into account the improvements which had been made by the tenants. Supposing, for instance, that the tenant had built a house upon the farm, no man could doubt but that increased the value of the farm; and yet the Bishop never charged the tenant any increased fine owing to that circumstance. The mode at present pursued in Ireland of calculating the renewal fines had been in operation since the Restoration; and all the noble Lord sought by the Amendment was, that the practice should not be altered.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
said, that the Bill, as it stood, gave that power to them substantively, and gave beside a bonus to the tenants. The hon. and learned Gentleman ought to understand the question, but he appeared to have taken a very erroncous view of it. In the Bishops' sees, where the tenant wished to purchase the perpetuity, the Commissioners were to estimate it at the market value, and the tenant was to be allowed a bonus of four per cent. Should he, however, be dissatisfied with the value set upon it by the Commissioners, the tenant was to have the power of having the matter settled by arbitrators, the costs of the arbitration to be paid by the Commissioners in the event of its turning out that they had estimated it at too high a value.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had not met the case at all. In calculating the fines the Bishops never took into account the value of the house which the tenant had built, whereas the Commissioners, in estimating the value of the perpetuity at the marketable price, would be bound to do so. He would give an instance—a gentleman, the high Sheriff of the county Fermanagh, held a tract of country under a Bishop's lease—he had built a handsome house, and planted his demesne, and yet the Bishop never raised the fine. Now the gentleman to whom he alluded could not have the perpetuity of this farm without again paying for the improvements which he himself had made.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
said, that in legislating, the House could hardly assume that landlords, in parting with the perpetuity in their property, would not take into account the value of the improvements made upon it. The Bill says, make your bargain now, and the Bishops hereafter will be precluded from augmenting the amount to be paid.
§ Dr. Lushington
said, the question was certainly a complicated one, for it appeared from the statement of the hon. Gentleman, the member for Wicklow (Mr. J. Grattan), that no uniform practice prevailed. It appeared, however, that it was the common practice for Bishops to renew, from year to year, for twenty-one years. It was clear that the Bishop, if he pleased, had a right to let the lease run out. He had a complete right and title, supposing he thought it for his benefit, to run his life against the lease and let the property as he pleased. It was undoubtedly his right, at all events, to increase the fine if he deemed fit. What might be the practice of individual Bishops in Ireland, he (Dr. Lushington) could not say, but if the Bishops relaxed their power as stated, they conferred a benefit upon the tenant to which he had no legal right. It had been stated by some hon. Members, that it was not the practice for the Bishops, in calculating their fines, to take into account the marketable value of the lands. As he (Dr. Lushington) had had occasion, in the course of these debates, to make several speeches against the hon. member for Oxford (Sir R. Inglis), and the hon. member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Shaw), he would now make a speech for them, and say, that such conduct was most liberal on the parts of the heads of the Church in Ireland. It appeared to him, that the Amendment would render the clause impracticable. As the clause stood the value the Commissioners were to set upon the perpetuity, was after the expiration of twenty years. Taking, therefore, into account the decay to which buildings must be subject, the value of such tenements after twenty years must be very little indeed.
§ Colonel Perceval
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, appeared to have forgotten that the tenant had always one check, if not two, upon the Bishop. If the Bishop should run his life against the lease, and let the property to other tenants, he was obliged to reserve half the amount for his successor. Another check was, that the Bishop, when he was appointed, was generally at that period of life when it was scarcely worth his while to run his life against the lease. With regard to the power conferred by the clause upon the Commissioners, he thought it most unjust. Supposing one tenant in a townland had built upon and improved his farm, and that another had not, he who had laid out his money would have to pay 1069 over again, while the other would have the benefit of his neglect. Was that, he would ask, fair or just? There was a common tenure in Ireland, known by the title of toties quoties leases. He held such a lease under a tenant of a Bishop. The direct tenant had no benefit in the property, he receiving, in fact, only 1s.; and would it not be most unjust to make him (Colonel Perceval) pay for the improvement which he had made? If the value of the improvements were of the trifling character described by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Dr. Lushington), it would be better to act in accordance with the preamble of the Bill, and by adopting the Amendment proposed by his noble friend (Lord Oxmantown) give a bonus to the tenant. The Bill would then in that respect be an advantage; but if the Amendment should be rejected, he, for one, as a tenant, would say, that they would be much better off as they were.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, that as this was a Bill founded upon the custom of the country, he could see no just reason why that custom should not govern them in the present clause as in the others. It was distinctly stated, that the custom for many centuries was, that the Bishops were not in the habit of taking into consideration, when calculating their fines, the value of the improvements made by the tenants. He thought that that practice ought not to be disturbed. He should therefore vote for the Amendment.
said, that if a tenant were induced to lay out his money on Bishops' leases, some protection ought to be afforded him. He would recommend a middle course, such as that adopted by the University of Cambridge. Where property held under them was improved, they did not charge tithes for it for the first fourteen years.
§ The Solicitor General
said, that it seemed to him that there was no criterion to regulate them. Some Bishops acted one way and some another. The Amendment would, therefore, be impracticable. He could not, he must own, view the conduct of the Irish Members on the present occasion without some suspicion. Gentlemen were united in opposition to this clause who were at variance upon almost every other question.
The hon. and learned Gentleman has stated, that his principal objection to the Amendment was that it would be impracticable. Now, what the Amendment proposed was precisely what 1070 had been done for 150 years. So much for its impracticability. But the hon. and learned Solicitor General taunts us with agreeing in our opposition to the clause. What other motive could we have in agreeing except to prevent injustice being done? He was not a tenant under any Bishop, and he was sorry for it. He mentioned this because the newspapers stated that he was. The hon. and gallant member for the county of Sligo held under a Bishop, but the House would do the gallant Member the justice to say, that he was incapable of being influenced in his vote by such a circumstance. He (Mr. O'Connell) never knew an instance of the slightest difference ever having been made by the Bishops between Protestant and Roman Catholic tenants, and that was another reason for the Irish Members joining. But then it was stated that the practice was not general. He admitted it—but the exceptions only strengthened the case. He knew but two instances in which Bishops had behaved improperly. These Bishops had broken marriage settlements, crushed families, and reduced numbers to misery and distress. These were the exceptions. While every man joined in reprobating the exceptions, all must equally join in admiring the conduct of the overwhelming majority who took the more humane, the more noble, and the more Christian-like course, and left their tenants undisturbed. He (Mr. O'Connell) hoped the House would not think him wrong in the part he took in this clause—the only part, indeed, which he bad taken at all in the Bill.
§ Colonel Perceval
said, he was delighted to hear justice done to the conduct of the Bishops of Ireland by the hon. and learned Gentleman who bad just sat down. Although he (Colonel Perceval) was a tenant under a Bishop, he was not permanently interested in the fate of the Amendment one way or other, inasmuch as the property he held was not built upon. In the county of Armagh, a gentleman, with whom he was acquainted, laid out 10,000l. within the last four years, in improvements on a Bishop's lease. He could further state, that, in the county he represented, gentle men had built houses, and planted demesnes on Bishops' lands; and would it be fair or just to make those gentlemen pay a second time for such improvement?
thought great injustice would be done if the clause were permitted to remain as it then stood.
Mr. O' Connell
said, he knew an instance 1071 of a case at Rathmines, near Dublin, where a man took six acres of ground, for which he paid 6l. an acre, and he renewed every year. He laid out 15,000l. in building houses upon the ground. Now, according to the clause as it stood, he would have to pay 15,000l. again for having turned fields into houses. Would any man say, that was just?
§ Mr. Estcourt
thought the question depended very much upon the fact, whether the custom of the Bishops in renewing was universal or not; and he should be glad to hear, more particularly, how the matter stood from his hon. friend, Mr. Shaw.
§ Mr. Shaw
, in reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman (Dr. Lushington) said, that the learned Gentleman had stated, with tolerable accuracy, the course of dealing between the Bishops and their tenants in Ireland. The Bishops dealt with them on the fairest and most liberal terms, not raising their rent from any casual rise even as regarded the beneficial money interest which tenants might enjoy under them—but, in no instance were they in the habit of charging the tenant for ornamental improvements, or the erection of buildings on their property. It was but reasonable, then, that the same rule should be observed by the Commissioners, in respect of the purchase of the perpetuity, as had been observed by the Bishop in respect of the renewal of the lease—otherwise the tenant who had improved would be in worse circumstances than the one who had neglected his property. The person who had expended capital upon the faith of the Bishop's not taking advantage of the improvement it produced, would have to pay over again, in the way of purchase, to the Commissioners for the increased value of the property which his own expenditure had created, while the very negligence and carelessness of his neighbour in having allowed his property to deteriorate, would, in the same proportion, lessen the amount of his purchase money—and this without the Commissioners, in the performance of their public duty, having the power to take these circumstances, and the former practice, which had universally prevailed, into account, unless such an Amendment as was now proposed vested in them that discretion. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman, too, that the principle he (Mr. Shaw) was contending for was recognized in the new provision of the Bill, which prevented the Commissioners charging for past improvements in the case of their receiving 1072 the tenants' leases—why then should it not equally hold in the case of purchase? It had been observed, that there was something strange in Irish Members, of various opinions, being united on the present occasion; he confessed that it had afforded him much satisfaction—because he was persuaded that they had not united to confer a favour upon any particular class or interest, but to do no more than an act of justice to those tenants who had improved their estates, under the full impression that they were to have the benefit of the improvement.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said, he held a statement in his hand, signed by Messrs. Robinson and Rose, confirming the view taken by the hon. and learned Member.
said, that the object of the Amendment was, to transfer a large portion of that which was now the property of the Church to a class of persons who had no legal right to it. He could not reconcile the statement of the hon. member for Dublin that night with what he said on a former occasion. That hon. and learned Member said, some nights since, that a person travelling through Ireland could not but know church lands from others, they were so little improved. He thought the clause, as it stood, unobjectionable, and he should, therefore, oppose the Amendment.
Sir Robert Ferguson
, as a Member from the north of Ireland, and a holder of Bishops' lands, rose to make a few observations. In that part of the country with which he was connected, he could state, of his own knowledge, that it was not the practice of the Bishops, in calculating their fines, to take into account the value of the houses built upon the land, and he understood the same practice prevailed in other places—as in Armagh. In the counties of Armagh, Tyrone, and Derry, the gentry, in a great many instances, built houses and planted demesnes on Bishops' lands, and no reference whatever was had to the value of those improvements in calculating the fines. All that was sought by the Amendment was, that if such a practice could be established, to let the tenants have the benefit of it.
§ Lord Oxmantown
declared that, with the exception of one hon. Member, he had had no communication with any other on the subject of his Amendment.
§ The Committee divided on the Amendment: Ayes 85; Noes 49—Majority 36.
§ The Clause, as amended, was ordered to stand part of the Bill.1073
§ On Clause 147 being read,
Mr. Secretary Stanley
said, that this clause was one of those which had been objected to on the score of principle. When they came to the 110th Clause (a postponed one), he would show, that the effect of it would be beneficial to the people of Ireland and to the support of the Protestant religion. He knew, that with respect to the 147th clause, in which the disposal of a sum of money was concerned, that there existed a great difference of opinion on both sides of the House, and that there were some of his own friends who objected to it, as they considered that it involved an alienation of Church property. The construction he put upon the tendency of the clause was very different, for he did not see, that it involved in any way the alienation of that property. What was bona fide the property of the Church was not at all touched. There was, he knew, both in that House and out of it, a strong feeling with respect to the alienation of Church property. They would have to consider what would be the purchase-money arising out of the sales of perpetuities—whether the surplus would amount to any large extent, and to see how it could be applied. With respect to the disposal of the money, the Committee would recollect, that the vote they had already come to that evening had reduced the amount of the sum very considerably. The clause relieved the people of Ireland of a debt to the amount of 300,000l. or 400,000l., which was the first charge on the purchase-money of perpetuities. If the Bishops' lessees did not avail themselves of the offer held out to them, things would remain as they were. The surplus-money alluded to in this clause would be applicable to certain parliamentary purposes; but no one could expect, that it would be applicable to the Army or Navy Estimates, or the general expenditure of the country. No, as nearly as possible it would be applied to the purposes of the Protestant Church—at least to purposes incidental to that Church—to the promotion of the established religion, and of education in Ireland. However, it might be doubted whether any large sum would be realised; and if not, the interference of Parliament with respect to it would be a matter of no very great importance. Knowing, however, as he did, the immense advantages to be derived from the present measure, feeling the folly of endangering its principle for the acquisition of no practical result, knowing also that the loss of 1074 the measure would be the loss not only of the advantages derivable from the Bill, but would involve other consequences, to which he would not then allude, but which he was sure there was no man in that House but must deprecate and feel a strong anxiety to avoid. [Cries of" No, no."] He heard the hon. member for Oldham say no, in objection to his remark; but he (Mr. Stanley) thought he must be the single exception that was to be found in the House. [Mr. O'Connell: There are several hon. Members who dissent. At least twenty said no.] He regretted to hear, that the number was so great of those who did not look with feelings of alarm and anxiety to the possible results which might arise from such a conflict of hostile opinion on the subject of the present clause. At all events, they were determined to make no sacrifice of principle; they would give up nothing that they were bound to by principle, however hon. Gentlemen opposite might contend, that they were making a sacrifice of principle. The words he intended to substitute for the words at the end of clause 147 would not interfere with the right of Parliament to the surplus money, if any there should be. He hoped that the good feeling of the House would sanction a declaration that was intended to lead to practical results. The 54th clause went to abolish Vestry-cess, and the produce of the sale of perpetuities was intended to extinguish future instalments of Vestry-cess, and to pay off the debts already incurred. Now, what he proposed to do was this—to move the omission from the Bill of the 147th clause altogether, and at the same time to strike out from the 54th clause the exception which related to the perpetuity purchase-fund. This alteration, he believed, would leave the question of the surplus fund precisely where it was at present. It would be recollected, that a material alteration had been effected in the Bill since its introduction—he meant the exemption of incumbents from the payment of tax, they having no present fund provided for them except that caused by the reduction of the sees of Derry and Waterford. Even in two years it was improbable that the fund in question could meet the objects to which it had been proposed to apply it. His object was not to make a sacrifice of principle; and he therefore, in the spirit of conciliation, entreated hon. Gentlemen not to be led astray, and not to contribute to the loss of the present measure, which involved so many serious con- 1075 sequences. His object was to incorporate this fund, and, in the first instance, to make it applicable to Church purposes in preference to any other.
said, that he was not disappointed. The right hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the Committee was the same person who, during the progress of the Coercive Bill, came forward and stated, that the Government were about to establish a great principle in the Church Temporalities' Bill,—that they were going to open to the people of Ireland, for the first time, the prospect of being relieved from one of the heavy burthens which oppressed them, physically and morally, by establishing the great principle that the property of the Church was at the disposal of Parliament. When they asked for the Coercion Bill they said, that they meant to introduce another measure with respect to the Church, which would make the recurrence of disturbances impossible, by removing their causes,—they came to the Reformed Parliament, to the Representatives of the people of England, and said: "We ask you for unconstitutional measures, but at the same time be convinced, that we are about to establish a great and important principle of relief, and we will stand or fall by both measures." Who talked of collision then?—who talked then of shrinking? The right hon. Gentleman said, the consequence of the rejection of the Bill would be to be deplored. They might be by the right hon. Gentleman, but they would not by the country. Many a time when, during the discussion on the Coercion Bill, he taunted the hon. Members opposite with "lip service," with respect to Ireland, the reply he received was: "We are acting harshly now, it is true, but we are about to establish a great principle, which will meet the most anxious wishes of the Irish people." The right hon. Gentleman did not perhaps say, but many others on this side of the House did: "We are going to establish a principle, the result of which will be, that the people of Ireland shall not be taxed for the support of a Church to which they do not belong." Many hon. Members went even further than that, and said, that it was an absurdity to maintain a church, without a flock. Where were those hon. Members now? Would they vote with the right hon. Gentleman? Would they allow the Irish Members to go hack to Ireland, and state that such had been the conduct of the House of Commons? No, he would not anticipate that 1076 they would be guilty of such base trickery, for he called God to witness it would be the basest act which a national assembly ever perpetrated. He would not condescend to talk about the probability of there being no surplus—he would not make it a question of pounds, shillings, and pence: he contended for the establishment of the great principle that Church property was at the disposal of Parliament. It was upon the faith of establishing that principle that Ministers carried the Coercion Bill. He had heard during the week various reports—amongst other things it had been said that, in another place, the most valiant soldier the world ever produced had shrunk from an anticipated contest—that he had avoided a collision—that having taken one false position he was unwilling to take another. It was now seen who had shrunk from the collision. If the fact were written upon the wall in words of fire, it could not be more legible. Ministers had sacrificed their principles in order to keep their places; but when their principles were gone what was the value of their places. Oh shame! Would the high-minded gentry and nobility of England surround the Ministers now, after such a flagrant abandonment of principle? He appealed to the House—he appealed to the common sense of Members—ay, and he appealed from that spot to the British nation, and called upon them not to lend themselves to such a shameless proceeding. The only benefit which the people of Ireland were now to expect from the Bill was the abolition of the vestry cess, but upon that point nothing was yet settled, and if, indeed, it were, there would be no security for the plan being carried into effect, for what the Government determined on one day they abandoned the next. With the exception of the Vestry cess, the Bill did not propose to reduce the burthens of the people of Ireland a single shilling. It was true that the number of Protestant prelates were to be reduced; the Government knocked down Bishops as they would nine pins. What did he or what did the people of Ireland care, about the number of Bishops? He did not wish to overturn the Protestant religion. The Catholics had twenty-seven Bishops, and he was quite content that the Protestants should have as many, provided they would pay for them. The reduction of ten Bishops, however, would not lighten the burthens of the Irish people to the extent of one shilling. Ministers last year pledged themselves to extinguish tithes. This was, 1077 to be sure, afterwards modified, and the Government, by means of employing horse, foot, and artillery, collected 12,000l. at a cost of 15,000l. That was their mode of extinguishing tithes, and now, after they had pledged themselves to the great principle contained in the Bill, they shrunk from carrying it into effect. The principle which Ministers now turned their backs upon was that of placing the Church property in Ireland under the dominion of the Parliament which had given it away before. No man would say, that the Church property in Ireland passed to the Protestant Establishment by the assent of a convocation of clergy. No; it was taken away from the Catholic church by the strong hand of power. The Bill proposed to sanction the principle that Parliament should reassume dominion over that property, and Ministers shrunk from carrying the Bill. They made their apology; but it would not be accepted. Let them carry their apology to Carlton-terrace; but they had done so already, and it was accepted. He would record his vote against the third reading of the Bill, and he repudiated it on the part of the people of Ireland.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
expressed his surprise at the tone of indignation, real or assumed, in which the hon. member for Dublin had addressed the Committee. The hon. Member stated, that Government had pledged themselves to carry two measures, one for the restoration of tranquillity in Ireland, and the other for the reform of the Irish Church. The hon. Member always contended that the two measures must be considered in the nature of a compromise, one against the other, and ought, therefore, to proceed pari passu. Government disclaimed the notion of a compromise, but they pledged themselves to the support and carrying of the Coercion Bill; and they also pledged themselves to the support and carrying of the Church Temporalities Bill, and by those pledges they were prepared to stand. Notwithstanding the mocking of hon. Gentlemen opposite, he repeated that by those pledges they were prepared to stand. He begged leave to ask hon. Members whether the Coercive Bill, since he must place in juxtaposition two measures which had no connexion with each other, was carried through that House in all its integrity as it was introduced in the House of Lords? Hon. Members might laugh; but would they deny the fact? When the Bill was returned to the House of Lords were not Ministers actually charged with 1078 deluding those who had supported it when introduced there by having consented to its being stripped of some of the most efficient clauses in it? By persons who were strongly opposed to the Government on one side, as the hon. Member was on the other (and that was saying a great deal) it was stated, that the Bill had been returned in such a shape as to be scarcely worthy of support. Did the hon. Member then accuse Ministers of basely truckling and sacrificing their principles in order to retain their places? When Ministers accepted the modifications which were proffered from the other side of the House, they heard none of the clamour which was now raised. He admitted the Government were pledged to the most important details of the present measure, but the hon. Member had no right to charge them with sacrificing their principles in order that they might retain their places. The hon. Member said, that the Bill was good for nothing unless it established a principle which, to the extent to which he would carry it, would strip the Church of Ireland of the whole of its possessions, and enable Parliament to do what they pleased with them. Gentlemen might entertain what opinions they pleased upon that point, but he begged to state that this was not the principle upon which the Bill was introduced. It might be the principle which made the Bill acceptable to the hon. Member; but with all respect to him the Bill was not introduced with the view of pleasing him. The Bill was introduced for the purpose of effecting a substantial Reform, and that it would effect. ["No, none at all."] What! none at all? Had not the House heard the manner in which the Vestry-cess bad been spoken of? Had not the levying of money from an exclusively Catholic population by an exclusively Protestant vestry been constantly spuken of as the great grievance of the people of Ireland? Tithes had always been represented as the less grievance, as less odious to the people than the Vestry-cess. ["No."] He said yes, and he would show the reason why the case must be so. The burthen of tithes was incident to property, and was taken with it; besides, it could not be capriciously increased, and was fixed upon the property of Protestants as well as Catholics. The Vestry-cess, however, stood upon a totally different foundation; it was an arbitrary assessment made by an exclusively Protestant vestry upon an exclusively Catholic population. Therefore this burthen was more objectionable to the 1079 Catholics than tithes, which if not paid under that very name, would be paid in the shape of rent. From the Vestry-cess, amounting to 70,000l., and from all the litigation which accompanied it, the Catholic population would be relieved by the Bill. He could not understand how the hon. Member proposed that the Vestry-Cess should be got rid of, except by this Bill, which God forbid he should have the power of throwing out. The repeal of the Vestry-cess, however, was not the only relief which the Bill afforded to the people; the sum of between 300,000l. and 400,000l. chargeable upon the Catholic population of Ireland for the next twenty-years was taken away—was entirely removed. The object, however, for which the Bill was introduced was not only to satisfy the Catholics of Ireland, but to render the Protestant Church in that country more efficacious. As a Protestant, he desired to see a Reform of the Irish Church, with a view of increasing its efficiency. The hon. Member said, that the Catholics did not care whether there were twenty-seven or thirteen Bishops. It might be a matter of indifference to the hon. Member, but to him and the House it appeared that no money should be unnecessarily expended in keeping up what he could not help thinking an overgrown staff for Church. The revenues of the Church might be better applied to the relief of the parochial clergy by the augmentation of their livings—to the building of churches, without any charge on the Catholics of Ireland. These objects were provided for by the reduction of the number of Bishops, and therefore that measure was an object of importance to him, though it might not be to the hon. Member. To maintain the respectability of the Protestant Church, and to insure the due performance of its duties, was the principle upon which the Bill had been introduced, and on which it had been supported. That principle they were bound to maintain, as they had maintained the principle of the Coercion Bill. By both measures they were prepared to stand or fall, and they would not be deterred from taking the course which they conceived to be best calculated to secure the efficiency of the Bill, and to give peace and happiness to the country, by any such taunt as had that night been thrown out against them, and which he would not condescend to reply to.
said, that what he had stated on the subject of the Vestry-cess was, that he did not know what the Go- 1080 vernment intended to do upon the subject, as the clause relating to it had been withdrawn. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had cautiously avoided meeting him upon the point to which all his observations were directed—namely, the abandonment of the great principle of the Bill.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
said, that the hon. and learned Member was more conversant with the intentions of Government upon that subject than any one else could be. The hon. and learned Member was perfectly aware that the clause had been postponed in order that his own opinion, as a lawyer might be taken upon it, and he (Mr. Stanley) had no doubt that the hon. and learned Member would not now deny that he had been for some days in the fullest consultation with the Government as to the manner in which the clause should be framed.
said, that the part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which had been cheered, was that in which he said that he (Mr. O'Connell) had been "in the fullest consultation with the Government." He (Mr. O'Connell) did not deny, that he had been in consultation with them; but would the right hon. Secretary say, that anything definite had been agreed on? He (Mr. O'Connell) denied that anything had been agreed on upon that subject; but with regard to the distribution of the surplus revenues of the Church, he would say than that part of the Bill was definitively agreed on.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that in this discussion there was room more for sorrow and regret, than for anger; for never was a Government reduced to a juncture such as his Majesty s Government had that night reduced themselves to. He would put it to the noble Lord, what security the House or the country had that the Government meant to carry that or any other Bill which they might introduce other than that which he had given, that they should stand by the principles of the present Bill? The noble Lord had given his pledge that the Government would stand or fall by that Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the present clause was not one of the principles of the Bill. But what he would ask, was to be considered the principles of the Bill, but those provisions which were laid down by the Government as part of the measure? These provisions, as stated by the noble Lord, the Government were bound—were pledged as men of honour—to maintain; or they were bound, 1081 in consequence of those pledges, to retire from office. Nay, more, it was stated by the noble Lord, that as the situation of Ireland was such as to require so harsh a measure as the Coercion Bill, the Church Reform Bill would be brought forward in conjunction with it, in order to heal the evils which had brought Ireland to that state. There were two principles (as he understood) to be established by that Bill; the one was the Reformation of the Church of Ireland—the other and the principal point on account of which alone he and many other Gentlemen on his side of the House had supported it was, that it admitted that the property of the Church might be alienated for public purposes. The Government had then defended the admission of these most important principles, and the noble Lord had even stated, that the measure would place 3,000,000l. sterling at the disposal of Parliament, to be applied to public purposes. The Government now attempted to change their former opinions, and to retract their words; but those words were written, and were known to the public; and it would be for the public to judge of such conduct. For his part, he would say, that it showed the most lamentable desertion of previous pledges, the greatest want of firmness, and was a disgraceful breach of public faith. Could they, as men of honour, retain that honour if they did not redeem the pledge which they had given to the country, of cither retiring or carrying the Church Reform Bill. He had stated, when the Coercion Bill was before the House, that the Tories themselves had never ventured to bring forward a measure which violated the Constitution so outrageously as that which was then brought forward by the Whig Government; but the excuse always urged was, that they intended to bring forward a measure of Church Reform, which would nullify the effect of the Coercion Bill. He admitted, that the abolition of Vestry-cess was one of the principles of the Bill, although in that he was sorry to find he differed with his hon. and learned friend below him. But of what value, he would ask, was that in comparison to the advantages expected by Ireland from the measure? The noble Lord had stated it to be about 60,000l. a-year, but he (Mr. Hume) was ready to show that the benefits to be derived was no more than 27,000l. And was that the advantage which Ireland expected from this measure? The right hon. Secretary for the Colonies had stated, that there was 1082 a strong feeling both in this House and in the country against alienating the property of the Church of Ireland. He did not know what it might be in the society in which the right hon. Secretary moved but he knew that in the country generally the proposition was hailed as the establishment of a proper principle on the subject of Church property. When the measure was brought forward, the noble Lord had stated, that he would put down ten of the Irish Bishops. He saw no principle on which the noble Lord could have fixed upon that number, and had therefore assisted him with one—namely, that as four Bishops were found to be sufficient to do ail the duties incumbent on them as Irish Bishops in Parliament, the same number would be sufficient to perform the other ecclesiastical duties. He stated this merely to show, that the provisions of the Bill were its principles, and its only principles. They now found that the Government shrunk from some of the most material of those provisions, and they could not know whether any more were to be changed or not. What right had the Government to suppose that the clause would be thrown out elsewhere? They had found, no doubt, that there would be a majority against them in the House of Lords; and finding that there was no other way of keeping their pledge of standing by the Bill, but by yielding that point, they had yielded it. They were afraid to go before the public and say, that they had done all they could to carry the measure, but that the majority of the House of Lords was against them, and that there was no other way of carrying it but by their support. They were afraid to do so; but if they did, they would then redeem the pledge which they had given of standing or falling by the measure. The Government now said, that the probable result of such a clause was to be deprecated; but he would say, that if that House supported it—and it had hitherto been well supported by the House—he saw no reason why it should be now changed. Since the 14th of February, when the noble Lord brought forward the measure, the country and the House had supported it; and notwithstanding that, the Government now shrunk in alarm from the opposition of the other House. They deserted their duty and their honour to preserve their places. Perhaps it might not be so, but it appeared so to him. He hoped that the majority of the House which had voted for the Bill as introduced, would not retract that opinion. 1083 He trusted that the same majority would now reject the mutilated Bill altogether. It was a mere mockery, and the House and the country had been duped by the Ministry. Their conduct was a cause of deep sorrow and regret to him, and all he could do was, to object to the withdrawal of the Clause, and, if it were withdrawn, to vote for the rejection of the whole Bill.
§ Mr. Macaulay
was not aware, when he entered the House, of the course which Government meant to pursue upon this occasion, but he fully approved of it. Some hon. Members seemed to think that Government had come forward with the principle, that whenever there was a surplus arising out of a new arrangement of Church property, Parliament would have a right to deal with it as they thought fit. He had not the least hesitation in saying, that this was a principle which he individually advocated, and therefore he ought to be considered an impartial witness when he stated, that not only was that principle not advanced by the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he brought the question forward, but it was distinctly repudiated by him. The noble Lord distinctly declared, that whatever his private opinion might be, the right of Parliament to deal with Church property was a question reserved and postponed. Were hon. Members aware, that it had always been denied that the surplus was Church property? He (Mr. Macaulay) appealed to both sides of the House if such was not the statement made by the noble Lord? The Government had declared, that they did not consider the surplus fund arising from Bishops' leases as Church property. Whether they were right or wrong in saying, that it was not Church property he would not take upon himself to say, but he would say that, in proposing that that surplus should be placed at the disposal of Parliament, to be applied to secular purposes, they neither declared whether ecclesiastical property should be applied to secular purposes or not, for, in so disposing of it, they had considered it as not ecclesiastical. He would venture to say, that no member of the Cabinet supported the Bill on the principle that Church property was at the disposal of Parliament. He himself considered the question suspended till the surplus should have actually arrived. To say, that Ministers were abandoning a principle was absurd. Under these circumstances, and seeing that neither money nor the principle of the Bill was sacrificed by 1084 the alteration proposed in this Clause, he hoped the House would not oppose the change.
§ Mr. Harvey
said, it was some comfort to inferior minds to find that the most splendid talents were not sufficient to enable sophistry to beguile a single man who attended to facts. How any man with even a tithe of the understanding possessed by the hon. Member who spoke last could expect to lead the House, having the clause before them, to the interpretation which he put upon it, it was difficult to imagine? What said the clause? "And the surplus of the said monies accruing to the credit of the said Commissioners shall be applied to such purposes as Parliament shall hereafter appoint and direct." Now, if that clause did not give Parliament a control over Church property, why was it not allowed to remain? He remembered that when the noble Lord (Lord Althorp), whom he was sorry not to see in his place brought forward this measure, and erected his standard of popularity upon it, he calculated that the sum which it would place at the disposal of a future Parliament would be no less than 3,000,000l. sterling. It was true that the vote which the Committee had recently come to, and he regretted that he had not been present upon that occasion to add to the minority, had considerably damaged the measure in a financial point of view; and he was much surprised at the supineness with which Ministers had suffered one of the most valuable provisions of the Bill to be dispensed with, until he found that they were prepared to abandon the great principle of the Bill, though that had been looked forward to even as the basis of the Reformation of the Church of England, in order to avoid the hostility of the House of Lords, It had been said, that the hereditary council of the nation had been swamped, but the proposition was now reversed and the Commons of England were to be swamped. He congratulated the high-minded Tories upon having a government subservient to them, whilst at the same time they incurred no responsibility. The people had been encouraged to expect Ecclesiastical Reform as one of the prominent measures which were to grow out of the Reform which gained Ministers their passing, and fast expiring popularity. What was the result? In the worst days of Toryism, when the Tories sat on that hotbed of corruption, the Ministerial Bench, nothing so paltry as this Church Reform Bill ever sprang from it. 1085 He was much disposed to concur with what the hon. member for Dublin had stated respecting the reduction of the number of Bishops. He was surprised that the Representatives of the Church in that House should view that proposition with such apparent indifference. If Catholicism was making that rapid advance in Ireland which some persons believed, and others regretted, what was more likely to sustain the Protestant religion than the exertions of the Bishops? He was not surprised, that men who were changing their principles with every wind should laugh at the expression of such an opinion. No doubt they would be as ready to abandon the Church as they were the all-important principle of the Bill, if they thought that by so doing they could preserve their places. As long as they had a Protestant Church it was important that its integrity should be maintained. In his opinion it would be better to retain the present number of Bishops in Ireland, with moderate stipends, who, by constant residence and persevering exertions, might yet shed the light of Protestantism over that benighted country. He trusted, that the House would throw out the Bill, which was a ministerial delusion, put forward under the name of Church Reform. There was no one element in it which deserved to be associated with the term Reform in its comprehensive sense.
rose to vindicate, not himself, but the Government, from a charge which had been brought against them by the hon. Member. The hon. Member had stated, that the Government had introduced principles into the Bill to which they had pledged themselves, and which they afterwards abandoned. The hon. and learned member for Leeds had very truly stated, that the alienation of the property of the Church formed no part of the principle of the Bill. That had been also stated by himself, and more distinctly stated by his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he thought it important, not to the principles of the Bill, but to the character of the Government, that the House and the country should be set right upon the subject. He would now read what the noble Lord had stated on introducing the measure. After slating what the plan of his Majesty's Ministers was, he proceeded: 'Now, I apprehend, that however great the differences of opinion may be as to the right of Parliament to apply the property of the Church to the purposes 1086 of the State, both those who think that they have a right to apply it to such purposes, and those who think they have no right so to apply it—all will agree in thinking, that the first claim upon the property of the Church, is the claim of the Church itself. No parties are likely to dissent from this opinion, but those who either think that there ought to be no Church Establishment at all, or those who think that a different Church ought to be established in Ireland. With the exception of those who entertain these opinions, it will be generally agreed, that the present property of the Church Establishment ought to be applied in the first place to the purposes which may be necessary for extending the benefits of the Church to the people of Ireland.'* And in another part he stated, that: 'The measure I have proposed provides for not continuing the scandal of persons holding benefices and receiving the revenues of a living where no duty is performed; and it provides to as great an extent as is practicable or adviseable for the reduction of the number of the Irish hierarchy. I would also beg to observe, that it does not lay down any abstract principle. Indeed it is not necessary to do so for any practical purpose. It is not necessary now to decide whether Parliament has or has not a right to interfere with Church property. As I have already observed, all who think that there ought to be a Church Establishment at all, must agree that the Church has the first claim to be considered. But when a practical plan like this is brought forward, it is quite unnecessary to call for a determination on any abstract principle; or to decide whether or not Parliament has any right to interfere with the property of the Church. The result of such a call would be only delay and obstruction. The plan which I have now detailed to the House is what his Majesty's Ministers feel themselves justified in proposing at present; without meaning to preclude Parliament from considering the future disposal of Church property to other purposes than those of the Church. Whenever the purposes of the Church are fully satisfied, Parliament may, if it think fit, proceed to the consideration of the manner in which the surplus ought to be applied.'† These were the sentiments expressed by his noble friend—prin-* Hansard, (third series) xv. p. 568.†Hansard, (third series) xv. p. 576.1087 ciples on which the measure was introduced—and he now stated them to be so, not in his own vindication alone, but in vindication of the Government. When the Government advanced a principle, and stated their intention to stand by it, they were not inclined to shrink from their duty; and he would not be doing justice to the Government if he did not vindicate them from the charges brought forward by the hon. Member.
said, that during his whole parliamentary experience he had never heard a discussion in which the decency of parliamentary language, or the courtesy of public life had been so much departed from. Neither had he ever heard a discussion in which the grossest and basest motives and intentions were more plainly attributed to a Government. He would say more; he had never heard such language used on an occasion where it was so totally destitute of foundation. An hon. Member had explained, that the surplus arising from Bishops' leases was not. considered part of the Church property; and that, therefore, the question as to the alienation of Ecclesiastical property had not been touched. He (Dr. Lushington) had always been, and still continued, of opinion, that the surplus revenues of the Church, after paying the clergy, and other Church purposes, ought to be appropriated to the promotion of education. Nothing would deter him from stating that these were the principles which he held on this subject. Was it worth while, then, to enunciate a theoretical proposition, when, by the very terms of the Bill itself, they were stripped of the power of carrying that proposition into effect. And for what reason, he should like to know, were they bound to conciliate one part of Ireland at the cost of irritating another? He, at least, saw no just ground for giving this useless and unnecessary insult to the Protestants of Ireland. Then what would be its effect elsewhere? There might be some people in that House desirous of calling in the power of the people to annihilate the authority of another Assembly. When he saw the delight with which any proposition was hailed that seemed to threaten such an event, he must say, that he did not observe that fear of a collision which any man desirous of avoiding it would wish to sec, and which could not happen without such consequences as all men of moderation and prudence must desire to avoid. When there was any principle concerned, that by its concession 1088 would be of great advantage to the country, and when it became absolutely necessary to obtain its concession, he trusted that he should be found, at least, as firm in demanding it as any of those who now appeared most ready to rush into the battle. There seemed to him no such necessity now; and he, therefore, desired to avoid all irritation upon any subject on which the evil of that irritation was not demanded by an adequate necessity, and balanced by, at least, an equal advantage. He must say, that he was surprised at the conduct of some hon. Members. He had heard, not merely during this Session, but long before, so much said of the evils of the Church-cess, and of the benefit that Ireland would gain by its abolition, that he could not but feel surprised at the remarks now made—remarks, which, if they meant anything, meant to deny all that had been before said, and to leave it to be believed that the abolition of the Church-cess was of no advantage to Ireland. What! was it no advantage to abolish that which had so often and so universally been the subject of complaint? Was it no advantage to abolish two Archbishops and several Bishops? And was it no advantage to equalize the livings, and to give the other checks on the abuses of the Church Establishment? After all this, he must say, that those who made these accusations ought first to enable themselves to support those accusations by facts, which in this instance he thought they had not done.
said, that his approbation of the principle of this Bill had been often quoted against him. What was that approbation? He would tell the House, from the same authority which had been quoted against him, what he had said: "He greatly approved of this Bill, because it was clear that it recognized a principle which would be applicable to all other property of the same description." He had then also stated "that he supported the Bill because it recognised the right of the Government to look into the state of ecclesiastical property hereafter."* As to the censure which had been thrown on him for the language he had used when he was expressing his abhorrence of what he conceived to be a gross breach of faith, he must, before he bowed to that censure, be convinced that the person who uttered it was entitled to sit in judgment on a question of breach of faith. He had heard of an hon. Member pledging himself to his* Hansard's (third series) xvii. p. 577–8.1089 constituents to support a certain line of policy, and afterwards voting in the teeth of his pledges. That was what he would call a "breach of faith." "I," continued Mr. O'Connell, "at least never committed such a breach of faith. I never pledged myself to support any measure, and afterwards wheeled round against it. I say I never shrunk from any of my promises or declarations to my constituents and countrymen. The repeal? I deny it. I did not shrink from the repeal question. I never pledged myself to bring it forward. I defy any man"——
§ Mr. Bernal
spoke to order. He put it to the learned Gentleman whether he would persist in these irregular observations.
§ Mr. Bernal
In referring to the alleged pledges of any hon. Member out of doors, which have no reference whatever to the measure before the Committee.
§ Dr. Lushington
said, that if the learned Gentleman had alluded to him as having broken pledges to his constituents, he could only tell him, that he broached an assertion totally without foundation. He would not use harsher terms of denial, but would simply and explicitly deny, that he had given any such pledges to his constituents as the hon. Gentleman had insinuated.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, he did not rise for the purpose of taking any part in the warm conflict which had arisen, but merely for the purpose of stating the opinion he had originally entertained with respect to this clause. He came down to the House this evening, with the intention of giving his cordial support to the Amendment of the hon. member for Newcastle-under-Line, that whatever surplus there might be from the improved value of the Bishops' lands should be applied to the purposes of the United Churches of England and Ireland. The object of that Amendment seemed to him to be fully answered by the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, and he, therefore, supposed that the hon. Member would not think it necessary to press his Amendment. But there was one observation he must notice. The hon. and learned member for Dublin had said, that this measure of the Government had been adopted in consequence of a compromise with their opponents. For himself, he utterly disclaimed all knowledge of any such compromise, and he declared, 1090 that when he entered that House this evening, he did not know what was the intention of the Government. He disapproved of all compromises, and he owed it to the Gentlemen with whom he acted to say they did the same. In giving his assent, therefore, to any part of the Bill, he was free as air as to the rest, and in public matters that was the course he should generally pursue. He disapproved of compromises, for when once they were made, they not only did not gain the confidence of an opponent, but they most certainly lost that of the men who had been accustomed to follow and rely upon those who made it. He entirely approved of the course the Government had adopted on the present occasion in omitting this clause, but he did not much rejoice in it, for he was able to show that there never would and never could be a surplus. The principle against which he, on another occasion, had protested was, not that they had no right to apply Church property to secular purposes—for he had no occasion to dispute that point—but that if the Legislature gave a new value to Church property, that new value belonged to the Church alone. But of all the extraordinary propositions he had ever heard, that of the hon. member for Middlesex, who was always complaining of absenteeism, and who, nevertheless, proposed to abolish all but four Irish Bishops; and for this reason, of all others, that they were entitled to sit in Parliament was the most extraordinary. That was the way in which the hon. Member proposed to remedy the non-residence of the higher clergy. He should say no more now, than that he supported the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman with respect to this clause; but in doing so he did not think himself pledged to agree to any other clause in the Bill.
§ Mr. Gisborne
observed, that it was natural that Irish Members should wish to be heard on such a subject; but he must say a few words, and he thought that there were many English Members in the same situation with himself. Many of them had voted for the Irish Coercion Bill—he had for every clause of it, upon the faith that the Government would pass the present Bill in the form in which it was first announced. He did not deny, that the abolition of the Church-cess was a relief to Ireland; but then this clause also was a most important feature in the Bill. He looked to it without regard to Ministerial explanations; and he wished to ask the Ministry whether they had any more prospect of carrying it 1091 in another place, when they first proposed it, than they had at the present moment? Were they the only people in the world who did not know that it would be made the subject of a desperate struggle? If, when they proposed the Bill, they intended to recede from this condition in it, they deceived the House; and if they did not, then they were bound to show, that the circumstances under which they now with-drew it were different from those under which they had first proposed it. The right hon. Gentleman had at first told them that there was a division in the Cabinet on the subject of the Church property, but they had at last agreed upon a medium principle, which was the one contained in this clause. If the Legislature, by any act of its own, could increase the value of the Church property, it had a right to dispose of that increase. The principle must be admitted, for how could the Government have the right to interfere with the property at all, if it was not State property? He did not think it was a proper argument to address to the House of Commons of England, that they must recede from a certain measure, because it was possible that such a measure might produce a collision with the other House of Parliament. He knew not what were the chances of such an event, but he did not think it fit to be adduced as an argument to bias the Resolutions of that House. Neither could he agree with the argument that the Legislature could not meddle with Church property, for that proceeded on the supposition that a finite possession of property gave the right of making an absolute disposition of it, which was absurd; and they could only escape from that to another, by saying, that the Legislature had confirmed that disposition, for that would go to show that one Legislature could eternally bind all other Legislatures. He hoped that the House would never agree to any such proposition; and for himself, he never would consent to any such dogma. He trusted that the House would not allow the clause to be withdrawn.
§ Lord Sandon
thought, that the proceedings of this night formed an ample justification of the Ministry in withdrawing this clause. An opinion had gone abroad that this clause involved the principle that the State had a right to deal with the property of the Church. As that was an error, the sooner it was corrected the better.
§ Colonel Davies
protested against the 1092 withdrawal of this clause; nor could he conceive what motives had induced it, unless there were some truth in certain allegations which had been made: but, whatever were those motives, his Majesty's Ministers had this night degraded themselves in the eyes of the country. Hitherto they had had an obsequious House of Commons, but he trusted, that the Representatives of the people of England would no longer, for their own sakes, show themselves thus easily led. Collision with the other House had been spoken of, but were they to be frightened and to stultify themselves in their best measures by a dread of this kind? and were they to be deprived of their best rights through a fear of what might occur elsewhere? If they were to have Tory measures, let them he carried under Tory banners; and if this were to be the conduct of Government, he, for one, should feel disposed to give his adhesion to the right hon. Baronet near him (Sir R. Peel). He had never been that right hon. Baronet's supporter, but he admired his talent, and believed that he had more in his head than all the Ministers put together.
§ Lord Ebrington
had no objection to his hon. and gallant friend's expressing his opinion of any proceedings in Parliament in the best possible way; but he thought it rather too much of his hon. and gallant friend to state such sentiments of Ministers as he had just uttered, after the Motion of confidence in them which his gallant friend had moved and carried the other night. He agreed with the hon. member for Derby in the opinions expressed by him with respect to Church property, and the power of the Legislature over it; but it should be recollected that his noble friend (Lord Althorp), in bringing forward this measure, had left the question of the applicability of Church property open; and as no practical benefit could at present arise from the assertion of this principle, he could not see that this was a proper time for doing so, as would be the case were the clause persisted in. He should never be found wanting in asserting the due rights of the House of Commons when a necessity arose for vindicating them, but at present there existed no such necessity. When he considered the benefits which would arise from the removal of Vestry-cess and other vexations, he must say, that although he feared not collision with the other branch of the Legislature, as the withdrawal of this clause would not affect the general be- 1093 neficial tendency of this Bill; he thought it was not worth while by retaining it, to increase the chances of that collision.
§ Colonel Davies
denied, that he could, with any show of reason, be accused of inconsistency. The Motion to which the noble Lord referred in support of his charge, was made by him (Colonel Davies) not for the sake of the Government, but for the sake of that country which was so deeply interested in the question.
§ Mr. Fergus O'Connor
said, it was extremely hard of Ministers, after having deluded the House for two months, now to come down and reject the only two lines which were worth anything in the whole 152 clauses of the Bill. The right hon. Secretary for the Colonies had described this as well as other Bills, as intended for the security of the Protestants of Ireland. He would ask, then, what Bill was there for the people of Ireland? The House had better be at once dissolved if they were to go on in this way, and only agree to what might meet the concurrence of the House of Lords. The hon. and gallant Colonel (Colonel Davies) was mistaken in saying that Ministers had degraded themselves that night—they had only added to the measure of their degradation. He hoped the House would now reject the Bill altogether, and it should certainly have his decided opposition.
§ Mr. Grote
, in rising to offer a few observations to the House, felt it his duty, in the first place, to declare that his recollection of what had fallen from Ministers when this Bill was first brought forward, entirely coincided with their statement of what then transpired, and it was not, therefore, on that point that he should argue against the omission of this clause. He did entertain an objection to the Bill in the first instance, because it did not, in his opinion, go the length that the people expected it would go towards rectifying that great ecclesiastical enormity of Europe—the Irish Church. Still he felt anxious to support it, being unwilling to signalize its defects, knowing, as he did, the difficulties that Ministers would have to contend with in getting it passed into a law; but when he found that, defective as it was, it was to be rendered still more defective by being robbed of one of its chiefest members—of the only part which rendered it a decided benefit to the country—he felt himself bound to give it his most strenuous opposition, as far as regarded the withdrawal of the clause in question. It was supposed that this alter- 1094 ation was made with a view to its favourable reception in another place; but he would ask, what would happen even if the House of Lords should think proper to reject this Bill. What worse could the House of Lords do than send it back to them again?—and surely, then, it would be time enough to consider whether it was advisable to make these alterations. He contended that the Ministry were only creating difficulties for themselves; for, after making these alterations beforehand, how could they tell but that the House of Lords might deprive them of some of the most valuable of the remaining clauses. He should most strenuously protest against the omission of this clause, and if he might be permitted, he would give a few words of advice to his Majesty's Ministers. Instead of offering a few crumbs of reform to the people, and afterwards endeavouring to pare down even those few, he would advise them to give such measures as they might think just and necessary, without any reference to what might be the conduct of another assembly. He would advise the Ministry to act thus, and then leave that other assembly to act as it might think fit. He gave this advice, presuming that the Ministers were willing to act liberally, though, from the experience the country had had, it was impossible to accuse Ministers of advancing either too fast or too far.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said, that much had been thrown out as to its being an unconstitutional proceeding to attempt to frighten the House of Lords, but he felt confident that it was equally unconstitutional to attempt to terrify the House of Commons with threats of what might be done in the Lords. The avowal of the right hon. Secretary was distinctly this, that part of the produce of the Church lands was to be directed to public purposes, or any other objects to which Parliament should deem fit to appropriate that property. This was the basis of their measure, and he called on the House to stand by this measure. The people would stand by them if they were not cowards. But the people would never stand by a vacillating Ministry, whose every measure displayed their incapacity, and tended to betray the country into a state of unexampled uncertainty as to what was or was not to be conceded to the public voice—the people of the united empire.
§ Lord John Russell
confessed he turned with gratification from the frothy de- 1095 clamation which had so lavishly been bestowed on the subject, to the calm, and, as usual, rational arguments which had been addressed to the House by the hon. member for London, however he differed from the hon. Member in the view he had taken of this alteration in a main feature of the Bill. The origin of the measure in that House ought not to be lost sight of. He agreed that Church property ought not to be lightly touched, yet there was no doubt that Parliament had the power, and that it was in its province to alter the nature and adjust the appropriation of that property of the Church of Ireland, to procure thereby positive and substantial benefits for the public at large, more particularly if such a change were called for in order to procure for the people the benefit of superior religious instruction and moral advantages. At the same time, it was, in his opinion, much to be deprecated, that the question as to the power of Parliament should be raised until it was absolutely necessary; for he was personally convinced, that to discuss the question might bring on a convulsion in this country. The different views taken upon this subject made it one of a very delicate nature. Those who opposed the appropriation of Church property, contended, that to appropriate Church property in the manner suggested, was neither more nor less than spoliation; whilst the hon. member for Derbyshire, and the hon. member for London appeared to consider the clause chiefly valuable, because it sanctioned the principle of appropriating Church property to State purposes. If Ministers yielded to this feeling, they would not be carrying into effect their own principle; but would, without any adequate necessity, be yielding to the general principle of the diversion of Church property for State purposes. If that House was to enter into a contest with the Lords, they should do it for something worth contesting. The present was but the shadow of a claim, to prosecute which would be risking the peace and tranquillity of the country, for the sake of an abstract principle. He regarded the Constitution in a very different light from some hon. Gentlemen. The check which one House exercised over another, was not invented for the purpose of bringing the two Houses into collision on every difference of opinion, but in order that measures should be adopted that were satisfactory to both, and beneficial to the country. There was no doubt that the diminution of the number of Bishops, and the abolition of 1096 the Church-cess, would not be voluntarily acceded to by the House of Lords, but merely because, on considering the nature of the Constitution, they would feel it their duty to yield to the sense of the country, and to the declared wish of the House of Commons. The question for them to consider was, whether, at the present season, they would think it worth while to pass a Bill which contained many essential benefits, although it did not sanction a principle to which there existed, in the minds of some men, great, and perhaps, insuperable objections. If that House were to enter into a contest with the House of Lords, he hoped the contest would take place on a question of some importance, and that they would not wantonly, and on trivial grounds, provoke a collision. Although the House of Commons was, doubtless, the stronger of the two branches of the Legislature, yet he hoped they would use their power with temper and moderation. Some of the hon. Gentlemen on the other side, especially the hon member for Colchester, supported the clause, because they imagined, that if this clause were retained, there would be more probability of the Bill being rejected—an event to which they looked forward with no inconsiderable satisfaction. He could not at all approve such a feeling. He could understand it as proceeding from those, who, in the discussions which had taken place in that House, had paid but little regard to the general security of property; but for himself, he was of opinion that this country could not stand a revolution once a year. Under the present circumstances of the country, they were all bound to make sacrifices to preserve and promote tranquillity, and the security of property. Let others be for convulsion, he was for peace.
§ Mr. Methuen
regretted very much to hear so unconstitutional a doctrine as that which had been laid down by the noble Lord, and others of the Ministry, as to the conduct to be pursued by that House in anticipation of a collision with the House of Lords. His opinion entirely clashed with that of the noble Lord, and he called on the House of Commons, in the name of the people of England, to do their duty fearlessly. The next question was, were the people of England to succumb to the House of Lords? He was bound, as an honest man, to say that no power on earth should have induced him to vote for the Coercive Measure, had it not been his opinion that his Majesty's Ministers would 1097 carry out the principles of the remedial measure in the spirit in which it was first introduced, without reference to any party in the country, or to any power, however high.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
said, that even if this clause were left out there was quite sufficient in the Bill to mortify the friends of the Established Church, and afford matter of triumph to its enemies—there was enough still left in the Bill to induce him to give it his most determined opposition. To adopt this clause, under existing circumstances, would, in his opinion, be nothing less than a gratuitous insult to the Clergy.
§ Sir Henry Willoughby
said, the Ministers had only abandoned a principle which was found to be totally untenable. If the same principle were attempted to be established with reference to private property, every man then would rise in arras against it. If acted upon, then enactments would not be looked upon as mere Acts of Parliament, but as Acts of Confiscation.
§ Mr. Hardy
contended that the same principle which the clause would establish as to Church property taking a portion of it because its value was enhanced by an Act of the Legislature, might with equal justice be applied to private property, such as canals, docks, and commons when inclosed. If the hon. member for Middlesex was correct, his Majesty's Ministers were in a state of extreme jeopardy; for if they retained the clause they were in great jeopardy from the House of Lords, and if they expunged it they were in danger from six out of every seven men whom they might meet out of that House.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
felt the importance of coming to a decision that night, but begged a hearing for his hon. friend the member for Mayo, who had the great parliamentary merit of making short speeches.
§ Mr. Dominick Browne
said, it was now proposed that they should of a sudden come to a decision quite opposed to that which they had entertained for the last three or four months. It always gave him great pain to differ from his Majesty's Ministers, but he was compelled to do so in the present instance. He would rather have a Tory Administration—would rather see the present Ministry break up—would rather see a dissolution of Parliament, than that 1098 it should go forth into Ireland that the Reformed parliament had declared that Church property was inalienable. He could conceive nothing more disastrous than the effects which such a proceeding would have on the people of Ireland.
§ Mr. Baldwin
supported the clause us it originally stood. He denied that the clause went to appropriate Church property; all that it appropriated was the right of the reversion to the property at present held on lease.
Mr. Robert Ferguson
wished to have the principle established and the details might be altered; but the withdrawal of the clause would do away with the principle.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
wished the House to be aware that the clause did not open the question whether the State had or had not a right to deal with Church property. No such question was at issue before the House. If it were he might be obliged to vote one way, and his right hon. friend another. That was not the question at issue, and those who voted for the omission of the clause might adhere to and act upon their opinion, that Parliament might interfere with Church property without any inconsistency whatever. The Government thought that the property was different from any other description of Church property referred to in the clause, and might be separated from it; but that idea had been discountenanced by both sides of the House. The question then was whether the property was not to be dealt with as other Church property, and to be placed in the same fund, and devoted to the same purpose, as other Church property? He again repeated, that the abstract question of the right of Parliament to deal with Church property was not before the Committee.
§ The Committee divided on the Question that the clause stand part of the Bill:—Ayes 149; Noes 280—Majority 131.
§ The House resumed—the Committee to sit again.
|List of the AYES.|
|ENGLAND.||Briscoe, J. I.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Brocklehurst,. F.|
|Attwood, T.||Brotherton, J.|
|Bainbridge, E. T.||Buckingham, J. S.|
|Beauclerk, Major||Buller, C.|
|Beaumont, T. W.||Bulwer, H. L.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Cayley, E. S.|
|Bewes, J.||Chaytor, Sir W.|
|Blamire, W.||Chichester, J. P. B.|
|Bowes, J.||Childers, J. W.|
|Briggs, R.||Clay, W.|
|Cobbett, W.||Stanley, Edw. J.|
|Collier, J.||Strutt, Edw.|
|Curteis, H. B.||Tayleure, W.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Tennyson, Rt. Hn. C.|
|Davies, Lieut.-Col.||Thicknesse, R.|
|Divett, E.||Todd, J. R.|
|Dundas, Capt. J. W.||Tooke, W.|
|Dundas, Hon. J. C.||Torrens, Colonel|
|Ellis, W.||Trelawney, W. L. S.|
|Evans, W.||Turner, W.|
|Evans, Colonel||Vincent, Sir F.|
|Ewart, W.||Walter, J.|
|Faithfull, G.||Warburton, Henry|
|Fellowes, H. N.||Ward, H. G.|
|Fielden, J.||Watkins, J. L.|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Wason, Rigby|
|Gaskell, D.||Wigney, I. N.|
|Gisborne, T.||Wilbraham, George|
|Grote, G.||Williams, W. A.|
|Guest, J. J.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Guise, Sir B. W.||Wood, Alderman M.|
|Handley, Major||Abercromby, Right Hon. J.|
|Harland, W. C.|
|Harvey, D. W.||Ferguson, Robert|
|Hawes, B.||Fleming, Hon. Adm.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Gillon, W. P.|
|Heathcote, J. J.||Hallyburton, Hn. D. G.|
|Heron, Sir R.||Oswald, R. A.|
|Hill, M.||Oswald, J.|
|Hoskins, K.||Parnell, Sir H.|
|Howard, P. H.||Stuart, R.|
|Hudson, T.||Wallace, R.|
|Humphery, J.||Baldwin, Dr.|
|Ingilby, Sir W. A.||Barron, W.|
|James, W.||Barry, G. S.|
|Jervis, J.||Bellew, R. N.|
|Lambton, H.||Bernard, Hon. W. S.|
|Langdale, Hon. Chas.||Blake, M. J.|
|Lee, J. L. H.||Browne, J. D.|
|Leech, J.||Browne, D.|
|Lennard, T. B.||Callaghan, C.|
|Lister, E.||Chapman, M. L.|
|Lloyd, J. H.||Clementi, Lord|
|Lopes, Sir R.||Coote, Sir C. H.|
|Martin, J.||Evans, G.|
|Methuen, P.||Finn, W. F.|
|Molesworth, Sir W.||Fitzgerald, T.|
|Moreton, Hon. A. H.||Filtgibbon, Hon. B.|
|Morrison, J.||Fitzsimon, C.|
|Ord, W. H.||Fitzsimon, N.|
|Palmer, General||Grattan, H.|
|Parrot, J.||Howard, R.|
|Pease, J.||Jephson, C. D. O.|
|Philips, M.||Lalor, P.|
|Potter, R.||Lynch, A. H.|
|Pryse, P.||Macnamara, W. N.|
|Richards, J.||Martin, J.|
|Robinson, G. R.||Nagle, Sir R.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||O'Brien, C.|
|Rolfe, Robert M.||O'Connell, M.|
|Romilly, J.||O'Connell, J.|
|Romilly, Edward||O'Connell, Morgan|
|Russell, Lord C. J. F.||O'Connor, D.|
|Scholefield, Josh.||O'Connor, F.|
|O'Ferrall, R. M.||Walker, C. A.|
|Roche, William||Wallace, T.|
|Ronayne, D.||White, S.|
|Ruthven, E. S.||TEILERS.|
|Ruthven, E.||O'Connell, D.|
|Stawell, Colonel||PAIRED OFF.|
|Sullivan, R.||Bayntun, S. A.|
|Talbot, J.||Hutt, W.|
|Talbot, J. H.||Oliphant, L.|
|Vigors, N. A.||Tynte, K. C. J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|ENGLAND.||Fazakerly, I. N.|
|Andover, Lord Visc.||Feilden, W.|
|Apsley, Lord||Fenton, Capt. L.|
|Ashley, Lord||Ferguson, Gen. Sir R.|
|Atherley, A.||Finch, G.|
|Attwood, M.||Folkes, Sir W.|
|Baring, A.||Forster, G.|
|Baring, F. T.||Fox, Lieut.-Col. C. R.|
|Bell, M.||Freemantle, Sir T.|
|Bentinck, Lord G. F. C.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Berkeley, Hn. G. C. F.||Gladstone, W. E.|
|Bethell, R.||Gordon, R.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Gladstone, T.|
|Boss, J.||Goulburn, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Brigstock, W. P.||Graham, Sir J. R. G.|
|Brodie, Captain||Grant, Rt. Hon. R.|
|Brougham, J,||Grey, Hon. Colonel|
|Buller, J. W.||Grey, Sir G.|
|Buller, E.||Gronow, Capt. R. H.|
|Bulteel, J. C.||Hughes, H.|
|Burton, H.||Halse, J.|
|Buxton, F.||Handley, W. F.|
|Byng, G.||Handley, H.|
|Byng, Sir J.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Campbell, Sir J.||Harcourt, G. V.|
|Carter, J. B.||Hardinge, Hon. Sir H.|
|Cartwright, W. R.||Hardy, J.|
|Cavendish, Hon. C.||Heathcote, G. J.|
|Cavendish, Colonel||Henniker, Lord|
|Cayley, Sir G.||Herbert, Hon. S.|
|Chandos, Marquess of||Herries, Rt. Hn. J. C.|
|Chaplin, Col. T.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Chapman, A.||Hodgson, J.|
|Chetwynd, Captain||Hornby, E. G.|
|Clive, E. B.||Horne, Sir W.|
|Clive, Viscount||Hotham, Lord|
|Clive, Hon. R.||Houldsworth, T.|
|Codrington, Sir E.||Howick, Visc.|
|Collier, J.||Halcombe, J.|
|Cooper, Hn. A. H. A.||Hope, H. F.|
|Crawley, S.||Hurst, R. H.|
|Dare, R. W.||Hyett, W. H.|
|Darlington, Earl of||Ingham, R.|
|Donkin, Sir R. S.||Inglis, Sir R.|
|Dugdale, W. S.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Duncannon, Visc.||Jerningham, Hn. H. V.|
|Duncombe, Hon. W.||Johnstone, Sir J. V.|
|Dundas, Hn. Sir R. L.||Keppel, Major G.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Kerry, Earl of|
|Edwards, J.||Key, Sir J.|
|Egerton, W. T.||King, E. B.|
|Ellice, E.||Knatchbull, Sir E.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Labouchere, H.|
|Fancourt, Major||Lamont, Capt. N.|
|Langsten, J. H.||Sanford, E. A.|
|Langston, Col. G.||Scott, Sir E. D.|
|Lefevre, C. S.||Scott, J. W.|
|Lemon, Sir C.||Scrope, P.|
|Lennox, Lord A.||Sebright, Sir J.|
|Lester, B. L.||Shawe, R. N.|
|Lewis, Hon. T. F.||Sheppard, T.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Simeon, Sir R. G.|
|Littleton, E. J.||Skipwith, Sir G.|
|Locke, W.||Smith, J. A.|
|Lowther, Hon. C. H.||Smith, J.|
|Lumley, Viscount||Smith, R. V.|
|Lushington, Dr. S.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Lyall, G.||Spankie, Mr. Sergeant|
|Lygon, Hn. Col. H. B.||Stanley, E. G. S.|
|Maberly, Col.||Stanley, Hon. H. T.|
|Macaulay, T. B.||Stanley, E.|
|Mangles, J.||Stavely, J. K.|
|Marryat, J.||Stormont, Viscount|
|Marshall, J.||Strickland, G.|
|Mildmay, P. St. J.||Surrey, Earl of|
|Miller, W. H.||Sutton, Rt. Hn. C. M.,|
|Milton, Lord Visct.||Speaker|
|Molyneux, Lord||Tancred, H. W.|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Taylor, Rt. Hn. M. A.|
|Mosley, Sir O.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Mostyn, Hn. E. M. L.||Thomson, P. B.|
|Norres, Lord||Tower, C. T.|
|North, F.||Townley, R. G.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Owen, H. O.||Tullamore, Lord|
|Palmer, C. F.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Palmer, R.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Vernon, Hon. G. J.|
|Parker, J.||Vernon, G. H.|
|Pechell, Sir S. J. B.||Villiers, Viscount|
|Peel, Sir R.||Vivian, Sir H.|
|Peel, Col. J.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Pelham, Hn. C. A. G.||Vyvyan, Sir R.|
|Pendarves, E. W.||Walker, R.|
|Peter, W.||Wall, C. B.|
|Philips, Sir G.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Philips, C. M.||Waterpark, Lord|
|Philpotts, J.||Walson, Hon. R.|
|Pigot, R.||Wedgwood, J.|
|Pinney, W.||Weyland, Major R.|
|Plumptre, J. P.||Whitbread, W. H.|
|Ponsonby, Hn. W. F. S.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Poulter, J.||Winnington, Sir T.|
|Powell, Col. W. E.||Wood, Colonel T.|
|Poyntz, W. S.||Wood, C.|
|Price, Sir R.||Wrottesley, Sir J.|
|Pryme, G.||Wynn, Rt. Hn. C. W.|
|Reid, Sir J. R.||Yorke, Captain C. P.|
|Rice, Rt. Hon. T. S.||Young, G. T.|
|Rider, T.||Adam, Adm.|
|Ridley, Sir M. W.||Agnew, Sir A.|
|Robarts, A. W.||Arbuthnot, Hn. Gen.|
|Ross, C.||Bannerman, A.|
|Rotch, B.||Bruce, Cumming|
|Rumbold, C. E.||Colquhoun, J.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Dunlop, Capt. J.|
|Russell, W. C.||Elliott, Hon. Capt.|
|Ryle, J.||Ewing, J.|
|Sanderson, R.||Fergusson, Capt. G.|
|Sandon, Visct.||Gordon, Hon. Capt.|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. C.||Christmas, J. N.|
|Hay, Sir J.||Cole, Lord|
|Hay, Col. A. L.||Cole, Hon. A.|
|Jeffrey, Rt. Hon. F.||Conolly, Col. E. M.|
|Johnston, A.||Cooper, E. J.|
|Johnstone, J. J. H.||Corry, Hon. H. L.|
|Loch, J.||Daly, J.|
|Mackenzie, J. A. S.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Macleod, R.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Maxwell, Sir J.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Murray, J. A.||Knox, Hn. Col. J. J.|
|Ross, H.||Lefroy, A.|
|Sinclair, George||Maxwell, H.|
|Stewart, E.||Mullins, F. W.|
|Stewart, Sir M. S.||O'Neill, Hon. Gen. J.|
|Traill, G.||Oxmantown, Lord|
|Acheson, Visc.||Shaw, F.|
|Archdall, Gen. M.||Tennant, J. E.|
|Bateson, Sir R.||Verner, Col. W.|
|Belfast, Earl of||Young, J.|