HC Deb 24 June 1833 vol 18 cc1135-63

On the Motion of Mr. Secretary Stanley, the House resolved itself into a Committee on the Temporalities of the Church (Ireland) Bill

Mr. Secretary Stanley moved to strike out of clause 54, a proviso, which was rendered unnecessary in consequence of the omission of clause 147 from the Bill.

Mr. Hume

said, that he understood the right hon. Gentleman to intimate that this was necessary in consequence of clause 147 having been struck out of the Bill, which clause, in his (Mr. Hume's) opinion, was the only one worth attending to, either by that House or by the country. As well as he understood the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, the object of his Amendment was this—that whereas as the law stood at present, it was not in the power of any person to sell Church land in perpetuity, this Bill went to give that power to certain Commissioners, and the Amendment provided that the proceeds of the sale thus made by those Commissioners should be solely appropriated to the maintenance of the present Church Establishment of Ireland. He wished to know whether he was correct in his interpretation of the Amendment, as he had not heard distinctly a single word that had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman on the subject?

Mr. Secretary Stanley

said, that by the 147th clause the purchase monies, arising out of the sale in perpetuity of Bishop's lands was to be left as a separate fund in the hands of the Commissioners, to be treated differently and appropriated to different purposes from Church property generally. Now, it was thought that the distinction which the Government had thus, in the first instance, proposed to make between that property and other Church property was not a well-founded one, and it was, therefore, deemed right and necessary, without affirming or denying the power of Parliament to deal with Church property as it might think fit, that such a distinction should not by this Bill be created between any portions of that property. Now clause 147 having been omitted, if clause 54 should stand as it was, the surplus funds which would arise in the hands of the Commissioners from the sale of Bishops' lands would be excepted from the operation of the Bill. It was, therefore, proposed by the present Amendment to strike out that exception, and that those surplus funds should, like the other Church property specified in that clause, be appropriated in substitution for the vestrycess, and for other purposes strictly ecclesiastical. The Bill, thus amended, would leave precisely where it was the power of Parliament to dispose of Church property to purposes other than ecclesiastical, and it would, as it was desirable that it should, leave undetermined and untouched the question, whether it was right or whether it was not right that such property should be appropriated to the purposes of the State.

Mr. Hume

said, that if he understood the right hon. Gentleman correctly, this Bill should be described as a Bill for adding 3,000,000l. in value to the already enormous income of the overpaid and sinecure Established Church of Ireland. That was the position, the unenviable position, in which that, the first Reformed House of Commons, was placed. He would appeal not only to the House, but to the country, whether, after all the complaints that had been justly made, after all the exposures that had been witnessed as to the enormous and overgrown wealth of the Established Church in Ireland, it was not too much that a Reformed House of Commons should be called upon by his Majesty's Ministers, not to reform that Church—not to curtail and lessen its expenditure—but actually to add to its wealth, by increasing the value of its property? It was too much that they should be now called upon to give up this surplus to the Church, seeing that it had been explained by the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) in the first instance, and also by the right hon. Gentleman himself, that the appropriation of this surplus to other than ecclesiastical purposes would not be depriving the Church of any property, as the lands out of the purchase of which in perpetuity it would arise would be purchased at present only for the lives of the incumbents. The fact was, that this Act gave a new value to that description of property, by allowing it to be sold in perpetuity, and the surplus arising from that sale obviously became public property, as it was in the first instance explained to be by the right hon. Gentleman, and by the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This he would say, that it was nothing less than an attempt at a gross delusion upon the country, thus to bring in a Bill ostensibly for the reform of the already overgrown and sinecure Church establishments of Ireland; and by a subsequent alteration in the Bill, instead of reducing the income of that far too rich Church, actually to place at its disposal in perpetuity land that at present could only be purchased for the lives of the incumbents. He would submit, that much as that House might be disposed to yield to the wishes or demands of his Majesty's Ministers, it should not proceed to sanction such a proposition as that—a proposition that went to transfer the fee-simple of all this property to the Church of Ireland, that at present only possessed a life interest in it. He could not bring himself to believe, that the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would lend his sanction to such a monstrous proposition. It was so completely contrary to all the promises that noble Lord had made—it was so utterly inconsistent with all the pledges he had given—it was so diametrically contrary to the expectations of the country, that he (Mr. Hume) would put it to the Committee whether they were prepared to proceed to vote 3,000,000l. additional for the support of a sinecure Church in the absence of that noble Lord, and whether it would not be more advisable that they should wait to have the benefit of his presence, in order that they might know from himself whether he approved of such a proposition, and in order that he might explain to them, if approving of it, a change in his sentiments so diametrically opposed to them as stated by himself in the first instance, and also as explained by the right hon. Gentleman on a former occasion. He had always given the noble Lord the credit, and the country had given him the credit, of being a plain, well-meaning, direct and honest man. He, therefore, could not bring himself to believe, that the noble Lord could be a party to such a proceeding as the present one,—to such a violation of all his previous promises and pledges, on the faith of which the country depended, on the faith of which that House for three or four months depended, and on the faith of which hundreds of Members had given their votes for the passing of that odious act, the Irish Coercion Bill;—he could not, he repeated, bring himself to believe that such a thing was possible. He could not believe, that the noble Lord had relinquished that part of the Bill to which alone the country had looked with satisfaction, and on which that House had depended, until he heard the noble Lord declare to himself, and until he heard him state, that instead of reducing the revenues of this sinecure Church, he approved of a proposition for adding 3,000,000l. to them in value. He made that estimate upon the authority of the noble Lord himself. If it were not correct, why, he would ask, did the noble Lord make such a statement at the time? Why did he then estimate this surplus at 3,000,000l.? If the right hon. Gentleman then considered that statement to be incorrect, why did he not at once correct it, and why did he allow what, upon his own showing, was a delusion thus to be practised upon the country? The object of this clause, as it was proposed to be amended, was to transfer to the Church of Ireland the fee-simple of the whole of this property, and to keep up for ever the enormous revenues of an overgrown establishment, that was odious to the people of Ireland, and expensive to the people of England. The object of the clause was to keep up that establishment at an expense of 20,000 military in Ireland. He was ready to allow 8,000 or 9,000 military for that country under ordinary circumstances, but the additional 20,000 men were necessary there for the maintenance and preservation of a sinecure Church. Instead of reducing the amount of military in that country, as he would contend they should to the standard of 1792—namely, to 10,000 men—they would be obliged to maintain them at their present amount if they passed this clause in the proposed amended form, in order to secure the existence of a sinecure Church in that country. Feeling, therefore, that they should not proceed in the absence of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but that they should wait to have the benefit of his presence in discussing this part of the Bill, he would beg to move as an Amendment that the Chairman should report progress, and ask leave to sit again.

Major Beauclerk

said, that the hon. member for Middlesex bad forestalled him in what he was going to say. He did think that, at this time of day, when all Europe reproached them with, and laughed at them for, their overgrown and enormous Church Establishments, it was too much to call on them to vote 3,000,000l. additional in value to the income of the Church Establishment. He would recommend the right hon. Secretary to withdraw the clause altogether. He would give his cordial support to the Motion of the hon. member for Middlesex.

Sir Henry Willoughby

denied the possibility of creating a new value in property, by Act of Parliament, so as to make it applicable to public purposes. But in the first place, the hon. member for Middlesex was mistaken in supposing that this Bill would give to the Church of Ireland something that it had not before. He would assert positively that the fee-simple, as well as the interest in those lands, was in the Church of Ireland, and in the Church of Ireland alone. He repeated, that it was an error to suppose it possible that Acts of Parliament could impart new value to property, so as to render it available for public purposes: such a doctrine would strike at the root of all property in the kingdom. If, by an Act of Parliament, a new road or a new canal was made through his property, so as to give an additional value to it, was it to be contended that that additional value should go to the public?

Lord Duncannon

was sure that no man who was acquainted with Ireland could be ignorant of the enormities arising from the Vestry Cess in that country, and therefore could not but think that the clause which went to take away that impost was a great benefit upon the people of Ireland. He begged to observe, that he had voted the other night for leaving out the 147th clause, not with a view of taking from the Parliament the appropriation of Church property; if the omission would have had that effect, he most certainly should not have so voted, but he considered that by the course he had followed he had merely done that which would cause the appropriation of the Church funds to the payment of the Church Cess; the House having, on a former occasion, thought right to alter the clause which imposed a tax upon original incumbents, that tax being intended originally to pay the Church Cess. He felt satisfied that the surplus, whether it might amount to 1,000,000l. or 3,000,000l, as had been suggested by the hon. member for Middlesex, would eventually be at the disposal of the Parliament, or, in other words, could not be appropriated by the Commissioners without the approbation of the Legislature.

Mr. Hume

said, that it appeared to him that the terms of the clause involved another deviation from the principles which had been stated when the Bill was first introduced. The noble Lord, the member for Nottingham, in stating the reasons which had induced him to concur in the vote of the last night, had seemed entirely to forget the grounds upon which the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had introduced the Bill. It had then been stated by the noble Lord that the relief intended to be afforded to the people was to be effected from and defrayed by a tax upon the present incumbents and Bishops, and upon the bishoprics and livings falling in. He could not see how the present Amendment could be carried while the 49th clause was retained in the Bill, for the House would remember, that by it every sum due and payable to the Commissioners of First Fruits and arrears, or any sums advanced by them for repairing, rebuilding, or improving glebe and other houses, should be transferred and made payable to the Commissioners named under this Act. It would only be fair to let the House and the country know what was the amount of this, and it was a proceeding much to be deprecated that by an Amendment like the present, of four or five lives, a vote of 400,000l. or thereabouts should be taken without notice.

Mr. Secretary Stanley

could not think that the hon. member for Middesex really understood that to which he objected. He (Mr. Stanley) imagined that the hon. Member, with all his calculations, could not attach much importance to the point, whether the public should pay now that which eventually they must be bound to pay by instalments; and whether this obligation was fulfilled by the 147th clause, or by the 54th clause, he (Mr. Stanley) apprehended no great difference was made. The object of the Amendment proposed to be added to the 54th clause was merely to transfer to it from the 147th clause a provision for the payment from other sources of a sum of between 300,000l. and 400,000l., which if the Amendment was now thrown out, must remain for twenty years, and to meet it the Vestry Cess must be continued.

Sir Robert Inglis

contended, that Church property was as sacred as any other species of property whatever. The noble Lord, the member for Nottingham, had talked of the enormities of Church Cess, and he could not but think that the speech of the noble Lord was much more fit for a former member for Kilkenny than became the representative for the county of Nottingham. But with reference to the alleged enormities of Church Cess, he would refer to the returns made to Parliament, which showed that in no case had it amounted to more than eighteen-pence an acre, and in numerous instances to not more than two-pence halfpenny. He, therefore, was of opinion that the observations which had been thrown out on the subject of Church Cess being a grievance were a delusion of the public. It could not be shown, that it was such a grievance as to call upon the Parliament to interfere. Again, it could not be shown that any surplus would arise, and the most morbid lover of crime and spoliation would not encourage a principle of taking property when there was nothing real to grasp at. In his view, money was a secondary object in this question. His great objection was the interference which was made with the spiritual functions of the Church, and without, for one moment, conceding to the House its right to interfere with the property of the Church, and feeling also that the property sought to be affected did not exist, he must, on the contrary, protest against any such interference by an assembly of laymen instead of a clerical convocation. So long as such an interference was made with the spiritual functions of his Church, he should oppose the Bill.

Mr. O'Connell

admitted to the fullest extent that the House had no right to interfere with the spiritual functions and jurisdiction of the Church. He could not assent to any such interference with the Church to which he (Mr. O'Connell) belonged; and, on the same principle he would object to such an interference with the spiritual functions of the Church to which the hon. Baronet was attached; but still he thought that the House had a complete jurisdiction over the pounds, shillings and pence—the tithes and oblations of the Church—and he only regretted that jurisdiction had not been more expressly and distinctly laid down and enforced in the present instance. The emphatic value and importance of the present Bill had been left out by the omission of the clause with reference to the Vestry-cess, the evils of which were but now too well known, and from which the hitherto prevailing wrangles would, under this clause, be but increased. He had frequently admitted those evils, and had said, and would now repeat, that in the shape the Bill at present stood in, it would not effect any beneficial change. He could not but revert to the expressions of spoliation and plunder which had been applied by the hon. Baronet below him (Sir Robert Inglis) and he would inquire of the hon. Baronet if he had read or examined the returns which had been moved for by the right hon. Gentleman the member for Cambridge, because he would have found the number of benefices under the Established Church in which divine service had not been performed for three years ending February 1833—he would have found that in the diocese of Water-ford, out of sixty-five benefices, in eighteen (more than one-fourth), no service had been performed for the last three years. Let the hon. Baronet talk of spoliation after this for in all these tithes were collected. After this, talk of morbid appetites for robbery and spoliation! But he must think that was a most rapacious appetite which would call for tithes and oblations for doing nothing. Again, he would remind the House and the hon. Baronet that in several of the parishes the clergy had sued for the May tithes, and after all this, he thought that there could not be much regret that the Vestrycess should be taken from them. He would mention an instance to show how this was applied. In a parish in Wexford, 10l. a-year had been allowed to the clerk for ringing the bell, and when the bell was broken the salary was increased to 15l. a-year, there being then no bell to ring. He could show this from Parliamentary Returns. Again, in many benefices there were neither baptisms nor visitations of the sick performed, because it was not required by the population; and, with respect to one benefice (Kilsheda), he could appeal to the noble Lord opposite (Lord Duncannon), whether any of those services or any other of the Established Church had, for the period he had mentioned, been performed; for, though worth 1,000l. per annum, there was nothing in the shape of a Church, except the remnants of one. Would the hon. Baronet now talk of the morbid appetite for spoliation? In the dioceses of Limerick, Aghadoe, and another, there were 106 benefices, in the majority of which, he would venture to say, no service had been performed for three—nay, for fifty three years. Indeed, in the diocess of Limerick there were twenty-seven benefices in which no service had been performed for three years, as shown by the returns. Was it, then, in the support of such a system that one clergyman in Ireland (the reverend Mr. Hickson) should have troops quartered with him to assist in the collection of tithes? Would, after this, the hon. Baronet speak of spoliation? He should therefore move the amendment of which he had given notice, to the effect of depriving vestries of the power of imposing any rate or cess for organists, bell-ringers, and other subordinate parish officers. The hon. Member however at the suggestion of Mr. Stanley postponed his amendment to a future stage of the Bill.

Dr. Lushington

had listened to the returns which had been alluded to by the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and was surprised that after quoting those documents the hon. and learned Gentleman should differ from the provisions of the Bill. It was evident that a grievance was to be remedied, which grievance, according to the hon. and learned Gentleman's own showing, must remain, unless the Amendment now proposed should be adopted. The only object of the amendment was to engraft on clause 54 certain portions of clause 147, and it was a mistake to suppose that by it any additional funds were to be appropriated to Church purposes. Any resulting surplus would remain unimpaired for future appropriation. The Amendment was merely following up the principle of the Bill,

Mr. Hume's

Amendment was with drawn.

On the question being again put,

Mr. Shaw

said, that though he admitted the want of Churches in Ireland was most deplorable, yet he must insist that within the last seven years the number of benefices in which no service was performed had decreased. If the returns had been made in 1800 instead of a more recent date, it would have been found that six-sevenths of the whole were in the State complained of. He would also venture to say, that there was no clergyman who had proceeded for his May tithes, and was prepared to show that the conduct of that body generally had been most mild and forbearing.

Mr. O'Connell

would entreat the hon. and learned Member to inquire whether the reverend Dr. Ryan, of Leixlip, had not collected his tithes up to the 28th of May. He would also refer the hon. and learned Member to Fermoy, where he would find two different modes of proceeding had been adopted for the purpose of increasing the costs. He (Mr. O'Connell) could also show an instance of a Church having been rebuilt three times within twenty years, and yet it could not be stated, that there was an increase of Protestants in Ireland.

Mr. Ronayne

could not avoid stating to the House the course which had been pursued with regard to tithes by another clergyman, the reverend Mr. Devereux of Stradbally. That individual had sued a widow of the name of Macarthy, through his agent, for 17s. 6d., for tithes up to 1832, which she was compelled to pay, with 2l. 10s. costs of a latitat; and the receipt given was on a mutilated stamp, stating that she had paid her tithes and the costs up to a certain time, but without specifying the amount. The receipt was signed J. Claridge, "and the circumstance was verified by the affidavit of the widow, which he held in his hand. After such a proceeding, what could be said of the humanity of the Church? He had other affidavits detailing similar events and transactions. He could not but add, that he trembled for the consequences that might arise from announcing to the people of Ireland that the Legislature had no power to remove those grievances in the Church of which they had so long complained.

Sir Samuel Whalley

contended that the purposes of the Bill were entirely altered by striking out the 147th clause. No surplus could arise from the sale of perpetuities which was not already disposed of by this Bill in other clauses besides the 54th clause, for there were two other clauses which empowered the Commissioners to make grants for building parsons' houses, and, secondly, for the augmentation of small livings. The tax upon future incumbents would be slow in accumulating, and therefore, with such an appropriation of the other funds, there was no chance of a surplus for the purposes anticipated.

Mr. Hardy

was of opinion that any surplus would be at the disposal of the Commissioners, with the authority and approbation of Parliament; but the question which the hon. member for Middlesex seemed most anxious to impress upon the House was, whether that surplus should be applied to secular or ecclesiastical purposes. The hon. Member had said, that the proposition would give 3,000,000l. additional to a sinecure Church. If the surplus were to be applied to secular purposes, it was incumbent on the hon. Member, and those who thought with him, to bring a specific Motion forward. He must take that opportunity of saying, that he was not bribed to support the Coercive Bill by any chance of getting 3,000,000l. He disclaimed having given his support to the Coercion Bill on the understanding that Ministers were pledged to carry this or any other remedial measure. He had supported it solely with the view of suppressing disturbances in Ireland, The tranquil state of Ireland at the present moment proved that the Coercion Bill had answered its purpose.

Mr. O'Connell

said, that the hon. Member who spoke last was offering something like a gratuitous insult to Ireland when he boasted of having invested the Lord-lieutenant with the power of stifling the expression of public opinion in that country. As to the Coercion Bill having tranquillized Ireland, the Irish Members had always contended, that if Government had exerted its power before that measure was passed, agrarian disturbances could easily have been suppressed.

Mr. Finn

charged the Whig Government—he charged the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies—with having provoked and produced the excesses, to repress which he had called for the Coercive Bill. When that right hon. Gentleman talked of the extinction of tithes, he (Mr. Finn) had done what he could to prevent the people being deluded. He had gone amongst them and told them that it would not be so; he had called on them not to suffer themselves to be deluded, and had told them that those words would never be carried into effect. In Kilkenny, the very county which had since been proclaimed, he had attended two anti-Tithe Meetings. He had then endeavoured to check the spirit of insurrection which had been roused and encouraged by the Whig Government. He was quite sure that, at the beginning of those disturbances, the Irish Gentleman might have put an end to them, but those disturbances were encouraged by the Whigs. But those Gentlemen were now known; they had stirred up almost Revolution to get their Reform Bill passed; but it was properly said, that this had given the people the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill. They would let them have nothing else. The delusion, however, was now seen through; and when those Gentlemen went to the hustings they would be told to go away.

Mr. Slaney

rose to order. He did so with regret; but he appealed to the Chairman whether the hon. Gentleman was not departing altogether from the subject before the House.

Mr. Finn

The hon. Gentleman should have called the hon. member for Bradford to order who referred to the Coercion Bill, which was not now before the House. Was that hon. Gentleman to be allowed to attack the hon. members for Ireland, and must he not defend them? Was the hon. Member's escapade to be permitted, and was he not to follow him? He was stating that a delusion had been practised, and that it had been seen through. The Bill before them was another delusion, with the promise of 3,000,000l with which it had been introduced. He meant that there was a division in the Cabinet on the subject. The noble Lord, the member for Nottingham, had declared, that Church property was public property, and might be appropriated by the State. But the right hon. Secretary and the noble Lord at the head of the legal profession had declared, that it all belonged to the Church. The right hon. Secretary, however, had found out a means of getting out of this dilemma. He had said: Oh, there is a new value to be given to the property of the sale of the Bishops' land for perpetuity, and that new value we may take for it does not belong to the Church." As well might the guardian of a child say, that the new value given to the child's property by his management belonged to him and not to the child. A trustee might as well claim all the improvement in the funds placed in his charge. The right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth had unanswerably proved the sophistry of that statement. Another of the Whig schemes was shown on Friday night. In the early part of the evening they could only muster 42 supporters—84 to 42—and they were defeated. But on the same evening these Whigs mustered 272 supporters, when they wished to get rid of the clause. This was another proof of the delusions they practised. The first division was a good pretext for getting rid of the 147th Clause. In fact, the Whigs were prompted by the Tories. The Tories were Viceroys over them. The Whigs only did the Tories' business. We were governed by Tories in the disguise of Whigs. They filled their places for the Tories. The people, however, were now aware of the delusion—they were glad that the Whigs, too, had turned against them, and they now knew their enemies.

Mr. Shaw

said, in reference to what had fallen from the hon. member for Clonmel, that clergymen were compelled to resort to an expensive process to recover tithes, because in many instances the server of the cheap process refused to perform his duty. In no instance, however, did clergymen resort to legal proceedings until all other means had failed. It was said, that order was restored in Ireland; but he happened to know, that the reverend Mr. Austin, the holder of one of the largest livings in Ireland had lately thrown it up and quitted the country, because he was unable to obtain his tithes.

Mr. Lynch

said, that if he understood the effect of the Amendment, it was, to add the perpetuity fund to the common fund, to be applied to the purposes to which that common fund was applicable. He objected to that appropriation for this reason—the perpetuity fund either was Church property, or it was not. If it was not, as the Government argued, it ought not to be applied to the ecclesiastical purposes mentioned in the 54th Clause, because, being created by the State, it was clearly the property of the State; if, on the other hand, it was Church property, the appropriation of it to ecclesiastical purposes was augmenting an establishment which was already mischievously large, and ought to be diminished.

Mr. Hume

said, that the effect of this clause would be to set up and add to the stability of the Irish Church, in a ten-fold degree. He could not at first understand what the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies meant, by saying there would be no surplus. He now saw how it was, for the Commissioners, having the power which was by this clause given to them, would doubtless take care to apply every penny of the fund to the augmentation of every living in Ireland. It ought to be entitled a Bill to add to the permanence and increase the revenues of the Established Church in Ireland, and not to reform its abuses. He begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite whether the words as the said Commissioners are hereafter directed, "applied to the 84th Clause, giving the Commissioners power to augment benefices?

Mr. Secretary Stanley

said, that the 84th Clause was certainly referred to. The object was to throw the whole into one general fund, to apply that fund to the general objects of the Bill—such as the abolition of the Vestrycess, &c., and then to that purpose of the Bill comprised in the 84th Clause—the augmentation of benefices up to the amount of 200l. per annum.

Mr. Hume

said, he was glad he had drawn forth this explanation from the right hon. Gentleman. In England it was with the utmost difficulty that we could get small benefices of even 40l. or 50l. a-year augmented, and yet now they were going to give away that which had been admitted to be State property, for the purpose of increasing an already much overgrown establishment. He was surprised, that the hon. member for Bradford should deny that the Coercive Bill was introduced to that House and recommended by his Majesty's Ministers for their adoption solely on a pledge that remedial measures should be introduced. A similar pledge had been given last Session, when the Tithe Act was carried; and at the commencement of the present Session, he told the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the pledge of Government had not been fulfilled. The noble Lord admitted, that the Government had not been able to carry through these measures, but repeated his pledge that he would not propose coercive, unless he intended to bring in remedial, measures; and upon this pledge of the Chancellor of the Exchequer many hon. Members voted for the Coercive Bill who would not otherwise have given it their support. He had a right, then, to complain of the manner in which this pledge was kept. This measure was not remedial for it tended to keep up and perpetuate that which was the greatest cause of discontent in Ireland, the Church Establishment—a Church which was in many cases a sinecure, in many others greatly overpaid, and which the great majority of the nation, being of a different persuasion, regarded as the badge of their conquest and disgrace. He wished to know what the right hon. Secretary for Ireland thought of the alteration?

Mr. Secretary Stanley

admitted, that his noble friend when he brought forward the Coercive Bill did state, that he should have been exceedingly reluctant to bring forward such a measure, unless he also meant to bring forward measures for the removal of grievances. Two of the most prominent of those grievances were represented to be the collection of Tithes and of Vestrycess. A Resolution had already been passed which would put a stop to the collection of tithes, at least, for the present; and he then held in his hand a Bill for the total abolition of Vestry-cess. And if the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell) would propose any words to make that Bill more forcible, those words should be added. Was not this a performance of their pledge? His noble friend never intended to meet what appeared to be the expectation of the hon. member for Middlesex—namely, to destroy the Irish Church, for the preamble of this Bill was then lying on the Table, in which it was expressly stated, that the fund to be raised was to be applied to the building, &c., of churches, the augmentation of small livings, and to such other purposes as might conduce to the advancement of religion, and the efficacy, permanence, and stability of the United Churches of England and Ireland.

Mr. Littleton

expressed his surprise, knowing as he did the opinions of the hon. member for Middlesex, that he should object to allowing a clergyman of the Established Church 200l. a-year. He, however, still said, that the property of the Church was subject to the control of Parliament whenever there was a surplus not required for the purposes of the Establishment; and though he gave his willing support to the alteration made last Friday yet he was thoroughly satisfied that whenever this fund should exceed those wants—and the House would every year have the means of investigating this point—the sum so increasing beyond the necessities of the Established Church ought to be placed at the disposal of Parliament. He was convinced the great majority of Members in that House were of opinion that the property of the Church was subject to the control of Parliament; but he had no doubt that the great majority were also of opinion that such property ought not lightly to be applied to other than religious purposes.

Mr. Robinson

had voted in the—he would call it—memorable minority on Friday night, in order to record his disapprobation of the disingenuous and uncandid—to use the mildest terms—conduct of Ministers in withdrawing the most important clause of their own pledged Bill.

Clause agreed to.

On the 56th Clause, which had been postponed, being read,

Mr. O'Connell moved an Amendment to the effect of totally repealing the 7th of George 4th, which, he contended, perpetuated the worst machinery of the Irish Vestry system. Without this repeal the clause would be wholly inefficacious as a means of relieving the Catholics from the Vestry-cess.

Mr. Secretary Stanley

said, that on the introduction of this Bill it was never contemplated to do away with the whole law regulating parochial assessments in Ireland. The object of the present Bill was, to regulate the temporalities of the Irish Church, and nothing else. To accede to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman would be at once to put an end to the provision now existing for the poor for foundlings, and other useful purposes, such as fire-engines, to which nobody, whatever were his opinions, could be opposed. The principle of the present Bill went to relieve the Roman Catholics from all Church-cess for the support of the Protestant Church. He did not mean to defend the 7th George 4th, and his (Mr. Stanley's) first act on coming into office in Ireland was to bring in a bill to amend that Statute with respect to appeals. The present Bill would not remove all that was in that Act, but it only permitted such portions to remain as were applicable to really useful purposes. If a change were to be made, let it be done by a Substantive Act of Parliament, and not in this incidental manner.

Mr. O'Connell

declared, that this Bill was merely a delusion. In the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman and his supporters on Friday, they asked triumphantly to cover their abandonment of the clause then debated, whether the removal of the Vestry-cess was nothing, while today all their boasted pledges were decided to be good for nothing. With respect to coffins for the poor, and deserted children, and fire engines, there was great imposition, and for 74l. charged, which appeared in one of the returns, he did not believe as many shillings were expended. He protested both against the 7th George 4th, and the present Bill as frauds upon the people. They were something like the surplus of 400,000l. promised, but which, upon the examination of the right hon. member for Tamworth that night, would appear to be no more than 274l.

Sir Robert Peel

never heard a question mooted where there appeared so little real ground for difference of opinion. The object of the Bill was to do away with an exclusive Protestant Vestry altogether. That was done, and all that was retained was what might be effected for general purposes by Protestants and Catholics indiscriminately. The hon. and learned member for Dublin contended for the total repeal of the 7th George 4th; but the effect of this would be to repeal all the Statutes by which any provision existed for the poor in Ireland. At present some provision was allowed to be made for the poor, and from the nature of things the Roman Catholics must benefit by it. He would take from the return before him St. Mary's parish. There a sum of 248l. was voted by the vestry, to which Catholics were admitted. Of this one item was 40l. for coffins for the poor. Of that it could not be doubted Catholics had their share. The next item was 100l. for foundlings, and here also the same principle would apply. The system of thus providing for deserted children might be in itself unwise, but was this and all the other aids thus afforded to be at once done away with, and without any substitute?

Mr. O'Connell

said, that Catholics, though legally admissible to these vestries, were in fact excluded. In Dublin they were held in vestry-rooms perhaps twelve feet by ten in extent, and the mass of the parishioners were kept out. As to the 40l. for coffins in St. Mary's parish, he would allege, that not 10s. of that sum were applied to the burial of Catholics. His objection was to the machinery of the 7th George 4th, which was highly obnoxious.

Dr. Lushington

did not mean to advocate the Act complained of, but the effect of the Amendment would be, to put an end to all legal provision for the poor. Perhaps the hon. and learned Member's objection might be obviated by words in this clause declaring, that if any parish officer hereafter levied any Vestry-cess for mere Church purposes, any officer levying or suing for the same should be liable to pay four times their amount, and to double costs. The hon. and learned Member talked of the Common Law, but at Common Law there were many purposes most useful, and almost indispensably necessary, for which Vestries had no power to make a rate.

Mr. R. Sheil

strongly reprobated the 7th George 4th, both as to appeals and costs, and asked whether, as Parliament had removed all other distinctions between Catholics and Protestants, they would permit this one to remain.

After a few words from Mr. O'Connell, in reply—The Committee divided on Mr. O'Connell's Amendment:—Ayes 48; Noes 189: Majority 141.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Nagle, Sir R.
Attwood, T. O'Brien, C.
Baldwin, Dr. O'Callaghan, hon. C.
Barron, H. W. O'Connell, M.
Barry, G. S. O'Connell, D.
Blake, J. O'Connell, J.
Butler, hon. P. O'Connor, F.
Chapman, M. L. O'Connor, Don
Clements, Viscount O'Ferrall, R. M.
Dashwood, G. Oswald, J.
Evans, Colonel Oswald, B. A.
Evans, G. Perrin, Lewis
Faithful, G. Roche, W.
Finn, W. Roe, J.
Fitzgerald, T. Botch, B.
Fitzsimon, C. Ruthven, E. S.
Fitzsimon, N. Ruthven, E.
Hume, J. Seale, Colonel
Hutt, D. Sheil, R. L.
Howard, R. Stavely, T. K.
Jephson, C. D. O. Talbot, J. H.
Lalor, P. Trelawney, W. L. S.
Lambert, H. Vincent, Sir F.
Locke, W. Walker, C. A.
Lynch, A. H. PAIRED OFF.
Macnamara, Major Methuen, P. C.
Martin, J.

Clause agreed to.

On Clause 110 being put, which enacts that the Commissioners may suspend the appointment of clerks to rectories, &c., where divine worship shall have been intermitted for three years,

Mr. Shaw

said, he owed an apology to the Committee for having' already occupied so large a portion of their time in the discussion of the details of the measure before them, but he trusted, that taking into consideration the peculiar situation in which he stood in reference to the Irish branch of the Established Church, they would feel, that he was not entirely without excuse. He hoped, too, that they would do him the justice to acknowledge, that while he was uncompromising, he had not been vexatious in his opposition, and that from the second reading to the present time he had endeavoured not to dwell upon minor points to which he objected, but to lay hold of those broad and striking features of the Bill which demonstrated to his mind, that it would never pass into a law without great and irreparable injury to the united Church Establishment. While it professed to reform, he had pointed out, that its real tendency was to spoliate the property and greatly diminish, if not altogether destroy, the efficiency of the Church. As regarded the question of property, he admitted, that the omission of the 147th clause which had occurred on Friday night was a considerable improvement; but the second ground of objection—the contracting the influence and crippling the energies of the Protestant religion in Ireland, remained in its full force, and pre-eminently lay in the 110th clause, which the Committee had then to consider. The principle upon which the Government went was, that there should not be an incumbent where there was not service in a benefice. With that he was not inclined to quarrel; he allowed it was an evil that there should be an incumbent without service being performed; but there were two ways of remedying the evil—the one to remove the incumbent, the other to establish the celebration of service. The Government proposed the first, which he (Mr. Shaw) could not too strongly deprecate; but he would gladly adopt the second, and assist to the utmost in extending the benefits of the established religion into every district of the country. That was the course which the Irish Bishops were successfully pursuing at the very time that it was sought to reduce their numbers by nearly one-half, and transfer their authority to a kind of lay Commission, whose duty the clause then under consideration would make it to prevent that very extension of the benefits of the Establishment which the Bishops had been labouring (and with the best effect, to promote. A reference to the history of the Irish branch of the Church for the last thirty years would best illustrate his meaning. There were in Ireland about 1,400 benefices—it was admitted, that in many of them service had not been regularly performed; but if they went back to the year 1800, it would be found, that at that period the observation would have applied to at least 700 of them, or the half of all the benefices. But what was the fact at present? That there were, under the anxious care and superintendence of the Episcopal Bench, new churches built in about 500 out of the 700, where they had then been deficient, he had no doubt that there were at least 100 other places licensed for divine worship, where there were not the means of building a Church, which would leave but 100 benefices still unprovided for; agreeing, as nearly as could be, with the Return lately printed by the House. He had gone over that Return with his right hon. friend, the member for Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn), whose continued indisposition, he lamented to say, deprived the friends of the Church of his valuable aid that night; and it appeared that deducting the cases to which the clause was inapplicable, on account of their being either in lay patronage, or parts of unions, or rectories entire, with vicarages endowed, there would not remain above sixty-sis benefices of those already returned where service had not been performed for the last three years. Take them, however, at 100; and let them suppose that such a Bill as the present had passed thirty years ago, the consequence would have been, that instead of 100, 700 benefices would have been still unprovided for; and while six-sevenths of the only ground that could be possibly assigned for suspending these incumbents had been already removed, and its diminution was rapidly progressing, the House was called upon to arrest its progress, and to place the remaining seventh part out of the pale of the established religion. He protested against the right of a state professing an established religion so to act; while they tolerated other religions, they could only be justified as a state in encouraging the one by law established—they could not with propriety or justice shut out from its benefits any portion of the community As well might they contend because one class of persons—say for instance the Jews, in regard of the observance of the Sabbath—did not personally make use of or ask the protection of the civil law of the land—any district of the country in which such persons happened to reside should be excepted from its operation. The same principle applied in respect of the established religion as of the established law. The clause, compared with the progressive improvement then taking place in Ireland, furnished the most irrefragable argument against the transfer of the ecclesiastical authority to the Commissioners. There had been 500 glebe-houses, as well as 500 Churches, built within the same period of thirty years; and among the 1,400 beneficed clergymen, there were but 135 who could in any sense be called pluralists. Was that, then, such an unhealthful state of the Church as to demand the undue interference attempted? It was said, that it might have been easy to build new Churches, but that they were without congregations. That he altogether denied; and as an illustration of those places where churches were not yet built, he could state, that in forty new churches or places of worship, which had accidentally been brought under his consideration as having been very recently erected or established, there appeared to be averaged congregations of nearly 400 persons. Some hon. Members argued as if the Established Church was malum, in se; and that the great object was to cut it down, instead of extending it. The hon. member for Middlesex treated it as a standing army in time of peace. The hon. Member might wish that neither mind nor body should be kept under restraint; but while he (Mr. Shaw) did not desire any unnecessary legal control to be exercised over men's individual actions, he would as far as possible multiply the checks which moral and religious cultivation were calculated to produce in the general conduct of a people. Independently of higher spiritual considerations, the clause was, in a mere temporal and political one, highly objectionable. Looking to the circumstances of Ireland in this respect, could any one deny, that the Protestant resident clergy were an incalculable advantage? He would not compromise his own opinion that they were paramountly so, as holding up the sacred light of truth in what he must consider the darkness which surrounded them. But he would even appeal to the Irish Roman Catholic Members of that House, whether in all the relations of society—in all the offices of kindness and benevolence—in relieving the poor—advising the uninformed—assisting and comforting those that were in sickness or any other distress, there could be found more accomplished gentlemen, better neighbours, or sincerer friends, irrespective of religious distinctions, than the clergy of the established Church in Ireland? He reminded them that they were not to be relieved of the tithe—that was to be paid the same as if the incumbent had not been suspended; no real benefit could therefore accrue to any class or to any person. He trusted the Government would not persevere in retaining a clause which would not serve the Roman Catholic, or even gratify the agitator—while it must permanently injure the established religion, and would undoubtedly give serious offence to the whole Protestant population of Ireland. Mr. Shaw then read an amendment to the effect that all monies saved by the suspension of an incumbent should be applied for the sole purpose of building a Church within the particular benefice where such suspension took place; and he said, that he would first divide the Committee upon the omission of the whole clause—and if that was carried against him, he would afterwards move the Amendment on the bringing up of the Report

Mr. Secretary Stanley

said, that the object of the clause was quite the reverse of that attributed to it by the hon. and learned Gentleman. That clause was intended to conduce, and he was sure would conduce, to promote the interests of the Protestant Church, and the diffusion of the Protestant religion in Ireland. The way in which the hon. and learned Gentleman, it appeared, wished to produce that desirable end, was by erecting Protestant Churches in places where there was no Protestant congregation, and where there was not even a probability of a Protestant congregation. Now the present clause went to work in a different manner. It proposed to empower the Commissioners, the majority of whom would be ecclesi s-tics, to transfer the emoluments accruing from benefices where no duties had been performed for a certain period, and where there were no duties to perform, to the illpaid paid Ministers and curates of places where large congregations existed, and heavy duties were discharged. That was the true way to consult the interests of Protestantism in Ireland.

Mr. Sheil

said, that the hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin had no need to be so mightily frightened as to the anticipated effect of this clause. If the words of the clause were—"that the celebration of divine worship shall have been intermitted therein for the period of three years previous to the 1st of January, 1833," then, indeed, the hon. and learned Gentleman might have some grounds for alarm; but the words in the clause were—"for the period of three years previous to the passing of this Act." The Act Would not be passed at least for a month to come. The hon. and learned Gentle man had therefore only to address a circular to his constituents—to the 2,000 Protestant clergymen that existed in Ireland; and let them sally forth to celebrate divine service in all those hitherto neglected benefices. They had abundant time to perform the work. It would be a piafraus, to be sure; but what of that, when the interest of the Church was at stake? It would effectually defeat the object of the present clause. He had no longer any interest in the measure, because it would in its present shape altogether disappoint the expectations of the people of Ireland.

Colonel Conolly

said, that although he had relaxed nothing in his hostility to the general principle involved in the Bill, he considered the clause then under discussion as forming one of the most objectionable features of the whole measure; it bespoke not merely an intention, but a manifest desire, on the part of his Majesty's Ministers, to eradicate the Protestant religion—a circumstance which he could not view without pain, or cease to deplore. He was satisfied, that the consequences of the measure must be such as he predicted. The hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Dublin, in the early part of the evening, laid great stress upon the return that had been made of the number of benefices in which divine service had not been performed for three years, hut it was rather strange, seeing that he was a supporter of the measure, that he should have selected the diocese of Limerick. Now it was notorious that that diocese had been for a long period deprived of the superintendence of its excellent diocesan, owing to the infirmity of the venerable Prelate; and the return clearly showed, that that was the part of Ireland in which the greatest number of deserted livings were to be found; establishing, as he considered, a,prima facie case of the consequences likely to ensue in a diocese where the Bishop did not reside. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Colonies, in one part of his speech, made a statement which was not borne out by the fact. He said, that churches had been built where there was no necessity for them. He believed that no such case existed. In the three provinces in Ireland with which he was connected, he never heard of such a circumstance—on the contrary, he knew several instances in which churches had been built, where the congregations were at first small, but they had gone on increasing, until at length it was found necessary to call for the enlargement of the Church and for the appointment of an additional curate to attend to the parochial duties. He thought the right hon. Secretary had been carried away a little by his feelings when he said that the best way of preserving the Church was by effecting its destruction. He could not conceive how the right hon. Gentleman could propose to advance the interests of the Church at the same time that he was curtailing the means of imparting moral and religious instruction. He was sure that if the clause were not omitted altogether, the next best thing that the House could do would be to adopt the amendment of his hon. and learned friend, the member for the University of Dublin. Upon common grounds of fairness he put it to the House whether it was just, that the funds raised within any parish should be diverted to other purposes than the sustentation of the Church in that particular district? The right hon. Gentleman undertook to legislate upon the grievances of Ireland; but in this instance he did not abolish the payment of tithe in the parish—he left the burthen, but he removed the advantage. He removed every semblance of religion in the parish, and then he talked of advancing Protestantism. It appeared to him most extraordinary, that while the right hon. Gentleman was destroying Protestantism, and sweeping it from the face of the country, he should in the same breath take credit for being its most steadfast friend and warmest supporter. When he considered the three years that had been selected, during which, if an intermission of service had occurred the benefice was to be declared void, it appeared to him that a more inappropriate period could not have been chosen. The clergy during that period had been driven from the country for fear of their lives; and Dr. Butler that respected and aged gentleman, had been expatriated, and the Protestants of his parish would, he feared, very soon have to follow their rector. The character of Dr. Butler stood without impeachment. It had been urged against him that he had been bred a surgeon: the fact was so; but from the moment he took orders he united medical skill with his sacred functions—his house became a dispensary—and never was there a more cheering instance afforded of parochial care united with splendid munificence, than the conduct of Dr. Butler presented. He was driven forth from his parish—not because he was an absentee, or supine, or neglectful of his duties—but because, in the sphere in which he moved, his conduct was such as to do credit to human nature, and add dignity to the character of a clergyman. The hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Tipperary looked upon the measure with distrust, inasmuch as he conceived it was not calculated to further his views. Now he objected to it because it was too well calculated to realize those objects which it was known were dear to the hon. and learned Gentleman. He looked upon the measure, in fact, as a monstrous stride towards the extinction of Protestantism in Ireland. He felt sincerely that such must be the consequence of the measure; and so feeling he trusted he might be pardoned for warmly expresing those sentiments.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that his objection to the proposition before the House was, that instead of encouraging the performance of divine service in parishes where it had not been for some time performed, the Bill proceeded upon the principle of preventing its performance in future The right hon. Gentleman asks whether we would have a church built in every parish, whether there was a congregation there or not? By no means—but in parishes where it might not be deemed adviseable to build a church, it might be adviseable to license a house for divine service. He did not certainly mean to say, that even out of these funds they should in every case he at the expense of building a church; but the utmost benefit having arisen from providing a house for the celebration of divine service where there was no church, he did not think the House ought to object to the adoption of a plan which could not be attended with a fiftieth part of the expense of building a church. The House would be enabled to judge of the value of the plan, when he stated that even in the wild districts of Cunnemara, where there was generally supposed to be no Protestant population, congregations had come to places so licensed. He held in his hand a list of the houses licensed in the diocese of Tuam, where the Roman Catholic population had an immense preponderance. By this list it appeared that one of the houses was attended by a congregation amounting to 120, another by a congregation of sixty, and a third by a congregation of seventy-five. Now, although the House might not deem it right to build churches for these small congregations, he did contend that it was the duty of the House to provide them with the means of attending divine worship. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to think that, upon the whole, the measure would be beneficial to the Protestant Church in Ireland, but he must say, that he greatly doubted whether the Bill contained anything which could compensate for the shock which that and other clauses would give to Protestant feeling in that country. The right hon. Gentleman, in justification of the clause, to which he had previously adverted, referred the House to the Return upon the Table, showing the number of benefices in which divine worship had not been performed for three years; hut the Return was so imperfect as hardly to afford the House the means of forming a correct judgment. Taking it, however, as he found it, he could not agree in the conclusion that the evil which the clause was intended to remedy was a very crying one. He took up the first page, and he found that in the diocese of Clogher there was not a single benefice to which the clause would apply. He turned to the next diocese—that of Meath, and he found eight benefices in which divine service had not been performed for the last three years. But out of these eight there were only two to which the clause could apply, for the remaining six were in the hands of lay patrons. In Down he found only two benefices returned, hut in neither of them would the clause apply. In the next diocese there was only one benefice to which the clause could apply— so that in the three first pages of the Return he did not find more than three benefices to which the clause would apply, and was it, he would ask, worth while to adopt so dangerous a principle where the evil complained of was, comparatively speaking, of so trifling a nature? He went on and found that in Raphoe and Dromore there were no benefices to which the clause would apply—and that in Ossory, out of twelve benefices, in which divine service had not been performed for three years, there were only six which came within its provisions. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted Limerick, in which there were sixteen benefices to which the clause would apply. [Mr. Stanley twenty-seven]. Yes, twenty-seven benefices in the whole, but only fifteen or sixteen upon which the clause could be brought to act. But in none of these cases had we any calculation of the value of the benefices, of the amount of the population, or how far the licensing a house for divine service might be found expedient. He thought it necessary that the Protestant feeling in Ireland ought to be consulted upon this subject, and that the House should pause before it led the Protestants of Ireland to believe that Parliament was capable of countenancing any plan which discouraged the Protestant religion. Suppose, as had been well urged by his hon. and learned friend, the member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Shaw), that the principle now about to be acted upon had been adopted in the year 1800. Since that period,500 churches and,500 glebe houses had been built in Ireland, and there was no doubt, that half of them never would have been built, had such a Bill as that then before the House been passed thirty years ago, and, of course, so many places would have been deprived of the benefit of a resident clergyman and the means of attending divine service. What he would now, however, ask of the House was, not that a Church should be built in every parish, but that a house should be allowed to be licensed where divine service might be performed, in those parishes wherein the building of a church might be too expensive, and not absolutely necessary for the accommodation of the inhabitants. If the right hon. Gentleman would deduct the number of benefices from the Return to which the clause would not apply, he would sec that the practical result would be small indeed, and would but ill compensate for the offence which would be given by it to the Protestant feeling in Ireland, and for the apparent indifference of the House of Commons to the religious wants of the people.

Lord Duncannon

thought it necessary to respect Catholic as well as Protestant feeling. He was anxious to support the Protestant establishment, but not in parishes where, there being no Protestant inhabitants, the benefices were merely sinecures—a scandal to the Protestant Church, and a grievance to the Roman Catholic population.

Colonel Perceval

said, that it appeared to him that the object of the Amendment proposed by his hon. friend, Mr. Shaw, was, that the progressive improvement now taking place under the superintendence of the Bishops in Ireland should not be put a stop to. He objected to the last three years being taken as a criterion—a period which was more fertile than any preceding period in the expulsion of clergymen from their livings. It appeared that the Bill was to have no operation until after the avoidance of the living. If peace and tranquillity should be restored in Ireland, and if service should be performed in the parish for fifteen years to come, it was not imperative upon the Commissioners to prevent the operation of the clause. The noble Lord the member for Nottingham stated that in one parish some of the parishioners were fourteen miles from the Church; that might be a good reason for licensing houses, but the circumstance added little to the strength of the noble Lord's argument in favour of abolishing benefices.

Mr. Secretary Stanley,

to remove all difficulty, was willing to take the date of the return as the period from which the three years should be computed. He therefore, moved to insert the words, "three years next preceding the 1st of February, 1833."

This Amendment having been agreed

Mr. Estcourt moved the following Amendment—namely: to insert after "1833" the words, and shall not have been resumed and regularly performed within six calendar months before such avoidance."

The Committee divided on this Amendment—Ayes 63; Noes 237: Majority 174.

Clause agreed to, as were the clauses to 148.

The House resumed, the Committee to sit again