HC Deb 13 May 1833 vol 17 cc1113-60

On the Order of the Day being read for the House resolving itself into a Committee of the whole House on the Irish Church Reform Bill,

Lord Althorp signified to the House that his Majesty had been graciously pleased to place at the disposal of Parliament his interests in the temporalities and custody thereof, of the several bishoprics and archbishoprics in Ireland. The noble Lord then moved that the Speaker leave the Chair.

Mr. Lefroy

said, in rising to avail himself of the indulgence of the House as expressed at the conclusion of the debate on a former night, he trusted, in the line which he meant to take, he should not prove himself unworthy of their indulgence, for at the same time that he should freely and boldly state his objections, he hoped to satisfy the House that he did not make objections merely for the sake of objecting, as he was prepared at the same time to offer such suggestions as to his mind appeared calculated to counteract the mischievous and dangerous principles which were involved in some at least of the provisions of the Bill. He should have to refer to details which might at first appear to some hon. Members better suited to a future stage of the Bill, but he preferred referring to them at the present moment, in order that the Committee might be the better prepared to consider his suggestions when the particular clauses to which they had reference should be brought before them, and to give to them any weight to which they might be entitled. On behalf of the Church in Ireland he desired nothing but that her cause should be fairly heard. He desired nothing but that the House should legislate for her upon principles of justice—upon the ordinary and avowed principles of legislation—upon such principles, in fact, as the House would legislate on for the Church in England. He was aware, on entering upon the subject, that he had to contend against the prejudices of two classes. In the first place he had opposed to him the prejudices of those who contended that the Established Church in Ireland was altogether useless; and in the next place the prejudices of those who considered the endowment of that establishment to be so enormous that they were willing to reduce it ill any way possible, without attending very strictly to the means by which that object was to be effected. With respect to the first class, he would entreat hon. Members not to allow their prepossessions against an establishment to influence their judgment on the question as to the extent of maintenance necessary for its support—if it were to be continued; and he would beg to call the attention of hon. Members of both classes to the words of the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer on introducing the measure to the House. Speaking of the endowments of the Established Church in Ireland, he said:—" I can say conscientiously that a greater exaggeration has prevailed on this subject, than on any political topic which I recollect. Before I looked more narrowly into the question, I myself, greatly exaggerated in my own mind, the amount of the revenues of the Irish Church establishment.*" The present measure had been called a measure of Reform for the Church in Ireland. On the subject of Reform, he (Mr. Lefroy) did not stand there to contend for the existence of one single abuse—he should little represent the feelings or sentiments of the clergy of Ireland were he to advocate the existence of any abuse that could be fairly proved to exist in the Church. As little did he stand there to resist an equitable distribution of the property of the Church, or the better appropriation of its revenues for the great end of the establishment, the advancement and support of the Protestant religion—but he stood there to resist the alienation of Church property—he stood there to resist the proposition of legislating for Ireland on different principles from those on which the House would legislate for England—he stood there to resist legislating upon a principle which must endanger the connexion between the two countries, and which must have the effect of raising a serious question with respect to the Coronation Oath. All these principles were involved in the Bill in its present * Hansard (third series) xvi. p. 566. frame, and he had no hesitation in calling them dangerous and mischievous: and he would add, that the Bill, in many of its more detailed provisions, operated injuriously to the Church and to the clergy, and unfairly with respect to the Protestant religion and the Protestant inhabitants of Ireland. He should apply himself to the several objects of the Bill, as set out in the preamble. The first was the abolition of the payment of first fruits in Ireland. To that it was not his intention to offer any objection; and he would, therefore, proceed to the next object, which purported to be the substitution of an annual tax in lieu thereof. If the annual tax proposed to be substituted bore any proportion to the tax abolished, he would offer no objection to it; but he begged the attention of the House to the manifest injustice of calling this a substitution of one tax for another. The average charge of the first fruits in Ireland, for the last thirty-one years, amounted to 321l. per annum on the whole body of the clergy; whereas the tax proposed to be substituted by the noble Lord amounted to 69,000l The first-fruit tax was payable out of 428 parishes, whereas the proposition of the noble Lord went to the extent of taxing all parishes of the value of 200l. per year and upwards. The first question he should, therefore, submit to the justice of the House was—was a tax of 69,000l. annually a fair substitute for a tax that produced 321l. a-year? The next appeal he should make to the justice and good sense of the House was this—whether the existing provision for the parochial clergy will admit of this, or any other substantial reduction, consistently with allowing them adequate maintenance and support? If they are not to have a parochial clergy at all, let the question be boldly put, and then the House would know how to deal with it; but if the parochial clergy were to be continued, the House was bound in common sense and justice to afford them a decent competency; a competency for men educated as gentlemen, having to live as such—having families to support—duties to perform, with which were connected services of charity and humanity, and those services, in a country circumstanced as Ireland was, they were frequently called upon to perform. It should be recollected, too, that they were shut out by law from any other maintenance; they were disabled from being land agents or farmers, or following secular occupations. Surely no hon. Member would consider an income of 300l. or 400l. a year extravagant, under such circumstances—and such was the average provision of the parochial clergy in Ireland. The noble Lord stated the number of the parochial clergy at 1,400, and their income at 580,000l. or 600,000l. annually: this would give an average income to each clergyman, without deducting any of the charges to which that income was subjected, of 428l. a year. The Bill of last Session took off fifteen per cent from the incomes of the clergy, which would reduce this sum to 335l. per annum. There were maintained in Ireland 662 curates, being about half the number of rectors; and if from each rector (on an average) the moiety of a curate's salary were deducted it would make a further reduction of 35l., leaving a nett average sum of 300l. per annum for the maintenance of the parochial clergy. He had proceeded on the same data as the noble Lord himself, and was bold to challenge any hon. Member to detect a single fallacy in his statement. Here, then, it was proved, that the average sum would be 300l. a-year—the minimum, be it observed, upon which (according to the general sense of the House) the tax should be levied, if to be at all imposed. In connexion with this point, he would beg to request the attention of the House to the Speech from the Throne, in which his Majesty desires Parliament "to consider if any alterations may be made, without diminishing the means of maintaining the established clergy in respectability and usefulness." He was sure the noble Lord and the House would consider that diminishing the incomes of the clergy below the average which he had just proved those incomes to be at present, would not be consistent with maintaining their respectability and usefulness. It could make no difference in the argument, that the livings were unequally apportioned—part of the object of the present Bill was to equalize the livings, and instead of cramping the usefulness of the clergy, the House ought rather if possible to increase their numbers and their means of rendering benefit to the country. He would next beg to call the attention of the House to the principle on which the tax was to be levied in lieu of the Vestry-cess. It was proposed to lay a tax on one body of men, to which that body was not now subject, and to remove from another body of men a tax to which they were subject. By the common law, the keeping the Church in proper repair was a duty incident to the land—a person though resident in one parish who occupied land in another was liable for the repairs of the Church in the parish in which his land was situate. No precedent could be found for the principle here suggested. It was said, it was introduced for the purpose of relieving the Roman Catholic tenantry of Ireland, but it was in point of fact relieving the Protestant landlords and the Protestant tenantry from an impost to which they were now liable. The same system was to extend from the north to the south of Ireland, and therefore it could not be considered in the light of a relief afforded to the Roman Catholic tenantry. "Would the House on that important point, on a point which involved the question, whether particular classes should be subject to particular burthens, legislate on one principle for Ireland, and on another for England? Should the present measure pass into a law, what possible ground could there be why the English Roman Catholic and the Dissenter should not be relieved from the burthen of Church and vestry rates—and if that could not be done without abandoning all principles heretofore acknowledged, on what grounds, be would ask, was it that the House was called upon to legislate for Ireland in the way proposed by the Bill before the House? He admitted, that in some particulars the Vestry-cess pressed more severely in Ireland than Church rates in England—and to that extent he had no objection that relief should be afforded. By Acts of Parliament peculiar to Ireland the parish was made liable for the building of churches as well as the repairs—and these sums were voted by exclusive vestries, from which Roman Catholics and Dissenters were excluded. As this was a parliamentary provision, he thought it was competent to parliament to alter it, and assimilate the law in both countries—but in order to provide effectually for the common law right of repairs, and at the same time to obviate the objection of the cess being arbitrary, or uncertain, to which it was liable when laid on by an exclusive vestry, be had a proposition to submit, which if carried into effect, would obviate all the difficulty attendant upon the present system. He proposed that the small sum of a penny an acre should be levied on all profitable land in Ireland. In this way, upon the rental returned by Mr. Griffith, which he estimates at 14,600,000 acres, but taking it at 12,000,000, a penny an acre would produce 50,000l. a-year. That sum would be quite sufficient to cover the amount proposed to be levied of the parochial clergy. The noble Lord, by adopting this commutation or composition, might get rid of the objections to the Vestry-cess—he might get rid of everything objectionable to the feelings of the Roman Catholics. The sum might be made payable by the landlord with his quit rent. Let no application be made to the tenantry; and he was not, bethought, saying too much for the landlords of Ireland, when he stated their willingness to consent to the payment of a penny per acre, or a penny in the pound, to secure the peace and harmony of their country, as well as maintaining in proper repair the churches which had been built for their use and accommodation. If the House were to be guided by a principle of justice in laying on a tax, there was no doubt which they would choose between the parochial clergy—whose incomes were reduced to the average he had stated—and the landlords of Ireland; there was no doubt that they would prefer to laying on a graduated Property-tax of from five to fifteen per cent upon the income of the clergy, making the profitable land of Ireland pay at the rate of one penny an acre. But if the noble Lord should persist in taxing the clergy, was there any justice in exempting the lay impropriator? The noble Lord must be aware, or if not the law officers of the Crown could inform him, that by law the lay impropriator is bound to find spiritual persons to perform the spiritual duties of the Church. Upon what principle then was it that the clergy alone should be taxed for providing that which the law said was to be done by the lay impropriator? He conceived, that the lay impropriator was bound to bear these expenses, and he made it a strong objection to the Bill, that it imposed this tax on the clergy, and spared the lay impropriators. He would next proceed to that part of the Bill which provided for the consolidation of bishoprics. If any objection existed to the system of pluralities in inferior benefices, stronger objections surely ought to exist to the system of pluralities in these higher offices of the Church, which were established for the very purpose of superintendence. This provision of the Bill rested upon convenience. The preamble stated, that the number of Bishops might be conveniently diminished. In the first instance he would try the measure by that test. The right hon. Gentleman, now the Secretary for the Colonies, made a statement on a former evening, and entered into a comparison of the number of benefices under the superintendence of an English Bishop with those under an Irish Bishop, when the sees should be consolidated; but the right hon. Gentleman did not state to the House the extent of surface over which such superintendence was spread. It was easy to talk of 1,200 livings being under the superintendence of one Bishop, when these livings were brought within a reasonable compass. He (Mr. Lefroy) would now state the result of his inquiries as to the extent and surface of country over which the jurisdiction of the Bishops under the proposed consolidation would extend. The united dioceses of Raphoe and Kerry would occupy a surface of 1,888,000 acres. The jurisdiction would extend over a space of 115 miles in length and ninety-four in breadth. The united dioceses of Tuam and Killala would occupy a surface of 2,652,000 acres, and an extent in length of 147 miles by eighty-four miles in breadth. The united dioceses of Ossory and Ferns would occupy a superficies of 1,267,000 acres, and an extent of 136 miles in length, and sixty-three miles in breadth. Cork and Ross, when united with Cloyne, would occupy a surface of 1,632,000 acres, and an extent of 169 miles in length and fifty-three in breadth. These were the four largest, but the least, the Arch-See of Cashel united to the see of Waterford would contain 1,233,000 acres, and be 127 miles in length, and ninety in breadth. Now, if the House were to consider for a moment in what the duties of a Bishop consisted—the number of visitations and confirmations they were obliged to attend—the number of communications that must pass between him and his clergy, it would be at once perceived how impossible it was that the duties should be adequately performed. In England the duty of the visitations was performed by the Archdeacons and the superintendence of the buildings by the rural Deans; but in Ireland the Bishops performed the duties of the Archdeacons; and here he would beg leave to refer to the authority of one who could have no Irish prejudices upon the subject—he alluded to the Archbishop of Cashel. His Grace stated in his petition that the Archdeacons in Ireland exercised no jurisdiction original or delegated. Should the proposed reductions in the Archbishops take place, the two who were to remain would have to discharge the duties of the triennial visitations over one-half of Ireland, besides the annual visitations in their peculiar dioceses. The House might have learnt from the petitions from Killala and other places, that the prosperity, if not the very existence of the small towns depended upon the residence of the Bishops. Great injury must be inflicted also upon the great towns of Waterford, Cork, and Kilkenny, by the removal of the sees. It was true, as stated by the right hon. Secretary on a former night, that the Bishop might, if he chose, reside in either of the towns—but it was equally true that he might choose not to do so. At all events, ten sees were to be deprived of their Bishops—ten Bishops' palaces would be set up to sale, and it was no difficult matter to prophesy who would become the purchasers of them. It might be a subject of sneer and merriment to the right hon. Gentleman, but those houses would unquestionably be purchased by the Roman Catholic Bishops in Ireland. If there were any consideration remaining for the Protestant establishment, he would put it to the sympathy and feeling of English gentlemen what must be the effect produced on the Protestants of Ireland, when they saw ten of their Bishops cast out, and their places filled by the heads of a rival Church? Would that be no injury to the Protestant establishment—no wound to Protestant feelings? His Majesty's Government might feel indifferent between the two religions, but they ought not to be indifferent to this—that the strong hold of British connexion was the Protestant establishment in Ireland. These were the words of Lord Plunkett, and formerly the sentiments of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies. How, he would ask, was this consolidation (destruction he should rather call it), how could it be represented as a measure of Reform for the benefit of the Protestant religion? It was not as in England where the Church was supported by a large body of the people. In Ireland the Church was existing as if it were in an enemy's country, and in the face of a rival Church—a rival which not only opposed it as a Church, but exposed its ministers to a series of persecution and oppression. How, he would ask, was this consolidation reconcilable with the Act of Union? But the noble Lord on a former night had very nearly conceded that point to the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth. The noble Lord said, that though it might be a violation of the letter, it was not a violation of the spirit of the Act of Union. He hoped his Majesty's Ministers would bear in mind that the great motive which induced the Protestants of Ireland to concur in the Act of Union, was the permanence and security of their Episcopal Church. The abolition of these bishoprics would be considered by them as a fundamental violation of the scriptural constitution of that Church. The measure was proposed not only without the concurrence of the heads of the Church, but in direct opposition to their wishes. As a proof of which, he would mention that he had had the honour on a former evening of presenting a petition from one Archbishop and twelve Bishops, specially against the Bill. His right hon. friend, the member for Tamworth, had presented a similar petition from the Archbishop of Cashel, and also one from the Primate and the clergy of his diocese. Another petition had been presented that evening from the Bishop of Cloyne; thus it appeared that three Archbishops and fourteen Bishops making seventeen out of the whole number of twenty-two, had petitioned against the Bill; of the remaining five, one Archbishop and two Bishops had been appointed by his Majesty's present Government, and it was, therefore, scarcely to be expected that they would have petitioned against the measure; but had they petitioned in favour of it, or had they even given it their sanction? Of the two remaining Bishops, one of them was in such a delicate state of health, that he could not be expected to take an active part, or to express an opinion upon the subject. An unguarded statement had been made on a former evening by the right hon. Gentleman, that the reduction of the number of Bishops was made on the suggestion of the Primate ["No, no," from Mr. Stanley.] He took down the words of the right hon. Gentleman at the time, but if the right hon. Gentleman denied having intended to use them, he had no wish to pin down the right hon. Gentleman to words used in the heat of debate. His disclaimer, however, fully warranted him in stating that the Primate had not suggested this measure; and indeed the petition of his Grace clearly showed that whatever reluctant assent had been given, was extorted under the threat of an alternative which must have been more ruinous to the Church, and in utter ignorance that any other funds existed for making good the Vestry-cess, which his Majesty's Government were determined to abolish. He, however, would ask his Majesty's Government whether it would dare to legislate for the Church of England, not only without, but against the concurrence of the Bishops? He only asked the House to legislate for Ireland on the same principle, unless they meant to give countenance to the assertion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the member for Dublin, that they legislated for Ireland as a province. There had been already another serious objection raised to this Bill, but he did not mean now to dwell upon the argument, as some difference of opinion upon the subject had been expressed on that (the Opposition) side of the House, but he could not forego the opportunity of stating, that in his mind the Crown could not assent to the measure for the abolition of the Bishops, or the alienation of Church property, without a violation of the Coronation Oath. It was said that because former consolidations took place, the same thing might be done now. But in all former instances of consolidation the revenues of the sees were preserved, but in the present instance the revenues were to be severed for ever from the sees, and vested in Commissioners, not for the maintenance of the see, but to be appropriated to other purposes. In many of the former instances where sees had been consolidated, they were afterwards separated. Ardagh and Cloyne were both instances of this sort—but this he was bold to assert, that there never was a consolidation but in consequence of the poverty of one of the sees, and its incompeteney to maintain a Bishop. He had looked through Ware, and he found no instance recorded, except on the ground of poverty. Even the Roman Catholic Church scrupulously kept up the number of Bishops and so jealous were they of maintaining that number, that they named Bishops to places in distant lands, where not even a Roman Catholic was to be found. Whether the House, therefore, viewed this question as a matter of expediency, or upon the ground of principle, it was equally objectionable. The Bill proposed to make an alteration in the fundamental constitution of the Church, without even the alleged ground of convenience to recommend it, and against the strenuous remonstrances as well of the Bishops and Clergy as of the lay portion of the Protestant community. The tendency of the measure must be to create an oligarchy in the Church; and would the noble Lord, who laboured so hard to put an end to an oligarchy in the State, consent to the establishment of an oligarchy in the Church? Did he believe that the general patronage of the Church would be better distributed for the end for which it was established—namely, the cause of religion—by being confined to a few Bishops, appointed by Government? But if there must be a retrenchment made in the provisions for the Bishops in Ireland—if the noble Lord was determined to lay hands upon a part of their revenues—he trusted the noble Lord would at least give attention to the suggestion, whether it might not be more prudent to reduce the incomes of some of them than reduce their numbers. With respect to Archbishops he was free to confess, that he did not look upon the existence of four in the light of a fundamental article of the Church. If the noble Lord were to reduce three Archbishops to the state of Bishops—leaving one Archbishop for all Ireland, and reduce the emoluments of some of the large sees, a fund would be placed at his disposal equivalent to that he proposes to raise by the abolition of ten bishoprics. The Archbishop of Dublin could discharge the appellate jurisdiction belonging to the other Archbishops, and by thus adopting the mode proposed, the noble Lord would avoid all occasion of offence to the feelings of the Protestants; he would get rid of the difficulties as to the violation of the Coronation Oath, and he would get rid of the question of the Union. He hoped that the noble Lord would take these propositions into his consideration—and if he must lay hands upon any part of the revenues of the Bishops, that he would do it ill the way now proposed. The next subject to which he should address himself was as to the proposed plan for granting the fee to the Bishops' tenants. This proposition involved two questions, one as to a matter of expediency, in respect both to the Bishops and their tenants, the other as to the appropriating the fund. With respect to the question of expediency, he considered it to be fraught with danger to the Bishops. The proposal was, to give the Bishop a rent charge—to make him a pensioner on his own estate—but to keep up his income, it was proposed to give him a corn rent. He could not conceive a more pregnant source of dissatisfaction in such a country as Ireland, than the establishing a corn rent was likely to prove. If the tenant were not satisfied with the amount of his rent, what was to prevent him from resisting the payment of that rent, as effectually as he now resisted the payment of tithe composition rent. As the matter now stood, the Bishop was sure of his income. The tenant, in order to obtain a renewal, must come to the Bishop with his rent as well as his fine; but if the Bishop were a mere rent-charger, the same objection might be raised to paying him, that was now raised to the payment of tithe; the doctrine of passive resistance would be resorted to, and the Bishops of Ireland would be thrown into a similar situation to that in which the parochial clergy were now unhappily placed. With respect to the tenants they were not desirous of availing themselves of the privileges on the terms proposed. He would venture to state, that the proposition would not be considered as a boon by the tenantry. But let the House look to those who derived as under tenants, and who held by toties quoties clauses of renewal. Let the House consider the situation those persons would be placed in who had derivative leases, and who had expended large sums on improvement, on the faith that no increase in their rent or fines should take place; and yet they had to contribute to the purchase money to be paid by their landlords. The provision in the Bill was, that tenants for life were to raise the money for the purchase of the fee, and this was to be a charge on the property. Were settlements thus to be swept away? This was such an infringement upon private property that he for one could never concur in it. He saw no remedy for all the complicated questions which must arise between these different interests but the filing of a petition in Chancery—a reference to a master, with power to except and bring the whole before the court to adjust, without any rule or standard by which to make the adjustment. The remedy would be, in fact, worse than the disease, and it would be better, at once to legislate with the strong hand of power, and fix a rule, however arbitrary, than throw into such a mass of litigation and expense all private rights and interests in Church property. Now, as to the principle of the measure which would sanction the appropriation of the purchase money of this perpetuity to other than Church purposes.—the right hon. Gentleman said, on a former night, that this was a new creation—that the Bishop had it not—the tenant had it not; and as the Legislature created it, so the Legislature had a right to appropriate it. He (Mr. Lefroy) knew of nothing to compare to that doctrine, except what he had heard called in Ireland, "improving a gentleman out of his estate." A man obtained wrongfully possession of another's property, and immediately set about improving it, and then the improvements were made a bar to the claim of the right owner. So it was with the right hon. Gentleman—he would improve the Church out of its estate. But it was really putting words for things, when the right hon. Gentleman argued thus. The reversion which it was proposed the tenant should get, whether in fee or for a long term, was now in the Church, and was just as much the property of the Church as the rent, which is payable on the twenty-one years' lease, and which is annexed to this very reversion. He regretted that none of the law-officers of the Crown were present when he was pressing this part of the case, as he would challenge them or any lawyer to assert, that this reversion was not as much the property of the Church as the vent which was incident to it. It was the right to this reversion which enabled the Bishop to say to the tenant—" If you agree to pay a reasonable fine in addition to the old rent, I will renew with you; but if not, I will refuse to renew, and run my life against the lease—and I or my successor will enter upon the land on the expiration of the lease under our title to this reversion." It was this reversion which enabled the Bishops to have a new valuation of Church lands during the period of the last war, and greatly to increase the amount of their sees; and if that did not constitute property in reversion, he did not know the meaning of the term. He might, perhaps, be told by the right hon. Gentleman, that this was special pleading. He would rather be taxed with being a technical special pleader, than be charged with being an ignorant statesman. The right hon. Gentleman's assumption that this property was not in the Church, was without the slightest foundation; he challenged the right hon. Gentleman to produce the opinion of a single lawyer of any eminence to contradict his assertion. He should like to ask, where was the reversion when the Church was first endowed with the property which it still inherits? An Act of Parliament restrained the Bishops from granting leases for a longer period than twenty-one years; but did it take the reversion of the rest of it out of the Church? He would ask, if the restraining statute were now simply repealed, where would be the reversion? He would tell the right hon. Gentleman where—namely, in the Church, where it had been before, and ever since it was first endowed. The lands were held under grants and charters from the Crown, in as large terms of dominion and ownership as those which conferred land upon Lay Corporations or individuals; and, unless charters were to go for nothing, he maintained that the Church had a right to as much dominion over its property as any individual or corporation had who held lands under the Crown. A Bishop was described by all law writers as being seised of the estate in right of his Church—the enjoyment and usufruct was in the Bishop—the property was in the Church. But there was another false principle involved in the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman said, that when the State enabled by additional powers a beneficial use to be made of property, it was entitled to share in the benefit. That was not so. But in this instance what was it but the State removing fetters which itself had imposed; and what sort of logic or justice was it that went to show, that when the State imposed fetters for the protection of property, the removal of those fetters was to invest it with the property itself? In other instances where the Legislature had given balanced leasing powers to those having limited interests, it never had claimed to share in the benefits. As in the statutes enabling husbands seized in right of their wives, or tenants in tail, to make long leases, so ecclesiastical persons were authorised to make long leases of mines— so were tenants for life—but did the Legislature or State ever think of sharing in the emolument derivable under such a power? He was at a loss to understand how the endowment of the Church of Ireland could be looked upon in any less favourable light than the endowment for any other forms of religious worship. There might be an endowment for any form of dissenting worship, and a Court of Equity could protect it as a trust, and would prevent the trustees granting leases in perpetuity. Could the Legislature interfere, and allow the trustees of that sort of property to grant perpetual leases at corn rents, and then step in and take to itself the benefits resulting from such a permission? If not, why should the Legislature treat an endowment for the established national religion differently from an endowment for any form of dissenting worship? He trusted, that while an established national religion subsisted, that the endowment for its maintenance, whether in England or Ireland, would not have a less measure of protection than that appropriated to any other form of religious faith—that it was not to be judged of merely by a scrutiny of the numbers who were entitled to claim the benefit of the trust, or to forfeit its right because there was a large body who did not choose to entitle themselves. The only remaining topic which he meant to press upon the attention of the House was that with respect to the provisions of the Bill which established the Board, and which regulated the system under which the affairs of the Church of Ireland were to be conducted in future. He could not but feel with respect to this portion of the measure, that nothing more injurious to the Church could be contemplated. It would have the effect of laying the Church at the feet of the Government by placing it under the control of its paid Commissioners. The system was one that was full of oppression and injury to the clergy—hurtful to the feelings of the Protestants of Ireland, and every way calculated to discourage and retard the progress of Protestantism in that country. The Bill proposed to establish a Commission, composed partly of lay and partly of ecclesiastical persons. It was true the Primate and three other Bishops were to have seats at this Board, but there were to be three lay Commissioners, at salaries appointed by the Lord-lieutenant, and removable at pleasure. With these there were to be two other lay Commissioners, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland and the Chief Justice of the King's Bench, thus making a majority of lay Commissioners. These Commissioners would be at liberty to make bye-laws with the consent of the Lord-lieutenant, on every subject embraced by this Bill. These bye-laws might be made, and every act (even the most solemn acts, requiring the seal of the corporation) might be completed without the concurrence of, or even the presence of, a single Bishop. They would have the power of appointing to several subordinate offices, Treasurer, Secretary, and other officers, and the salaries would all have to be provided for out of the funds of the Church. To this Board every clergyman would have to make a return of the value of his living and to pay his tax, and it would be competent for it to revert to the original valuation, and to revalue the livings whenever it thought fit; and although the return of the clergyman should prove quite correct, he would be liable nevertheless to pay the costs of the inquiry. If the lax were not paid regularly every half-year, the Board would have the power of proceeding in the Court of Chancery or Exchequer, to obtain a sequestration. He thought it a great hardship that the tax should be laid on half-yearly, when it was known that the incomes of the clergy were only received annually; but the Bill enabled the Board, if the tax should not be paid punctually every half-year, to sequester the living, and to make the clergyman pay not only costs but interest—interest on the miserable sum of 5l., a half-yearly instalment of the poorer clergy's tax. He could not but read in this Bill a spirit of hostility to the Church, when he contrasted it with the measure passed in the last Session. The Bill would in fact subject the clergy to the grossest oppression. When a bill was brought in to enable the clergyman to recover his tithe, a clause was introduced in favour of those who wrongfully withheld it, throwing the costs on the clergyman's fund, even when the agitator was proved to be wrong in resisting the demand. He was to be sued in the Civil Bill Court, but the clergyman was to be sued in Chancery or the Exchequer for 5l. See the effects of this Bill as to another of its provisions. Every clergyman who wanted a loan to build a glebe-house must come to this Board. This would have the effect of putting the whole of the parochial clergy of Ireland under the control of the Board, and the parochial clergy constituted a very influential portion of the constituencies of the counties in Ireland. He knew from experience to what extent Government influence was used in Ireland to resist a candidate who was opposed to Government and to support a friendly candidate. He would therefore, say, that through the medium of this Board the body of the clergy would be placed under the political influence of Government. Whether this would be a Reform of the Church, or lessen its abuses, the House would judge. With respect to the building of churches, according to the Bill, no church could be built unless a certain sum should be subscribed by the parish—that was, the poor Protestants were to be precluded from having a church in which to attend divine service. It had been given as a mark of divine truth that "to the poor the gospel was to be preached"—but the present Bill said to the poor the gospel is not to be preached—for the poor there were to be no churches. The Board of First Fruits, where the income of the clergyman did not exceed 100l. a-year, gave him 350l. as a gift towards building a glebe-house. The present Bill precluded the Board from making any gift exceeding 50l., and that only to the clergyman whose living did not exceed 50l. per annum. He could not but consider this as an absolute mockery. But what was the great apology for erecting this new Board and abolishing the Board of First Fruits? The House had been told the Bishops would not have leisure to discharge these duties. He would inform the House what duties had been discharged by the Board of First Fruits since the Union. He held in his hand a return of the sums administered by them during that period. They expended no less a sum than 1,195,500l., This sum was expended in building 746 churches, in building 552 glebe-houses, and in purchasing 203 glebe-lands, The rest was expended in purchasing impropriate tithes, for the purpose of adding to small livings. And to what expense to the Church was this effected? At not more than 960l. annually. He would beg to call the attention of the hon. member for Middlesex to the economy with which this Board had done its work. There was to be, according to this Bill, instead of that Board, three paid Commissioners, with a Treasurer, Secretary, and other salaried officers. They were to have this costly establishment at an expense probably of above 10,000l. instead of a Board which cost only 960l. Let the noble Lord continue the Board of First Fruits, and he had no doubt that with an additional secretary, the Bishops would perform all the duties which it was pro-posed by the Bill to transfer to the new Board. The adoption of this plan to be sure would cause a diminution of patronage to the Government—but patronage was not an object with the present Government, and would effect a considerable saving in the property of the Church. There were other strong objections to this Bill, but having detained the House so long, he should postpone them for the Committee. One observation he must, however, make before sitting down. A Commission had been issued last Session for the purpose of inquiring into the state of the Church in Ireland. That Commission had diligently pursued its inquiries, and a great deal of information had been obtained. He regretted, that the present measure was not postponed until that information had been laid before the House. He knew not why Ministers should have brought it forward so precipitately, unless as a set-off against the measure of coercion, it would look as if his Majesty's Ministers had committed an oversight in the progress of their great Reform measure; they seemed to have forgotten that the monster they were creating would require to be fed; and, accordingly, when great clamour was raised by the new constituency for some fruit of reform, a limb of the Irish church appeared the next thing at hand, and it was offered to apqease their clamorous appetite for a while. But his Majesty's Ministers were greatly mistaken if they supposed the appetite for spoliation once being indulged, that they could satisfy it with the Church in Ireland, or even with the Church in England. They ought not to forget, that the first concession which was made at the French Revolution, was the Church. They all knew how soon the aristocracy, the monarchy, and the spoliation of all property followed. He trusted that this country was not come to that point; but if his Majesty's Ministers continued to give way to clamour—if they went on to legislate upon principles utterly destructive of property, utterly subversive of the fundamental constitution of our Church, and calculated to disturb the relations which existed between England and Ireland—if they went on abandoning one principle after another, they must come at last to that point at which they would have to choose between the institutions of the country with the monarchy, or the establishment of a democratic republic and an agrarian law. But they might, by reverting to principles and holding by them, by maintaining that established religion under which this great nation had so signally prospered, hope to avert the evil; but if principle were to be sacrificed to expediency, the House could anticipate no other results than those he had predicted.

Mr. French

trusted he should receive from the House that indulgence they had uniformly extended to Members addressing them the first time. He assured them he had not risen with the intention of embarrassing his Majesty's Ministers, or of offering any vexatious opposition to the satisfactory arrangement of the great, the difficult question now under their consideration; on the contrary, the leading provisions of the Bill he was willing to agree to; and though objecting to some of the minor details, he must acknowledge, in substance and principle, the measure to be, with one exception, manly, comprehensive, and wise. A diminution in the incomes of Bishops, as recommended by the hon. member for the University of Dublin, an augmentation of the smaller livings, a percentage on the Church income—all these he was inclined to support. The abolition of the Church-rate and vestry cess would, he trusted, be viewed as a boon by the peasantry of Ireland, and that their gratitude for it would be manifested ill the most honourable of all ways, by their returning to the pursuits of industry, and habits of subordination. He objected to, and would confine his observations to one feature only of this important measure—the proposed change in the tenure of the Church lands, which, after rendering the renewal fine, at present voluntary, the payment of which hitherto had been deemed sufficient to secure the perpetuity—after compelling the tenant to surrender the interest which the accumulation of that fine would amount to in twenty-one years, demanded so many years' purchase of the beneficial interest—he felt it his duty to protest against this, as unjust and impolitic—as utterly ruinous to the tenant whose interest it professed to serve. It actually proposed that a double purchase should be given for the thing offered for sale. It was a measure the effects of which he was confident Ministers did not at that moment understand, or they would not urge so unjust a demand. The fund, as proposed, could never be called into existence; the perpetuity would not be purchased; renewal fines would be paid, and advantages would not be surrendered, which, independent of one hour's purchase of the beneficial interest, were to the holders of the Church lands, worth between 6,000,000l. and 7,000,000l. Justice was all they required; and he felt assured that the House, once in possession of the circumstances of the case, would never permit so sweeping a confiscation, so gross an invasion on the most sacred of all rights—that of individual private property. This demand was founded on the supposition that the proportion of the perpetuity intended to be disposed of was superior in value to the tenant's interest as it at present existed; that such was not the case, he trusted to be able to prove to the satisfaction of the House—that the basis of the proposed arrangements, in fact the premises assumed by the noble Lord, were utterly fallacious—that he had miscalculated the values, both present and future, and that a peculiar advantage the tenant now possessed had not even been alluded to by the noble Lord. He felt he had need of the patience of the House; that this was a question of dry detail, and numerical calculation, affecting exclusively a particular description of Irish property, therefore not likely to be very familiar or very interesting to the majority of those he had the honour to address; and he would willingly have deferred the observations he had to make until the clauses came before them in Committee, but that he felt the statement of the noble Lord had remained too long unanswered—that it was due to the House and to those interested in the question, that the errors of that statement should be pointed out. The noble Lord had described and had argued on this tenure as a twenty years' lease—he contended that the tenant had, to all intents and purposes, a permanent interest, and that this Bill would but give him that perpetuity in name he had long possessed in fact. In proving this assertion it would be necessary for him briefly to allude to the history of this tenure, originally created by the 10th and 11th of Charles 1st. by which Act Bishops were empowered to grant leases for twenty-one years on reserving as rent half the actual value of the day. It became the custom, on receiving a sum of money—originally amounting to one-twelfth, but latterly, during the continental war, when all rents were raised to the utmost, varying from an eighth to a fifth, never amounting to more than " fifth, for that was the calculated value of the reversionary interest, to accept surrenders and grant new leases. This custom, which he acknowledged to have been a departure from the spirit of the Act, was however rendered legal by the 35th of George 3rd, which Act, after declaring valid all existing contracts, expressly empowered the Bishop to accept surrenders and grant new leases; thus the income of the Bishops at present by law consisted not only of the rents of the Church lands, which were nominal, but of the renewal fines, which were considerable; and the tenant was by law enabled, by the regular payment of his renewal fine, which would not amount to more than a fifth of his interest, to maintain his original term of twenty-one years undiminished. He felt he was justified in terming this tenure a perpetuity, which had been sanctioned by the usage of 200 years—a tenure both landlord and tenant were bound by the most powerful of all human motives, personal interest, to maintain; and so powerfully had that interest acted on both, that in the space of two centuries, but one or two instances could be given of those leases having been suffered to expire; and, on examination, it would be found to have arisen either from the mental imbecility or great irregularity of the tenant, in permitting several years of his tenure to pass over without renewal. He challenged them to produce one solitary instance of a Bishop running his life against the tenant, having first refused one-fifth of the beneficial interest as renewal fine. That that circumstance rendered it almost imperative on the Bishop to renew, could not be disputed. Three-fourths of his income depended upon it. His rent, which was but the original sum reserved in the days of Charles 1st. barely amounted to a fourth—the remaining three-fourths of his income were made up by renewal fines. Baron Foster, in his evidence in 1825, estimated the incomes of the Irish Prelates at 120,000l. a-year; a more accurate inquiry showed it to be 130,000l, 100,000l. of which consisted of renewal fines. Would the nation, for the purpose of evicting the tenants of the Church lands, take on itself the payment of 100,000l. annually for the next twenty-one years, or would the Irish Episcopal Bench consent to surrender so much of their income, unless one or the other was done. This tenure, then, must, he contended, be deemed perpetual. That it was the interest of the tenant to maintain it, he was ready to admit. Their having done so for 200 years was a sufficient proof—men would not act for so long a period in opposition to their interests. Even now they were willing to put the renewal fine, which at present was voluntary, from the payment of which they were exempt for the next twenty-one years, as an immediate and permanent charge on the land, for the non-payment of which they would be liable to the eviction of their interests, as the price of the name of perpetuity; but they were not willing to purchase it as demanded—first, by a payment of a fifth of their beneficial interest for twenty-one years, amounting to about four millions; secondly, by surrendering the option of commanding five years' purchase of their beneficial interest from the Bishop, at the eve of the expiration of their leases (between two and three millions), which had not even been alluded to by the noble Lord, though he must have been fully aware of it, as it was distinctly mentioned in the evidence of Mr. Foster; thirdly, by contributing to this proposed perpetuity fund, this tenure had always been considered in Ireland as perpetual. Mansion-houses had been built—whole streets had been erected—family settlements had been entered into on the faith of it—and even in the Tithe Report the Committee were compelled to acknowledge that the tenant had, in part, a permanent interest in the land. On what data the noble Lord had assumed the present value of those houses to be but twelve and a-half years' purchase, or by what process of reasoning he had brought the conviction to his mind, that twenty years would be a fair estimate of their future value, he was unable to discover. In the evidence in the Report, to which he had alluded, those leases had been, by some, compared to leases of lives, renewable for ever, which brought sixteen or seventeen years' purchase; and in the various communications he had received from different individuals in Ireland, they universally agreed in the present interest being worth fourteen years' purchase. He supposed the evidence of Mr. Mahony must be depended on to press the statement of the noble Lord:—that Gentleman stated he had known leases of this description disposed of", and bring but twelve years' purchase; but this ought not to be taken as the criterion of their value, for a little further on the same Gentleman stated he had, since 1815, frequently purchased fee simple under seventeen years' purchase. Land in Ireland was brought into the market on account of the distress of its owner—it was brought there to be sold, and sold it must be, bring what price it would—that price depended therefore not on its intrinsic value, but on the number and the wealth of the competitors that might be seeking for it; nor should it be forgotten, that since the evidence was given, the value of these leases had been considerably enhanced by that provision in the Reform Bill, which enabled leaseholders to register. Hitherto the great objection to this kind of property had been, that it could not be made available for political purposes—that objection no longer existed, and he was confident, that fourteen years was far from being an exaggerated value. His hon. friend, the member for Mayo, had informed him a few days since, of a lease of this description being disposed of in his county, and bringing seventeen years' purchase; twenty years was generally considered to be—and was in the tithe report, expressly stated to be—and from Returns in the Master's Office, distinctly shown to be—the value of fee-simple in Ireland. The noble Lord must long since have discovered his error, in stamping the same value on his proposed tenure as on a lease for ever, subject to a heavy chiefry, to all the casualties of ejectment, and the irregularities of the tenant. Could that, with justice, be put on a level with an estate in fee? He himself had known several estates, subject to small chiefry, fall by ejectment, into the possession of the owner in fee. The noble Lord would not venture to affirm that these estates were equal in value to those in fee, or that the latter would not command a higher vale of purchase in the market, by at least three years. In the reports to which he had alluded, the extreme value of these fee-grants was stated to be seventeen-years and a half's purchase; but it was proposed to dispose of four-fifths, one-fifth being laid on the land as annuity; if that were deducted, but fourteen years remained—the exact value of the tenant's present interest. What, then, would remain to be purchased; or under what pretence were the tenants of the Church lands to be called on to contribute to this perpetuity fund? The first demand for the payment of renewal fine was sufficient, and ought to be considered as a purchase of the perpetuity; and if that renewal fine amounted actually to one-fifth of the tenant's beneficial interest, it was more than should be demanded; the tenure was worth fourteen years' purchase; one-fifth of the beneficial interest for twenty-one years was four years' purchase of the entire, and six were demanded towards the perpetuity fund; making altogether, twenty-four years' purchase, independent of their proposed leases to the tenants, of one year and a half, for property which, if brought into the market one hour after the purchase was concluded, would not fetch more than seventeen years and a-half. Could an arrangement, such as this, be termed beneficial? Out of the numerous documents in his possession, he would trouble the House with but two;—the opinion of an eminent notary-public, Mr. Page, concluding the statement he had made on an extract from the evidence of Mr. Leslie Foster in 1825. The questions put to Mr. Page were—first, "What is the value of the reversion at the expiration of a lease of twenty-one years, at present producing an annual income of 500l., such reversion to be conveyed by a fee grant subject to a perpetual rent of 100l. per annum? Answer, 1200l. Second. What is the present value of 100l. annually, payable by annual instalments for twenty-one years? Answer 1250l. proving, that when the renewal fine was an actual fifth, it would amount to one year and a half purchase more than should be demanded. Mr. Foster's evidence was this "The maximum a Bishop will obtain is one-fifth of beneficial value; it is computed that, practically, the present value of one year, to be added at the expiration of twenty years, is one-fifth of what that twenty years is expected to produce; some Bishops are contented with a seventh—some with a sixth; but a-fifth is the maximum which can be obtained; and the tenant who would give more than that, would make a losing bargain; if he was tenant to a Bishop, he would rather let his lease expire than give him so much; ten year's purchase is demanded for four-fifths of a fee-farm grant, when the absolute reversion of the entire fee simple is worth but seven." The more he considered, the more difficult he found it, to reconcile himself to this new, this monstrous principle, now for the first time attempted to be introduced into legislation. This claim, on the part of the State, for real, or, as in the present instance, imaginary benefit conferred by Acts of Parliament—this fearful precedent for England, which could be made available on every question, and for every purpose—if once admitted, would shake the security of every description of property whether public or private, lay or ecclesiastical. Even now, as before the House, it was a measure of no trifling import; it would affect between a tenth and eleventh of the whole landed property of Ireland—a species of property, which, not having been included in the great forfeitures, hitherto holding out no inducements to the capitalists to purchase, was at present almost exclusively vested in the small resident proprietors. This class—on whom the maintenance of the connexion between the countries must ultimately depend—by whom the whole local business of the country was transacted—in whom were centred all hopes of the future improvement of Ireland,—all these would, by one stroke, be deprived of a fourth of their property, and must eventually, by the Bill, be utterly exterminated. Vainly would they endeavour to struggle against a diminution of their income of forty per cent. It was most desirable for all parties that the question should be settled, that on fair and equitable terms the perpetuity should be obtained. It was desirable for the Bishop,—it would render certain his income, now liable to great variation,—it was desirable for the tenant as it would protect him (and that was all it would do for him) in his future outlay of capital;—but it would be as beneficial to the State, as advantageous to the tenant and the Church. Whole districts, at present un-profitable, would be brought into cultivation; employment would be afforded to the people; tranquillity throughout the country would be maintained. Was it not the interest of the nation, and ought it not to be the policy of the Government, to promote, in place of retarding, so desirable an end? These lands were, by the concurrent testimony of every individual who was examined, declared remarkable for their unimproved and neglected stale, Want of employment had long been the bane of Ireland, the fertile source of disturbances and discontent of her peasantry. The settlement of this question was an opportunity long wished for, which promised to call into action employment for thousands of her agricultural population; but, as usual, the cup when within reach was to be dashed from their lips. Was it not mockery on the part of his Majesty's Government to declare that they would, by giving a permanent interest, create in the heart of the landlord the desire of improvement; while, at the same time, they were depriving him of the means of carrying it into effect? They confessed, they acknowledged, the neglected state of these lands, but their fiat was about to go forth that, as they hitherto had been, so they should remain, neither affording employment to the people nor wealth to the nation. The noble Lord, on originally introducing this measure, made use of the expression, "want of capital in Ireland is an evil Government cannot remedy." It was an evil, however, they ought not, as they were at present about to do, to increase. He had heard this expression fall from the noble Lord with feelings of deep dissatisfaction. It would be unfair, it would be uncandid, to charge him and his Colleagues with the actual want of capital in Ireland; but he would maintain, to remove that want, to remedy that great evil, the source of so much misery and crime, should be among the first thoughts, as it was certainly one of the first duties, of the noble Lord, both as a Minister and as a Legislator. The increase of capital in Ireland would be the best criterion, as it would be the first result of a wise system of measures; the want of it was presumptive evidence of mistaken and unsuccessful legislation; and when the noble Lord declared want of capital in Ireland an evil he could not remedy, he said, in fact, that he despaired of Ireland. He despaired of himself. He would once more object to the proposed alteration of this, as he trusted it would prove, visionary fund. Had it been destined to increase the salaries of the hard-working, but ill-requited class, the unfortunate, the neg- lected curates, though he would object to its amount, still he would subscribe to its principle. Had it even been proposed to remove a blot from the Protestant Church by compensating and doing away with the holding of pluralities, it would have found some favour in his eyes, but as it was, he protested against it, and conjured the Ministers not to persevere in making it part and parcel of their Bill; and he particularly called on the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, whose talents no person could hold in higher estimation than he did, nor was there an individual in the House more inclined to give him credit for those kind feelings towards Ireland which, in his eloquent address to the House at the commencement of the Session he assured them he had always felt,—he called upon him, as a practical proof of his friendship, to abandon this obnoxious and oppressive provision. If Government would not adhere to the principle of their Bill, which professed to be for the advantage of the tenant, let them, at least, be just; should the measure, however, be proceeded in he did not fear the result. His confidence in that House must forbid his imagining that they would, in open disregard of the rights of property, in direct violation of justice, in a total abandonment of good feeling, sanction it, or call on Ireland,—wasted, impoverished Ireland,.—to furnish a subsidy of 3,000,000l. to the State. He would no longer detain the House; he had already trespassed on its patience too long; and he would but assure it, that he deeply felt and gratefully acknowledged the attention with which he had been honoured.

An Hon. Member

was understood to say, that the measure had his general support, but that he objected to part of it, because that part of it was inconsistent with the main principles of the Bill. The part he objected to was that which sanctioned an alienation of Church property; for, notwithstanding the denial of the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, there was in the measure a sanction given to the alienation of Church property. Whilst he admitted the power of that House with respect to Church property, he thought that it should be especially applied to Church purposes. One of the purposes to which it ought to be applied, and for which it was originally destined, was education; and few countries more than Ireland required that education should be encouraged. It was the ignorance of the people of that country that gave so much hold to agitation; and no one could read the Report of the Irish Commissioners without being convinced, that the increase of crime in Ireland was owing to the ignorance of the people. Even the hon. member for Dublin would allow, that the crimes of a population were generally proportionate to their ignorance.

Mr. O'Connell

said, that he was not quite so sure of the ignorance of the people of Ireland. Whether ignorance did or did not prevail there, it was certain that it did to a very large extent elsewhere, and he seldom saw so many proofs of it as he did when he heard hon. Members talk about Ireland. He denied that the crimes of a country were in proportion to the ignorance of its population, and he was supported in his opinion by the authority of a late number of "The Edinburgh Review." He had seen it stated in a statistical calculation published in that journal, that there were more poor children enjoying the blessing of education in Ireland, than in that country so vaunted, and so favoured as to education—Scotland. Besides, if the statistical accounts of crimes in the French departments, drawn up by the desire of the Government of that country, were consulted, the hon. Member who had last spoken would find that the progress of crime did not tally with the ignorance of the departments; for that the proportion of crime to the inhabitants was greater in those departments which were considered the most enlightened. With respect to the present measure, as he had said on a former occasion, it had his approbation; and he would now state why he approved of it no longer, lest he should be accused of inconsistency and of changing his sentiments without a sufficient reason. The fact was, that the noble Lord opposite had practised a delusion on him when he said that the Vestry-cess was to be entirely abolished. The noble Lord might have done so unwittingly, but the noble Lord must still be aware that he (Mr. O'Connell) spoke sincerely when he mentioned that he laboured under a delusion upon this point. The amount of the cess was stated to be between 60,000l. or 80,000l.; in the newspaper reports he saw it to be 69,000l. This was to be done away with; and when the noble Lord stated the yearly value of Bishops' property to be 700,000l., he (Mr. O'Connell) asked the noble Lord whether it was too much to expect that the people of Ireland should be relieved of their burthens at the rate of about ten per cent upon that property? But it had been proved since the noble Lord spoke, that the relief, instead of amounting to 70,000l., would not amount to more than 10,000l. This was the reason why he changed his opinion with respect to the measure. He held in his hand some returns of the amount of assessment on several parishes in Dublin, some with exclusively Protestant vestries, and others to which he would refer for the purpose of showing what charges would be abolished by the operation of this measure. The statute of 7 Geo. 4, c. 72, authorized three heads of expenditure. First, expenses relating to the building, rebuilding, repairing, or enlarging churches or chapels; secondly, the providing things necessary for the celebration of divine service therein, as authorized by letters canonical, or canon law; and thirdly, the providing a salary for the maintenance of any parish clerk or sexton. These were the heads of expenditure authorized by the Act. Now, the assessment dated the 11th of June, 1830, made on the parish of St. Ann's, Dublin, the Vestry being exclusively Protestant, contained the following items:

£. s. d.
To Bread and wine for Communion 15 0 0
Parish clerk 58 0 0
Sexton 32 18 4
Ditto ringing for Morning Service 9 5 0
Organist 53 0 0
Organ-blower 9 5 0
Organ-tuner 9 5 0
Ground-rent of church 15 0 0
Insurance on church 15 0 0
Then there was a charge for the salary of a curate, for performing morning service. 150l. And then came
£. s. d.
Reverend George Blacker (another) 150 0 0
Vestry clerk, one year's salary 23 0 0
Assistance to sexton 23 0 0
Beadle 24 0 0
Gate-keeper 32 0 0
Vestry maid 19 0 0
Engine keeper's salary 19 0 0
Paying engines attending fires in the parish 17 0 0
Providing for deserted children 17 0 0
Donations to the poor 21 0 0
Taking care of churchyard 6 0 0
—— 45 0 0
Now St. Peter's was not exclusively Protestant, and let the House see the items of expenditure in St. Peter's. There were.
£ s. d.
Taking care of church 5 5 0
Organist 65 0 0
Organ bellows-blower 6 16 0
Organ-tuner 6 16 0
Beadle 42 0 0
Vestry clerk 80 0 0
Now all the expensive items he had mentioned would still remain, though it had been said that the cess was virtually abolished. The cess, so far as it regarded the repairs of churches, was done away with, but it would still be levied for all other purposes. The present measure would, by allowing assessments at any time of the year, only double that vexatious tax. When he had expressed his approval of the Bill, he had done so because he believed it would remove this most vexatious imposition; but, on examining the measure, he had found, that it neither repealed the act of Geo. 2, nor the 7th Geo. 4, nor any of those Acts by which this cess was levied; and, therefore, he retracted his opinion. He must state, that the people of Ireland cared little for the removal of ten of the Bishops, but only sought to escape the annoying payments which were thus levied upon them. The only feature of the Bill that he was able to approve of was, that it instituted a control by Parliament over Church property, and that, once admitted, it might lead to ulterior and highly important consequences. He complained that the law as it stood was most unjust, for if an appeal were made by a Catholic to the Court of King's Bench against the Vestry-cess, and the appeal were unsuccessful in form or substance, he was fined in triple costs, and if he were successful, he had to pay the costs of both sides. The Bill did not abolish tithes, nor lessen the burthens of the people of Ireland. With reference to the livings to which the present Fellows of Trinity College would be entitled to succeed, he hoped the Bill would not prejudice the interests of those Gentlemen therein, as having actually toiled in expectation of the vacancies, they might be said to have a vested right in them.

Lord Althorp

said, that the hon. and learned member for Dublin had contended, that the Vestry-cess in Ireland would not be abolished by the Bill introduced by the Government. He (Lord A.) could only say, that the intention was to abolish it, and that if the hon. and learned Member could point out an instance in which that was not done, he could assure him the Government would make such alteration in the clause as would have the effect of abolishing it. Since the hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken, however, he (Lord Althorp) had been assured by an hon. and learned Gentleman near him, that the clause, as it at present stood, would have the effect of abolishing all those charges. The intention was, to benefit the people of Ireland by relieving them of the Vestry-cess; and if the clause which was to confer that benefit were still found to be defective, they were willing to make the required Amendment. The hon. and learned member for Dublin then complained that the Bill did not go so far as he wished. He (Lord A.) had no doubt that it did not go so far as the inclination of the hon. and learned Member would wish; and he would say more, it was never intended that it should go so far. The learned Gentleman said further, that it contained many clauses which were of no consequence to a large majority of the people of Ireland. It was true, as argued by the hon. and learned Member, that it was a matter of indifference to the Catholics of Ireland how the revenues of the Church were distributed among the clergy; but the learned Gentleman should recollect that this was a Bill intended for the Reform of the Protestant Church, and that it was therefore their business to remove the abuses of the Protestant Church, but they were not obliged to go to the Catholics for their advice how that Church would be best arranged. He would now beg to say a few words in answer to the speech of the hon. member for Roscommon (Mr. French). When that hon. Gentleman asserted that this Bill would do an injury to the tenants of the Church, he could assure the hon. Member, that it was not intended to do them an injury; but, on the contrary, that it was intended to do them a benefit. The hon. Member had said, that the leases held by those tenants were equal to a perpetuity. Now he (Lord Althorp) could assure the House, that at present there were forty-five Bishops' leases, of which only ten years remained, and he would ask if those leases could be considered equal to a perpetuity? As far as he (Lord Althorp) could understand the tenor of the hon. Member's argument, he appeared to contend that the continued renewal of a lease was more valuable than a perpetuity by half a year's purchase. He would now say a few words with regard to the observations of the hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin. That hon. and learned Member proposed, that instead of the present plan of getting rid of Vestry-cess, and placing the expense of maintaining the Irish Church on Irish Protestants, a tax of a penny an acre should be imposed; but this proposal was objectionable on the same ground as the Vestry-cess, because it threw the expenses of the Church on other than churchmen, who ought to bear them. The hon. and learned Gentleman assumed, that the palaces vacated by Protestant Bishops would be occupied by members of the Catholic hierarchy, a circumstance upon which he dwelt with expressions of great horror and regret; but he saw no reason for supposing the matter to be at all likely, and therefore thought the learned Gentleman might spare his lamentations. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that the revenues of the suppressed bishoprics should be left with the Bishops who were retained. If the hon. and learned Member thought the revenues of the bishoprics which remained too small, he (Lord Althorp) could understand why the revenues of two Bishops should be given to one; but as that was not alleged, he could not see the advantage of that arrangement; and he thought it would be much better to apply those revenues to the general purposes of the Church of Ireland, The hon. and learned Member objected also to the abolition of the Board of First Fruits, and to the manner in which the first fruits were to be administered; and that it was degrading to the Church that the Board of Commissioners who were to have the administration of them should be composed partly of ecclesiastics and partly of laymen. Now, he thought it of great importance that those employed in that arduous and important duty should be persons of activity and industry; and that such a duty should not be intrusted to those persons alone who could not be called upon to attend, but might do so or not, as they thought proper. When they came to that clause, he would be ready to prove that there was nothing in it deserving of the censure which had been lavished upon it by the hon. and learned Gentleman. He had no intention of taking part in the discussion that evening; and his only reason for rising was, because he had considered the observations made as necessary to be answered.

Mr. Goulburn

was not opposed to the adoption of useful and necessary reforms in the Church Establishment; on the contrary, as one who venerated that Establishment, he desired to see it rendered as complete as possible; but he must resist the present Bill, which was calculated to retard the growth of the Protestant faith in Ireland, but did nothing towards the actual reform of abuses, or the promotion of the efficiency of the Church as an instrument for the extension of true religion. There was nothing in the Bill to enforce the residence of the clergy—no provision for the separation of large unions of parishes—in short, the measure did not tend to render the Church more efficient. Its grand feature was, that it abolished ten bishoprics, of which he would speak presently. He did not object to the removal of the Vestry-cess from the population at large, but he thought that, in professing to remove a grievance, the noble Lord left behind abundant grounds for dissatisfaction and agitation. There were two cesses raised in every parish in Ireland—the one by an exclusively Protestant vestry, the other by a mixed vestry of Protestants and Catholics. The objects of the first-named cess were limited by Act of Parliament to repairs of the Church and the performance of worship therein, but the general vestry had to deal with subjects no less inflammatory. Curates' salaries had been provided for in general vestries, but it was otherwise enacted by the present Bill. However, abundant subjects of dispute and irritation remained. The expenses of organists, singing, and all matters connected with the churchyard, were provided for in general vestries. Here was matter for agitation which the Bill had not removed. The Bill imposed an oppressive and iniquitous tax on one class of the community without attaining its avowed object. He did not wish the noble Lord to impose another tax on the clergy for the accomplishment of the objects at which he had glanced, but he said that when the noble Lord was getting rid of the Vestry-cess, he would have done better to have got rid of it altogether; and unless that were done, they would render the life of the Protestant clergy hardly safe. But the great objection which he had to the Bill was the manner in which it affected the interests of the Protestant Bishops, while it restricted the extension of the Protestant religion throughout Ireland. If this Bill should be carried, it would prove the greatest calamity which could be inflicted on the country. The noble Lord intended by this measure to abolish no loss than ten out of the twenty-two Bishops in Ireland; and he would leave a number which was not sufficient to perform the duties of the Church. He would not question the right of the Crown to consolidate the bishoprics, but he would say that, if such a reduction as that proposed were carried into effect, the number of bishoprics would be restricted to a number which would fail to render them able to discharge those numerous duties which would devolve upon them. With respect to the number of Bishops, he could not suppose that all of them could always be ready to fulfil their functions, when he called to mind the common accidents of nature, the infirmities of age, or those many causes which must always tend to reduce the actual number of the persons appointed to these situations. In every establishment there would be men promoted to high stations who, from a variety of circumstances, might not be calculated to advance the dignity of the Establishment. They could not therefore calculate always upon having the aid of twelve Bishops to conduct the ecclesiastical affairs of the Church in Ireland; and by the Bill, it followed, that of that number four would be required to perform their parliamentary duties, while four would be expected to remain in Dublin for the superintendence of spiritual affairs. Therefore, for five or six months of the year, no more than four Bishops could be expected to be engaged in the discharge of the episcopal duties. But supposing that all these Bishops were in the full vigour of youth, their number would be inadequate to the discharge of the duties of their situations. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the English bishoprics, and had particularly referred to the bishopric of Chester, as containing a great number of benefices; but he thought that, if a Reform were to be made in the English Church Establishment, that Reform should be to increase the number of bishoprics. He did not think it necessary to dwell at any length upon the great advantage which Ireland derived from the residence of the Bishops, who were resident gentry of the best description, and gave employment to the people. He had himself been in Ireland in the year 1822, when the country was visited by the double calamity of famine and of a frightful pestilence which raged through Ireland. He knew well what had been the exertions of those Bishops on that occasion, whose situations it was intended to abolish, and he witnessed more particularly the conduct of a Bishop in Galway. He had beheld with delight the efforts which had been made by the Archbishop of Tuam, not only in the capacity of a Protestant Bishop, but also in his character as a Protestant Gentleman. Only last year he had seen a Bishop, who, while Gentlemen on every side fled from their abodes in alarm, had given up his intention of sailing for England, and had returned to his residence for the purpose of administering comfort to the poor people in his diocese. It was the fashion to say that all preferment was given to the relations of the nobility, but this he denied in respect to the bishoprics. The Bishops rose to their distinctions from their superior talent and accomplishments to their contemporaries. He thought that in every point of view, whether in respect to the necessary ecclesiastical superintendence of the Bishops, or the benefit arising to the country from the residence of the Bishops in their dioceses (in which latter case he had only quoted one instance, though he knew many similar cases), the proposed reduction was carried beyond what could be beneficial to the country. The fact was, that this Bill appointed a commission to take care that religious duties should not be performed in Ireland; if service had not been performed for a certain time in a parish, the commissioners had power to prevent it ever being performed again. Now, in his opinion, they ought to do directly the contrary of that, and of a parish so long deserted, peculiar care should be taken of the religious culture. The diminishing the power of the Church of Ireland, to effect the spread of Protestantism in that country, which would follow from this measure, would not be compensated for, he feared, by the exertions of the voluntarily paid ministers of Dissenting congregations, judging from the manner in which such exertions were treated by his Majesty's Government. It was but very recently that two Dissenting ministers in Ireland, who endeavoured to address the people there, with a view to disseminate amongst them the truths of the Protestant religion, drew down upon their heads the reprobation of the Government for their conduct. Instead of suspending the appointment of a minister in parishes where, through the negligence of former ministers, duty had not been performed for some years, they should appropriate the revenues which they would derive from the Bishops' lands to the filling up of all vacant livings, and thus endeavour to promote the spread of Protestantism in that country. He was firmly convinced that the happiness and prosperity of Ireland mainly depended upon the spread of the true reformed Protestant faith in that country, and he was convinced that if its blessings were more widely disseminated there, instead of crimes and outrages, peace, virtue, and good-will, the never-failing effects, as experience had shown, of the efforts of Protestant ministers to establish the true faith, would universally prevail. For his part, he did not see what advantages the people of Ireland would obtain by the passing of this Bill. He did not believe that, in a pecuniary point of view, the lower orders of the Irish people would derive any benefit from it, because an increase in the rents would no doubt take place, so as more than to make up for the burden, if any, from which this measure went to relieve them. In fact, instead of seeing in this measure any tendency to diminish the evils of Ireland, he was of opinion that several of the clauses of it would go greatly to aggravate them. This measure went to lessen the Bishops in Ireland, and to diminish the number of the clergy there, while it went to transfer their property to the hands of lay commissioners, who would have no fellow-feeling with the people. If they passed this measure they would condemn many parts of Ireland to the misfortune of never seeing a Protestant Bishop, and of never being solaced and instructed in the true religion by a Protestant pastor.

Mr. Hume

said, that he should have been extremely glad to have heard the speech just made by the right hon. Gentleman delivered by him when he sat on the other side of the House, and he should have been equally glad to have heard the right hon. Gentleman suggest those Reforms which he now suggested, and ad- mitted to be necessary, at a time that he had the power of carrying them into effect. But far other was the game of the right hon. Gentleman when he sat on the Treasury benches. He recollected the day when the right hon. Gentleman had the power of carrying these Reforms into effect, and when he would not do so; he recollected the day when the attention of the right hon. Gentleman was called—but was called in vain—to the non-residence of clergymen, and to the other crying abuses that existed in the Church Establishment of Ireland. All those abuses seemed then to be forgotten by the right hon. Gentleman, and he had only recovered his sight so as to perceive the misgovernment and mismanagement of the Irish Church, at the same time that he had been removed from his seat upon the opposite benches. He would do the right hon. Gentleman the justice to say that he had always expressed an anxious desire that clergymen should be resident, but what was the use of expressing such an opinion if the right hon. Gentleman did not use the means for carrying it into effect? [Mr. Goulburn; I did use them; I brought in a Bill for the purpose]. He was told by the right hon. Gentleman that he brought in a Bill for the purpose, but why had not that Bill produced the desired effect, after having been so many years in operation? The right hon. Gentleman told them that he considered the support and maintenance of the Protestant Established Church in Ireland as the only means of securing the peace of that country, and yet the right hon. Gentleman had hitherto done nothing for the spread of Protestantism in Ireland but by voting money for other purposes. What was the remedy which he now proposed? After Protestantism had had a trial of a century and upwards in Ireland, and had failed in making progress there, the right hon. Gentleman proposed that churches should be built, and that the number of Protestant clergymen should be increased, evidently for the purpose of forcing Protestantism down the throats of the people of that country. He (Mr. Hume) was anxious to state to the House what he believed to be the real truth—namely, that they never should have peace in Ireland until the Protestant Establishment there was put down [No, no]. The hon. member for Berkshire did not seem to agree in that opinion; he begged the hon. Member's pardon, the hon. member for Yorkshire (Mr. Duncombe) did not appear, judging from his vociferous "No," to coincide in that sentiment. The hon. Member did not seem to agree with him as to the expediency of putting an end to the Protestant Establishment in Ireland. Now, he would assert, and re-assert, that that was the only and the true way of pacifying Ireland [No, no]. The hon. Members about him might cry "No, no" to that statement, but just let them try the matter by the test of experience. What did the hon. and learned member for the city of Dublin tell them a short lime ago? That they had been for a century and a half trying by every means in their power to spread Protestantism in Ireland; but that, instead of succeeding, the Protestant Church there had fallen off day by day, and instead of increasing the number of Protestants, had been gradually on the decrease, so much so, that in many parishes in Ireland there was not a single Protestant to be found. Would not a trial of a century and upwards satisfy them of the fruitlessness of the effort, and were they to commence a Quixotic crusade of another century in seeking such an unattainable end? He trusted that the House would have the good sense to scout such ridiculous schemes. What he wished, on this occasion, to impress upon the noble Lord and the right hon. Secretary opposite was, that it would be better for them to take a more decided course on this subject. From what had happened that night, they must see that this measure would not give satisfaction either to the Catholics or to the high Protestants; and he would tell them, further, that this measure would give satisfaction to nobody. He did not blame this measure on the same account that those gentlemen around him who now cried "Hear, hear," did. He did not blame it because it cut down ten Bishops; no, but he blamed it because it did not cut down twenty-two Bishops in Ireland. He thought that one Bishop ought to answer all the purposes for which Bishops were really wanted in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had stated to them instances of Bishops presiding over from thirty-five to sixty benefices, and he had referred to the excellent example of the Bishop of Chester, who had in his diocess no less than 1,200 benefices. Now, there were only 1,286 livings in Ireland altogether, and therefore it would be only with the slight addition of some sixty or eighty benefices, to make one Bishop, as the Bishop of Chester did in this country, preside over them, and attend to the affairs of a church of 600,000 or 700,000 persons, for that, he believed, comprised the whole number of the Protestants of the Established Church in Ireland. He thought that one Bishop would be amply sufficient to do that duty. The Act of Union did not contemplate the necessity of having more than four Bishops in Ireland, as it called only that number to Parliament; and on a former occasion, when he (Mr. Hume) was more liberal towards the Church, he had proposed that four Bishops should be retained in Ireland. He now, however, thought that one would be sufficient. They should consider for what purposes the Protestant Church was established in Ireland. It was not for the purpose of maintaining a parcel of idle clergymen—it was not for the purpose of producing eternal bickerings and contests amongst the people—it was for the purpose of promoting religion good-will, and peace. Did it do so? Had it not, on the contrary, tended to promote anything but such desirable results? He would therefore say, that the Church establishment of Ireland had been the bane of that unfortunate country; that all the abominations in the shape of countless abuses connected with it had produced results the very reverse of those for effecting which a Church should be established; and he now called upon them to give an honest verdict, and put down the nuisance. The hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin had told them, forsooth, that Church property was not public property. Why, that doctrine was now so completely exploded that even some of the Bishops themselves had given up the point. There was no doubt that it was public property, to be dealt with as Parliament might think fit. ["No, no!"] He would only say to those hon. Members about him who cried "No," that they differed from several of the Bishops, who had acknowledged that principle. He would repeat, that the property of the Church was public property, for all purposes to which Parliament might wish to appropriate it. The hon. and learned member for the Dublin University talked of the monster that was carrying every thing before it. He knew no monster existing save public opinion. It was to nothing else the hon. and learned Member had alluded; his observations could apply to nothing else. Would any man say, that in England the Church of Ireland was not considered as a sinecure church. [" No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen near him said "No" to that, but it was not to them that he appealed,—he appealed to the people. Let them take ninety-nine out of every 100 of the people of England and Scotland, and they would find that they would say that the Church of Ireland was a sinecure church, and that it produced enormous evils, which ought to be redressed. In fact, the only question was, how, without shaking the institutions of the country, the nuisance, as it existed, could be abated? As this measure would neither satisfy the Catholics nor the high church party, his Majesty's Ministers should seek to satisfy the people. There was too much good sense in the country to run wrong for any length of time. Let them see the day—they never would see it—when public opinion would change to the side of those hon. Gentlemen who now so loudly cheered him, and then he would admit, but not till then, that those hon. Gentlemen were right. Public opinion had set in strongly against the maintenance of abuses in church establishments, and let the conflict be only continued for some time longer, and they would bring the English Church into the same discredit and disrepute that the Irish Church at present monopolized to itself. The fault he had to find with this measure was, that his Majesty's Ministers did not go far enough to meet the wishes of the country. He would not object to it, however. He would be glad to take it now, hoping that it would lead to those results to which he looked forward hereafter. He must say that the greatest enemy to the Established Church in the country, without knowing it, was the hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin, who altogether denied the necessity of Reform and the existence of the most notorious abuses. They were the real friends of the Establishment who endeavoured in some measure to remedy its monstrous abuses. In no parish in Ireland should a Protestant clergyman be left who had no duties to perform and no flock to attend to. He trusted that ere long the noble Lord opposite, should he retain the situation he now occupied, would see the necessity of extending the Reform in the Irish Church. The doing so would be the best mode of promoting the real interests of that establishment. It was plain that, unless the Catholics were relieved from every contribution for the support of the Protestant Church in Ireland, there never would be peace in that country. He believed it was the intention of the noble Lord to relieve them by this measure; and if such was his intention, nothing would more tend to produce peace and satisfaction in Ireland. He would have the Church lands in Ireland sold out and out. That was the way to promote the prosperity of Ireland. Let the funds arising from their sale be applied as Parliament should think fit. They might depend upon it that the establishment of a set of Commissioners, with this and that power, would never attain the result that the sale of the Church lands, as he recommended, would produce towards establishing the prosperity of Ireland. He should support this Reform; he would go as far as the noble Lord, and he wished he had gone further, and if the noble Lord would not go further, he hoped somebody else would.

Mr. Granville Harcourt Vernon

said, no man was less disposed than he was to decry public opinion. The laugh was directed rather against the monstrous opinion of the member for Middlesex than against public opinion. He supported this Bill under many painful impressions arising from his connexion with an individual dignitary of the Church, from his official situation, and from other considerations. He supported this Bill, because he was satisfied that it would render the Established Church of Ireland more stable, more effective, and more respected. As the state of the Church in Ireland did not seem to suit with public opinion in that country, the natural conclusion was, that there must be something in it which required revision and correction. The member for Middlesex seemed to him to aim at nothing less than the total destruction of that Church. This sentiment was natural enough in a North Britain; but he confessed, that he entertained strong predilections in favour of that Church and its hierarchy. He considered the institution of Church dignitaries as of the greatest benefit to society; and on general principles he contended that the current of morality must descend from the higher classes to the lower. The advantage of prelacy was this, that by such an institution they had a class of men who by their education and station in society might mix with the upper classes, communicate religious instruction to them, while, at the same time, they mixed with them in equal and amicable intercourse, being separated from them only by the absence of the follies and vices incident to wealth. He did not think, however, that the efficiency of the Church depended on the number of its dignitaries. The number, if greater than necessity required, seemed rather a source of injury by exciting complaint than of increased benefit. The member for the University of Dublin spoke of the number of acres each Prelate in Ireland had to attend to besides his other duties. The proper business of a Bishop was not to measure acres, but to devote himself to the spiritual concerns of the people. So far as he comprehended the Bill under consideration, he did not think the proposed union of bishoprics in Ireland would throw upon the Prelates any additional duties which they would not be adequate to discharge. He had been in the habit of accompanying his relative (the Archbishop of York) for many years in the discharge of his duties through a very extensive diocese, and he believed there was no ground for saying that these duties were not adequately discharged. In the diocese of Chester there were 1,200 parishes, and in that of York 1,000, with a population of 3,000,000. He heard of no complaints made that the duties of the bishop were inadequately performed in either diocese. These duties were some of them very heavy, such as the consecration of churches and confirmations. In large towns it was not uncommon to see as many as 5,000 children confirmed at one time. There were, however, various other duties, the weight of which depended on the number of parishes, the number of communications to be attended to, and the amount of the population. It would not appear that, in any point of view, the proposed unions in Ireland would impose more labour than a single Prelate might be capable of performing. He did not think it would be proper to apply the funds to any other but ecclesiastical purposed, nor was it proposed by this Bill to do so. The only thing contemplated was a different mode of application, and the great object to be effected was the extension of morality and religion. He should be content with the Bill if the words "ecclesiastical purposes" were introduced, and he would give his support to any Amendment which went to confine the application of the revenues of the Church to those purposes.

Mr. Wynn

contended, that the adoption of the measure would be tantamount to a declaration that it was no longer the wish of Parliament to encourage and maintain the Protestant religion in Ireland. He must, in the first place, say, that he most positively objected to the principle of interfering with existing interests, and laying a tax upon individuals now possessed of benefices, for the relief of the landlords in Ireland. At present every proprietor in Ireland was subject to certain charges; but by transferring those charges to the Protestant clergy, every landlord would be enabled to raise his rents. At what a time, too, was this done? It was only last year that his Majesty's Ministers gave a deplorable, but correct, account of the extreme distress of the Protestant clergy in Ireland, and induced the House to grant them relief. He did not understand that tithes were better paid now, than they were then, and yet there was now no proposal for relief, but a proposal to tax their future incomes, although for the last two years and a half hardly any thing had been paid to them. It had been stated, that this Bill was to be accompanied by an enactment to ensure the better payment of tithes; but that ought already to have been brought forward. Let him ask, whether they did not interfere with existing interests in an unfair way? Did they not act with the greatest injustice to all who held the advowsons of livings as private property? Perhaps for the sake of the Church they might be allowed to deal with ecclesiastical livings; but on what pretence could the Legislature interfere with the property in advowsons—a property much older than the Reformation, and allowed by the law of England to be bought and sold from the earliest periods? Was it fair to individuals who, under the sanction of the law, had paid large sums either for the next presentation to, or the perpetual advowsons of livings that the House should impose a tax of 15l. per cent upon their property? The injustice was equally great in the case of individuals who inherited advowsons; but where the advowsons had been purchased, it was more severely felt. He hoped that when the details of the Bill were discussed, there would be no objection to alter the clause which placed the tax upon incomes of 200l. a-year. That sum was not sufficient for a clergyman: it was not double the sum given by gentlemen to their servants. These were details; but look to the injustice of the principle. The whole of this property was in the Church, with unlimited power over it; but the Legislature passed a restrictive Bill limiting its power for the benefit of the Church. Now it was proposed to take advantage of that restriction, and seize the gain which would arise from removing it. That appeared to him complete spoliation, which tended to the destruction of all property. With respect to the union of different bishoprics, he would not determine whether the power of Parliament, or even of the Crown alone extended so far or not; but the impression which the union of these bishoprics would create in Ireland was, that the Protestants were deserted—an impression which would prove most hostile to the Protestant religion. Again, would not the towns where these Bishops constantly reside greatly suffer by the change? Without imputing any peculiar merits to the Bishops, it might be said, that the incomes they possessed were spent more to the advantage of the neighbourhood in which they resided, than they would be if they were in the hands of any other person. It was for the interest of religion that the number of Bishops should be increased in England, instead of being diminished in Ireland. The hon. member, who had just sat down said, that he never heard of a complaint of the administration of the diocese of York; but several years ago, the prelate who held that see, had lamented to him the impossibility of discharging the duty attached to it satisfactorily, on account of its extent, and the great number of clergy resident in it. The hon. Gentleman also stated, that the weight of a Bishop's duty might be calculated by the number of inhabitants in his diocese, but the distance a Bishop had to travel was a very important element in the calculation of the amount of his labour. At any rate no changes of this kind ought to be made without having full statistical particulars respecting the different bishoprics laid upon the Table. The only part of the Bill of which he approved was that which related to enforcing residence. At the same time he doubted whether it went further than the Bill brought in by his right hon. friend (Mr. Goulburn) of whose labours the hon. member for Middlesex seemed profoundly ignorant. His right hon. friend did not confine himself, as stated by the hon. member for Middlesex, to declaring a simple opinion; but, when Secretary to the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, introduced measures to enforce that opinion. Whatever additional provisions could be introduced should have his support. Returning to the present Bill his chief objections to it were two; the first was, the extent of the reduction of bishoprics. He should not have objected to a smaller reduction, by adding a small bishopric to another; but when there were dioceses of ninety or 100 parishes, it was too great an addition of duty to the other Bishops. The other objection was against applying the property of the Church to objects not ecclesiastical.

Sir Robert Bateson

was not opposed to a real practical Reform of the Church—less so, perhaps, than those who proposed a delusion under the name of Reform. He was quite ready to support any proposition which should have for its object the prevention of pluralities, the equalization—not the destruction of bishoprics—and the putting an end to the practice of translation. The present proposition must lead to the destruction of the Protestant Church in Ireland. He objected to the lay Commissioners in the Board, and thought the Board ought to be wholly episcopal. As to doing away the Church cess, he should be happy to concur in any measure by which the objections to the existing system might be removed. He objected to laying a tax on so low a rate of clerical incomes as 200l. a-year. In his opinion, the plan proposed, so far from tending to the advancement of the religion which he professed, would lead to its utter overthrow. The tax, too, ought to be imposed on the lay impropriators equally with clergymen; nay, they ought to bear a greater share, for they rendered no service in return. The plan proposed by Ministers had, in his opinion, alienated from them the confidence of the Protestants of Ireland.

Mr. Andrew Johnston

said, that though a Church Reformer, and anxious for the removal of abuses, he could not assent to this Bill. He regretted much the doctrines which were daily advanced in favour of the separation of Church and State; but as far as the people of Scotland were concerned, he denied that any such sentiment was generally entertained by them. The abolition of Vestry cess appeared to him highly objectionable; the Vestry cess he looked upon as a burthen on the land; and if the Vestry cess were to cease, it would only add so much to the estates of the landed proprietors. He was a Presbyterian; and it might, therefore, be thought strange that he should, as he did, object to the reduction of the number of Bishops in Ireland. In his opinion they ought to be increased. He considered that Ireland was a fair field for Episcopal Bishops to labour in; and he thought their number might be increased and their salaries diminished without injuring the principles of the Bill. He objected to various details of the Bill, particularly to the constitution of the Board of Commissioners, which would be completely under the control of the Government, and, on the whole, he regarded it as a dark and ominous measure.

Mr. Shaw

wished to explain a misapprehension of the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies on the last night this subject was discussed. He was represented by that right hon. Gentleman as having stated, that if this Bill had been brought forward by his friends on that side of the House, he would have supported it; but having been brought forward by the other side, he should oppose it. The right hon. Gentleman was wholly mistaken. With regard to another statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that the Primate of Ireland had suggested the reduction of the number of Bishoprics, he begged, on the part of the Prelate, to deny, that such was the case, and he thought it would be prudent of the right hon. Secretary to be a little more cautious, for these assertions frequently found their way to places where the subsequent contradiction never reached.

Mr. Secretary Stanley

explained: He had so understood the hon. and learned Gentleman; but it was the farthest from his wish to misrepresent what had been said by him. With regard to the Primate, he had since ascertained that what he (Mr. Stanley) had said was a misstatement, though not to any very great extent, as he had stated he had frequent discussions with the Primate on the provisions of the Bill, and the impression on his mind was, that the Primate had suggested that the least objectionable means of obtaining Reform was to reduce the number of Bishops. The Primate had, however, informed him, and, of course, he believed it, that the suggestion came from himself, and not from the Primate. Such was the case. The Primate had certainly admitted with great candour, that if this fund were to be raised, the least objectionable mode would be by reducing the number of Bishops. He was, however, exceedingly sorry that he should in the slightest degree have misrepresented a Prelate for whom he had such high respect. He had intended to set himself right with the House on the first occasion, and he thanked the hon. and learned Member for the opportunity thus afforded him.

Mr. Petre

supported the Bill, though he objected to some of its details. He particularly wished the fund to be applied to ecclesiastical purposes. It was with no small astonishment, however, that he had noticed the course pursued by the hon. and learned member for Dublin—he, too, who was so critical upon the conduct of others. He formerly supported the measure, and yet, on the present occasion, he had departed from his formerly declared opinions, and joined the opposition to the Bill. The hon. and learned Member had better have let that alone. He considered the Bill would be the means of allaying many of those religious animosities which prevailed in Ireland, and for that reason he gave it his support.

Lord Castlereagh

said, he should not have trespassed upon the attention of the House at all, had he not felt himself called upon to state to the House what the feeling of the Protestants of Ireland would be, if the measure then before the House should pass into a law. On the last night he attempted to address the House, he was scouted because he alluded to the question of repeal, but he would now repeat, that the conduct of the Government, if persisted in, would drive the Protestants of Ireland into the advocacy of that measure. When the Government, whose manifest duty it was to cement, promote, and consummate that union, were dissevering the only tie by which it could exist—namely the Established Church—was it to be wondered at that the Protestants of Ireland felt disgusted with their conduct? But he would tell his Majesty's Ministry, that in the plan they proposed, the principle of interfering with private property was so manifest, that they might rest assured the moment the arch which supported the establishment in Ireland was touched by their hands, that moment the proud towers of Woburn would be rocked to their foundations. He would ask his Majesty's Government, since their acceptance of office to point to a single act of theirs which entitled them either to the confidence of the country or that of the Protestants of Ireland? What question had they touched which they had not left in a much worse condition than they found it? They called upon the House to grant them their confidence at a time when from the ranks of their adherents they were unable to select a person to fill the office of Secretary for Ireland; and were these the men, he would ask, who could be trusted with legislating for Ireland on such an important question as that then before the House? The Government might depend upon it that if appeals were made out of doors to the people, to excite them upon the subject then under discussion, appeals of a contrary nature would be made which would be responded to by the true and loyal Protestants of Ireland, many of whom, he was proud to say, he represented in that House. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Colonies, should have deserted Ireland at her most critical moment. If he could vote against the Bill in its present stage, he should have felt most happy to do so, but, as that was not possible, he could not sit down without entering his protest against the measure. His opinion was, that no measure of the kind affecting Ireland could be carried, without affecting the Church in England—the moment one was touched, the other must fall.

The House went into Committee pro formâ; the House resumed; the Chairman reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again.