HC Deb 20 May 1833 vol 17 cc1381-402

Lord Althorp moved the Order of the Day for the House to go into a Committee on the Irish Church Temporalities' Bill.

Mr. Gillon said,

that he did not approve of this Bill, which, in his opinion, did not go half far enough. It merely diminished the evil, but only to a very slight extent, whereas something much more effective was required. In this country, as well as in Ireland, some change was necessary, but especially in Ireland, where the great majority of the people were not of the religion of the Established Church. But even here he believed that the number of dissenters was much underrated; and why were they or any other people to be taxed to support a system of religion to which their own opinions did not conform? The present system in Ireland was upheld by military force, and for that reason he did not wish to see it continued, for he could never consent to impose a religious establishment upon any people by the force of the bayonet. He had presented a petition to the House a few days before from Glasgow, signed by 16,000 persons, expressing the sentiments he had just uttered. He would, therefore, move as an Amendment, the following Resolution which might go as an instruction to the Committee, "that the Revenues of the Irish Church be applied to purposes of general utility, after the demise of the present incumbent."

Mr. Cuthbert Rippon

seconded the Amendment, and observed, that he was exceedingly disappointed with what the Government had done respecting the grievances of Ireland. They had brought forward two measures, both of which were introduced under the pretence of removing abuses, but they had in reality no other object than that of inducing the people to submit to the present system. The Bill was a fraud upon the common sense of the nation, and was a flagrant instance of the departure of Ministers from those professions of Reform of which they were so lavish on their accession to office. The present pretended measure of Reform was a mere wily attempt to perpetuate the monstrous grievance, the iniquitous principle, of compelling the majority of a nation to support the Church Establishment of a small minority. But the fraud would not succeed; the Dissenters and Catholics constituted the majority of the people of the United Empire, and they never would rest satisfied till they freed themselves from the burthen of the Church of England Establishment. Did the Ministers imagine, that the nation could be deluded with these impostures—with these hollow pretences of relief? If they did, they were very much mistaken. He called upon the Government to consider the condition of the people, and then to say whether they did not require that more should be done for them than was now proposed? A double tax for the support of their own Church and another Church was now paid by the middle and lower classes of the people of Ireland, while the Church of the rich aristocracy was paid for, not by that aristocracy itself, but by the whole body of the people for their benefit. It was a monstrous usurpation of the rights of the people—an outrage upon common sense—a mockery of every principle of justice. The welfare of the many was the end of all government; a national establishment should promote the interests and be in harmony with the feelings of the majority of the nation: but who was audacious enough to assert that the Church of England promoted the interest, or was in harmony with the feelings, of the people at large? Was it possible that under such circumstances there could be any peace in that country, or that the people there could be contented? It had been said, that the coercive measure was necessary in order to enforce a due obedience to the laws; but his answer was, that laws should be just and equal before any measures were taken to enforce obedience to them. Were the Ministers ignorant of the rights of their fellow-men; or had they determined to refuse those rights? He feared that the latter was the case. He warned them to beware in time. He told them that they must diminish the monopolies and the privileges of the aristocracy. It was for their benefit that all these abuses had hitherto been kept up. How was it that the younger branches of the Aristocracy had escaped from suffering the evil effects of the primogeniture system which, after all, was the great source of our miseries? How, but by being quartered upon the people? Was it to be expected that the aristocracy would willingly give up such advantages? The experience of the two last years was a sufficient answer to the question. The hon. member for St. Andrew's had said on a former occasion that Christianity depended upon the support of the establishment. He denied that such was the fact. Indeed, he believed that the continuance of an establishment where it was in opposition to the wishes of the people was more likely to be injurious than beneficial to the cause of Christianity. What right had the Church of England to assume to itself any superiority over any other form of Christianity? It certainly had no warrant from Scripture; quite the contrary; nor from prescription: in fact, it had no authority, save that of an Act of Parliament. In his opinion the property of the Church was national property, and every proposition which tended to deprive the nation of the benefit of that property was a fraud upon the people. He knew that his opinion in this respect was not in unison with that of other Members of the House, but he should enjoy the consolation of having done his duty in resisting the proposition for keeping up the present enormous establishment in Ireland.

Lord Althorp

was glad to hear the hon. Member admit that his opinions were not in unison with those of others on this point—an admission which he (Lord Althorp) believed to be very well warranted by the fact. With respect to the proposition of the hon. Member opposite, he felt that he should not be doing that which was necessary for the advantage of public business, or for the benefit of the House, if he entered into a lengthened argument to prove that a Church Establishment was desirable. He should only observe, that he thought it desirable for the advantage of religion. The hon. Member seemed to assume that all which he did not approve of must necessarily be detrimental. Surely, before he came to such a sweeping conclusion, he might have considered that it was possible he could be mistaken. He should say no more than that he could not possibly consent to the Amendment.

Colonel Evans

said, that he did not think the measure would answer the public expectation even in England, and most certainly it would not in Ireland. He regretted that the Bill did not go much further.

Mr. Finn

said, that the only part of the Bill that would give satisfaction in Ireland was that which related to the Vestry-cess.

Mr. Robinson

denied the assumption of the hon. Member who had seconded the Amendment, that the Dissenters in England wanted an appropriation of the Church property to purposes called purposes of public utility. He knew many Dissenters in this country who considered a Church Establishment to be extremely beneficial, and as necessary to the maintenance of the Protestant religion itself.

Mr. Sinclair

had taken the liberty, on a former occasion, when his hon. friend (Mr. Gillon) presented a petition containing sentiments similar to those which he had now expressed, to state his own conviction, that these were not the opinions entertained by the great majority of the people of Scotland. Their deliberate conviction he apprehended to be this: that a national establishment, or, in other words, a national recognition of our dependence on God, is a national privilege and a national blessing. They not only appreciated the advantages which they themselves enjoyed under the fostering care of their own Established Church, but they recognized the services, and desired the permanence, of the Sister Establishment in England. Many of the Dissenters in Scotland, though not conforming to the Presbyterian establishment, would admit the necessity of upholding a National Church in every Christian country. Roman Catholics, for instance, and Episcopalians, might be considered as concurring in this view; and he himself had heard seceding Ministers in Scotland, not only acknowledge, in private, the excellence of the Established Church, but pray in public for its stability, as well as for its reformation. A public provision for inculcating the doctrines of the Gospel was the more indispensable, because the willingness of individuals to contribute voluntarily towards the dissemination of religious knowledge was generally in an inverse ratio to their need of it. He could not, on this occasion, help quoting the high authority of Dr. Chalmers, an individual whose illustrious name would occupy a prominent place in the annals of his country—one who combined the highest powers of intellect with the most expansive benevolence of the heart—one upon whose knowledge he could pass no higher encomium, than to say that it was as profound as his humility—one who enforced the sublime mysteries of the Gospel with an eloquence only comparable to the sincerity with which he believed them in his heart, and to the consistency with which he exemplified them in the daily habits of his life. This distinguished man not only advocated the permanence as well as promoted the welfare of that Church which numbered him amongst her most valued and devoted sons, but had stood forward as the champion of the Anglo-Irish Episcopal Church, which he considered as one of the best bulwarks of the Protestant faith. If the machinery was less useful than it ought to be, the fault lay only with those who had neglected to employ it in a manner best calculated to promote its efficiency. He was most anxious for the stability of the Established Church in both countries, and for a salutary reformation of all acknowledged abuses, as the best means of promoting that object; and without pledging himself to vote for all the details of this measure, his support of its principle would be as decided as his opposition to the Motion of his hon. friend.

Mr. Roebuck

thought, that in a discussion of this sort, which ought properly to be confined to the advantages or evils of the English Church Establishment in Ireland, it was hardly fair to mix up the question of the English Establishment in this country. Here the majority of the people were in favour of the Establishment, and the majority of the people were entitled to have what they wished—there they were opposed to the Establishment, and he must say, considering that fact, that the noble Lord had not done for them what justice and necessity required.

The House divided on the Amendment: Ayes 16; Noes 126—Majority 110.

List of the AYES.
ENGLAND. Barron, W.
Brocklehurst, J. Finn, W.
Fielden, J. Fitzgerald, T.
Leech, J. Fitzsimon, C.
Moles worth, Sir W. Lynch, A.
Parrot, Jasper O'Connor, Fergus
Roebuck, J. Roche, D.
SCOTLAND. Ronayne, D.
Maxwell, Sir J. Gillon, W. D.
Oswald, R. Rippon, C.

The House resolved itself into a Committee.

On the second Clause (empowering the Lord-lieutenant to appoint Ecclesiastical Commissioners,) being read,

Sir Robert Inglis

objected to the constitution of the commission, inasmuch as it was different from that established at the Act of Union. The Act of Union provided, that the Church Government of the United Church of England and Ireland should be the same; and would any man tell him, that if such a board as that proposed was constituted, that it would leave the Irish branch of the Church inviolate? On a former occasion he slated his objections to this tribunal, and he would state, without fear of contradiction, that never, except in the worst portions of our history, was a precedent to be found for the formation of such a Board. It was not contended that the hierarchy of Ireland were deficient or wanting in due attention to the interests of the Church. This insult was therefore perpetrated upon them without a shadow of reason. He objected strongly to the; affairs of the Church being placed in the hands of a Board, the majority of whom were laymen, and one of whom must not of necessity be a Protestant of the Established Church. He would ask, whether the Lord Chancellor of Ireland must of necessity be a Protestant of the Esta- blushed Church.—He most certainly need not be so, and yet he had a seat at the new Board. This insult was offered at a period when the Irish bench presented as much of talent, zeal, and piety, as had ever done honour to the Christian Church. On the whole, he objected to the clause, as impolitic and dangerous to the Church, and as injurious to the hierarchy; he objected to it because it usurped their functions, and placed the functions of the Crown in the hands of irresponsible persons.

Lord Althorp

said, that the clause was not open to the objections stated by the hon. Baronet. As to a majority of the Commissioners being laymen, he intended to propose an alteration in the seventh clause of the Bill, which would meet that objection. He intended to insert a provision to the effect that the common seal of the Commissioners should not be affixed to any order, so as to render their acts valid, unless with the consent of at least one of the ecclesiastical Commissioners. He denied that the clause either was, or was meant to be an insult to the hierachy of Ireland. He would remind the hon. Baronet, that the Commissioners for building churches in England had power to refuse to assist in building any churches they pleased.

Mr. Goulbourn

said, that it appeared to him that the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer had diverged from the question immediately under consideration. He should confine himself to referring very shortly to one or two topics, endeavouring to set the House right in point of argument and reasoning with reference to the appointment of the Commission. The noble Lord stated, that in England the Commissioners for building churches had power to refuse building any particular church, and the noble Lord seemed to assign that as a reason why the Commissioners to be appointed in Ireland should possess a similar power. But he was sure the Committee could not fail to perceive, that there was a most important distinction between the two cases. There the money for building churches was to be taken from the revenues of the Church itself and it surely ought on every principle of justice and equity to be applied to the furtherance of the objects sought to be obtained by the Establishment. If the noble Lord intrusted to lay Commissioners the power of refusing to apply the funds of the Church to that which was the great object of such an Establishment—the propagation of the Protestant religion—if the noble Lord gave them the power of refusing to apply the funds of the Church to the erection of places of worship in parishes where they did not at present exist—he would give them a power very different indeed from that possessed by the Commissioners for building churches in England, who were merely the trustees appointed by Parliament for distributing the revenue placed at their disposal, and not of a fund arising from Church-property. When the expense of building a church was to fall upon the Church itself, there could be no possible objection on the part of the people of any district to have a church erected, and it could only be from party feeling in those who might think it inexpedient to promote the interests of the Protestant religion, or from a worse motive in others who manifest an utter indifference to the promulgation of its doctrines—it could only be from one or other of these reasons that any set of men could object to there being in every parish in Ireland a Protestant church and a Protestant minister. This he could undertake to say from his own personal knowledge, that in many cases in which new churches had been built in Ireland, in which ministers had been placed who were zealous men and anxious to discharge their duty and advance the interests of the Protestant religion, these churches had afterwards been discovered to be too small, and he never knew any case in which such a church so conducted had failed to have a sufficient congregation. He could show the noble Lord many instances in which not only was there a sufficient congregation, but in which the extent of it had so far exceeded the expectations of those under whose auspices the church was erected, that notwithstanding it was at first considered that a church would be unnecessary at all, it had been found afterwards necessary to increase its size. He stated these facts from his own experience, and knowing from his own observation how the fact really stood, he felt the greatest anxiety when he came to that part of the Bill which relates to the building of churches, that the House should understand how much they would impede the advancement of the Protestant religion by throwing any obstacles in the way of erecting churches. Having said thus much on this point, he would proceed to the very important subject under con-sideration. He entered very fully into the objections which had been so ably stated by his hon. friend the member for Oxford (Sir R. Inglis), and he confessed he could discover no possible reason why the great change, the extensive departure from all former practice and established usage should be effected by the Bill under the consideration of the Committee. There had been, up to the present period, a Board partly ecclesiastical and partly lay, for the management of the First Fruit fund in Ireland. The duties of that Board, however, were extremely limited—they were limited to the application of the funds voted by Parliament for the building of churches; but even that Board so constituted and possessing such limited powers, derived its authority from the Church. The Parliament of the day in constituting that Board felt it incumbent to give the greatest share of influence to the ecclesiastical portion of the Board, thinking that the higher order of the Church of Ireland were the individuals best qualified to judge of the wants and feelings of the people as connected with religious instruction. The duties that devolved upon the Commissioners, however, were not limited to this narrow sphere, but were extended to other objects far more important—far more novel—and such, in fact, as were unfit to be extended to a board constituted as that proposed by the Bill must naturally be. The House was bound to take the most particular care that powers so extensive as these, with which the Board were to be intrusted, should not be given to commissioners, the majority of whom being laymen had not, and were not, likely to have the same interest on the subject as ecclesiastical commissioners. In the first place these commissioners were to have the power of imposing taxation to any amount on the several Archbishops, and other clergy. These commissioners had next the power of remunerating curates in particular parishes—they therefore were to possess the power of deciding whether these curates were necessary or not. The question was one of a purely ecclesiastical nature. But these commissioners were to have the power of issuing sequestration against the incomes of the different incumbents in case certain regular annual payments were not made out of incomes which had perhaps never been received. They were to have the power, in case a fixed payment was not made on a specific day, of coming down with the whole power of the crown on persons holding benefices. It would be no answer for an individual against whom the power was to be exercised, to say, "I have been unable to collect my tithes—I have been for twelve months, in my present benefice without receiving a single shilling." No; the commissioners would have the power of claiming their whole demand, although the incumbent might not have received, and might not expect to receive, one single shilling of his annual revenue. If these enormous powers were necessary at all, he would say let them at least be exercised by those who had some fellow-feeling with the clergy, and who would exercise them with a greater knowledge of the peculiar circumstances in which they might be placed than the laity could possibly possess. He would next proceed to another point to which he had before slightly adverted—he meant the power which this commission was to possess of deciding whether a minister of the Church of England was or was not to be appointed to certain parishes in which for some given time past, there had been a default of residence. Again be would say, that it was a power which if any necessity existed for its being exercised at all, should be only exercised by the highest officers of the Church, by those who would be bound by every moral and religious obligation to look to the advancement of the spiritual concerns of the people, and who in no case short of actual necessity—if indeed the necessity of such a proceeding in any case could possibly be supposed to exist—would give their sanction to the suspension of the performance of the rites of the Protestant religion by a Protestant minister in any Church. These commissioners were also to have the power of uniting and disposing of parishes without the consent of the Archbishops. They were to have the entire power of remodelling parishes—and of doing other acts which might materially affect the arrangement of parishes in Ireland. In short when he looked to the whole of the powers confided to them, he saw in them so much of a distinctly ecclesiastical nature—so much influence in spiritual concerns—that he could not reconcile it to his ideas of propriety, that commissioners, a majority of whom were to be laymen, should exercise an authority which heretofore had been possessed exclusively by the Bishops and Archbishops of Ireland. It was not merely by possessing a majority at the Board that the lay part of the commissioners would possess a preponderating influence. When he called it a lay commission, he spoke of what it would practically be. In the first place, the lay commissioners must have a majority of two. In the next place, if the duties were properly discharged, there could be no doubt that they would be very laborious. He knew, that the general impression would be, that duties affecting the whole general state of the Protestant religion in Ireland were discharged for the sake of the salaries attached to the offices, and with a view to the emoluments to be derived from them. These duties would necessarily be discharged in the absence of the prelates, who would have duties to perform in distant dioceses. He would take the case of the Primate of Ireland, the individual to whom they were to look for the protection of the ecclesiastical interests of the Church against any undue proceedings on the part of the lay com-missioners. He was perfectly convinced that, so far as zealous intention was concerned, no man could possibly be better disposed to discharge to the utmost the duties imposed on him than that estimable individual. If he did so, however, he must leave his diocese, and be constantly resident in Dublin. The House would bear in mind that the diocese of Clogher was to be united to that of Armatch. How, then, was it possible he could discharge the additional duties of his diocese, and also those which would be imposed upon him as a member of the Board? If that eminent individual were to reside for a twelvemonth in Dublin, for the purpose of attending to those new duties, some exceedingly zealous gentleman on the other side of the House would be sure to get up in his place, and announce, with a vast deal of pious concern, that the Primate of Ireland had not been residing within his diocese for a whole year. But the noble Lord said, "I have amended this Commission very much—for I have proposed, that when the seal of the Cora-mission is imposed, one Bishop must be present." Why, the imposition of the seal was a mere matter of form. When the Board was to signify its consent to the covenants of an action—when it was about to make a return to Parliament, or to do any formal act, the seal was to be imposed; but the greater part of the transactions of the Board were to be communicated and carried into effect by the secretary and subordinate officers; and therefore the proposition of the noble Lord would be no remedy for the evil, even if it could be conceived that one Bishop, among five lay Commissioners, could control their proceedings. It was for these reasons, that he thought the mode of framing the Commission should be altered. The noble Lord argued, that because the Lord Chancellor possessed great Church patronage at present, there could be no objection, notwithstanding he might possibly be a Presbyterian, to give him a seat at the new Board. He could not agree with the noble Lord, that the evil of the one case was at all comparable to the evil of the other. The Lord Chancellor, in making the distribution of Church patronage, would have to make his selection out of a number of individuals, all well qualified for the discharge of the duty. He could, therefore, only choose among a number of men who had been regularly ordained; and the very fact of whose ordination proved their competency to the discharge of the office; but, in the other case, the Lord Chancellor, being a Presbyterian, would have a much more material influence over the concerns of the Church, because he would have the power of deciding whether a minister should or should not be appointed to a particular church. The Committee would perceive that there was a vast difference between I the two cases. What ground, he would ask, could there possibly be for the abolition of the Board of First Fruits? It was composed of laymen and ecclesiastics. He might be told that the Board of First Fruits being connected with the collection of the Vestry-cess had made itself unpopular in Ireland, and that it was consequently better to abolish it. That could not be a sufficient reason, as Vestry-cess would no longer exist. If the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Stanley) had any disposition to make such an alteration in that part of the Bill as should give a proper weight to ecclesiastical authority, he should not object to the partial control of laymen. Of course such a proposition would be cheerfully received by him (Mr. Goulburn), for he had no other wish connected with the Bill than to insure such an arrangement as should effectually maintain the Church of Ireland for purposes such as he thought that Church alone should be maintained,—namely, those connected with duly and properly providing for the spiritual concerns of the country.

Sir Robert Bateson

did not wish to take up the time of the Committee in discussing the clause at any length, but he must say, that it formed one of the most objectionable portions of the Bill. Although he had voted against the Second Heading of the Bill, now that it was in Committee, he wished to make it what it professed to be—a Bill that would conduce to the advancement of religion, and the permanence and stability of the united Church of England and Ireland. He objected to the Constitution of the ecclesiastical Commission which, in point of fact, was not an ecclesiastical Commission at all. It had been distinctly shown, that three persons, who had received salaries, would have the control of the whole proceedings. He objected to the constitution of this Commission on the true principles of Reform. He objected to it, because it would be the means of adding patronage and power to the Government, and would be the source of continual jobbing. The appointment of those paid Commissioners would be liable to be given, not to persons who were most competent to discharge the duties of the office, but to the immediate friends and adherents of the minister of the day. These Commissioners would obtain by the Bill such power over the Church to which he belonged as he should be sorry to give to any Lord-lieutenant or Government. If that Commission were wholly composed of the Bishops, it would be much less objectionable. Hon. Gentlemen on a former night had stated, that the Irish bishoprics were complete sinecures, and that, in fact, the Bishops had little or nothing to do. He did not admit that to be the case—but surely those who did could have no objection to provide employment for them; and how could the ecclesiastical affairs of the Church be placed in such proper hands as in those of the Prelates of the Church? He had given notice of an Amendment to the clause, which he should move at the proper time, unless the noble Lord consented to modify it. With regard to some observations made by the noble Lord he would state, that wherever churches had been built in Ireland, it was soon found that they were not large enough to contain the congregations. Where there were no congregations a year ago, the Churches were now crowded, and wherever the clergyman did his duty, the people invariably flocked to them. He looked forward with considerable anxiety and alarm to any clause in that Bill limiting the building of churches in Ireland. The great objection heretofore was, that churches were not built for the people, but a part of the people. If a gentleman subscribed 100l. to wards building a Church, he expected to have a seat in it—that was not the description of Church, he contended, that was wanted in Ireland. What they wanted there was free churches which would be open for the people. That was one species of reform which he wished to see introduced. With regard to the Vestry-cess, the noble Lord had not explained how that portion of it was to be provided for, which went for the maintenance of parish children, and providing coffins for the poor, and he wished to know whether it was to be provided by the Bill, or presented by the Grand Juries? He objected most strongly to giving persons salaried by Government such monstrous powers over the religion he professed, as the Bill conferred. He viewed with constitutional jealousy such appointments, and if the clause were not struck out of the Bill, or that the four Bishops who had served the preceding year in Parliament were not added to the Board, he should feel it his duty to propose the Amendment, of which he had given notice.

Mr. Secretary Stanley

observed, it had been argued that the business might be transacted by a Board, similar to the Board of First Fruits in Ireland. Now, he certainly did not approve of the constitution of that Board. It consisted of Archbishops, Bishops, Judges, Law Officers, and "two other proper and discreet persons." Now, he would undertake to say, that more of the business was performed by the two "proper and discreet persons" than by all the others put together. The Board would be, however, in some degree, similar to the Board of First Fruits; but Government, instead of adding "two proper and discreet persons," had extended the number to three. It was said, that this plan was adopted to increase the patronage of the Crown; but the Bill would do away with ten Bishops, which, he thought, had proved that Ministers felt no very inordinate desire for an increase of patronage. He should support the clause as it stood.

Mr. Shaw

said, there was no part of the Bill to which the Irish clergy generally, and those most interested in the welfare of the Established Church, so much objected, as the tendency of this clause to lower ecclesiastical authority, and to place the spiritual concerns of the Church in the hands of laymen. View the proposed Commission in any light, the preponderance was given to the lay members. In the permanent Commissions, they were in the proportion of two to one in numbers—and in those who were removeable, as the lay Commissioners were to be paid and permanent, they would be at least in the same proportion in influence. Now, he admitted, that there was some weight in the right hon. Gentleman's argument in favour of a few paid Commissioners to do the routine business of the Board; but the right hon. Gentleman did not adduce a single reason against the continuance of all the Bishops in the same authority they had exercised at the Board of First Fruits. No person had ventured to cast an imputation upon the manner in which they performed their important duties as members of that Board. The professed object of the present Bill was to promote the building of churches, the residence of the clergy, and the dissolution of unions; and he would entreat the Committee's attention to this fact, that within the last thirty years, there had been built, under their direction and superintendence, about 480 churches, whereas in the entire preceding century there had been but 134 built. So they had caused 480 glebe houses to be erected, while in the whole of the seventeenth century there had been only 163; and in much the same ratio had unions been dissolved. He could corroborate the statement of his right hon. friend (Mr. Goulburn), that where Churches were built they soon drew cougregations to them; and he could instance a case in his own neighbourhood where the late Archbishop of Dublin had first licensed the celebration of service in a school-house, then procured the building of a church, and now there was on that spot a most flourishing congregation. How powerfully, too, did this bear upon that most objectionable provision of the Bill which en- abled the Commissioners, principally laymen, to suspend the appointment of a clergyman to a parish where service had been intermitted for three years. Besides the cases he had alluded to, he was aware of one diocese in which there were now twenty parishes with officiating resident clergymen, in no one of which Church service had been performed for much more than three years previous to the appointment of the present ministers by the present Bishop. Above all things he deprecated this transfer to laymen of the just and due authority of the proper heads of the Church, and so powerfully did this sentiment operate upon the minds of many clergymen and laymen of the Established Church in Ireland, that he knew the constitution of the Board as now proposed had induced a willingness on their parts to separate themselves from connexion with the Establishment altogether. He trusted, however, that on this point the Government would give way. He defied the breath of slander to rest on the conduct of the Bishops in the administration of the funds of the First Fruit Board, and if the Government should retain some of the lay Commissioners, he thought they could not reasonably object to the retention of all the Bishops as the ecclesiastical ones. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) objected to the proposal of his hon. friend (Sir Robert Bateson) to have the Bishops who should have attended the previous year in Parliament, because it would take the Bishops for two successive years from their dioceses, but then the improvement the right hon. Gentleman would make was, to have always the same three Bishops and only the three. So that they must by the effect of that arrangement be not only two years, but, by the right hon. Gentleman's own argument, constantly absent from the scenes of their own diocesan duties. He would say no more upon the clause, warmly as he felt upon it, until he heard from the noble Lord what he would concede upon the point to the universally expressed desire of every friend to the Established Church, and he was persuaded he could not reasonably refuse very considerable concessions upon it.

Mr. Wynn

had no objection to some parts of the Bill, though he had to others. He was of opinion, that two lay Commissioners would be sufficient, and he thought that the Archbishop of Dublin and the Dean of St. Patrick ought, on account of their constant residence in Dublin, to be added to the Commission.

Lord Althorp

did not object to a majority of the Commissioners being of the clerical character. Neither did he feel any objection to adding the Archbishop of Dublin and another Bishop to the Commission.

Colonel Perceval

said, he was anxious some time since to make the suggestions which had that night been thrown out by his friends, but the noble Lord, having in some degree given way, he should not now trespass with the time of the Committee further than to state, that he considered the power given to the Lord-lieutenant by the Bill, of removing at his pleasure any member of the Board, was an insult to the hierarchy of Ireland. The Lord-lieutenant had the power of selecting the Bishops who were to have seats at the Board, and he had also an ad-libitum power of capriciously removing them. That was a power which he would never consent to place in the hands of any Lord-lieutenant.

Mr. Ward

was surprised to have heard, in the course of the discussion, that the moment new churches were erected in Ireland, they were filled with congregations. That statement, which was not supported by any documentary evidence, applied, it appeared, only to new churches; for it was generally admitted, that the old churches were very scantily attended.

Mr. James Grattan

said, this was a very important part of the Bill, as it provided a Commission to superintend the ecclesiastical establishment of Ireland. They had been advised to make use of the Board of First Fruits. To that he could not agree, because that Board had not worked beneficially for Ireland. The hon. member for Montgomeryshire had recommended that the Archbishop of Dublin and the Dean of St. Patrick's should be added to the Commission on account of their constant residence in Dublin; but that very circumstance made against the proposition, because they would, in consequence of their general residence in Dublin, be ignorant of the situation of the remote parts of the country.

Lord Sandon

recommended, that the Archbishops and Bishops should select delegates to act as Representatives of their own body in the capacity of Commissioners, instead of giving that power to the Government. They would thus escape being mixed up with any appearance of political feeling, which would be likely to excite jealousy in the minds of their brethren.

Colonel Wood

defended the conduct of the Board of First Fruits. The whole of the First Fruits last year amounted to 40,000l., and that Board had expended 22,000l., or more than that amount, in a most beneficial manner. He thought, that they ought, in this instance, to avail themselves of the assistance of the Board of First Fruits. All the machinery was ready, and might be immediately put in motion.

Lord Althorp

then moved, "That after the words 'Lord Primate,' the words 'Lord Archbishop of Dublin' be added."

Mr. Wynn

thought it would be much better if the Commission were placed under the control of the head of the United Church of England and Ireland, than of the Lord-lieutenant.

Sir Robert Inglis

observed, that when it was stated, that laymen hadas much right to interfere with the Church as Churchmen, he protested against the doctrine, as contrary to the principles of an episcopal establishment. But if the noble Lord had said, that the laity ought to bear the burthens connected with the Church, in that proposition he would concur.

Mr. Estcourt

thought it desirable that Bishops from all parts of Ireland should be members of the Board, and protested against the exclusion from it of any Archbishop or Bishop.

Dr. Lushington

objected to an extension of the numbers of the Board as likely to retard business, for the due execution of which a certain portion of lay members was necessary.

Mr. Shaw

explained, and assured the noble Lord, that he had in no way entertained the notion that there could be anything in the nature of a canvassing for votes at the Board. What he contended for was a due weight of opinion and sound rational influence of the heads of the Church in matters essentially ecclesiastical, but as the noble Lord had conceded two additional Bishops in the composition of the Board, and the Committee appeared disinclined to go further, he must yield his own opinion, strong as it still continued, on the point, and he would not put the Committee to the trouble of a division.

The Amendment agreed to, and the clause ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clauses to the 14th agreed to.

Clause 14, empowering the Commissioners to make a valuation of all livings and levy a yearly assessment there from, subject to deductions mentioned in the schedules, such assessment to commence from next avoidance, was read.

Lord Althorp

said, that in taxing the benefices of the parochial clergy, the schedules at present were regulated upon a much smaller scale of percentage, than those already prepared. The effect of this arrangement would be to relieve almost entirely all livings from 200l. a-year to 250l. a-year, and to press very lightly upon livings from 250l. a-year to 300l. Now it was well known, that 200l. a-year in Ireland would enable a man to live better than 300l. a-year in England.

Mr. Shaw

assured the noble Lord, that the demands upon the Irish clergy were much heavier in proportion to their incomes than those upon the English. They were often the only resident gentlemen to answer the calls of benevolence and charity. On a former evening he thought the principle of not taxing future incumbents even on incomes under 300l. a-year, had been corrected by the noble Lord. It really would be but taking with one hand to give with the other, under the head of Augmentation of Small Livings. He had trusted the noble Lord would exclude all incomes under 300l. a-year from taxation.

Sir Robert Bateson

said, that though he felt happy that the noble Lord had made the concession which he had done, yet he trusted he would go a little further, and not commence the tax on any living under 300l. a-year. One of the professed objects of the present Bill was to increase the smaller livings and provide for the working clergy in Ireland. But as yet he saw no intention on the part of the Government of carrying these objects into effect. The noble Lord said, that 200l. a-year in Ireland was better than 300l. a-year in England; but he seemed to forget that the clergyman in Ireland was frequently the only person in the rank of a gentleman residing within a large space. There were therefore constant calls upon him for private charity, and besides there were many taxes which they were obliged to pay. It was mandatory upon the clergyman to give an annual sum in support of the parochial as well as the diocesan schools. He was also obliged to contribute at the visitation, and there were in fact so many calls upon his pecuniary resources, that his income was considerably reduced beyond its nominal amount. When the House recollected the education a clergyman received, and the station he must uphold in society, he trusted, that they would not consider it too great a boon to commence the taxation at 300l. a-year.

Sir Robert Inglis

said, that a petition had been presented to the House by his hon. friend, the member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Shaw) from the curates of the diocese of Ferns, in which they stated, that the proposed measure would be injurious to them, inasmuch as if the incomes of the Rectors were reduced, they would be obliged to dismiss their Curates, who would then have to seek for some other means of subsistence. He thought the system of taxation unfair in all its parts, but particularly so in that which pressed upon the working classes of the clergy.

Mr. Goulburn

said, he could not acquiesce in any clause imposing a tax upon the clergy. If it were necessary to raise a tax at all, he saw neither justice nor equity in taxing the clergy alone. They were about to abolish a number of Bishoprics; and the incomes that would thus be saved would, in his opinion, be adequate for all the purposes required. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by entering his protest against the clause.

Mr. Henry Grattan

said, the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman were quite untenable. He could occupy two hours in reading quotations that would sink the right hon. Gentleman and his arguments to the bottom of the earth.

Mr. Shaw

said, that notwithstanding the formidable threat of the hon. member for Meath (Mr. Grattan), to sink his right hon. friend (Mr. Goulburn) and his arguments into the earth, and to bring forward arguments of two hours' length in support of his favourite position as to the appropriation of Church property, he did not hesitate to undertake to disprove the assertion of the hon. Gentleman, whenever he thought proper to bring it forward, but he would not anticipate, at present, the two hours' discussion promised by the hon. Gentleman, further than by distinctly denying, that any part of the property now possessed by the clergy of the Established Church had ever been appropriated in the manner stated by the hon. Gentleman.

Clause 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 15, enacting that the tax shall be paid half-yearly on the 1st day of July, and 1st day of February, the first payment on account of such annual tax to be made on the 1st day of July or 1st day of February, as may happen, next after the consecration, installation, induction, or collation of the person succeeding thereto, was then read.

Mr. Estcourt

objected to the payment being made half-yearly, when it was well known, that the revenues of the clergy were only paid annually. He wished to know what was to be done in the event of the clergyman receiving no revenues? If the tax was one upon receipt he could understand it, but as it stood he wished to know how Government meant to act?

Lord Althorp

said, it was quite manifest, that if the clergyman had no funds he could not pay the tax. It was impossible in an Act of Parliament to recognise the principle, that a man was not to receive what was his due.

Mr. Estcourt—But

it would remain as a debt against his executors.

Mr. Poulter

said, that the tax ought to be placed upon the actual perception of profits, and not on the abstract right of receiving the amount. Supposing the incumbent to die before the harvest, he would not have received any profits at all, though his executors would be liable to the amount of the tax.

The Solicitor General

said, it would only be necessary to introduce a provisoin abatement where no profits were received.

Colonel Perceval

wished to ask the noble Lord whether it was just that a living should be taxed where no payments had been made to the Rector? He was acquainted with a parish in Erris, co-extensive with the county of Dublin, in which only one Magistrate resided. The parish was valued at 300l. a-year, and for the last two years only 10l. had been received out of it. And why, it might be asked, was this? The clergyman had applied frequently to appoint a second Magistrate—two being necessary to enable a person to recover tithes—but the Irish Government paid no attention to his remonstrances. The Rector of that parish was now acting as a Curate in the county of Sligo, and had sent his brother to officiate for him. On last Good Friday, he was obliged to remain in his House to avoid being arrested for 7l. This was one of the instances he (Colonel Perceval) alluded to the other night, when he asked the question respecting the appointment of a Chief Secretary.

Mr. Anthony Lefroy

said, that he knew several clergymen who had not received tithe for two years, in his neighbourhood. He thought imposing the tax half-yearly a great hardship.

Clause agreed to, as were the clauses to 19, when the House resumed, and the Chairman leave to sit again.


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