On the Motion of Mr. Littleton
, the House went into Committee on the Irish Church Temporalities Act.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, he had intended to to go on with the Tithe Bill; but, understanding that he could not proceed with it till the House had, in a Committee, passed certain resolutions relative to the Church Temporalities' Act, he had moved for such a Committee. Having already detailed on Monday last the nature of the changes which his Majesty's Government had deemed it necessary to make in the Irish Tithe Bill, he would now briefly and in substance restate what he then laid before the Committee. The Committee was aware, that the Bill proposed to put an end to all composition for tithes payable throughout Ireland from the 1st of November next, such composition to be converted into a land-tax, payable by the same parties liable to the composition, and to the same amount. It was further proposed, that that land-tax should be continued for a period of five years, ending the 1st of November, 1839. It was then to be converted into a rent-charge; but it was also proposed, that any time during that period, up to November, 1836, a rent charge equal to the interest at 3½ per cent on the amount of the Land-tax, multiplied by four-fifths of the number of years' purchase which the land might be fairly worth, might be voluntarily incurred by the owners of the first estates of inheritance, for which a bonus, in certain proportions, as he would state hereafter, would be granted to them. At the end of the period—namely, on the 1st of November, 1839—in all cases where a rent-charge of the amount he had mentioned should not have been created, then a rent-charge equal to four-fifths of the Land-tax should be compulsorily imposed, and be- 1138 come payable by the owner of the first estate of inheritance. It no doubt would be a considerable relief to the landowners to give them the power of redemption with respect to this rent-charge. The means of redemption, however, had been taken from under them. That being the case, his Majesty's Government had no other alternative than to propose what they did. He only hoped, that hereafter means might be devised to relieve the land from this rent-charge. In the mean time, however, it was necessary to impose a Land-tax in lieu of tithes, and it was proposed, that those landlords who should voluntarily take on themselves the payment of a rent-charge to the amount he had stated in the stead of that Land-tax, should receive a considerable bonus. That bonus was to be given to those who should incur this rent-charge voluntarily before the 1st of November, 1836. He thought it necessary to enter into these particulars, though the clauses which he intended to propose had been in the hands of hon. Members for the last two days. It was provided by those clauses, that at the desire of the owner of the perpetual estate or interest, the Land-tax might be converted into a rent-charge of the amount specified in the clauses at any time previous to November, 1836. He had already stated how the amount of the voluntary rent-charges were to be calculated. The right hon. Gentleman then went into a calculation to show, that while the bonus to be given for voluntarily incurring such rent-charge would not be less than twenty per cent, it would in no case be more than forty per cent. He illustrated it in this manner—that in counties where the land would be worth twenty-eight years' purchase, the Land-tax being multiplied by four-fifths of that number of years, and three and a-half percent being allowed upon the amount, the result would be 78l. 8s. per cent, or a bonus of twenty-one and a-half per cent to the purchaser. In counties where the land was worth twenty-five years' purchase, the Land-tax being multiplied by four-fifths of that, and three and a-half per cent being allowed on that amount, the result would be 70l. in the hundred, or a bonus of thirty per cent; and in counties where land was worth twenty years' purchase, the land-tax being multiplied by four-fifths of that amount, and three and a-half per cent being allowed upon it, the result would be 56l. 1139 in the hundred, or a bonus of forty-four per cent. In the last case, however, the bonus would not rise higher than forty per cent, as a limitation would be introduced into the Bill, that the bonus should never be less than twenty, nor more than forty per cent. The question then was, in what manner and whence that bonus was to be provided. It was proposed, in the first instance, that the amount of the deficiencies arising out of the voluntary rent-charges should be advanced out of the Consolidated Fund, the deficiency occasioned by the creation of rent-charge in lieu of Ecclesiastical tithes, to be distinguished from that occasioned by the creation of rent-charges in lieu of impropriate tithes. To indemnify the Consolidated Fund for such advances, it was proposed, that the ecclesiastical commissioners of Ireland should repay out of the Perpetuity Purchase Fund now in their hands, so much of the sums so advanced as should be required to make good the deficiency arising out of the creation of rent-charges in lieu of ecclesiastical tithes. A most important consideration here arose, how far it would be prudent or fair, to apply the Perpetuity Purchase Fund to the purposes of this measure. He must remind the Committee, that, in the discussions on the 147th Clause last Session, it was never laid down that this fund should be applied to merely and strictly ecclesiastical purposes. It was, however, intended by the Legislature, that this fund should not be devoted to sources from which the Church establishment derived no benefit, and that it should not be applied to sources unconnected with the Establishment. With regard to the amount of the funds likely to be in the hands of the Irish Ecclesiastical Commissioners, arising from other sources, and applicable to general purposes, he had consulted the best authority on the subject, one of the Commissioners themselves, Mr. Irvine; and he had estimated those funds as amounting to about 91,000l. a-year. There was to be deducted from that the expenditure necessary for indispensable purposes, amounting to 66,000l., which left a balance of 25,000l., which might be applied by the Commissioners to the important purposes subsidiary to this Act. Here was a clear surplus revenue disposable for such purposes without touching in any way the Perpetuity Fund. Mr. Irvine calculated, that the Perpetuity Fund at pre- 1140 sent in the hands of the Commissioners amounted to 1,200,000l., which Would produce 60,000l. a-year. It was probable that that amount would be greatly increased in the course of the year. He trusted, indeed, that the whole amount would be speedily realized. He could not entertain a doubt that the majority of that House would be ready to make a sacrifice, and he would admit, that the charge on the Consolidated Fund would amount to no small sacrifice, for the purpose of insuring peace in Ireland, and putting an end to a system that had been the fruitful source of violence and bloodshed.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, it would be indemnified from the funds, as far as they would go, that he had specified. It would be impossible to say accurately what amount it would be necessary to advance from the Consolidated Fund. A bonus was to be given to the landlords for voluntarily taking on themselves the rent-charge, and it was impossible to say how far that would be carried in the years that were allowed for such a voluntary composition. If that amount should in one year be carried to its fullest extent, undoubtedly a loss would accrue to the Consolidated Fund. He had not, however, heard any estimate that carried the amount of the bonus payable in the course of a year beyond 100,000l. The income to be derived from the Perpetuity Purchase Fund would not go more than to meet about the half of that sum.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, it would be charged upon the Consolidated Fund. It would be obviously impossible to apply any portion of the Perpetuity purchase-money as a bonus to those lay impropriators who would voluntarily take the Land-tax as a rent-charge on themselves. That fund could only be applied to defray so much of the bonus as would be required with respect to ecclesiastical tithes. He had already stated, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would be empowered to pay out of the Perpetuity Fund so much of the sums advanced out of the Consolidated Fund as were required to make good the deficiency arising out of the creation of rent-charges in lieu of ecclesiastical 1141 tithes. But that was not to be applied to lay tithes. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the following Resolution: "That it is the opinion of this Committee, that any deficit which may arise in the funds accruing to the Commissioners of his Majesty's Woods and Forests, Land Revenues, Works and Buildings, under the provisions of any Act which may be passed during the present Session of Parliament, and applicable to the payments to be made under such Act, to the parties now entitled to tithe compositions in Ireland, shall be advanced and made good out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom; and that so much of the money so advanced as shall be applicable to any payments to be made to ecclesiastical persons, shall be repaid out of the monies arising to the credit of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland, in the Perpetuity Purchase Fund account, to be kept by the said Ecclesiastical Commissioners, pursuant to the provisions of an Act passed in the last Session of Parliament, intituled 'An Act to alter and amend the Laws relating to the Temporalities of the Church in Ireland.'"
§ Mr. Littleton
repeated, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would, from the fund of 91,000l. in their hands for general purposes, after defraying the necessary expenditure, amounting to 66,000l., leave a balance of 25,000l.; and then there was the Perpetuity Purchase Fund, which was estimated at 1,200,000l. which at an interest of 3½ per cent. would produce 42,000l. a-year. He had estimated the interest at 60,000l., as it was probable that the total amount of that fund would amount to more.
observed, that the vestry cess had amounted to no less than 75,000l., and that now that it was abolished, the purposes to which it had been applied came within those to which the 91,000l. in the hands of the Commissioners must be applied.
§ Mr. Robinson
wished to know what the Resolution meant? As far as he could understand, it would appear that the whole of the charge was to be placed 1142 upon the Consolidated Fund, the general vortex upon which it seemed the fashion now to fix every kind of charge. As far as he understood the Resolution, there was no reimbursement to be made to the Consolidated Fund, as far at least as the lay tithes were concerned. He would have no objection to allow such a charge to be made upon the Consolidated Fund, or, in other words, on the people of this country, for the purpose of settling this question, if he could see any means by which they could be indemnified hereafter. He would make no objection to the proposition if it presented a chance of restoring tranquillity in Ireland; but there was no security whatever for the repayment of the money.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that with respect to the ecclesiastical tithes, when a deficit took place in consequence of the creation of the Land-tax or rent-charges in lieu of them, that deficit would be paid in the first instance out of the Consolidated Fund, to be repaid out of the Perpetuity Purchase Fund, and other funds in the hands of the Irish Ecclesiastical Commissioners. With regard to the conversion of the tithes, it might certainly be argued that the whole would be converted at once; but that was an extreme case, and in opposition to it he had a right to assume, that if such would be the case, the deficit that would thereby arise would not be so large as was estimated. If the deficit should amount to 100,000l. a-year, and he would admit, that it probably would amount to about that, the amount supplied by the interest on the Perpetuity Purchase Fund would not meet more than half of that, and therefore would not afford immediate security for the repayment of it. Under such circumstances, his right hon. friend was obliged to have recourse to the funds in the hands of the Commissioners for general purposes. These were the only funds to which they could have recourse at present to meet this deficit, but there was nothing to prevent the House at a future period entertaining the question whether there were not other sources to which they might apply for the purpose of making repayment to the Consolidated Fund. It was true, that with regard to lay tithes, there was no fund to supply a security for the repayment of the sums that would be advanced out of the Consolidated Fund to meet the deficit that might accrue in re- 1143 spect to them. There was little doubt, therefore, that this charge would fall upon the country, but he did not think that it was likely to amount to more than 20,000l. a-year. But supposing that the effect of this proposition would be to produce the pacification of Ireland, surely that would not be paying dearly for such an advantage. If such should be, as he hoped it would be, the result of this measure, he thought that without adverting to higher considerations, but looking at the question merely in an economical point of view, it would not be a bad speculation for the country. He was satisfied that such a result would be worth twenty times the amount to the country. It would be idle and absurd for any man to say, that the peace of Ireland was not worth an infinitely greater price. If there was a chance, by adopting this measure, to secure that desirable result, surely 20,000l. a-year should not stand in their way.
was satisfied that if there was a probability of producing peace in Ireland by the sacrifice of 20,000l., no one would object to it, or to the sacrifice of ten times 20,000l., a year. But would this plan produce peace in Ireland? He denied that there was the least probability of any such result. He did not object to the Motion in the hands of the Chairman, which in point of fact was merely the renewal of the 147th clause, and the object of which was, to put their hands into the pockets of the Church; and he thought the deeper they were in the better. To produce the pacification of Ireland they must altogether abolish ecclesiastical tithes in Ireland, and if they did not, it became a mere visionary dream to expect any beneficial result. They had formerly been told, that the relief that would be afforded to the Irish people by the removal of the vestry cess was at least 70,000l. a-year. The right hon. Gentleman, however, stated, that it was only 35,000l. Thus ten shillings in the pound was struck off at once. But was not the amount considerably more than 35,000l. a-year? There were 1,200 benefices in Ireland, and the salary of the parish clerk of each of them was to be paid out of the fund; but the whole amount of it would only pay 50l. a-year to the clerk of any alternate parish. In the parish of St. Peter, Dublin, the vestry cess was 1,500l. a-year; and in the parish of St. Thomas, it was 500l. a-year.
1144 The statement, then, of the right hon. Gentleman as to the amount of the fund was no more like the truth than that two and two made eighteen. It would be much better if the whole question were referred to a Committee up-stairs, where it could be put into such a form as to be made intelligible to the whole country. Was it well of the noble Lord to resort to the clap-trap that this proposition would promote the peace of Ireland? He would at once tell the noble Lord, that the Tithe Bill would involve the country in a war. He would vote for the proposition, however, as it was renewing the 147th clause of the Bill of last year, but it would cost the country at least 20,000l. a-year.
§ Colonel Davies
would not hesitate to make a sacrifice calculated to promote the peace of Ireland; but would any man who understood the situation of that country believe, that it would not require a very different measure? They must look deeper for a remedy; for as long as the people of Ireland had to pay for a Church opposed to the religion they professed they never would have peace in Ireland. The House should be cautious before it acceded to the proposition. The noble Lord offered a security of 1,200,000l., but he (Colonel Davies) wished to know when this was to be realized. If the right hon. Gentleman supposed that he could ever get 120,000l. a-year he was greatly mistaken. He was satisfied that the deficit to be made up would be at least 80,000l. a-year. He thought they were pursuing a most objectionable course.
§ Sir Robert Peel
did not wish to debate the question at present, but he was anxious, before the Committee did so, that they should have an explicit statement of what was intended. If he understood his right hon. friend's statement, he estimated the maximum charge for commuting ecclesiastical tithes at 100,000l. a-year, and the maximum charge for commuting lay tithes at 20,000l. a-year; that was, a charge of 120,000l. a-year on the Consolidated Fund for ecclesiastical and lay tithes. The right hon. Gentleman calculated that the amount of the Perpetuity Purchase Fund would be 1,200,000l.; that 91,000l. a-year would arise from various sources of revenue under the Church Temporalities Act; that there was an annual charge on this of 66,000l., thus leaving to him a surplus of 25,000l. The interest 1145 on the 1,200,000l. at 3½ per cent would be 44,000l. a-year. This sum added to 25,000l. would make up 67,000l. a-year, which was to make up for the money taken from the Consolidated Fund. The right hon. Gentleman calculated the maximum charge at 120,000l. a-year; and if he were not mistaken, the bonus on some lands was to be 40 per cent. [Mr. Littleton said, the bonus could not exceed forty per cent., nor be less than twenty per cent.] There was, however, no security whatever with respect to lay tithes; that, in point of fact, as had been stated by an hon. Member, although he could not say that he exactly understood the image, the security was chargeable on a vortex. The total loss that might be sustained, supposing, as had been anticipated by the right hon. Gentleman, that the deficit would be equivalent to the difference between 120,000l. and 67,000l., would be 53,000l. This, then, was the probable charge that the Consolidated Fund would have to bear. He would not then go into the argument, but he wished to have the case clearly put before he proceeded. In his opinion, however, something more than this measure was necessary if it was to be what the right hon. Gentleman had described it, namely, a permanent settlement of the tithe question. The noble Lord, however, had stated, that hereafter they were to consider some better arrangement, so as to relieve the Consolidated Fund of this charge. Was it not absurd then to talk of a final settlement of the question when they were talking of future arrangements?
§ Mr. David Roche
said, that for five years, at least, whatever it might do afterwards, the Bill could not possibly put an end to the tithe disturbances in Ireland.
§ Mr. O'Reilly
did not intend to oppose the proposition, but he was satisfied that no such scheme as that before the House would produce peace in Ireland. When the Tithe Bill came under discussion he should propose a Resolution to the effect that peace could not be obtained in Ireland until they abolished the payment of tithes altogether. The right hon. Gentleman must admit, that until the landlord took the rent-charge upon him, there could not be tranquillity, and yet this was not to take place till 1839. The whole scheme appeared to him to be absurd. He had no objection to this country paying the tithes of Ireland if it pleased.
§ If the Protestant Government and a Protestant Legislature chose to pay the amount out of the pockets of the people of this country, God forbid that he should interfere to prevent them; but they ought not to throw the burthen on his countrymen. In consequence of the situation in which he stood in that House, he never could invade this species of property; but he felt bound to declare, that until tithes were totally abolished, there would be no peace in Ireland.
said, he hardly knew whether that was the proper opportunity to enter upon a discussion of the principle of this measure. But the Resolution in the hands of the Chairman appeared to him to involve a question so important, that he thought it his duty, even in that preliminary stage of the proceeding, to state the objections which he had to it. If, however, the House signified to him, that that was not the fitting opportunity for the course which he meant to take, he would reserve his observations for another occasion; but otherwise he would take the liberty of stating the grounds on which he felt himself called upon to oppose these Resolutions, and to take the sense of the House, which he could assure the Committee he should do, from a sense of duty. He objected to the Resolutions in the Chairman's hands; but in stating the grounds on which his objections were founded, he gave his right hon. friend considerable advantage; for he did not object merely to the charge proposed to be made on the Consolidated Fund, but to the whole plan; and his objections embraced not only the two Resolutions before the House, but the whole plan, according to which the money was to be applied. He objected to these Resolutions, because they would not permit—because they were not only inconsistent, but at variance with—and because, in short, they would altogether prevent, at any future time, the accomplishment of that great principle which it had been the anxious desire of the Government, during the last three years, to establish—a principle which was the foundation of his right hon. friend's Bill, when it was first introduced,—namely, the extinction of tithes through the medium of redemption. It was this grand principle which should form the leading feature of any measure brought forward on this subject; and he objected to these Resolutions, conceiving 1147 them, as he did, to be nothing more nor less than the commencement of a system of plunder. He thought them, in the first place, highly impolitic; and in the next, flagrantly dishonest. He also objected to them, because the system of plunder which they contemplated was not palliated by any thing, either manly or straightforward, exhibiting all the timidity with not as much dexterity as a most unpractised shoplifter. His right hon. friend, he hoped, would excuse his using such a comparison; and, if the House did not think he was descending too low, he would say, that he had never witnessed anything like the principle on which the Government were proceeding in this instance, except among a class of persons who were not generally received into society, but who were commonly to be met with on race-courses and at country fairs, the instruments of whose calling were a small deal table and four or five thimbles. The skill of these persons was shown, by a dexterous shifting of a pea, placing it first under one thimble, then under another, and calling on the by-standers to bet which thimble it was under. The deluded individuals who speculated on the manœuvres of the juggler being sure in the end to have their property taken from them, by means which they could not comprehend. So would it be in the present instance. The illustration was a low one; but he thought the House would agree with him in saying, that the self-same principle was observable in the tricks of the juggler, and in the plan which his right hon. friend and his Majesty's Ministers were DOW following. His right hon. friend had got the pocket of the Church, the pocket of the State, the pocket of the Landlord, the pocket of the Tenant, the Perpetuity Fund, and the Consolidated Fund, under his various thimbles, and these he shifted about from one thimble to another as he thought fit; at the same time that he called upon them to say, under which of the thimbles they were to be found, and kept exclaiming, "We have them under this thimble; oh, no! but they must be under that;" and as all the thimbles were taken up, it would be found, that the property had altogether disappeared, and the dupes would be laughed at. But the serious reason why he objected to the proposition which his right hon. friend had brought before the House, was, that it involved the total defeat of a principle which 1148 it had been the object of the Government for the last three or four years to carry into effect, and which everybody admitted to be of the utmost importance, namely, the gradual extinction of tithes by means of composition and redemption. The Committee would excuse him, if he recurred to transactions in which he had taken an active part, and spoke of himself and the views which he had always entertained on the subject, more perhaps, than in other circumstances would be-seem him. He had the honour to he appointed to the office of Chief Secretary of State for Ireland, in the winter of 1830, and to hold that office down to the year 1833. At the period when he entered office, the opposition to the payment of tithes had commenced, and was subsequently carried to a considerable extent. The House must recollect the proceedings that took place in 1831, and that it was then impossible to direct the public attention to anything but that all-engrossing topic, the subject of Reform, which led to the dissolution of Parliament in the mouth of May. A few days ago he found the copy of a letter which he had addressed to his noble friend at the head of his Majesty's Government, in June 1831; and in that letter he had stated, that it was absolutely necessary to interpose the authority of the State to preserve from destruction a species of property which had been assailed not only by violence, but fraud. He further stated to his noble friend, in this communication, the difficulties which would arise from imposing on the police new duties,—duties that were not only invidious, but, generally speaking, unsuccessful, and calling out the military to meet the legal ingenuity of the opposite party. The certain result of such a system, he told his noble friend, would be an increased hatred to the Protestant Church, an increased irritation throughout the country, and a positive encouragement to those who objected to the payment of tithes to resist the law. He even ventured to recommend to his noble friend, that it would be expedient to effect an extinction of tithes by means of composition and redemption. He suggested that that might be accomplished by throwing the burthen prospectively—he said prospectively—upon the landlord, and bringing in a measure allowing the landlord to relieve himself from the burthen, by making a payment equivalent to 1149 a given number of years' purchase. He stated these facts to the Committee, in order to show, that at an early period of his official career, he had directed the attention of the Government not only to the evils that existed, but to the means by which he believed these evils might be remedied. Conformably to the recommendation which he had given to his noble friend at the head of the Government, what had been done? Why, at the commencement of the next Session, his Majesty, in a Speech from the Throne, recommended that Parliament should effect some improvement in the laws relating to tithes, and by that means afford the protection that was necessary for preserving the property of the Established Church, in order to remove the causes of complaint which then existed. His noble friend, the present Secretary of State for the Home Department, moved for a Committee in the other House of Parliament, conformable to the recommendation of the Crown; and he would beg the attention of hon. Gentlemen to the words which his noble friend used upon that occasion. His noble friend said,—" The Committee would have to consider, whether it would not be wise to contemplate some more comprehensive measure, the object of which should be to place the property of the Church upon a firmer basis, more advantageous to the Clergy, and less grievous to the people, by facilitating the redemption of tithes, and applying the produce, under whatever regulations might be deemed proper, to the maintenance of the ministers of religion." Such were then the views of his Majesty's Government on going into that Committee; and at that period, whatever other measures were contemplated, they looked to the total extinction of tithes by the means he had mentioned, as the only way in which the question could be satisfactorily and finally settled—as the only means by which the heartburnings and jealousy that existed could be effectually removed, and the Protestant religion independently and securely maintained, without shocking the feelings of the Catholic population of Ireland. These, he repeated, were the views with which the Government went into that Committee; and their object was not only to extend the principle of composition, but to lead, by reduction, to the final extinction of tithes. That Committee proposed (he referred to the second Report of the 1150 Committee on Tithes), that in all future leases the landlord should be made responsible for the payment of the tithe composition. They also thought it desirable, that while an additional obligation, if not a pecuniary burthen, was imposed on the landed proprietor, that Parliament should place an easy mode within his reach, by which he could facilitate his own relief. The Committee added, that, in their belief, the landlords generally, if favourable terms were offered to them, would gladly consent; and, indeed, if properly encouraged, would be anxious to render the annual charge on their estates a fixed money payment. The Committee went on to show the means by which tithes should in future be raised, and concluded by recommending that a Bill should be brought in for amending the provisions of the Tithe Composition Act, and to render the payment permanent and compulsory. The Committee also recommended the establishment of an ecclesiastical corporation, for the collection of the revenues of the Church; and that recommendation, he admitted, was carried into effect by the present measure, according to which those revenues were to be collected by the State. And, thirdly and lastly, they advised the conversion of tithe into land. These were the recommendations of the Committee of 1832; and what was the course pursued by the Government in 1833, when he was a member of it? Why, they endeavoured to remove the obstacles that were in the way of the grand principle which they had laid down for their own guidance, one by one, and to approach it gradually, and step by step. But if the Resolutions, moved by his right hon. friend, were adopted, what would be the consequence? Would they not defeat the whole course of policy which had been pursued by the Government, and prove that his Majesty's Ministers were now shrinking from a principle which they had formerly sanctioned? In 1833, the Committee must recollect, that the difficulty in the collection of tithes was so great, so insuperable, on the part of the unassisted Clergy, that, having established a system of compulsory composition, he, on the part of the Government, prevailed upon Parliament—but on the faith that substantive measures for putting an end to the question, would shortly be introduced—to grant the sum of one million for the purpose of paying the arrears 1151 of tithes owing down to 1834. This sum, he repeated, was granted in the confidence that measures would be brought forward, in 1834, finally to settle the question; but an alteration, not only of circumstances, but of principles, had since taken place, which left the question as far from being settled as ever. He would next shortly advert to the measures which had been brought forward for the composition of tithes, commencing with the Bill introduced in 1824 by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn) opposite, the member for the University of Cambridge. That Bill provided, that in all cases of future leases the landlord, and not the tenant, should be the party liable to pay the composition; and if it were paid by the tenant, he should be entitled to deduct the amount from his rent on producing the clergyman's receipt. This, however, had not the effect that was anticipated from it. Where the rent was 24s. the landlord covenanted with the tenant for the payment of 27s., but he never applied for more than 24s., leaving the 3s. which belonged to the clergyman in the hands of the tenant, as the production of the receipt was a matter of perfect indifference to him. The Legislature evidently intended to throw the whole burthen of the responsibility and pressure of the tithes on the landlord, and to leave him to make his own bargain with the tenant; but this, as he had stated, failed. In the Bill which he (Mr. Stanley) introduced two years ago, this same principle was carried still further. It was in that measure provided, that the composition should be recoverable, not from the tenant, but from the landlord, and from him alone. Now, a great portion of the land of Ireland was held by tenants-at-will, or from year to year; and it was further provided, that in all these cases the liability should attach to the landlord alone, and the effect of this arrangement had been to reduce the number of tithe-payers; so that in one district where it used to be from between 16,000 and 17,000, it was reduced to 9,500, and thereby, of course, greatly to facilitate the means of collection. Such was the state of things in November, 1833; and it would be recollected, that at the opening of the present Session, his Majesty in the Speech he delivered from the Throne said, 'I recommend to you the early consideration of such a final adjustment of the tithes in that part of the United Kingdom as may extinguish all 1152 just causes of complaint, without injury to the rights and property of any class of my subjects; or to any institution in Church or State.' These were the words put by the Government into his Majesty's mouth at the commencement of the present Session. And here was the principle on which the Government were bound to act. Here was the principle of the Bill which his right hon. friend had introduced, the Bill which he (Mr. Stanley) then held in his hand, but not the Bill which his right hon. friend now called upon them to sanction. Here was the principle of the Bill brought forward at the beginning of the Session; but not only had his right hon. friend thrown overboard the essential parts of that Bill, but introduced into it principles that were diametrically at variance with those with which he had set out. When his right hon. friend brought this subject forward in February last, he made a very clear statement to the House, much more clear and satisfactory than that which he had made on the present occasion. His right hon. friend then stated the measures which the Government intended to carry into effect, but he separated the question of appropriation from the other questions involved in the case, although he laid down the principle, as to whether, hereafter, the right of appropriation might not rest with the State. The right hon. Gentleman's own words were:—'Before he proceeded further, he would beg leave to caution hon. Members of all parties against admitting the impression on their minds, that the subject involved in any respect the question of the appropriation of Church property. That was a question perfectly distinct from that which it was his duty to bring before the Committee. The question of appropriation of Church property had heretofore been the subject of parliamentary discussion, and might hereafter constitutionally become so again. He fully admitted that point, but he wished the Committee to understand, that the question it would have to consider was, how the property of the Church could best be realized unconnected with any considerations relative to its appropriation; in short the question which the Committee would have to consider was simply and entirely one of property, as much so as if it referred solely to the payment of rent. That this was the fact was abundantly proved by 1153 the fact, that the opposition to the payment of tithes the property of lay impropriators was as violent, if not more so, as that offered to the payment of those which belonged to the Church.' His right hon. friend went on to state the means by which this property was intended to be rescued. 'The great end and object, he said, of the measure would be, to find out the means of effecting a practical commutation of tithes in the quickest possible manner into land, and the best way, in his opinion, to accomplish this would be to confer on that description of property now threatened with annihilation all the security which it was in the power of Parliament to confer upon it.' Such was the character of the measure which his right hon. friend said on the 20th of February it was the intention of the Government to introduce; but he should like to know how the present measure could give to tithe property "all the security which it was in the power of Parliament to confer upon it.?" This was a statement which his right hon. friend had made over and over again, but he (Mr. Stanley) had said, that the conduct of the landlords as to whether they would or not redeem their tithes would mainly depend on the course which the Government pursued. If they found the Government offered them favourable terms—if they found that it was the determination of the Government to vindicate the law in asserting their rights, as they were bound and ought to do, he had no doubt the landlords would co-operate with them; but if, on the contrary, they found the Government faltering in their purpose—if they found the Government shrinking from one measure, and taking up another, abandoning this principle and adopting that, not only would the landlords refuse to co-operate with the Government, but the Government must expect that their proceedings would not be sanctioned by the Members of that House. Those Members who had supported the Bill as it originally stood would not submit to the adoption of the present measure with the same sort of obedience; and therefore he asserted, that not only the landlords but the tenants, and indeed every man in the country, would despise a Government which exhibited such imbecility, and want of firmness of purpose. The main object of the Bill as it originally stood was composition and redemption with a view to the final 1154 extinction of tithes, and that, he contended, was the only honest mode of treating the question. Redemption with a view to that end was the principle on which the Bill was in the first instance framed, and it was that principle, and that principle alone, which palliated such an interference with the rights of property. But what became of that which was the main object of the Bill when the redemption clauses were struck out? They preserved all its unjust machinery, while they deprived it of its just object. But so recently as the 20th of February, his right hon. friend himself justified the principle or redemption which had been laid down, on the ground, that it was necessary for the State to take into its own hands the collection of this property, and that it ought, therefore, to be fairly compensated for the risk and expenses it might be put to on that account, provided no additional charge was to be thrown on the Consolidated Fund. But what was his right hon. friend's new scheme? Why, that the State should pay 120,000l. a-year to carry this measure into effect. His right hon. friend had, however, omitted to state how it was, that he expected to get back this money. Now, his right hon. friend told them, that if this sum were paid, the landlords would hereafter be induced to redeem their tithe. Would they? Let the House see how that matter stood. A deduction of twenty per cent was to be made from the tithe-owner to defray the expenses of collection, while the tithe-payer was to have a reduction of as much as forty per cent. Over and above the expenses of collection, there would be a difference of twenty per cent to come out of the Consolidated Fund, so as to make up the forty per cent to the landlord; but how was this deficiency to be made good to the State? Here, then, was one instance of his right hon. friend's thimble-shifting. [Mr. Littleton: Forty per cent will not have to be paid in all cases.] In all cases where they did not charge the landlord at the rate of seven, teen years' purchase for his tithes, forty per cent would have to be paid. He would not say, that four-fifths might not be a fair proportion, or that where land sold at twenty years' purchase tithes should not sell at sixteen. His right hon. friend had said, that the average price of land in nineteen counties was twenty years' purchase, and the average price of tithes sixteen. But then it should be recollected, 1155 that in all these cases when the landlord failed, or did not choose to redeem his tithes within three years, he would have a permanent charge of three and a-half per cent upon the amount of the purchase money fixed upon his property. The right hon. Gentleman asserted, that the tithe-owner would get no more than 59l. 10s. for every 100l., while the landowner was benefitted to the extent of forty per cent. [Mr. Littleton: Forty per cent was the utmost that would be allowed in any case.] Whenever the tithes sold for less than seventeen years' purchase, the tithe-owner, he repeated, would get only 59l. 10s. for each 100l., although the benefit to the tithe-payer would exend to forty per cent, and therefore his right hon. friend need not tell him, that it was not intended to go beyond that point. In all cases where the tithes happened not to be worth seventeen years' purchase, he believed the advantage to the landlord would be full forty per cent. But he thought the Government would have done much better if they had gone straightforward, instead of adopting so circuitous a course—if they had at once declared, that they intended to give a bonus of one-fifth out of the property of the Church, and a second bonus of one-fifth out of the Consolidated Fund. Now if this was really what they meant, why did they not manfully say so? Why did they not at once go in a straightforward and candid manner to that which was their real purpose? In February last, his right hon. friend proposed to throw the whole burthen of tithes and their collection upon the landlord, and to give him the power of recovering the arrears; and to that he did not object, because the arrears being the property of the tithe-owner, if the landlord purchased the tithes, he would have a right to look to the tithe-payer. He fully agreed to all which his right hon. friend had stated in February. But surely he had a right to ask his right hon. friend, why that which was expedient on the 20th of February, should be inexpedient on the 4th of July. Why, when they charged the landlord with all the difficulties of collecting the tithes, did his right hon. friend not also give him the right of recovering the expenses to which he might be put in their collection from his tenants? The very least that could be done for the landlord, if the burthen must be thrown upon him, was to give him 1156 the power of conferring an act of grace on his tenants, by foregoing what were his undoubted legal rights, instead of wresting them from him by the force of an Act of Parliament. But, said his right hon. friend, in another part of his speech, redemption of the rent-charge may take place hereafter. Now, what was meant by that? If he were to be guided by the language of the Bill, as it now stood, he should say, that it was definite and positive—its terms precluded the possibility of any redemption taking place after the expiration of the five years. But if it were intended to make this question of redemption the burthen of some future Bill, why had his right hon. friend shrunk from openly declaring as much? Why did the Government, too, instead of pretending to have finally settled the question of redemption, say fairly and outright: "We have not abandoned it; we have morely postponed it for some future period?" And if they had not abandoned it, why not in the mean time give the landlord the power of recovering the whole of his legal tithes, arrears, expenses and all? Look at the position in which the landlord in many instances would be placed. His tithes were calculated at three and a-half per cent interest on the capital necessary for their redemption, and in many instances the landholder, having mortgaged his estates, would have to borrow more money at five per cent, in order to pay it again at three and a-half. Now, this would be found a matter not of impracticability, but of impossibility. Then, again, as to the lay impropriators. Suppose, what was a very possible case, that the estate of one of these were mortgaged up to its whole value to some Jew, and that the owner was unable to make any further effort to redeem his land from the tithe-rent charge, would not the Catholic tenant have the same right to assert the scruples of conscience towards his mortgagee that he does now towards the Protestant clergy, and to say, I cannot pay you the amount of your tithes, because I do not know but that you may apply them to the building of a synagogue? Would this be deemed a sufficient excuse for him to go to the Government, and to demand of them the amount? Besides, what right had the Government to charge the amount of the difference between the sum received by the landholder, and that fairly due to the Church, on the Consolidated Fund?
This charge, be it borne in mind, was to be, not a temporary, but a lasting burthen on the country. But what he most desired was, to hear the Government speak out as to their intentions. The Perpetuity Fund had, by the Bill of last year, been permanently awarded as property available for the purposes of the Church only; and he did not think it possible for the Government to act otherwise with the surplus, if ally should be found to exist. His noble friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had in relation to this question, dropped some ominous and significant words, implying, that if the Perpetuity Fund should not be found sufficient for the purposes to which it was to be applied they must have recourse to some other funds. It appeared to him, then, that the Church property was to be applied, not for the spiritual edification of the people, as his noble friend the member for Yorkshire had expressed it—but to be given as a boon in the shape of twenty per cent to induce landlords to take upon themselves the payment of tithe. What was the amount of the fund at present? At the most it was 60,000l., and for that paltry sum, they were about to commit this petty larceny—which had not the boldness or the openness of a robbery, though the amount was so insignificant. As to the pretence, that the object altered the character of the act, it was just as if a highwayman stopped him upon the road, and, putting a pistol to his breast, said, "Give me your money; you have too much, and it is tempting, and to give it up will greatly increase the security of your life." Just so his right hon. friend had told them, and he had given them no other reason, that the property of the Church was to be taken from it to make it more secure, and he would just as soon trust the one party as the other. Nay, he would go further—he would trust the highwayman with his life; but, after the Government had once laid their hands upon this fund he would not trust them to protect the remaining property of the Church. His right hon. friend would gain from this 60,000l. a revenue of some 3,000l. a year, and upon this security he called upon the House to advance 100,000l. Let him, therefore, again ask whether it was his right hon. friend's intention to apply the whole surplus to the purpose of supplying the deficiency in the perpetuity fund; and if the Government had made up their
mind on this point, as it was most essential they should do, and indeed most probably had done, let them tell the Parliament and the country so, and let them boldly avow the grounds upon which they stood. If they had made up their minds—if they were determined to act as he had here supposed it probable they would, let him implore them as they valued the peace and tranquillity of Ireland—as they would avoid the further scenes of violence, perhaps, indeed, but too likely of bloodshed, in that country, to revoke the miserable abortion of a Commission which they had issued. He called it a miserable abortion, because it was begotten, conceived, and brought to light within one short week. Not that he meant to deny that such an idea was started some four or five months ago [loud cheers]; but this he meant to say, and he called upon those who cheered so loudly to deny it if they could, that from the moment the idea of a Commission was started, up to the very hour of his secession from the Ministry, it had never been made the subject of discussion in the Cabinet. On the contrary, the Cabinet repudiated the idea as vicious in principle, and because also it was there thought that the country would not be satisfied with such a Commission and would not accept of it. He, therefore, would repeat his assertion, that the Commission was an abortion—
Deformed, unfinished, sent before its time Into this breathing world, scarce half made up, And that so lamely and unfashionable, That dogs bark at it as it halts them by.
And he firmly believed that it was a mere miserable expedient resorted to by the Government, for the sole purpose of avoiding to assert the principle of the hon. member for St. Alban's Motion. He said this from no motives of hostility towards his right hon. and noble friends (his late colleagues), but he felt bound to declare on the part of his noble and right hon. friends who had seceded with him on this question from the Government, that they had never, in any way, directly or indirectly, or by implication, given their slightest consent or approval to such a Commission. He now called upon the Government to say whether this Perpetuity Fund was to be viewed in a different light from the rest of the Church property, or whether it was to be understood that the mode of dealing with it was to be applied
to the rest? He asked of them from what sources they meant to make good the deficiencies in the payments, if the Perpetuity Fund should be insufficient to cover them? He asked them whether, if without sending out their Commissioners, they had determined upon giving a reduction of forty per cent to the landlord, it was necessary for them afterwards to institute the inquiry whether they had any surplus or not? Had they not evidently made up their minds upon what they meant to do? And if they had—and he would rather hear them avow it if it were so, than have the question left in its present doubtful state—let them recal the Commission and abandon at once a measure which, in this country, was only a subject of ridicule, and in Ireland he feared would be looked upon with serious feelings of abhorrence. He made this call upon the Government, in a strong belief of the inexpediency and injustice of this robbery, as he conceived it to be, this confiscation of property, without the prospect of any one compensatory result. It was impossible that the measure could lead, as had been stated by his right hon. friend, to an adjustment of the question of tithes; it was not a measure of that character, but merely one for tiding over the present Session, leaving the main question just where it was, with this difference, indeed, that they would have added an act of gratuitous and useless confiscation to its other embarrassments. Before they did this, he wished to call their attention to the solemn warning given upon this subject, by a noble and learned Lord in another place. He did not mean the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor of England, although he had stated in his place that the clergy were co-partners with the landlord, and had as good a right to their one-tenth as he to the other nine. He meant to refer to the language of another noble and learned Lord, holding a high official situation in Ireland, and who, by reason of his office, must be still presumed to be consulted by his Majesty's Ministers with regard to the measures affecting that country. In 1824, that noble and learned Lord (Lord Plunkett) stated in his place in Parliament—'That the property of the Church might not be interfered with, as well as the property of the State, in a case of public necessity, he would not assert; but be it observed, that upon the
same principle, the private property of every man in the kingdom, was equally liable. He knew very well that both the property of the Church, and the property of individuals, must yield to the exigencies of the State; to those exigencies of the State; to those exigencies the property of the hon. Gentleman himself, as well as that of every other Member who heard him, must give way; but he would maintain, that the property of the Church was as sacred as any other; and he must again repeat, that to take away the ancient rights of one class to give them to another, could not be deemed anything else but spoliation. If they began with the Church, let the landowner look to himself, and let the fundholder also take care of himself, as he lay even more conveniently than the landowner. With respect to the Protestant establishment of the country, he considered it necessary for the security of all property. He thought that there should not only be an Established Church, but that it should be richly endowed; and that its dignitaries should be enabled to take their stations in society' [Hear!] He (Mr. Stanley) was glad to hear that cheer, and especially from the hon. member for St. Alban's, because he hoped that he concurred in the Lord Chancellor of Ireland's opinion, 'that its dignitaries Lord Plunkett continued, should be enabled to take their stations in society with the nobles of the land. But, speaking of it in a political point of view, he had no hesitation to state, that the existence of the Protestant establishment was the great bond of union between the two countries; and if ever that unfortunate moment should arrive, when they should rashly lay their hands upon the property of the Church, to rob it of its rights, that moment would seal the doom of, and separate the connexion, between the two countries.'* He called the attention of Ministers to that as a warning. He repeated, too, in the language of Lord Plunkett, that if ever the unfortunate moment should arrive at which the Legislature should rashly lay its hands upon the property of the Church, that moment would seal the doom of the Union, and terminate for ever the connection between the two countries. That noble and learned Lord the Government must still consult upon such measures as this,
* (new series) xi. P. 574
and he must be placed by them in an embarrassing position, particularly if he should be called upon to reconcile the present principles of the Government with those which be advanced in 1824. He concurred with the noble and learned Lord's opinions and principles in 1824. He concurred in them still, and he believed with that noble Lord, that to apply to Church property the principles of the present measures, and so to make distinctions between it and all other species of property, was confiscation and spoliation, and nothing else. Believing this, and believing the measure calculated to produce no compensation for the violence so done to the rights of property in restoring the peace of Ireland, and feeling that it was a departure from the principles which the Ministers had professed, and which he had, up to a recent period, assisted in carrying into effect, for all these reasons he should certainly feel it his duty to take the sense of the Committee upon the resolutions now moved by his right hon. friend.
§ Lord Althorp
was not at all surprised at the cheers from the opposite side of the House, which followed the speech of his right hon. friend, as that speech had verified all the anticipations he ever had formed of his right hon. friend, when speaking from that Bench. He was sure that when he came to speak on the side of the Opposition—when, indeed, he became a leading Opposition speaker, that, his right hon. friend's genius would have fair play, and he would not confine himself to the cautions and measured diction with which Ministers were compelled to be familiar. He found very strong terms at the commencement of his right hon. friend's speech—"imbecility," "timidity," "robbery," "spoliation," were some of the mildest phrases that were employed; these were good opposition expressions, and his right hon. friend had made a regular opposition speech. But he should have to take some notice of his right hon. friend's argument, and leave his declamation. For his own part, he believed that his right hon. friend's measures for the pacification of Ireland while he was in office, were wise, but, Unfortunately, they were applied some years too late; if they had been tried several years ago, he believed they would have been successful; but while he acknowledged this, he could not congratulate his 1162 right hon. friend on the success with which his measures were attended. If he found that, instead of producing peace, which was their object, those measures had left the country just in the same condition in which they found it, he did not think the House would feel itself justified in considering it as a fatal objection to any other measures which might be proposed, that they were not consistent with the principle on which his right hon. friend's measures had rested. His right hon. friend had said, that the object of all the measures which the Government had hitherto adopted in Ireland, was the extinction of tithes by a commutation of tithes into land. Undoubtedly that was an object with them; but another and a more immediate object with them, was always that of relieving the occupying tenant from the payment of tithes, and to fix it upon the owner of the land at the earliest possible period. In that respect he contended that the measure now before the House, did not differ from the principle upon which they and his right hon. friend had always acted. His right hon. friend said, that they had introduced a new principle in substituting the rent charge, and to a certain extent he admitted that they had. The question which was pressed upon them, however was, whether so large an amount of landed property as the conversion of tithes would create, ought to be placed in the hands of the clergy? He was of opinion that the influence they would possess as the owners of so much land would not be desirable. The change now proposed would remove that objection, and also at the same time destroy the motive for resistance to the payment of the clergy on the part of the occupier. The great principle kept in view was, to convert the tithe into a rent-charge upon landlords as soon as possible; and this was the reason why those landlords were oared liberal terms on condition of anticipating the period of five years; not that he by any means considered those terms too high, considering the security it would afford the Church, and the peace it would give to Ireland. He was not sure, that the effect of leaving the case as it originally stood, would not have been to endanger, to a greater extent than it would be endangered by the proposed arrangement, the landlord's rent; because the occupying tenant might not only suppose, that part of the rent he was called on to pay 1163 was charged with a view to tithes, but that the landlords had been making bargains for themselves, of which they alone would reap the advantage. He much doubted if that feeling would have tended to the security of rents in Ireland. His right hon. friend then spoke of the lay tithes, and said, that they were nothing more than mortgage on land. They were, no doubt, a mortgage on the land, but a mortgage of a peculiar nature. The produce was collected, be it remembered, by taking, not from the owner of the land in the first instance, but from the occupier of the land. Did his right hon. friend mean to say, that there was as much danger and difficulty—that there was as much chance of exciting tumult in endeavouring to recover the interest of a mortgage as there was in attempting to recover tithes. His right hon. friend then spoke to the principle of the measure, and he asked to what conclusion they were to come with regard to the Perpetuity Fund; he asked his Majesty's Ministers whether in the measure which they now brought forward, he was to consider that the Perpetuity Fund stood on precisely the same footing as the rest of the funds to be submitted to the Ecclesiastical Commission, or on a different footing. He thought, that in some respects, it was a different fund. Unquestionably his right hon. friend had a right to urge, that in the Bill of last year it was treated as an essentially different fund. He would admit, for the sake of argument, that the Perpetuity Fund, as decided by the Church Temporalities Act of last year, stood on different ground; but still, though it was Ecclesiastical property, it never had been the property of any individuals in the Church, or of any Corporation in the Church. When Gentlemen were ready to exchange from one Corporation to another, property belonging to such Corporation—and he believed there was not a Gentleman in the House who objected to such a change—he did not see on what principle it could be said to be spoliation and plunder to change property (not from one Corporation, because the Church was not a single Corporation) from a mass of Corporations, and apply it to another purpose. Moral and religious instruction were the purposes to which they intended to apply the money; and he would say, that if, by doing this, they gave greater security to Church-property—if by doing this, they facilitated the 1164 collection of Church-property, he did not see that in taking that step, they were going so entirely away from the protection of Church-property as his right hon. friend seemed to imagine. His right hon. friend said, that he had thrown out some strong words on the subject. What he meant to declare was, that this inquiry was to be gone into to see whether the amount of the revenues was more than was required by the Church of Ireland, and if the report which was the result of this inquiry should prove, that there was a surplus, certainly, according to all the doctrines he had ever held in that House, or elsewhere, it would be in the power of Parliament to decide in what manner the surplus should be applied. He did not wish to conceal his sentiments on this subject. He had no hesitation in admitting, should gentlemen force the question, that if by appropriating the Perpetuity Fund, as they were now doing, in the measure before the House, they were bringing the question of appropriation to issue, he had no objection to put the question on that issue. His right hon. friend, referring to the Ecclesiastical Commission, spoke of it as if he had never heard of one before. He was surprised at his right hon. friend giving so short a gestation to that Commission, because he should have thought that it had gone its full time. He was at all events sure, that the idea of instituting such an inquiry, could not have been new to his right hon. friend—that he could not have been much surprised that on his retirement from office, such a measure had been adopted. In making these observations, however, he was prepared to confirm the statement of his right hon. friend—though he was not aware that any one had asserted or insinuated anything to the contrary of either his right hon. friend, the right hon. Baronet near him, or his noble friends who had retired from the Administration—that they had never given their consent to take the question into their serious consideration. He (Lord Althorp) was quite ready to state, if any such insinuation had been, or were made, that it was entirely without foundation. His right hon. friend required that the effect of this measure should be a permanent change, and he objected to charging such a sum as this on the Consolidated Fund. He (Lord Althorp) admitted, that it was a question for the House, seriously to consider whether the case were made 1165 out, and the proposition now submitted to them were such as would justify them in making this charge on that fund. His right hon. friend seemed to think, that the whole of the charge on the Consolidated Fund could never be got back. He (Lord Althorp) entertained a different opinion; but he would say, that if it amounted to from 50,000l. to 60,000l. a-year, and it could equal that amount only in case of the landlords of Ireland generally taking on themselves the payment of tithes in place of the occupying tenantry throughout Ireland, who would thus be relieved from an impost which had been vexatious to them in every way in which an impost could be vexatious—which had produced discontent, crime, and, in short, every species of social calamity—if, he repeated, the effect of this measure should be, by placing these charges on the revenue of the country, to induce the landlords to take on themselves the payment of the tithes, the money would be well laid out for the country. His right hon. friend asserted, that the measure would not give peace to Ireland; but he would say, that if the tithes were paid by the landlords instead of by the occupying tenantry, by a rent-charge instead of by collection as heretofore, as far as he could reason from any experience that he had, he did think that it would give a better chance of tranquillity to that country than any other measure. All he wished to urge on the Committee was, that the chance of producing tranquillity by such a measure was very great, and be hoped that they would therefore think it worth while to agree to the Resolution proposed.
§ Mr. Hume
said, he found himself in an uncomfortable position. He should be sorry to be obliged to vote with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) on this occasion, because he did not fully concur with him in any one of the propositions he had put forth. Yet he felt that it would be easier for him to support the right hon. Gentleman than to go along with the noble Lords, and the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He was sure, that a number of those around him must share in this feeling. He could not believe, that any of those hon. Members who had voted for the Motion of the hon. member for St. Alban's (Mr. Ward) would feel disposed to support the Resolution of the right hon. Secretary. Holding the opinions that he did, he would accordingly make 1166 a proposition in relation to his own views and impressions on the subject, and he did not suppose that that class of hon. Members to which he had alluded would dissent from it. They would by it alike be saved from the necessity of voting with the late right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, or still worse, with the right hon. Gentleman, the present Secretary for Ireland. He would do the hon. Gentlemen near him the justice to say, that they had been at least consistent. They had objected to any interference with Church-property, and they did so still. But to one individual holding a distinguished appointment in connexion with the present Government, he could not accord similar praise. That individual had, in former times, denounced, as contemplating spoliation and robbery, the very principle which characterized the Bill now recommended by his Majesty's Ministers. He had no hesitation in saying, that a person who had so committed himself, if he continued his connection with the Government, must either recant or be disgraced for ever. They ought to know what was meant by such conduct; they ought to know how it was, that Lord Plunkett now sanctioned the principle which he called robbery in 1824. He was in that year told by the noble Lord, that he and all who advocated his Motion must be prepared to part with their property—to submit to its being plundered from them, as they would plunder the property of the Church. Seeing the difficulties into which persons got by inconsistency, it behoved the House to be particularly careful, that they were not hereafter betrayed into the same inconsistency with the noble and learned Lord, by now agreeing to the Resolution. That Resolution declared, that at all hazards, the deficit was to be made up, and this would amount to at least 50,000l. annually. He, for one, could not agree to this vote, because he considered that it pledged the House to the maintenance of the Church Establishment in its present position, so far at least as the collection of tithes went. The noble Lord, in his first speech had alluded to satisfactory arrangements with respect to Church property. But if he really had any in view, why did he not declare them? It would be a matter of prudence so far as regarded the Ministry, and of kindness so far as individuals were concerned, 1167 if he would only state in a straight forward manner what he really meant, so many hon. Members were then in that House willing to support the Government of the noble Lord, if they could do so conscientiously; but, in truth, not knowing where they stood. In his opinion, the Ministry ought either to agree with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley), and maintain that Church-property ought not to be touched at all, or else they should at once manfully declare, that it was to be freely dealt with. Let them no longer be beating the bush. The people were quite tired of it. At all events, he trusted that the House would set the Ministers an example of firmness and determination. The House, indeed, was soft and foolish in giving a million last year; but let them be warned by their error, and proceed no further. The deficit they were now called upon to make good would consume a capital of two millions more. And was not this, he asked, most monstrous, when they considered that the Church of Ireland already possessed funds which were amply sufficient for its own support? He lamented the blindness of Ministers. He was much astonished that long experience did not teach men things that after all were perfectly obvious. On that side of the House, they saw clear enough. Perhaps it was, that when men found themselves upon those benches opposite, there was something there which deprived them of vision. They could not see what other persons saw. They could not see what even they themselves saw when they were at his side of the House. He would say to Government, let them honestly proceed with the commutation of tithes in Ireland, and then he, for one, would be ready to vote for making up any deficiency which might exist, after the appropriation of the proceeds from the Perpetuity Purchase Fund. If, however, Government should, on the contrary, persist in their present course, he could only say, that he considered it a premium held out to the people of England to refuse the payment of tithes. The fact was, he believed, the Government was yielding to intimidation, and he could only assure them, that as long as they were weakly, pusillanimously, subservient, so long would they be loaded, like asses, and compelled to bear the burthen. He believed, in his conscience, that the Government were frightened at the hon. Gentleman near 1168 him. And for his own part he did not wonder at it. He must say, however, that he believed the whole matter would have been over if the Government had agreed to the proposition of the hon. member for St. Alban's. To relieve himself from the difficulty in which he was placed, he intended to move an amendment which he would read to the House: 'That it is the opinion of this Committee, that the surplus monies to, the credit of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland in the Perpetuity Purchase Fund to be kept by the said Ecclesiastical Commissioners, pursuant to the provisions of an Act passed in the last Session of Parliament, intituled, "An Act to alter and amend the laws relating to the Temporalities of the Church of Ireland," shall be applicable to such purposes for the adjustment and settlement of tithes in Ireland, as shall by any Act to be passed during the present Session of Parliament, be provided.' This, in effect, would be restoring the 147th Clause, placing the Bill on the same footing on which it formerly stood, and making it conformable to the declarations of the noble Lord. He would remind the noble Lord that he stood pledged to give relief to the Dissenters. It was very well known, that the noble Lord offered a measure of relief to that numerous and influential body, to the amount of 250,000l. a-year, which, however, they had repudiated as unsatisfactory and insufficient; was it, then, to be supposed that they would tolerate an additional burthen for the support of this sinecure Church? He implored the Government to take heart at length, and to pursue a manly and straightforward course; if they only knew how many there were in the House anxious to support them if they pursued such a course, they would feel that they had nothing to fear; but if they chose to lean one day upon Tory support, and another upon their ancient character and professions, they would find themselves in the end distrusted and abandoned by all parties. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Amendment which he had previously read.
was not much struck by the arguments of the noble Lord; but he was by one of his assertions, in which he stated, that whoever voted for the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman would pledge himself to the appropriation by Parliament of the Ecclesiastical Fund.
§ If the noble Lord came forward now to give them to understand that he would pass the Resolution of the hon. member for St. Alban's, or if, in a more mitigated shape, he would pass the Resolution that had been lately proposed by him, then the noble Lord's principle would be intelligible, and he should, with the greatest pleasure, give his support to the Resolution before the Committee. But why, if they were to pledge themselves to that effect, was not the principle at once broadly laid down. They had had enough of pledges that were no pledges. Their reliance ought to be not on a mere opinion of the Ministry, but on solemn records of this House. The noble Lord, with the complacency and good humour which became him, remarked on the boast of the right hon. Gentleman, the late Colonial Secretary, as to his measures for Ireland. That Gentleman certainly took credit to himself for the purity of his intentions; and he did not deny that they were pure. But as certainly the right hon. Gentleman was liable to the taunt that his measures were not successful. He might be told, that he found Ireland in a disturbed state, and he left it in a worse; that with all his good intentions, he neither subdued dissension, nor contented himself with enforcing the law as it existed; but got from this House a most unconstitutional, and an almost unlimited, power. The noble Lord—who, if he did not equal the right hon. Gentleman in oratorical display, exceeded him in good temper—if he had wished to retaliate the smart attack made on him by the right hon. Gentleman, an attack not over considerate for right hon. friends—might have insisted with some strength, that when an appeal was made to the House to spare the people of Ireland the mischief which would result from the measure, to avoid the heart-burning and dissension—nay, the crime and bloodshed—which it would give rise to; the noble Lord, he repeated, might have retaliated on the right hon. Gentleman who made this forcible appeal, by reminding him that in his time dissensions, and heart-burning and crime existed—aye, and rivers of blood, too, flowed—and he neither succeeded in suppressing the one, nor in arresting the tide of the other. This being the fact, had not the noble Lord a right to say to the right hon. Gentleman, that as he found the experiment was a bad one, he would give it up at once and for ever— 1170 he would alter the system totally? Government had failed to show, that the alterations which were to be effected by the proposed measure had anything in them calculated to benefit in any way the people of Ireland. When they condemned the failure of the late Secretary for the Colonies, why not try and adopt some means of amending what they deemed bad in his system? Why not endeavour to bring forward some measure which would really and substantially satisfy Ireland? The measures proposed by that Gentleman were only such as were calculated to satisfy his cheerers—such as would satisfy the Orangemen of Ireland, giving them dominion by day and rule by night. It was odd that the right hon. Gentleman should be so anxious to give satisfaction to those whom he had formerly characterized as the contemptible remnant of a broken faction; but it was owing, perhaps, to the circumstance of their being now converted into his admiring cheerers. Government could not succeed in their efforts with respect to this measure. They did not take up the subject in the manner in which they should take it up, and give the right direction to this property. It had been made an argument, that any measure affecting the Church property would eventually lead to a Repeal of the Union. To leave unredressed the evils of Ireland was the way to hasten that event so much dreaded now by the father of the Hannibals, who had in former times pledged himself by a vow as unalterable as the laws of the Medes and Persians, to leave no effort untried to undo the measure of the Union; who not only vowed himself, but ended by pledging himself, to swear to the same efforts at the altar of his country every son of his begotten or to be begot—and evinced a disposition to endeavour to fulfil the pledge whether the contemplated issue were an abortion or came to its full time. The hon. member for Middlesex need not dread for a moment that any measure which might pass that House would hazard the loss of the excellent Chancellor for Ireland. The hon. Member might rest satisfied, that of the five-and-fifty cakes possessed by the family of that noble Lord, all would still continue to be held even although the dreaded spoliation of the Church should go on. But what was this spoliation which was so insisted on? If transfer were spoliation, by what title, he should 1171 like to know, did the Established Church lay claim to this property? Let them beware how they taught, that transfer was spoliation. Their title to the property was found in the Acts of Parliament, a good and sufficient title which none would dispute. Though a transfer had taken place, it was not spoliation, it was the law of the land, but it was a law like every other law, capable of alteration. Formerly this property was held by the performance of some service. Every grant made to the Church by the heads of families was, with the provision that a certain number of masses should be said or a certain number of prayers offered up either for a certain time or for ever, and the performance of these services was the title by which the property was held. But these services were not now performed—there were no masses said—no prayers offered up—souls were now left to shift for themselves; no value was given, and those who had enjoyed the advantage of the former transfer now turned round, and after a century of civil war which followed upon that transfer, dared the House to touch this property unless they meant to set an example of spoliation and plunder. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the thimble rig, but in his (Mr. O'Connell's) opinion the thimble rig was at the other side, and these things were more properly to be found at the Derby. Such legislation as the right hon. Gentleman proposed on this subject would suit the show-box, and the race-ground, and black-legs, but faded into unintelligibility before the light of common honesty and just intention. Who were they that received the tithes in England? Why, the clergy of the people of England. Who were they who enjoyed the Church revenue of Scotland? The clergy of the people of Scotland. Did any one believe that, if it were proposed in England to give to the Catholic clergy of England—the Catholics being about one-sixteenth of the nation—the property now possessed by the Establishment, that the people would agree to it? Would the House agree to it? Would the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) agree to it? If last year such an Act had been proposed, would not the right hon. Gentleman have been the first to oppose the handing over the property from those who were really the clergy of the people to those who were not? The principle which he contended for was recognized in Scot- 1172 land, but they compelled that recognition by force. There was no begging, or petitioning, or cajolling of right hon. friends. They argued the question with the broadsword—they urged it with its edge—they garrisoned themselves in the mountain fastnesses, and, after fighting for fifty years, they happily succeeded in what is now called spoliation. They succeeded in making a transfer of the property, not to the clergy of the Protestant Church, not to the clergy of the Catholic, but to the clergy of a new Church, the Church of Scotland; and properly was it so transferred, for that was the Church of the people. Whilst this struggle lasted what was the consequence; Scotland, instead of adding strength to the empire as at present, was then the weakness of England. The countries at war with Great Britain speculated on her disaffection; every invasion which threatened was directed to that quarter of the empire, and the Throne itself was insecure whilst her wrongs remained unredressed. When the cause of dissatisfaction was removed, how different was the state of things? Scotland, instead of being the weakness, became the strength, the ornament of, and added dignity to the empire. They had satisfied the demands of the country, they had done her justice, they adopted the religion of the people as the religion of the State. He did not ask so much for Ireland. Indeed, when he had formerly suggested that a portion of this property in Ireland should go to maintain those who ministered to the religious wants of the great body of the people in that country, the proposition had been disclaimed by millions of voices there, and he himself had been blamed for having made it. He had received many communications on the subject, all rejecting such a proposition; but they were unanimous in desiring that the burthen should be lightened; and unless some means were taken to effect that, they never could hope to establish peace in the land. To decide upon what should be done in reference to this subject, there was no necessity of issuing a rambling Commission. All that was necessary to be known could be ascertained in the space of eight-and-forty hours. Let them go upon the plain principle, that where there was no flock to preside over, and no services to be performed, there should be no revenue. Let there be at once some sweeping and beneficial change 1173 made, so as to bring the institutions of the State into harmony with the people, and then Government might be proud of their success. Let them not continue to bring forward unmeaning and unintelligible propositions—unsatisfactory and neutral measures, which were neither one thing nor the other. Let them not keep the public in the present state of suspense, but propose something intelligible, and in which the people could confide. There was no necessity for the Commission to enable Government to decide upon what it ought to do. Let them take the statement of the hon. Member for the University of Dublin, who might be said to be the advocate of the clergy. Let them take his word, in the belief that he would neither exaggerate nor diminish. Take the sum mentioned by that hon. Gentleman, and then apply the plan which he (Mr. O'Connell) proposed. Where one-fourth of the inhabitants were of the Establishment, let the living be continued, where it was not so much, let the living be done away with; add the property to the receipts of the Exchequer, and let incumbents be paid by an issue of Exchequer Bills. Let such a course as this be adopted, and it would at once and for ever extinguish the heart-burnings which must otherwise continue in Ireland, whilst, at the same time, it would make proper provision for the religious instruction of the members of the Establishment. It Ministers undertook some such plain, and intelligible measure as that, the House would support them in it, or if obstacles were thrown in the way, they would be supported from without by the voice and the confidence of the people. If, in endeavouring to carry such a project into effect, they should be driven from their station, it would be but for a season. They would shortly be borne back on the shoulders of the people, and supported by a principle maintained and established by the consent of every rational being in the empire. Then they would enjoy in Ireland that peace which England did not know until the religion of the country was consonant with the opinions of the great bulk of the people, which Scotland only exhibited when her clergy were identified and combined with the population, and which never could be known in Ireland until her present grievous and harassing oppressions were removed.
said, the magnitude of the interests involved in the present question, 1174 and the results which would flow from it, if carried, were partly the reasons why he offered a few observations to the House. He could not accede to the doctrines and theories laid down by the Government, or by the hon. member for Dublin; for both parties rested their arguments on a fallacious principle, and their observations tended to delude the public, while they struck at the foundation of the Church Establishment, the most venerated of our institutions, the one that was most closely linked with the preservation of the whole scheme of our Constitution. The hon. member for Dublin might speak for that section of the Irish people of whose opinions he was the Representative; but he could not speak for the influence, the rank, the wealth, and the independence of the Irish Protestants, who, it would no doubt be allowed, should be taken into the account in any estimate of the people of Ireland; but, above all, he could not speak for the people of England—who were bound to the English Protestant Establishment by the ties of reverence and duty, and by their deep and fixed conviction of its paramount utility and purity of faith; an Establishment of which the Irish Church was at once the associate and the offspring. Did the hon. Member think, that the Irish Protestants or the English people would support his attempts at the destruction of their religious Establishment? Did he expect they would echo his cry of spoliation?—Let the hon. Member disguise his designs as he would, the Protestant people would see through the thin veil. The object was spoliation, and that they never would consent to. The hon. Member, whom he would meet on the principle of law, had misstated the title of Church property.—The sophistries of the hon. Member should not be mistaken for maxims, and his deductions were liable to the same objections as the principles he laid down. The hon. Member stated, that the present property of the Protestant Church was a transfer from the Catholic Church by a simple Act of Parliament; and was, therefore, revokable by an Act of Parliament. Now, that was a doctrine the truth of which he would, unhesitatingly, deny. That property stood on the same foundation as that of the Church of England, for both Churches were based on the same principle, and their rights were coequal. In both countries, it was an endowment for that which was, at the time, 1175 the religion of the State, and accordingly these endowments contained no less in England than in Ireland, conditions connected with the Roman Catholic religion. But, when the Legislature thought fit to adopt the reformed religion (and could their right be doubted?) the property of the Church followed, as an incident to the religion of the State. It had always belonged to it, and never yet had been severed from it in either country. The hon. and learned Member asked, who had the property of the Church in England? and his answer was the clergy of the people of England. He, also, asked who had the property of the Church in Scotland? and the reply which he gave was the clergy of the people of Scotland. He had no objection to follow up the question with respect to Ireland, and to the question "of who had the property of the Church in Ireland?" he would reply, the clergy of those who owned the property of that country, and who substantially paid the tithe. When the House was told, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland paid the tithes, it was a more fallacy. How was it possible that could be the case, when they were not the proprietors of the land? It was the proprietors of the soil upon whom the burthen really fell, and this was the ground upon which, in the Report of the Tithe Committee, in 1832, to which the present Secretary for Ireland was a party, they justified the measure of charging the tithes upon the landlords of Ireland, as they in general belonged to the established religion. When the hon. and learned Member asked, why should the tithe be paid to the clergy of a handful of Protestants—it might as well be asked, why the property of the ancient Irish people was to be left with a handful of Protestants. He feared, that if the principles by which his Majesty's Ministers were guided should be acted upon with regard to the Church, that the day was not far distant when a claim would be set up for the restoration of the forfeited estates, and a call made that they should revert to the representatives of their ancient possessors. But the chief object which he had in rising was, to apply himself to one point which was pressed by those who preceded him upon the noble Lord opposite (Lord Althorp), and to which no satisfactory answer had been given. He wished to know what new light had broken in upon his Majesty's 1176 Government since February last, to induce them to depart from the principle of the Bill which they then introduced, in accordance with the recommendations contained in the Reports of Committees of both Houses of Parliament—a Bill, which was introduced with a view of commuting tithes into landed property. That principle Ministers had now abandoned, although it was adopted after the most mature deliberation. The Commons' Committee was composed almost exclusively of members of the Government, or their strenuous supporters, not more than four or five Members having been taken from the other side of the House. That Committee sat six months; the whole of the question upon Irish tithes was referred to them; they came to a resolution upon the subject, and to that resolution the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Littleton) was an assenting party. The Resolution stated, that it was essential to the permanent peace of Ireland. It was now said, that it would be too large an investment to make in land in Ireland; but that view of the subject was before the Committee. It appeared, that they calculated the produce of the sale of tithes—the probability of getting a sufficient quantity of land—the whole question was thoroughly examined at the time—no new light could, therefore, have since shone out upon the subject. It appeared that the Committee were distinctly of opinion, that it would be proper to reinvest for the benefit of the Church, the money raised by the sale of tithes. They said "upon every ground, it appears expedient that this investment should be made, if possible, in land,"—and according to that recommendation the Bill of last February was introduced. A Committee of the House of Lords had been appointed at the same time to inquire into the same subject. The Lord President of the Council was chairman of that Committee, and they concurred in recommending a commutation of Irish tithe into land. He was at a loss to conjecture why it was his Majesty's Ministers had thrown overboard the Bill founded upon the recommendations of two Committees, appointed by themselves, and of which many of his Majesty's present advisers were members, unless it was at the suggestion of the Gentleman who had lately become their confidential adviser, the hon. and learned member for Dublin. But it was said, that 1177 the peace of Ireland would be secured by adopting the course at present recommended. He should like to ask upon what authority such an expectation rested. He would appeal to every class of Irish Members, and he was confident that the opinions of no one class would warrant the statement of the noble Lord, that the proposed plan would give peace to Ireland. On the contrary the united testimony of all parties was borne to this fact, that it would not conduce to the peace of Ireland. But it was stated that the measure would give relief to the peasantry of Ireland, and if the fact were so, he admitted that some plausible ground for supporting the measure might be found. But would it give relief to the peasantry? He denied that it would, and its effect, as it appeared to him, would be that of enabling the landlords who were to be relieved to the extent of two-fifths of the existing charge for tithes, to add that amount to their rents. He believed the most effectual way to relieve the peasantry would be to convert the tithe into land; there would then be but the one charge—that for rent. At present the cottier tenant, such was the competition for land, made offers for land without taking tithe into account, and the landlord often let his land without attending sufficiently to the charges upon it beyond the rent. Thence arose one of the difficulties in the payment of tithe. The only way, in his (Mr. Lefroy's) opinion, to relieve the peasantry, and effectually to secure the peace of Ireland was, to pass a Bill in accordance with the recommendations of the two Committees, and convert tithe into land. such a Bill was read a first and second time, and although it sacrificed a portion of the property of the Church, yet as it was calculated to secure the remainder, effectually and permanently the tranquillity of Ireland, it had received his support. He regretted, that his Majesty's Ministers had departed from that Bill—they had unsettled everything—and the measure now proposed would leave the question still unsettled. The property of the Church was to be sacrificed without removing that fruitful source of agitation which had for three or four years back been carried on in Ireland with such mischievous effects. Being opposed to the alterations now proposed, he must resist them, the more especially as these alterations went in fact to reverse the decision 1178 to which the House had come last Session on the 147th clause. The proposition of the Government was, to reverse that decision, and he trusted the House would not follow the Ministers in their system of vacillation and plunder, which, if persevered in, must lead in the first instance to the subversion of the Church in Ireland; and, as a consequence, he very much apprehended it would lead to a severance of the Legislative Union between England and Ireland, and finally to a separation of the two countries. With all these consequences in view, he must give his opposition, as well to the resolution proposed by his Majesty's Government, as to the Amendment proposed by the hon. member for Middlesex. The latter was more explicit than the former, but had nothing else to recommend it; but as he equally disapproved of both, he should meet both propositions in succession by a decided negative.
§ Mr. Lambert
said, that though he was opposed to the former Bill, yet, when he heard the declarations of the Government, and when he saw the ill-assorted and ill-omened union of parties—when he heard the epithets of shoplifters and swindlers applied by a right hon. Gentleman, a late Secretary, to those who were opposed to his views, considering the machinations resorted to on the opposite side, he could not think of opposing the Bill. He respected the religious feelings and prejudices of every one when those feelings emanated from the heart, and were not directed to factious purposes. But if religion were to he made the vehicle of party views, and the instrument of social discord, he must say, that religion was abused, and that such proceedings should be discountenanced. How could it injure the Protestant Church if its revenues were drawn from a source less odious to the people than they were at present? Hon. Gentlemen talked of vindicating the law; but the House pronounced that the law was bad—that it was based on injustice. Then should they abolish that law, and there was therefore an end of its vindication. But as the House which declared the law to be bad did not annul it, the people, acting on the declarations of the House, took the matter into their own hands and anticipated the House. He thought the landlords could do much to mitigate, if not remove, the evil. But then it would not be fair to ask them to 1179 adjust such a complicated and embarrassing question without giving them compensation. His opinion was, that there should be an abatement to the landlord of forty per cent, and that the landlord should abate the tenant sixty per cent. He hoped Government would go on with the measure. It was one that possessed the elements of much good. The country would support them. Let them settle the question at once, and that was the way to check turbulence, insurrection, and bloodshed.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, the whole secret of the policy pursuing by his Majesty's Ministers on the question under the consideration of the House, was let out by the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down. The hon. member said, he came down to the House prepared to vote against the measure, but since he had heard the declaration of the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) on the question of appropriation, he had changed his mind, and would give the measure every support. What a miserable system of temporising and double dealing was this on the part of the Government! they threw out in their speeches the bait of "Church plunder" to catch votes on a question which they contended did not involve that principle, and yet they had not the manliness or honesty to act upon the principle when it was regularly before the House. They well knew they would have a large majority in that House, if they brought forward a resolution affirming that principle of the spoliation of Church property; but they had not the courage to meet the consequences out of that House. No—not even in the Cabinet of which they were members, although they boasted that it was now a united Cabinet, of which he did not believe one word; but instead of that intelligible and straight-forward (although he felt desperate) course, what did the Government do? Why—they calculated, as in the case of the hon. member for Wexford, that they should procure a majority there, by professing sentiments as members of that House, which, as members of the Cabinet, they would not dare to carry into operation; otherwise, why the shuffling—why the commission-issuing why the moving of the previous question upon a Resolution that did not go one iota beyond their own declarations, and shrinking at all times from fairly meeting 1180 that question? If he was asked what was the sufficient motive of the Government on the present occasion—he could easily tell it. The Government found themselves in the difficulty of having brought forward a measure, from which they could not with common decency recede, and had not the firmness to go on with; therefore it was, they asked that House to let them put their hand into the public purse, and take 1,200,000l. from the Consolidated Fund to extricate them from their embarrassment, not professing to have in hand more than 60,000l. at present to meet that demand; or that the Perpetuity Purchase Fund could ever exceed 1,200,000l. Supposing for the sake of argument, that it could be applicable to such a purpose, the point then was merely one of finance, whether the people of England and Scotland would be satisfied to pay so large a sum from their pockets, to enable the Ministry to tide over their present difficulty, and leave the question of tithes as unsettled as ever— for, so far from that Bill putting an end to what the hon. member (Mr. Lambert) called "the atrocious tithe system" it went in direct terms to perpetuate it; and the principle of redemption which alone, according to the showing of the Government themselves, could have had the effect of extinguishing tithe, was now to be abandoned. With respect to the Bill before them, as in every other case the Administration were blowing hot and cold. The noble Lord said, the principle of it was to be given up, as since the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) had left the Cabinet, it appeared, by the statement of the noble Lord that the principles which had been acted upon, to retain him and those colleagues who so honourably seceded with him, were to be repudiated; while, on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Littleton) assured the House that the Bill was the same in principle, although only a part of it was to be carried into effect for the present,—then which was the House to believe, the noble Lord or the right hon. Gentleman? Such, in short, was the manner in which the present Government dealt with every subject which came before them. He wished to say a few words with regard to the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and the negotiations which had taken place between him and the right 1181 hon. Secretary for Ireland. The House had witnessed the great "blow up" which had taken place on the previous night with regard to these negotiations. It was rather a delicate affair, and he (Mr. Shaw) had no desire to revive an unpleasant subject. But, notwithstanding that "blow up," and notwithstanding what had been said that night in another place, where the noble Lord at the head of the Government had spurned the idea of any negotiation being entered into between the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and any member of the Government, he was convinced, that the negotiations which were said to have been so abruptly broken off were still pending. Hon. Gentlemen might laugh at the idea; but he would prove the fact by this test, that the Coercion Bill would not be supported by his Majesty's Ministers in that House, whatever might be said to the contrary. He believed, that no Member of the Cabinet would support that Bill; and he drew his inference from the speech of the hon. and learned Member that night. It was only a fortnight ago, just before the negotiations had taken place, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had declared war against the Government solely on account of their intention to introduce the Coercion Bill. The words of the hon. and learned Gentleman were, "Now is our time to oppose the Government, for the House of Lords are ready to pour down upon them, and I will give them every support in my power, in order to drive the Ministers from their places." He believed he had stated the substance of the hon. Member correctly, and he was strengthened in that belief by a reference to the letter which the hon. and learned Member had addressed to the people of Wexford. The hon. and learned Member admitted his correctness, and that was sufficient for his purpose. With regard to Church property, the hon. and learned Member had that night said, that the surplus of any fund that might fall in ought to be applied to the support of the Catholic clergy. Now, when the hon. and learned Member was questioned on this very point by a Committee of that House in the year 1825, before the Catholic Emancipation Bill was passed, he stated that one of the principal objections entertained against that measure by the Protestants of Ireland arose from the fears which they entertained, that the Catholics, if emanci- 1182 pated, would endeavour to effect the appropriation of the property of the Church to the purposes of the State. And when he was further asked if the Catholic Priesthood were desirous of obtaining any part of the Church property, he replied, that he never heard them express such a wish. The hon. and learned Gentleman was then asked, if he meant his observation to apply to tithes also: he distinctly answered that the Catholic Clergy would not accept of any portion of the property of the Church; and he added, that the Catholics generally objected to any such appropriation. He, however, did not rise for the purpose of pointing out the inconsistencies of the hon. and learned Member, but to caution the House against being deluded by his Majesty's Ministers—to vote a sum of money out of the Consolidated Fund, which they could never expect to have repaid—for the purpose, too, of preventing the extinguishment of tithes by means of redemption; and, above all, that they should not be imposed upon by professions of his Majesty's Ministers of their readiness to spoliate Church property—professions obviously used to catch votes on that occasion, when the question of appropriation was not fairly raised by the Government—which question they had not the manliness to raise fairly, and to a contest upon which he boldly defied the Ministers—conscious, as he was, that they would have an overwhelming majority in that House, but still confident that the sound feeling of the people of England, as well as every principle of truth and justice, would be opposed to them.
§ Mr. Gisborne
said, that when tins measure was first brought forward, and he was called on to vindicate the right of property in tithes, leaving the question of appropriation, on which it was intimated the Cabinet differed, unsettled, he certainly hesitated as to his vote; but he now considered the case changed. Since the recent change in the Cabinet, the case stood on very different grounds. The ministerial appointments had given the utmost satisfaction, and the real question was, whether they should quarrel with people who were travelling the same road with them, because they did not travel fast enough for their wishes, and throw themselves into the arms of those who wished to travel in an opposite direction. The right hon. Gentleman opposite would 1183 in vain hold out his blandishments to yon about what he pleased to call the generous party with whom he acted. Toryism has, indeed, hidden its diminished head in that House; it held a higher attitude in the House adjoining; but if they wished to see it in its genuine purity and spirit, let them seek it at Oxford. There the child was first cradled, nor did he doubt that its cradle would prove the dying bed of its decrepitude. The fact was, that whatever disguise it might put on, Toryism was as insolent, overbearing, and unteachable, as it ever was, and so it would ever continue to be. It had been said, that Ministers had not raised the question fairly, but he really thought that had not the question of appropriation been raised, they would not have heard so vehement an opposition from the hon. Gentleman, and the generous party with whom he was connected. The right hon. Gentleman had talked of the difficulty of finding the Church property of Ireland under any of the thimbles. Let him have the management of them, and they should find it under the thimble of the Crown. The right hon. Gentleman had argued, that the principle in this case was totally new, that the main and chief principle of the former Bill was removed from this Bill—namely, that of redemption. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, that the power of redemption was a valuable part of the Bill, and he hoped, that that power, though it might be postponed, would not ultimately be done away with. He agreed in the opinion that, though the great object should be to have the power of the redemption of tithes, yet that tithes should be no longer known. Though he agreed in this great principle, he must add, that it would be unpalatable should so large a sum of money be invested in land, and he wanted to know what was the absolute necessity of investing the whole amount in land. Surely, there were other securities to be found—in the public funds, and elsewhere in the State! But the Church was never satisfied; it had always stood in its own light. He hesitated not to say, that the difficulties of the tithe question would never have existed but for the tenacity with which the Church had adhered to certain opinions in reference to this subject. She had thrown every impediment in the way. At the time of the war, when every body was anxious to avail himself of any facili- 1184 ties which were given to the redemption of tithes, the Church stuck doggedly to a certain principle, like some stupid fellow, who was always afraid of being injured by a bargain. Had this not been the case, he thought that tithes would have been redeemed, and they would not have had the present difficult question to dispute about. He did not know, however, why it should be assumed as a fact, that the Church would not take any thing but land, nor could he imagine why the security of the State was not deemed sufficient. Then they were called upon to make up the deficiency out of the Consolidated Fund. He was willing to adopt that course, but he would not attempt to deceive the House, or depart from those principles which he had always advocated; and he begged to assure the hon. member for Middlesex that he never would cease to endeavour to repay the amount to the Consolidated Fund out of the revenues of the Irish Church. He was willing to go as far as he could at the present moment. He took this resolution, not as comprehending that which was satisfactory, but because it was all he could get. He spoke thus openly in order that no man might hereafter say, that he took away this money without stating what were his ulterior objects. It was on this ground that he should vote on the present occasion, and he would endeavour to pay for the lay tithes upon this principle; for it was only because they were applicable in a certain way that they were not put into one boat with ecclesiastical tithes. He would say, that the Church should relieve them from the difficulty in which they were placed, and it would be for them to make up the amount for lay tithes. The hon. member for Middlesex had moved an Amendment, which Amendment he hoped the hon. Gentleman would not persist in. But he had never yet heard a Motion made with respect to Ireland, to which he should not have liked to have proposed an Amendment. For his own part, he felt very much disposed to move, that an humble address be presented to his Majesty, praying that his Majesty would be graciously pleased never to make another Irish Bishop; that his Majesty would be graciously pleased to withdraw a whole regiment from Ireland on the death of every existing Bishop; and that on the death of every Dean, his Majesty world withdraw a battalion of the 1185 army. If this advice were followed, he verily believed, that it would be found that Ireland would be more satisfied than ever she had been. This was the Amendment which he should like to move. ["Move, move!"] He would not move his Amendment, and he said so as an inducement to the hon. member for Middlesex to follow his example. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would withdraw his Amendment, and allow them to have a concurrent vote. With respect to what the further intentions of the Government might be, they might feel justified in observing some reservation on this point; but he was willing to support his Majesty's Government, of whom he believed the great majority of the House had a high opinion—and recent events had shown clearly what were the feelings of those who supported liberal measures out of doors. He hoped that the House would, by its vote, strengthen the hands of the Government, and the faster and the safer Ministers would then be enabled to go on the road the great majority of the nation wished.
§ Mr. Sheil
said, that there was a very important difference between the Resolution and the Amendment; and the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gisborne) was, in consistency, bound to support the latter. He had condemned the exclusive application of the surplus Perpetuity Fund to the deficit on the Ecclesiastical tithes. The resolution did confine the application of the surplus Perpetuity Fund to the Ecclesiastical deficit, and expressly excluded lay tithes. The Amendment corrected that defect. He did not desire to throw any vexatious obstacle in the way of the Government where they had manifested the least disposition to take a single step towards justice to Ireland; but he could not avoid remonstrating with them on their perverse, their weak, adherence to the doctrine that the Perpetuity Fund was to be only applicable to Church purposes. The Resolution charged the entire deficit on the Consolidated Fund, and they reimbursed that fund as far as Ecclesiastical tithes only were concerned out of the surplus Perpetuity Fund. Apply it to the deficit of lay tithes, and then they had at once the recognition of the great principle of disappropriation from the Church. The 147th Clause originally provided, that the surplus fund should be applied to such purposes as Parliament should think proper. That clause was abandoned, and a 1186 sacrifice made to Churchmen. Now was the time to re-assert it, instead of sticking to the Conservative principle that Ecclesiastical possessions were to be applicable to none but Ecclesiastical interests. Good God! Did the Government, after all their declarations, pertinaciously adhere in practice to the principle which they were told that they had relinquished? But of what avail would be the entreaties of men disposed to support them when they were right, and when they were not, would be excited by the taunts, the contumelious jeering, of their Conservative antagonists? The member for the University of Dublin reproached them with their pusillanimity; and their former colleague, the late Secretary for the Colonies, whose insidious friendship was worse than open hostility, had poured out all his acerbities upon his associates. It was not a little surprising, that the right hon. Gentleman who sat beside him in such interesting juxtaposition—the late First Lord of the Admiralty, had contented himself with nodding assent to all that was said by his right hon. Associate, and had not, since his desertion of the Ministers broken a silence, which might be judicious, but was remarkable. There they were together, a sort of Parliamentary Gemini, shedding their radiance in Conservative splendour over the fortunes of Toryism, and intimating prosperous serenity to those who had hitherto held the way in the midst of clouds and storms. The ex-Secretary for the Colonies had already spoken three times, explained his motives, and poured forth his amiable emotions; but the First Lord of the Admiralty had remained profoundly silent. Was it that it would have been superfluous in him to have spoken, and that all that he could say or feel had been adequately expressed by his brother in resignation? What! had the ex-Secretary for the Colonies proved a faithful Representative, not only of his opinions, but of his sensibilities, and expressed all his tender recollection of his old official friendship and formal political associations? He should address a word or two to both those hon. Gentlemen, and have done. How could they reconcile their former conduct with their present virulent opposition to Government? When they voted for Reform, and supported it with great vehemence, and resorted to such means to effect it, did they not foresee that the Reform of the Church must be the result?
§ Did they look before them? They did not want warning at least. The member for Tamworth again and again exclaimed, that the downfall of the Church would inevitably follow what he called their revolutionary innovations. How could they think, that the democracy of Ireland could be so strengthened, and the Orange ascendancy laid prostrate, without producing the consequences that were passing before them? Again, let them look at their own measures. Did they not upset the very cradle of Protestantism when they destroyed the Kildare-place Society? Did the right hon. Gentleman (the Secretary for the Colonies) remember how he was reviled and reproached by the men who now joined him in the Church cry? "You are robbing us," they exclaimed, "of the Bible." He despised the Bible shout, and those whom he had abandoned might hold in equal scorn the efforts which were made to arouse the religious passions of the English people. Those endeavours had failed. Not a petition came from England to this House in favour of the abuses of the Irish Establishment. Look at Finsbury! They might laugh at the mention of Finsbury; but who was the Conservative candidate? The man who went with the member for Dover on his celebrated hackney-coach expedition to Windsor to petition the late King against Catholic Emancipation. This was the individual set up on High Church principles, and his discomfiture was not a little ominous of public sentiment. But to return to the two right hon. Gentlemen. Did they not vote for the abolition of ten Irish Bishoprics? Did they not vote for the suspension of Protestant incumbency in every parish where divine service had not been performed for three years? Was there no principle involved in that measure? Was it not an admission, that the extent of the Protestant population was to be taken into account in a parish? Why not, then, in an entire country? The Secretary for the Colonies exclaimed against a reduction of forty per cent. He himself supported a Bill reducing the Church-property twenty per cent. Then it was only a question of degree. The right hon. Gentleman said, that it was monstrous to charge the deficit On the Consolidated Fund. Did he not support the proposition for abolishing English Church-rates, and substituting a charge on the Consolidated Fund? Thus 1188 his whole conduct was a tissue of inconsistencies. Let the Government bid him and his confederates defiance. Some one had said: "Now is the time for the Lords." His answer would be, "Now is the time for the Commons and the English people." Nothing but a little vigour on the part of the Government was requisite to ensure their stability. The Conservatives did not dare to take office. ["Hear," from the Opposition Benches.] Wherefore, then, did they not accept it? The Lords were with them; and the Secretary for the Colonies made a significant reference to an illustrious person on a former occasion. Yet, with all their vaunting, they did not venture to stretch the hand to that which was within their reach. Why? Because they knew that England was against them, and that the weakness, indecision, and vacillation of the Government afforded them their only chance.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, there were two principles involved in the question under discussion. The first was, that the public should be called upon to contribute a certain sum to make up the deficiency which would arise from the adoption of the change to the Irish land proprietors. There was, in short, to be an absolute charge of 60,000l. on the public purse, the payment of which there was not the smallest ground to hope. To that he decidedly objected. But there was another principle involved in the Resolution. That principle was, that by way of providing a partial compensation to the public revenue for the amount it was to contribute, the fund which, by a solemn Act of Parliament, passed only so far back as the Session of 1833, was established and set apart for purposes of a strictly moral and religious character, was in the Session of 1834 to be shamefully violated, and made applicable to purposes of an entirely secular nature. The adoption of such a principle could not but tend to shake ail confidence in the decision of his Majesty's Government, and of the Legislature; and if no other Member raised his voice to protest against and denounce it, it should meet with his unqualified condemnation. He objected to the two principles on which the Resolution was based; but on a still more decided ground he objected to the Resolution itself, namely, because it tended to throw much greater obstacles in the way of the final settlement of the difficult question of tithes 1189 than the measure which was brought in by his Majesty's Government in February last. The measure then introduced by the present Government proceeded on the true principle—it was in conformity with all preceding measures on the subject of tithe, and was intended to do that which constituted the only security for the Established Church, and the permanent tranquillity of Ireland; at least, after the course which had been taken, after the omissions to enforce the law, and after the violation of all authority in that conntry—the only course, he repeated, which was left for the Legislature to adopt was, to encourage the redemption of tithes. He thought that had been the object of his Majesty's Government. Their rallying cry last year had been the extinction of tithes, and, in February, accordingly, they introduced a measure which contemplated their extinction by means of redemption. But they now departed from that principle, and were going to make tithe a permanent charge in Ireland under the name of a rent. Why, what distinction was there? In point of fact, they borrowed the plan of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for the City of Dublin; and having stolen his child, like other plagiarists, as Sheridan said, they attempted so to disfigure it, as to make it impossible for the hon. and learned Gentleman himself to recognize his own production. And how well they had succeeded! They had been kicking, and hacking, and cutting the unfortunate bantling which had been produced only a few weeks since, so that in point of fact the hon. and learned Gentleman could not be made to own it. But the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) said, "Pay this out of the Consolidated Fund, and do not refuse to provide future peace and tranquillity for Ireland by refusing the paltry sum of 60,000l." Now, undoubtedly, if the noble Lord thought it would lead to the security and tranquillity of that country, he was warranted in asking for the vote; but what shadow of argument had he brought forward to satisfy the House, that if he fastened a permanent rent-charge on Ireland, which the landlord was to pay, there would, as the necessary consequence, be permanent peace and satisfaction there? Of all vulgar arts of Government, that of solving every difficulty which might arise by thrusting the hand into the public purse was the most delusory and con- 1190 temptible. It had in all times been considered the symptom of decay in Government, when they had neither the manliness to enforce the law, nor the courage to stand on ancient rights. One year they proposed 60,000l., another 1,000,000l., and a third 59,000l.; and their language was, "Advance us this for the sake of peace;" but, as an hon. Gentleman had said, they called "Peace, peace," when there was no peace. If they would consent to redemption, there might be a chance of peace; and he would address himself to that part of the question. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gisborne) had said, the Tories called for redemption. Not at all; the Whigs called for it,—up to the present hour what they demanded was redemption. The course pursued by his Majesty's Government was most complicated and unintelligible. First, a Commission was appointed to value the land; then the tithes were to be sold for four-fifths of their amount; then a charge was to be made on the land; then remuneration was to be granted out of the Consolidated Fund; then the deficiency was to be made good out of the public purse. The whole object seemed to be, to complicate and delude. Instead of an open and intelligible Bill of three clauses, they had a complicated and unintelligible Bill of fifty clauses. But why had they changed their views with respect to redemption? He did not compare the present opinions of his Majesty's Government on this subject with the opinions of the Tories; he did not compare them with their opinions at former and distant periods; but he merely compared their opinions this year with their opinions last year. He asked, what were the new circumstances which had occasioned their change of determination with respect to the question of redemption? Evidence was strong and conclusive in favour of redemption. He would not advert to the evidence of any high Churchman or of any Tory, for he knew that that would be far from satisfactory to his Majesty's Government. But there was Archbishop Whately: he must be in full possession of the confidence of his Majesty's Government; he was a member of the Poor-laws' Commission; he was a member of the Ecclesiastical Commission. His Majesty's Government must consider him a high authority; and he (Sir Robert Peel) therefore confidently referred to 1191 Archbishop Whately's testimony to the superiority of redemption to a rent-charge. To his evidence was to be added that of the Lord Lieutenant, that of Mr. Blake (an individual in whom the Government had great confidence), and that of the Marquess of Lansdown. All were in favour of redemption; all were in favour of securing tithe as soon as it was possible to do so, by providing a system of redemption. That was the true principle. But while the Bill of February last facilitated that object, the present Bill did directly the reverse, and postponed, indefinitely, all temptations to redemption. An hon. Gentleman had said, that the question simply was, whether or not the whole of this money should be invested in the purchase of land. That was not the question. They might sanction the redemption of tithe without necessarily implying, that the redemption-money should be invested in land. Land was no doubt preferable as an investment, because it gave additional security; but it did not necessarily follow, that the investment in land would conclude for ever the question of the Church revenues. That question ought to be now and for ever decided in favour of their inviolability, and the noble Lord expressly denied that the application of the redemption-money to land necessarily determined the question. Then why had the noble Lord abandoned the principle of redemption? The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gisborne) said, "Why do you not deliver over the redemption to Ecclesiastical Corporations, for the purpose of applying the money to the Church?" Would the hon. Gentleman consent to that proposal? Would he consent to the proposal, that the land-tax or rent-charge should be redeemed by the landed proprietors of Ireland, and that the money should be vested in an Ecclesiastical Corporation, strictly to be applied to the purposes of the Establishment? If he were not prepared to say so, he should not say, that the redemption of the rent-charge necessarily implied that it should be vested in land. He thought the House was of one opinion on that principle. They differed materially as to the integrity of Church property; but he thought there was no dispute on the other point. He heard with pleasure the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell), on a former occasion, putting forward a principle of much importance, and in the truth and justice of 1192 which he most cordially agreed—that to whomsoever Church-property belonged, and whatever control the Legislature might have over it, at all events the landed proprietor had no right to it whatever. The Government had moved Resolutions to that effect—could they now evade them? They had all agreed on that point; they had claimed for Parliament the right to make a different appropriation; but at the same time, they admitted, that the landlord should pay the full amount—that it had a right to exact from him the full value of the tithe, making a reasonable deduction for the expenses of collection? If that were the case—if it did not belong to the landlord, on what principle could they ask the people of England to make this payment out of the Consolidated Fund? On what principle was it that this forty per cent was to be given to the landlord? He thought the first principle was, to secure the property of the Church, and then afterwards to consider to what objects it should be applied; but if the first object were to secure the property of the Establishment, would Government be prepared to enforce that principle in November next? If they admitted the principle, why not facilitate it by adopting redemption in preference to a rent-charge? The noble Lord, and those who acted with him, had taken on the present occasion a course wholly inconsistent with that which they pursued on a former occasion. His Majesty's Government were constantly demanding, that the House and the public should have confidence in them: but how was confidence to be reposed in that Ministry which, within a few months, was found to support two propositions diametrically opposed to each other? It was by acts, not words, that confidence was won. Where were the acts which entitled the present Government to expect it? In the present state of tithes in Ireland, it was possible for the Government to have taken one of three courses. Firstly, it was possible for them to contend for the perfect inviolability of Church property, consenting to distribute it differently, if necessary, for ecclesiastical purposes. That was the course which he, and those who were with him, would wish to see adopted. Secondly, they might have stated distinctly and fairly that, after milking every possible inquiry, they thought the Establishment in Ireland was too amply provided for, and that an appropriation, different from 1193 the present, ought to take place. Such was the course suggested by the hon. member for Middlesex. The third course,—and it was the one he thought would have been selected by the Government,—was, to have stated, that they were not in a situation to form a correct opinion, and that they would forbear making up their minds on the subject until the Report of the Commission of Inquiry was before them. Such, perhaps, would have been the most fitting course they could, under all circumstances, have adopted, because, as was truly observed by the right hon. member for Cambridge a few evenings ago, it would savour somewhat of an Irish course of proceeding, if, immediately after sending out a Commission of Inquiry, they proceeded to legislate upon the subject to which that inquiry was to be directed, without having the result before them. What, however, was the extraordinary course taken by the Government? The noble Lord, on behalf of himself and colleagues, declared, that he was perfectly ready to meet the question—that he was perfectly ready to act on the principle of the 147th clause in the Bill of last Session. What! the noble Lord, who only three nights since declared he was not certain whether there was likely to be any surplus fund whatever arising from the reduction of the Irish Church Establishment, but, should it turn out there was a surplus, that it should be applied to purposes of a strictly moral and religious character—could it be, that that same noble Lord was the person who declared himself ready, nothing new having occurred since his former declaration, to sanction the principle of the 147th clause, or rather of a new principle going far beyond it, admitting tithes as Church-property, and yet sanctioning their application to a completely secular purpose? [Lord Althorp: No, not secular purpose.] Not secular! Did the noble Lord mean to say, that to give forty per cent out of the surplus fund to the Irish landlords, was not applying it to a secular purpose? Was it a moral and religious purpose? On Monday evening last, the noble Lord told the House he was not sure whether there would be any surplus fund whatever, and that, should it be found to exist, until the Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry was presented, he could not make up his mind as to its appropriation; and yet, three days afterwards, uninfluenced by the taunt 1194 of one of his colleagues, that it would be an Irish mode of dealing with the question, first to issue a Commission of Inquiry, and then, before that inquiry could take place, to legislate upon the subject to which it was directed, the noble Lord came forth and declared he had perfectly made up his mind as to the course he would adopt. What a perfect mockery was all this proceeding! Here was the Act of last Session—the noble Lord seemed desirous to throw the responsibility of it on the late Secretary for the Colonies; but, unfortunately for himself, he was a consenting party to it, and, moreover, the head of the Government in that House at the time it was introduced. It was the noble Lord's own act; the 147th clause was struck out of it; and the assent of another branch of the Legislature was thereby secured. But what said the preamble?" Whereas the number of Bishops in Ireland may be conveniently diminished, and the revenues of certain of the Bishoprics, as well as the said annual tax, applied to the building, rebuilding, and repairing of churches, and other such like ecclesiastical purposes, and to the augmentation of small livings, and to such other purposes as may conduce to the advancement of religion, and the efficiency, permanency, and stability of the United Church of England and Ireland;" and then it was provided, that monies should be advanced for building churches, and effecting the other recited objects. Well, that Act of Parliament passed in 1833, tithes having been suspended in the interval; and, without a shilling which they could apply for the advancement of religion, the very first act which Government had recourse to was, to lay hold of the first dawning of an appearance of a fund, and appropriate it to the Irish landlords. If Government had proposed a vote of Parliament for the purpose of redressing the wrongs of the Irish clergy, if they had then sanctioned the redemption of tithe, and the appropriation of the redemption money to an ecclesiastical corporation for the purposes of the Church, to be applied in the purchase of lands, under such circumstances and in such proportions as that corporation should think fit, not forcing, the money into the market, hut purchasing land gradually, there might have been some hope left of maintaining. the supremacy of law in Ireland, and providing for the inter- 1195 ests of the Established Church; but while they went on in their present course, varying their own acts from day to day, saying, on the first day of a week, that their own mind was not made up as to a surplus, and of course not prepared to deal with it; that if such a fund should present itself, it should be limited to moral and religious purposes; and on the last day of the week, without the Report of the Commissioners, determining the existence of a surplus, and consenting to apply it to purposes so entirely secular as to make up the contributions of the Irish landlord. While they pursued such a course they might, no doubt, please those who sought the destruction of that Church, but they would never attract the confidence of any sober-minded body worthy to exercise legislative functions, far less secure peace and tranquillity in Ireland. He could not disguise from the House his opinion, that there must be reasons for the course which Government were now adopting, which did not appear on the face of this Bill. They were not now agreed as to the principle of appropriation. As he said before, in his conscience he believed that the late Commission had been appointed for the purposes of delusion. The noble Lord had, in fact, admitted to-night, that it was utterly unnecessary for any purpose. He had been much struck by an expression of the noble Lord in the course of that evening, when, in answer to an observation of an hon. Member to the effect that the Commission was an abortion, ill-begotten, and of consequence short-lived, he replied, that it had gone its full-time. He was quite disposed to believe it had gone its full time. It had answered the temporary purpose for which it was appointed, and without doubt neither Parliament nor the country would hear anything more about it. He hoped, however, the people of England would avail themselves of the opportunity its appointment offered to protest against the principle on which it issued. He hoped that the people of England would never consent to sever the principle of the Irish Church Establishment from that of England, and that, while consenting to every proper Reform in their Church, they would contend for its inviolability; and above all that they would strenuously, at the same time constitutionally, protest against the appropriation of its funds to purposes other than those for which they were 1196 originally devised. He believed, that the cause of the vacillation which Ministers had shown on this subject, was not that they preferred the present system to that which they advocated in February, 1834, but because they considered it more likely to conciliate the votes of those on whose support they relied, and who had avowed their enmity to the Irish Church. Under what circumstances, during the recess, were they about to conduct the Government? He could not but smile, when he heard the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gisborne) talk of the United Cabinet: they had got rid of all the clogs and fetters on the operations of Government; the course was now quite clear; the Government was unanimous; only let the House have confidence in them; and then, as willing instruments, they would run all lengths in the career of change. There were no such things as Cabinet Councils, he knew, held in Ireland; but he should very much wish to see the first meeting which took place there between the three Irish officers, the Lord Lieutenant, the Lord Chancellor, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Littleton). The first question of the Lord Lieutenant to the Chief Secretary would be, "Have you brought over the redemption clauses?" Lord Wellesley would doubtless moreover say, "I directed Anthony Blake in 1824 to submit to Lord Liverpool my views upon the expediency of redeeming tithes by the purchase of land, and surely my suggestions have not been disregarded." What, then, would the Lord Chancellor of Ireland say to the Commissioners? His Majesty's Government had announced to the House, that they could not proceed a single step without local information, without minute and detailed local inquiry; and then they selected Lord Brougham to be one of the Commissioners for conducting that inquiry. Now, he begged to know if Lord Brougham ever, in the course of his life, had been in Ireland? Then why, he begged to know, had the name of that noble Lord been included in that Commission? It was an Irish Commission, requiring local knowledge of Ireland; and yet the name of the Lord Chancellor of England was placed upon that Commission, and the name of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland omitted. He felt it the more necessary to call attention to that circumstance when he recollected that the noble and learned Lord who at the present mo- 1197 ment held the Great Seal in Ireland, had for many years been a Representative of the Dublin University in that House. I Such an omission could not fail to suggest to hon. Members this question:—Did Lord Plunkett support or disapprove of the measure which his Majesty's advisers had thought proper to adopt in reference to the Church of Ireland? It was not to be supposed, that the name of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland would have been excluded from that Commission on any other ground than his dissent from the principle which that Motion was intended to carry into effect. It seemed, that there were three questions under the consideration of Government, about which the United Government did not agree. The first and the chief one was the renewal of the Coercion Bill. Then came the present question ["Hear."] He was surprised that the noble Lord should cheer as if he delighted in that which was a reproach to a Cabinet claiming the merit of being united. This was Union indeed. [An hon. Member: The Catholic Question.] To be sure these differences did remind them of old times; on the Catholic Question there was a difference of opinion; but then it was acknowledged—it was openly avowed; and they inherited their lesson from whom?—the Government of 1807. But here, on every practical measure, Ministers differed one with another—on the question of the reduction of Tithes—on the Church Commission—on the Coercion Bill, they all held different opinions, or, at all events, different shades of opinion. There were three Ministers for Ireland—the Lord Lieutenant, the Chancellor, and the Secretary. There were three measures—Tithes, Church Commission, Coercion Bill; on these three measures these three men all held different opinions, and yet they had an united Cabinet! But they were told that, within these few days, all things had been settled; that they formed now a firm and compact body agreed on principles—all bound by the same opinions. He did not believe it. He was riot satisfied. And when he looked to the country—when he saw the rights of property delivered over in Ireland to a Commission—when he saw a number of Gentlemen strolling about collecting information as to the relative number of Catholics and Protestants—when he found rent-charges proposed as a substitute for tithes—when he saw the principle of 1198 redemption, so heartily avowed last Session by Ministers, now cast heedlessly to the winds—there was, indeed, a prospect presented to his mind much better calculated to depress and alarm, than to encourage and support it. Without the least hesitation, he took upon himself to affirm that, at the present moment, there was as little chance or prospect of effecting, a peaceable and satisfactory extinction of tithes as at any period within his recollection. For those reasons, then, he should vote against the measure. He should also vote against it as most improperly interfering with the property of the Church, without fairly meeting the question of appropriation. Lastly, he should vote against it, because he thought that no measure of that or any other important kind could be successfully carried into effect in the hands of any but a united Government, and least of all could it be brought into full operation by a Government having recently sustained such a loss as it had sustained in the persons of two right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who had sacrificed their offices to their principles. In his judgment, nothing could afford a more striking illustration than the present condition of the Government did of the truth—that a double-minded Cabinet, like a double-winded man, must of necessity be inefficient and unstable in all its operations.
§ Lord Althorp
said, it appeared to him as if it had been said, that he had taken upon himself all the responsibility of his right hon. friend's measures. He had never said anything of the sort. He had voted for these measures, but their having failed did not, as it appeared to him, raise any difficulty sufficient to constitute a reason against the present Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the Church Temporalities' Bill of last year, and the present measure as being inconsistent with each other, and as if he (Lord Althorp) were open to the charge of inconsistency in giving his support to both. To remove the slightest possible ground for any such imputation, he had last Session anticipated it by saying, in the most distinct terms, that the question of the appropriation of Church-property was not in his mind to be affected by the Church Temporalities' Bill.
§ Lord John Russell
said, that throughout the speech which the House had just heard from the right hon. Baronet he had looked most anxiously, but he had looked 1199 in vain, for any statement of the principles upon which he would assert the rights of property in reference to the question of tithes. How did the right hon. Baronet propose to collect the tithes? And supposing them actually collected, he had given no intimation as to the mode in which he thought they ought to be appropriated.
§ Sir Robert Peel
had no reluctance to state that he should, in the first place, desire to see the law carried into full force; and to this extent, he concurred with the noble Lords, that he would direct the force of the Government in order to effect the collection of tithes; the proceeds of it, however, he should desire to see applied solely to the purposes of the Church. He would go with them in collection, but he objected to their mode of appropriation.
§ Lord John Russell
resumed: Then it was clear, that the course of policy which the right hon. Baronet would adopt was the same as theirs—he would do as they did—he would apply the force of the Crown to the collection of the tithes in Ireland, laying down as a principle the inviolability of Church property. But let it not be forgotten, that they had expressly reserved the question of appropriation on the Church Temporalities' Bill, and that they were guilty of no inconsistency whatever in the course which they were then about to take. Did the House suppose, that it would be practicable for them to accomplish the work of collection, if now and for the future the principle of appropriation were to be left out of view? Amongst the difficulties with which they had to contend was this—that the tithe was to be collected from a great number of petty occupiers in three-pences, and twopences, and pence, and half-pence; besides that, they would have to contend against the religious feelings of the people. What was desirable, therefore, was not a measure of nominal relief for the people; but one that would relieve them immediately and permanently. This was the difficulty in bringing forward an altered measure which Ministers had to get over. They wished to shorten the time of collection, and to introduce some measure of a permanent nature. The measure of his right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley) was intended to extinguish tithes finally, but it would not put an end to them at present. The present measure had an advantage over that of his right hon. friend. The 1200 advantage now given was, that the landlords who would come forward voluntarily before the year 1836, would have an advantage of twenty to forty per cent, and in this way the odious commutation would be got rid of. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman might say, a rent-charge was as different as possible from a tithe composition. If the landlord did not come forward, there would be no sacrifice. The payment out of the Consolidated Fund would be sufficient, and it would have the good effect of preventing collision and bloodshed. Though they should be obliged to pay 60,000l. out of the Consolidated Fund—a sum far greater than he believed Government would be obliged to pay—still he thought that was not too much to ensure the pacification of Ireland for many years. The right hon. Gentleman asked why the plan of redemption had been abandoned. His answer was, that it was not abandoned. The Government and even he was a party in bringing in a measure for the redemption of tithes in part. But when the Bill was before the House, it had been construed both by the hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin, and by the hon. and learned member for Tipperary as concluding the question of appropriation, and for ever to Church purposes. It was impossible, therefore, to carry on the clauses of that Bill if they could be by different persons construed into that sense. For that reason it was necessary to postpone those clauses, and to abandon that portion of the Bill. After the question of the Perpetuity Fund, he would come to what was to be charged upon the landlords. Parliament last year thought this fund ought to be appropriated to Church purposes. But the decision of Parliament was not to be perpetual. He would, in a word, sum up the principle upon which his Majesty's Government proceeded in the matter: it was, that they had not, and would not affirm the application in perpetuity of all the revenues of the Church to the purposes to which they were at the present moment applied. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the Cabinet as a disunited one. He begged to inform the right hon. Baronet, though he had ventured on the assertion, that he had not proved the fact. He had failed in his object—the Cabinet was not disunited, whatever hopes might have been indulged on the subject. On 1201 that and on every subject, without an exception, which had reference to Ireland, there was not a shade of a difference of opinion in his Majesty's Government. They had appointed a Commission, through the agency of which they should obtain facts—positive facts, and not mere opinions—as to the real state of the Protestant Church in Ireland, and the Protestant and Catholic population; that Commission, he begged to say, was not a recent thought, as the right hon. Baronet seemed to say; and never, in his whole life, was he more astonished than when he heard the assertion, that it was so. He would maintain his already expressed opinion, that on a subject like this, to legislate effectually, they must know their ground—they must proceed upon facts. Sure was he, indeed, that if they had not proposed this Commission—if they had proceeded at once to legislation, without instituting proper inquiries—without having undeniable data on which to work—they should have been very soon met from a certain quarter of the Opposition side of the House, with the argument that inquiry should be first entered on, and with the taunt why had it not been entered upon. They would have heard some very fine sentences indeed in the indignant tone of reprobation—such as they had had a specimen of that night, about sacrilege, and so on. But he would not be caught in that trap. He would not be induced, by the taunts of the right hon. Gentleman, to go forward and discuss a question, which, when it came properly before them, he would never shrink from. He was sure the facts would be all before them without any very great loss of time, and he did not think it wise to go more into the subject till that was the case. The right hon. Baronet had spoken tauntingly of certain Members of the Government not being of the same mind on one or two matters. Now, the right hon. Baronet's suppositions, it was not in his power to correct; but this he could assure the right hon. Baronet, that he could have conjecture only for his authority. But, supposing it otherwise, should the right hon. Baronet be the one above all others to tell them of it? Did he not belong to a Cabinet where there was openly a difference of opinion on the most vital subject of the period? When in that House, Secretary answered Secretary, and Minister voted against Minister? And what was the end of that 1202 disunion? Was it not ended by the right hon. Baronet himself coming down to that House, and stating that his opinions were not changed; but that such was the state of disunion which the question had wrought in the Cabinet and the Parliament, that there was no hope for the peace of Ireland, but by an ample measure of concession and justice. Supposing the right hon. Baronet and others who acted with him came into power and determined on maintaining the present appropriation of the revenues of the Irish Church, what would be the result? They might, perhaps, by good luck and management, keep their places for two or three uneasy Sessions—they might, with almost averted eyes, get through two or three cruel and bloody winters—they might see insurrection in one point—misery and despair in another—they might for a time keep down the people of Ireland, goaded into a state of wild religious fanaticism. But could this last?—could they hope for any length of time to maintain a Government whose acts were contrary to every maxim of reason, of policy, and of justice? Could they—would they—do this merely in the hope of making the Irish a religious people according to their own tenets? Would they have religion instilled into them by troops of dragoons and heaps of Exchequer processes. [Cheering, and cries of "No, no."] He said yes. He repeated it, such was their object. Oh! to be sure; they did not oblige any man to attend a place of worship, if he dissented from their religion; but why, then, he asked, if such was not their object sooner or later—why keep up the Church at its present size, but in the belief that the Roman Catholic would one day or other be brought to their faith? Then he was not wrong in saying, that if they were in power, and attempted to keep up the Irish Church as at present, there would be one endless scene of warfare and of bloodshed, and after two or three years of vain attempts in maintaining their system, the right hon. Baronet would again have to come down to that House, and say: "My opinions are unchanged. But the truth must be told—our course of policy is hateful to suffering Ireland—intolerable to indignant England. You, Gentlemen from Oxford and other places, must renounce the opinions you have hitherto acted upon, and join in giving effect to a measure of concession and justice as 1203 large and as ample as that which was wrung from us some years back by the Catholic portion of our countrymen." Feeling persuaded, that this would have been the course of those who now opposed the Government, he thought it the better and wiser way to undertake this question at present. If Gentlemen chose to say that the Resolution involved spoliation, involved sacrilege, he would not now dispute the point with them. It was not his opinion. He thought, on the contrary, that by agreeing to this Bill, they were laying the foundation of what had not been hitherto effected—that was a permanent commutation of tithes; and he did hope, that in the course of the next year, they would settle that other more difficult question of the appropriation of tithes?
§ Mr. Christmas
would not object to the new fund, though he preferred the redemption of tithes. The first Bill had not rendered this absolutely necessary. He thought the Perpetuity Fund might be applied to it, though he objected to any part of it being charged upon the Consolidated Fund. He should vote against the Bill.
§ Mr. Charles A. Walker
was anxious to support the Government in the present instance, as this measure showed that they wished to make concessions, and to introduce improvements. He thought it was necessary to allow a just and fair compensation to the landlords for the burthens they were to take upon themselves. Upon this ground, he should support the Government as far as they went.
§ Mr. Hodges
wished Ministers would not delay bringing in a measure to correspond with their declarations respecting appropriation. It was not, therefore, on account of the approximation of this Bill to the principle of the 147th clause, that he should be obliged to vote against them. What he objected to was the grant of a sum of money out of the Consolidated Fund. If he thought it would tranquillize Ireland, no man would be more ready to grant it than he should be; but could any one suppose that the hon. and learned member for Dublin or his friends would, directly or indirectly, give a pledge not to agitate the Repeal of the Union? It was vain to expect tranquillity in Ireland till legal provision was made there for the relief of the poor.
§ Mr. Ellice
said, that if he thought the proposition now before the House was to 1204 have the effect of taking money out of the Consolidated Fund, to apply it to the uses of Irish landlords, he would join the hon. member for Middlesex in opposing it. He wished to explain what the proposition before the House was. According to the original provisions of the Bill, twenty per cent was to be deducted from what ought properly to be the rent-charge compulsorily imposed upon the Irish landlord. This deduction of twenty per cent was to be for him an inducement to undertake the voluntary payment of that rent-charge. That allowance would be made to him when that great good was effected for the public, of absolutely relieving the occupying tenant from the burthen of tithes. He could not conceal from himself the increased danger which accompanied every renewed attempt to force this wretched payment from the peasantry of Ireland. Gentlemen pretended to compare the condition of the Church in Ireland with the condition of the Church in England, and the condition of the Irish with that of the English payers of tithes; but he asked now, as he had before asked, on the occasion of the debate so often referred to, would any county in England have submitted for one year to the 10,000 tithe processes which had issued out of the Ecclesiastical Courts of Ireland? He asked Gentlemen whether any English county would, for half the time Ireland had, have endured these grievances—have submitted to see poor cottiers, labourers, dependent upon the rates, processed for these miserable three-pences and four-peaces. It was to put an end to this system that the Government now stepped forward. ["No!"] Whether right or wrong, that was the honest intention of Ministers. He was willing to take the risk of non-repayment of this advance for the certain good it would produce, for it must be always borne in mind that not one shilling would be paid to the landlords, without previously obtaining the advantage of relieving the Irish tenant from this burthen.
§ Mr. Goulburn
had but one observation to make. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ellice) he (Mr. Goulburn) was sure had made the observations which he had just addressed to the House in ignorance. He (Mr. Goulburn) thought the House should understand the error committed by the right hon. Gentleman who had called upon the House to support this Motion, 1205 because it was to relieve the cottier tenants from the payment of tithes. But he must inform the House, and the right hon. Gentleman, that nothing of the kind would be attained by the Bill. The tenants who held no leases had already been relieved from the payment of tithes by the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, the late Secretary for the Colonies. He repeated, where there was no lease, the occupying tenant was relieved from the burthen of tithes, which was thrown on the landlord. So much, indeed, had been done under this Bill, that the right hon. the Secretary for Ireland said, that in one district alone the number of tithe-payers had been reduced by its operation from 17,000 to 9,000. Those of the cottiers who had leases would get no relief whatever under this Bill. The landlord would have to pay the rent-charges to be substituted for the land-tax, but he would have the power of exacting an amount equal to what he paid from his tenants. If he understood the Bill, the landlord had the power of recovering in the shape of rent, if not in the shape of tithes, a sum equal to the limited amount he paid to the public. It was, therefore, a false and delusive statement, to say that the Bill would relieve the cottier tenant from the burthen of tithes.
§ Mr. Ellice
thought, that he perfectly understood the Bill when he rose before, and the right hon. Gentleman had said nothing which induced him to alter his opinion. He (Mr. Ellice) had said, that the money would be advanced out of the Consolidated Fund to make his allowance to the landlord if he accepted the voluntary rent-charge, and one of the provisions of the Bill was to make an allowance to the tenant proportionate to the bonus made to the landlord. A landlord could only recover the same amount from the tenant that he paid himself, and this would be a great advantage to the occupiers of the soil. The fact was, that in cases of voluntary conversion of the land-tax into a rent-charge, there would be a reduction equivalent to two-fifths of the amount of tithe.
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had made a statement essentially and entirely different from his previous statement. The right hon. Gentleman stated, that this plan would get rid of a system under which 10,000 processes for tithes could be served on the peasantry 1206 of a single county. Now, the fact was, that the number of processes would remain the same, so far as they were not reduced by the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley).
§ Mr. O'Reilly
said, that as he had given notice of a Motion with a view to afford relief to the cottier tenantry, he felt called upon to stand up, and contradict in parliamentary language, the statement of the right hon. member for Cambridge, that this measure would confer no benefit on the Irish peasant. He (Mr. O'Reilly) admitted, that it did not go far enough, but for what it did he thanked the Government. He intended in Committee to move, that the peasantry be exempted from the payment of tithes altogether.
§ Mr. Littleton
was anxious to say a few words in reply. His right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley), if he would allow him (Mr. Littleton) to call him so, in the course of what he (Mr. Littleton) must call anything but a temperate and mild speech—had chosen to describe him (Mr. Littleton) as a thimble-rig player, in consequence of the changes that he had made in the clauses of that Bill. It certainly appeared to him that such observations were a little extraordinary, coming as they did from the greatest master of legerdemain that had ever practised on the Tithe Law of Ireland. He did not wish to say anything that could in any way be offensive to the right hon. Gentleman, but from the moment that he took up the tithe question down to the time he left the office he had now the honour of filling, the right hon. Gentleman had failed in his attempts. No individual had ever made more attempts than his right hon. friend to effect a change in the nature of tithe property, and no person had ever more signally failed. He did not bring this forward as a matter of reproach to his right hon. friend, for he had supported him in all the propositions that had been brought forward; and if his right hon. friend had failed, he shared the blame for the error with the Government and the House. But he felt bound to state, that the observations which had been made by his right hon. friend came with a bad grace from him after the unsuccessful attempts he had himself made. After all the honest and able efforts of his right hon. friend, in what situation did the property of the tithe-owner stand now? Not three weeks had elapsed since he (Mr. Littleton) had 1207 had a bill of 600l. sent into his office for constructing a waggon train which his right hon. friend had got up for the purpose of transporting rapidly to a distance the more valuable effects of the cottier tenantry who were in arrears for tithes. The waggons were intended to remove the property of the cottiers to remote parts of the country, where it could be disposed of without difficulty. He (Mr. Littleton) did not blame his right hon. friend for adopting this very ingenious plan; but after he had done so, the observations which he had addressed to the House came with an exceedingly bad grace from him. The hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Shaw) on this as on former occasions indulged in predictions with respect to this description of property; but he was satisfied, that the predictions of the hon. and learned Gentleman on that occasion would be fulfilled with the same degree of success as his former ones. The hon. and learned Gentleman told them last year, that the clergy would never sacrifice their rights, and that, notwithstanding the state of distress they were in, they would not pollute their fingers with accepting a single farthing of the money to be advanced. Notwithstanding this prediction, not a month, ay, not a week, had elapsed after notice had been given, that applications would be attended to, than the Castle Yard of Dublin was darkened by the blackcoats of the constituents of the hon. and learned Gentleman coming forward to put in claims for an advance of money. He did not yield to any man in respect for the clergy of Ireland. He believed that they were as exemplary a body as the English clergy, and no one could entertain more sincere feelings of sympathy for the sufferings they had been exposed to than he did. When the hon. and learned Gentleman and those who acted with him blamed the Government for the course they had taken, let them consider the state of ecclesiastical property in Ireland at the present moment. Let them look to the situation in which many clergymen in the West and South of Ireland were placed in consequence of their not having availed themselves of the grant last year. He would allude to a case that had recently come before him as illustrative of the state of things he had alluded to. He would not mention the name of the clergyman, but he resided in 1208 the South of Ireland, and in consequence of being unable to collect his tithes, they accumulated to the amount of 2,900l. He had then a large military and police force at his disposal to assist him in the collection of his tithes, and notwithstanding all their exertions their attempts were unsuccessful. He found that it was useless to employ this force by day, as the peasantry watched them constantly, and long before the soldiers could come up to make a seizure the cattle was driven off to a distance. The plan was then adopted of sending out this force by night, but as every Irish peasant kept a dog an alarm was given on the sound of the horses' feet being heard at a distance. The consequence was, that the cattle were either driven off, or into, the houses of the people, where the law would not allow them to he seized. This clergyman then wrote to the Under-Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, and said, that notwithstanding all his exertions, out of 2,900l. owing to him he had not been able to recover more than 7l. or 8l. a-day, and therefore requested an increased force, that it might be encamped over the whole property, and stated, that this was the only means of starving the cattle off. [Mr. O'Connell: Five lives were lost.] He recollected that five lives had been lost in the South of Ireland in some contest respecting tithes, but he was unable to state, whether it was or was not at this place. He was very unwilling to make any allusions to such a case as this, as he did not know whether such cases might not operate to the encouragement of that spirit of passive resistance which had prevailed to such an extent in Ireland. He would not have mentioned it if he had not felt that it was a duty he owed to those hon. Members from Ireland whom he believed took an erroneous view of the interests of their country. His right hon. friend had objected to abandoning the redemption of tithes by investments in land. When the investment was abandoned, it was found necessary to abandon the form of redemption. He found also, that in the present state of the money-market it was impossible to make any other arrangement than that which he had proposed. He did not concur with his right hon. friend in the opinion, that investments should be made for the clergy in land. He thought that it should be avoided if possible; but there was a strong objection in this case, namely, 1209 most of the landlords objected to a provision of this nature being made for the Church. There was another objection, that it would give a strong political influence to the clergy. This, however, was not so strong an objection if they could have satisfied the landowner. His right hon. friend concluded his able speech, for so he (Mr. Littleton) must undoubtedly call it, by censuring in the strongest terms the appointment of the Commission. No one was more anxious than himself to uphold the Irish Church, and to adopt such means as would best conduce to that end; but he was sure that, no better means could be devised previous to their proceeding to the consideration of the Irish Church Question. Many of those who objected to the Commission did so for very good reasons, as they knew that it would produce a Report which would contain facts which party spirit could not stifle, and which he was sure would so operate on the honour and good sense of the country as to lead to some important measures. He was perfectly satisfied that the Report would be a most useful manual for the people of England. The measure which the Government would submit to Parliament founded on the Report would, he doubted not, be successful in its operation. On the subject of the Commission, he begged leave to read an extract from a speech made by his right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley) some years ago. It was an extract from the first speech his right hon. friend made in that House, and was on the Motion of Mr. Hume, in 1824, for an inquiry into the Irish Church, "He could state," said his right hon. friend, "that he had consulted many high dignitaries of the Church, and they were of opinion, that an investigation should take place into—not partial or narrow—the whole question of the political and moral relations of the Church, and that they should be clearly brought under view. He hoped sincerely that such an inquiry would take place. Some Commission should go forth to view with its own eyes impartially and on the spot, the bearing and influence of the Church Establishment on the condition of the people of Ireland." Such was the language of his right hon. friend, and the Commission, the appointment of which had been censured by his right hon. friend now had gone forth. There was another remark which he wished to make, and to which he requested the attention of 1210 the right hon. member for the University of Cambridge and the hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin. A paper had been circulated amongst the clergy of Ireland, and he believed had emanated from this country. He did not know whether those hon. Members had any hand in drawing up this paper, but he believed that it spoke their sentiments. The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to read it. It was to the effect that the clergy of Ireland should consider whether they would consent to make the Government trustees for all the tithes in Ireland, or whether the clergy would consent that their friends in that House should throw out the Bill, and thus leave them in the possession of their legal and just claims to the full amount. [Mr. Shaw: I have never heard of or read the paper.] He did not charge the hon and learned Gentleman with being the author of it. A. communication from an Irish clergyman had been transmitted to him on the subject of this letter, an extract from which he would read to the House:—" I received a copy of a circular letter to the clergy of Ireland from the Archdeacon of Dromore, and emanating from our friends in England. On the receipt of it, I consulted several of the neighbouring clergy who were unanimously of opinion, that it was not necessary to interfere to prevent the imposition of a Land-tax, for if that were not done, the clergy would be left in a hopeless situation." His fellow clergymen concurred with him in the opinion, that the matter should be left to the wisdom of the Government and Parliament.
said, that as his right hon. friend had referred to some official information on a subject affecting himself (Mr. Stanley) he felt anxious to say a few words. His right hon. friend had said, that he had recently seen a Bill for constructing waggons for the removal of the more valuable property of the cottier tenants who were in arrear for tithe. He could not doubt that the right hon. Gentleman had had some information; and he could not for a moment suppose, that his right hon. friend did not believe the statement, that the goods of some cottiers had been removed by these waggons. Of course his right hon. friend could not make such a statement, without having inquired into the facts. It was true that there was a waggon-train which had been employed in conveying the hay and corn 1211 of those who were well able, and who refused to pay tithes, to a place of safety. The reason they were employed was, that it was found impossible to procure carts to carry the property seized; he therefore directed, as was his duty, that the Commissariat Department should furnish waggons to convey the seized hay and corn from the lands of those who were able, but who obstinately refused to pay tithes. He had given the most positive directions that in no case should they be used other than in those he had described; and unless his right hon. friend knew better, and could speak from authority, he did not believe, that in any one case they had been employed in the removal of furniture from the cottages of the peasantry.
§ The Committee divided on Mr. Hume's Amendment—Ayes 72; Noes 364; Majority 282.
§ The Committee divided again on the original Resolution—Ayes 235; Noes 171; Majority 64.
§ Resolution agreed to. The House resumed.
|List of the AYES on the first Division.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Jacob, E.|
|Attwood, T.||Jervis, J.|
|Bainbridge, E. T.||Kennedy, J.|
|Baines, E.||Lister, E. C.|
|Barry, G. S.||Lynch, H.|
|Beauclerk, Major||Nagle, Sir R.|
|Bellew, R. M.||O'Connell, Daniel|
|Bish, T.||O'Connell, Maurice|
|Blake, M.||O'Connell, Morgan|
|Bowes, J.||O'Connell, John|
|Brocklehurst, J.||O'Connor, Don.|
|Brotherton, J.||O'Dwyer, A. C.|
|Buckingham, J. S.||Palmer, General|
|Curteis, Capt.||Pease, J.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Philips, M.|
|Davies, Col.||Potter, R.|
|Duncombe, T.||Richards, J.|
|Ewart, W.||Rippon, C.|
|Fenton, J.||Robinson, G. R.|
|Fitzsimon, N.||Roche, W.|
|Gillon, W. D.||Roche, D.|
|Grattan, H.||Romilly, J.|
|Gronow, R. H.||Russell, C.|
|Guest, J. J.||Ruthven, E.|
|Gully, J.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Hall, B.||Rider, T.|
|Handley, Major||Shaw, R. N.|
|Hawes, B.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Staveley, J.|
|Humphrey, J.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Hutt, W.||Tooke, W.|
|Trelawney, Sir W. S.||Wason, R.|
|Turner, W.||Watkins, L. V.|
|Vigors, N. A.||Wilks, J.|
|Vincent, Sir F.||Williams, Colonel|
|Walter, J.||Hume, J.|