§ Mr. Goulburn
said, that the subject which he was anxious to bring under the consideration of the House, was one upon which it would not be necessary for him to detain them for many minutes; and if they would give him their attention, he was sure no objection would be made to the adoption of his proposition. His object was, to propose an Address to the Crown, praying his Majesty to give effect to the recommendation of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners (Ireland), with respect to the deanery of Down and Raphoe, whose Report had been before the House now for the space of nearly three years. The present subject was one upon which he felt a good deal of anxiety, but upon which he should, never- 65 theless, not have troubled the House if he did not feel it to be a duty which he owed as well to his own character as to the Church of Ireland. The subject, he could assure the House, was one of very great importance. It involved no less than the giving of incumbents to eleven different parishes; of providing the Protestant residents of these parishes with clergymen to discharge the sacred duties of the ministry. Any Gentleman who sat in the last Parliament must be aware that the general union of parishes in Ireland was a constant subject of regret and of complaint; of regret to those who had at heart the well-being of the Church of Ireland; and of complaint from those who gladly seized upon every topic which was likely to damage the character of that Church in the eyes of the Parliament or of the people. For some years past those who took an interest in the well-being of the Church, were anxious to bring in some effectual measure for the reduction of the number of unions in Ireland; and for his own part when he had the honour of holding office under the present viceroy of that country, he felt it his duty to introduce measures for the dissolution of particular Unions, and he would take that opportunity of stating, that no man could be more anxiously disposed for the accomplishment of such measures than was Lord Wellesley. However, it so happened that when the Duke of Wellington was First Lord of the Treasury, it was deemed proper by Government, in order that no further delay might take place, to institute a general inquiry into the whole subject, rather than proceed with the correction of isolated cases. A Commission was accordingly appointed, composed of prelates, legal officers, and laymen. The Commission was appointed some time in 1830, and having applied themselves diligently to the subject which they were appointed to investigate, they made their Report in the early part of 1831, and in July it was submitted to Parliament. In the Report of that Commission the evils of Unions of parishes were fully recognised, and a mode of remedying those evils was also suggested. One of the principal Unions adverted to, was the deanery of Down, which was composed of six other parishes. The value of this Union was 3,000l. a-year, and this amount was made up by the abstraction of the tithes of five other parishes. The recommendation in the Report of the 66 Commissioners was to give up to the several incumbents of each parish the amount of its revenue, leaving, by this arrangement, the deanery worth 1,000l. a-year. That Report had attached to it the signatures of the Lord Chancellor, the Primate, two Bishops, Dr. Radcliffe, and the Master of the Rolls. When he (Mr. Goulburn) reflected upon the state of the clergymen in the Union, the curates who discharged the several duties receiving no more than about 70l. a-year, he did, he confessed, indulge the confident hope that the recommendation of the Commissioners would be attended to. In this hope he was strengthened when he found that the son of one of the Commissioners was appointed to the vacant deanery; for he could not suppose, that the appointment would have been either made or accepted, unless upon the express condition that the recommendation of the Commissioners was to be carried into effect. And, indeed, that conviction remained firm upon his mind until the year 1832, when he heard that no such agreement had been even implied upon the appointment of the new dean. Upon having been accidentally informed of this, he put a question to the right hon. Gentleman on the other side, who replied that he had not been able to devote sufficient attention to the matter to give him the information he desired; but he, at the same time, assured him, that effect should be given to the recommendation of the Commissioners. There, then, the matter rested at that time. At the opening of the ensuing Session he found himself again obliged to put a question to the Government on the subject, and he was informed that in the Temporalities Bill an express provision would be introduced to give effect to the recommendation of the Commissioners. He, however, could not help expressing his disappointment at not finding in the Bill any such provision. However, in a subsequent Bill, which passed in July of last year, the provision was certainly introduced. He should have expected that a recommendation now before the House for three years, would have been at once adopted; however, nine months had been allowed to elapse, and nothing had been as yet done. He, therefore, felt it to be his duty to call upon the House to agree to an Address, humbly praying that his Majesty would be graciously pleased to give effect to the recommendation of the Commissioners. He 67 wished to avoid any topics that could by possibility involve personal considerations, and he should, therefore, not more particularly allude to this appointment to the deanery of Down. With respect to the deanery of Raphoe, not much inconvenience had as yet arisen; but to avoid that, the recommendation of the Commissioners ought at once to be adopted. There were in the deanery of Down five curates; there was also a very considerable town, with a rapidly increasing population, and every hour which the subject was delayed was a great injury to the Protestant parishioners—in fact, he should say to the whole Church Establishment, and to all the Protestants of the empire. The arrangement might to be carried into effect immediately. If it were even possible that the appointment was made without a stipulation that the recommendation of the Commissioners should be carried into effect, surely if the Government had a communication with the dean, no opposition would be offered upon his part. At all events, he felt it due to the Church of Ireland to move that an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, humbly praying his Majesty to give effect to the recommendation of the Commissioners of Ecclesiastical Inquiry, respecting the deaneries of Down and Raphoe, expressed in the Report of 13th July, 1831.
Mr. Secretary Stanley:
The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of the Address that he has made to the House, has so pointedly alluded to me, that I trust my right hon. friend, the Secretary for Ireland, will excuse me if I rise before him to state, in a few words, the reasons upon which I feel myself compelled—though I agree in a great measure with the right hon. Gentleman in the observations that he has made to object to the Address which he now moves. I do not at all impugn the correctness of the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has made with respect to the Commissioners of Ecclesiastical Inquiry, whose recommendation I, for one, am very far from undervaluing. I do not deny that the Commissioners, haying prosecuted their inquiries in that part of the country, recommended the extinction of the deaneries of Down and Raphoe; but I was not aware of that fact at the time that the preferment was given to the present dean of Down. The deanery of Raphoe, however, fell vacant at a subsequent period, 68 and it was given to the present incumbent upon the distinct understanding that he was not to consider himself as having any vested right or interest in it in case any alteration should be proposed in Parliament. I think the right hon. Gentleman should have added, in justice to the dean of Down, that upon being informed of the recommendation of the Commissioners, which had been overlooked at the time of his appointment, he distinctly stated his determination not to stand in the way of any alteration that Parliament might think fit to make with respect to the deanery. The right hon. Gentleman has also admitted one fact which ought not to be lost sight of, namely, that at the time that both these deaneries fell vacant there was no legal mode of effecting the object which the Commissioners and the right hon. Gentleman had in view, because the presentation to the several perpetual curacies was in the chapter of the deaneries of Down and Raphoe, and that, therefore, the dissolution could not be effected without some previous arrangement upon that point. In the Church Temporalities Bill of last year, a clause was introduced to remedy that ecclesiastical difficulty, and in future to provide for the appointment to those livings; and when the right hon. Gentleman complains that under that Bill no step has as yet been taken to dissolve the Unions, of which he very justly complains, he should remember that that Bill has very materially altered the value of a great many livings, and I am also informed has very considerably altered the views of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners themselves. But I would not have the House suppose, that there is no measure in contemplation upon the subject—on the contrary, I beg to assure the House that the steps necessary for carrying into effect the separation of the Unions in the case of the two deaneries of Down and Raphoe, are now, and have for some time been, under the consideration of the Privy Council of Ireland, whose consent to the proposed change will be necessary before it can be carried into effect. But the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have stated, that the Church Temporalities Bill of last year has made so great a difference in the incomes of some of the Unions, as to render it absolutely necessary for them, previous to any of these recommendations being acted upon, to reconsider each individual case, and to Report to what an extent the 69 amount of the income has been changed. I saw a statement the other day, whether correct or incorrect I will not pretend to say, because I have not the means of judging, but by which it appears that whereby the dean of Down surrendered a living of upwards of 1,000l. a-year for the deanery of Down, which is worth 2,800l. a-year; if the recommendations of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were to be strictly carried into effect without further inquiry, the value of the deanery would not exceed 350l. a-year. I am sure the House would not wish to deal so hardly and unjustly by any person. The right hon. Gentleman could not, I am sure, be aware that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners themselves have been the parties who, under the altered circumstances in which the Church Temporalities Bill of last year has placed a great portion of the livings in Ireland, have denied that we should not proceed according to those persons' recommendation, and that the opinion of the Privy Council of Ireland should first be taken. The question at present is before the Privy Council, and I assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is as much the wish of the Government of Ireland, as it is my own wish, and as it can be the wish of the right hon. Gentleman himself, that those deaneries should be so divided as to leave an adequate compensation for the persons who are in possession of the different benefices. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, as to the importance of following up the views of the Commissioners, as far as they can be followed up, under the altered circumstances of the Church in Ireland, and I am prepared to go one step further, and to state that, if at the end of this Session of Parliament no measure should be put into operation for the purpose of dividing those deaneries, I shall, with great pleasure, join with the right hon. Gentleman in addressing the Crown upon the subject. But, at the present moment, as the matter is under the consideration of the Privy Council, and as the very persons who formerly proposed the immediate dissolution of the Unions of parishes, now recommend delay, I think it is only fair that it should now be left to the Privy Council to effect, with as much despatch as is consistent with a clue consideration of the changes that have been made, those objects which the right hon. Gentleman and the Ecclesiastical 70 Commissioners have in view. After this declaration I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consent to withdraw his Motion for the present, with the full assurance that the views of the Commissioners will not be lost sight of by the Government.
was not surprised at the ignorance shown by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Stanley) knowing, as he did, the polluted sources from which that right hon. Gentleman derived his information. Every one who knows any thing about the county Down, knows very well the deanery is worth above 3,000l. a-year; the appointment was one of the grossest jobs ever managed by any man; and the whole circumstances were well worthy of an Irish patriot. In order to show that the system was still continued, he would mention to the House, that, the other day, one of the Commissioners appointed to value the deanery, in order to place it under the Composition Act, was the under-agent to the dean, appointed by the Irish Government, and, no doubt, at the instance of the Chancellor himself, whose patriotic feeling told him, the man who collected the tithes for his son was the most likely person to value them properly.
§ Colonel Conolly
knew it was desired by all parties that an arrangement should be made, and he himself could not understand why it had not been carried into effect sooner. The very incumbents of those deaneries, knowing that the law was hanging over their heads, were anxious for a settlement, and so, he repeated, were all parties. The present state of things conduced very much to their own inconvenience, and to the discredit of the Church. He differed from the right hon. Secretary as to the patronage of the livings attached to the deanery of Raphoe. The incumbent of one of those parishes is of a very advanced age, and the routine of appointing to the benefice, in all probability, will very soon take place. The right hon. Secretary stated, that the right of presentation rested with the chapter. He believed it rested with the dean. This, then, was a point upon which very considerable inconvenience might arise, unless some arrangement were speedily made Therefore, as far as his humble voice could prevail with the Government, he would urge them to the immediate fulfilment of the recommendation of the Irish Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and to allow the incum- 71 bents of the several parishes to come into possession of the tithe with as little delay as possible.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, as most of the circumstances to which this Motion related took place prior to his coming into office, he was requested by his right hon. friend, the Secretary for the Colonies, to give way to him, and to allow him to reply to the observations that were made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite in submitting his Motion. In point of fact, he had nothing whatever to offer in explanation of what had passed, except with respect to that which had occurred since the passing of the Church Temporalities' Bill. As soon as the Commission was appointed under that Bill, they entered upon the parishes connected with the deanery of Down, to make a return of their incomes. Some obstacles had stood in the way of obtaining these returns; but they were now made, and were last week brought before the Lord-lieutenant and the Privy Council of Ireland. With respect to Raphoe, the right hon. Gentleman had himself admitted, that there were circumstances which admitted of delay. In that case all the parties had been called upon to make a return of their incomes, and the whole of these returns had been made, except in one instance; and when that was made, the whole would be brought under the consideration of the Council. Under these circumstances he must join with his right hon. colleague, in hoping that the right hon. Gentleman would not press his Motion.
§ Sir Robert Peel:
If I know anything of the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies—if I have formed a correct estimate of his character, and of the motives and feelings by which his public conduct is influenced—I have no hesitation in saying, that had he been aware of the recommendation of the Commissioners respecting the deanery of Down, he would sooner have cut off his right hand than have signed the appointment of the son of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland to that deanery. I believe it to be impossible, that Gentlemen filling high official situations should not occasionally be betrayed into inadvertencies in the filling up of appointments; and the more assiduously they attend to public business, the more likely are they to act inadvertently upon particular occasions in the disposal of their patronage. If Gentlemen were to be arraigned for this as a crime, there would be an end of 72 all safety for men in office. Well, then, this appointment to the deanery of Down has been made—that act is irrevocable—but the appointment ought to be revoked, in order to give due authority to the Crown, and confidence to the Commission you have appointed for the purpose of effecting many great objects connected with the Established Church in Ireland. I will enumerate certain facts which will convince the House, that this appointment ought to be revoked. I have most implicit confidence in what the right hon. Secretary for Ireland has stated. I hope my right hon. friend will not press his Motion to a division. If he do, however, I shall certainly feel myself called upon to vote with him. But when I have stated a few facts, I am sure the right hon. Secretary will feel, that in order to support the confidence of the Commissioners, and indeed of the country, some other step should be taken which would render it imperative upon the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland to dissolve these unions without loss of time. There has long been a general expression of feeling on both sides of the House, that one of the great evils of Ireland is the existence of these unions, devolving upon one individual the duties, or rather the emoluments, of very large districts. Every one, I believe, has felt the necessity of dissolving these unions, and a Commission was in consequence appointed to consider in what way they could best be dissolved. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland was one of those Commissioners who made this report. Acting on these principles, and always supposing that no dissolution of the unions would be effected so as to interfere with the vested rights of existing incumbents, but supposing, generally, if not universally, that the dissolution, if desirable, would be carried into effect at the earliest possible period, consistently with the observance of those rights, the Commissioners have, in the annexed schedules, recorded their opinion, that out of the 110 unions stated to exist, the dissolution of sixty-one is most practicable and fit. The Commissioners, at the same time, most properly protecting the interest of the present incumbents, state, "the Bishop of the diocese is of opinion, that considering the circumstances of the parishes of Down, a dissolution would be practicable, in which the Commissioners concur." Secondly, "the Bishop thinks, that convenience would be likely to result from 73 the dissolution, by placing the Ministers of the several parishes generally in a situation of greater respectability, without diminishing the incomes and dignities of the see." They afterwards state, that the period at which it is proposed to effect the alteration, is the next avoidance of the deanery, that being the earliest period at which the dissolution would be practicable. The existing interest expires, a vacancy takes place, the deanery of a certain union of parishes becomes vacant, and the man placed in that union is the son of one of the Commissioners. Why, there can be but one opinion on this point, when, after such a direct and explicit recommendation, an immediate relative of one of the Commissioners is, on the first avoidance of the living, on the very first vacancy that occurs, to be the individual selected to fill the appointment. The appointment, however, has taken place; it would be very unjust, I dare say, with reference to the respectable individual who fills this office, to recall that appointment, as he has vacated other appointments of equal value; but this I do say, for the sake of supporting the authority of the Crown, by the authority of the Commissioners, let the Crown give this individual the first preferment of an equivalent, value that may become vacant; let them not injure existing interests, but do let them take the first opportunity of carrying into effect a recommendation, the second name appended to which is the name of Lord Plunket.
Mr. Secretary Stanley:
I rise for the purpose of very briefly explaining the statement which I have already made to the House, because, in the first place, I cannot conceive that the right hon. Baronet would recommend the displacing of this individual, the appointment, having taken place; and, in the next place, I think the right hon. Baronet has argued this question as if I had contended, which I did not, that it was not intended, and that forthwith, to carry into effect—so far as it could be carried into effect—the recommendation of the Commissioners. I have not got the Report before me; but if the right hon. Baronet will turn to it, he will see, that the recommendation of the Commissioners was for such a dissolution of the union of Down as would give the dean a nett income of 3,100l. This appointment took place within, I believe, a very few weeks after the making of the 74 Report, which I had not at that time seen. The appointment took place, the living vacated being worth 1,200l. a-year. If the recommendation of the Commissioners were at this moment carried into effect, I am given to understand that the effect would be to reduce the nett income of the dean to between 380l. and 400l. [Mr. Ruthven: No, no.] The hon. Gentleman denies this statement; if the hon. Gentleman will call on me in private to-morrow morning, I shall be happy to show him my authority for making it, and he shall have full liberty of investigating it to the fullest extent. The question now before the Privy Council, who are at this moment considering in what manner they can carry into effect the recommendation of the Commissioners, always bearing in mind that a part of their intention was, that an income of not less than from 1,000l. to 1,200l. a-year should be secured to the dean on his having the deanery in the parish of Down. This intention, I have not the least doubt, will be faithfully carried into effect. It is only fair to say, the appointment having been made very shortly after the making of the Report, and before it was perused by me, the dean of Down finding that he had been appointed in opposition to the recommendation of the Commissioners, expressed his readiness to abide by that recommendation, even though by so doing, he incurred a certain loss of income. This would be the result of the recommendation being strictly carried into effect, which, I am sure, neither the House nor the right hon. Baronet would be disposed to advocate. So far, however, as the spirit of the report goes, I can assure the hon. House that it is the full determination of the Irish Government to carry into effect, not only this, but all the other recommendations of the Commissioners.
§ Mr. Hume
said, it appeared to him that the question was treated by the right hon. Gentleman as if it were merely a money question. Now, he perfectly well remembered, that when an hon. Baronet, not now a Member of this House, introduced his Motion for the appointment o those Commissioners, the great advantage which was dwelt upon as likely to result from their inquiries was this—that the individuals frequenting the different Churches, in the union, would be very much convenienced by having a separate clergyman appointed to each.
Mr. Secretary Stanley:
Really the hon. Gentleman does not seem exactly to understand the question. They have a separate clergyman now—there is a dean with a large perferment—a Curate and vicar on small preferments. Now, the object was to effect such a dissolution of the union as should endow each living with the rectorial tithes of its own parishes. Had this been done originally, the Rector and perpetual Curate would have been appointed by an authority over which his Majesty's Government would possess no control.
§ Mr. Hume
was quite aware of the facts which the right hon. Gentleman had just stated. What he was about to observe was, that it was stated as a very important ground for the Motion, that the clergyman officiating in each of the parishes would have each of them, an adequate income, depending on his own efforts, and quite unconnected with any individual holding the monopoly of the rectory. Now, he must say, that this became a question of very serious importance, when after the Commissioners had declared their opinion in favour of a change, one of those Commissioners departed from that recommendation in favour of his own son. It certainly did appear to him, as the right hon. Baronet below him had very truly said, that if ever there was a case in which this House would be justified in interfering with an appointment of this description, it was this. He should very much like to know, who recommended this individual; who proposed to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland the promotion of his own son, and whether it was given at his own recommendation? He thought this was just that species of case in which the House ought to have the fullest possible information laid before it. Alter the appointment of this individual by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, he really could see no injustice in this House silting as a Court of Equity, agreeing upon an Address to his Majesty, praying him to have justice done in this case, and that the recommendation of the Commissioners, which this House generally is of opinion it would be advantageous to adopt, may not be set aside by any of the parties interested in the question.
§ Mr. Robinson
said, when he first heard the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, he was induced to think that he might have voted with his Majesty's Government, but after the explanation which 76 had been given on this question, he certainly thought that this was one of the most serious cases that had come before Parliament for a long time, not perhaps as to the amount of money involved, but as affecting the character of a public man, and it would very seriously affect his Majesty's Government, if, after all their professions, they attempted to cast a shield over it. He really could see no difference between an eminent stationer procuring for his son a situation in the Stationery Office, and the Lord Chancellor of Ireland putting his own son into a situation, which a body of Commissioners, of which he himself was one, declared should not be filled up. He had no hesitation in saying, that he thought such an appointment might be afterwards revoked by the proceedings of that House, and that they should best discharge their duty by expressly showing, that if public men were so led away, such acts of injustice towards the public should meet with their decided reprobation. Some other circumstances of a similar character which had heretofore taken place, relative to the appointment by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland of his relatives to places of trust and profit, induced him very reluctantly to make these observations. He thought it was highly creditable to the individual appointed, that, when he discovered how the case really stood—he being ignorant of the recommendation of the Commissioners at the time of the appointment—he made the representation he did to the King's Government. He would maintain, however, that this had nothing to do with the merits of the appointment itself; and that they would not do an act of injustice to any one—even to that individual himself—if they decided on the propriety of Addressing the Crown to revoke the appointment. If the right hon. Baronet were to press such a Motion to a division, he certainly should have his (Mr. Robinson's) most hearty support.
§ Mr. Littleton
perhaps might he allowed to suggest, that the House should abstain from expressing a very strong or decided opinion on this case, until it had ascertained the nature of the course taken by the Lord Lieutenant in Council—because the declared opinion might be, that in this case there was nothing to complain of. Whether this would be the case or not, he, of course, was unable to say; but this touch he might state, that he (Mr. Little- 77 ton) had seen a letter, not addressed to him, and partaking somewhat of the nature of a private communication, in which the writer expressed the strongest opinion, that in consequence of the altered circumstances produced by the operation of the clause in the Temporalities' Act, it would be the duty of the Commissioners to revise the whole of their Report. What recommendation they might give under those altered circumstances was another question; but he thought the House should pause before it formed a judgment of a case, the merits of which were not in any way before it.
§ Colonel Davies
said, that with reference to what had fallen from the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, he begged to remind the House, that this appointment took place long before the passing of the Church Temporalities' Bill. He could not help saying, that in his opinion this was one of the most scandalous cases of abuse that ever came under the consideration of the House. They were told, that the question was under the consideration of the Privy Council. Who was the most important member of that. Privy Council? Why, the Lord Chancellor himself; and thus he was to be constituted as the Judge of his own act. He was very sorry the right hon. Baronet had been induced to withdraw his Motion. He thought the sense of the House ought to be taken upon it; and he had no doubt, that if he pressed it, we would be enabled to carry it.
§ Mr. Sheil
thought that the revision of the emoluments of the deanery, and of all those unions, was suggested, a year ago. Now, what were the facts of this case? The Commissioners made a certain Report; they recommended the dissolution of these unions; an avoidance took place; the Government had cognizance, or ought to have had cognizance, of this fact; the Lord Chancellor was one of the Commissioners; this appointment was made in the name of the Government; and he appointed his own son. Now surely this simple fact was sufficient; there was no complaint—there was no reference to what had been done; and when the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies was Secretary for Ireland, did he remonstrate with the Lord Chancellor when he was in office? This occurred three Years ago, and he was Secretary for Ireland for two years during that period. Did the right hon. Gentleman communi- 78 cate with the Lord Chancellor and say, "For God's sake, make some arrangement which will remove your son from this appointment?" Is it not natural to suppose, that this course would have been pursued? It had been said, that the Commissioners recommended that the salary should be 1,000l. a-year. It was now, he believed 3,000l. [Mr. Littleton: Oh, no! 2,000l.] Well then, the facts were clear, and required no comment; and under these circumstances he contended that they had a right to know what course his Majesty's Ministers meant to adopt with reference to the intervention on the part of one of their own Commissioners appointed by themselves who was Lord Chancellor of Ireland.
wished to remark, that one of the Commissioners appointed to value livings in the southern part of Ireland, was the son of the present holder of the deanery of Down.
§ Mr. Goulburn
merely rose for the purpose of saying, that he was willing to accede to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He was quite confident, after what had passed to-night, and after the general expression of opinion on the part of the House, that the object he had in view in bringing this question forward would be effected, and therefore, without depriving himself of the opportunity of again bringing the question under the consideration of the House, should it be necessary, he thought it would be more becoming in him not to press the matter at present. With reference to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, as to the operation of the Church Temporalities Bill having the effect of altering the Report of the Commissioners, he would only say, that if he had searched for the strongest argument which could be adduced in favour of this Motion, he could have found none of greater weight than that.
§ Motion withdrawn.