§ On Clause 9 (compositions for tithes may be revised on application to the commissioners of land revenue),
§ Lord Clements
said, that he, as well as other Irish Members, objected to a permanent composition of tithes on the basis of the old system, for in numerous cases improvident agreements had been entered into. On this ground he was anxious to afford facilities to re-opening compositions now entered into. He was satisfied that the course he suggested was the most convenient that could be adopted. He objected to so large a number of tithe-payers being required to appeal against a composition, before it could be re-opened. His object was, not to make a reduction in tithes, but when they had been raised above their real amount that they should be reduced to their just value; or where the clergyman had received less than he ought to have done, that there should be an increase. He could not consent to the Clause in its present state; he therefore trusted that his noble Friend would consent to re-open a composition when an appeal was entered by considerably less than one-half the number of tithe payers.
§ Viscount Morpeth
thought that it would not be advantageous to open compositions, unless it appeared that some grounds of complaint existed; and if they did, there would not be any difficulty in getting the requisite number of signatures. He thought that the Bill at present pressed sufficiently hard upon the clergyman, and he did not wish to add to his trouble. There was, under this Clause, sufficient power of appeal, and he objected to open appeals without good cause.
suggested that a revision of the composition might be allowed on the appeal of one-third of the tithe-payers instead of one-half. He also recommended that the period should be extended in which the appeal was to take place.
§ Viscount Morpeth
thought that if there was good ground for complaint, parties were sufficiently alive to their own interests. He therefore should in this instance adhere to the general rule—that the question should only be opened at the discretion of the majority.
§ Mr. Sergeant Perrin
said, that 26 it was not necessary that there should be a majority of the tithe payers to open a composition, but even a single individual might do so, if he paid more than half the tithes.
§ The Clause was agreed to.
§ On Clause 50, providing for the remission of the million advanced to the Irish clergy,
§ Mr. Harvey
said, that as he understood the Clause now proposed was that which remitted the repayment of the 1,000,000l. which had been granted by this House to the clergy of Ireland in aid of their defective funds, consequent upon the arrear of tithes due to them, he could not but express his surprise that the noble Lord opposite (Lord Morpeth) and those who formed the Government with the noble Lord, should think it sufficient simply and solemnly to make this proposition to the House without offering any explanation, and without condescending to give any information as to the grounds upon which the people of England were to be called upon to pay 1,000,000l. of money, wherewith to pay the debt due by the people of Ireland to the clergy of the Established Church of that country. It was a wholesome practice (usually followed) that at least some explanation should be afforded when a proposition of this kind was introduced, or that something should be done, either by quoting a Resolution of the House or by reading part of a Speech from the Throne, to call the attention of the House to the subject. In this instance, he took it that the Government held it for granted that no individual would be found to dissent from the palpable justice and equity of the proposition, and that by their silence upon it they meant to convey, that no good reason could be urged against such a prodigal grant, as he would term it, of the public money. With respect to that grant, he would beg to recall the House to the observations which had been made by the Government by whom the loan, as it was then called had been advanced. He had before him extracts from the speeches of the noble Lord at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Althorp), and others of the then Government, from all of which it appeared that it was then contemplated the loan was to be repaid. The then Chancellor of the Exchequer said, "that he wished it to be understood that the last proposition which he would make to 27 the House and to the Representatives of the people, was a proposition that 1,000,000l. of money wrung from the industry of England should be applied to pay the debts of the Irish landlords to the Irish clergy." Lord Althorp also had observed, "that if he felt this measure (that effecting the advance of the loan) would fix the people of England with the repayment of the advance, the Government would not be justified in proposing, nor the House in supporting it." In addition to this he had the speech of the right hon. Gentleman at that time Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Littleton), in which he had said that, "it would be most improper for a minister of the Crown to propose to give to the Irish clergy 1,000,000l. sterling, unless its repayment was secured to the people of England, by whom it was to be advanced. He had also before him the opinions expressed on that occasion by a right hon. Gentleman, now one of the Cabinet, and who, anxious to exonerate himself from the imputation of being a party to a grant so prodigal in amount, and so profligate in principle, had said—and he (Mr. Harvey) alluded to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester—that "nothing could be more at variance with his own opinions, and with what he considered to be the interests of his constituents, than to vote away the money of the people of England for the payment of the Church Establishment of Ireland. He, continued the right hon. Gentleman, should however ground his vote in favour of the grant, on the assurance which his noble Friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had given, that it was not intended the money advanced should be a gift, but, on the contrary, that measures would be taken to recover the whole advance, and that its repayment would be legally secured." The same sentiments had been re-echoed by the present Attorney-General for Ireland (Mr. Perrin), and, indeed, there was not amongst the present Government, or their supporters in this House, a single individual who viewed the advance otherwise than as a loan, to be amply and sufficiently secured. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had also expressed an opinion to the effect that in making this advance the interests of the people of England, who paid their own tithes, were to be regarded. The right hon. Baronet had also added that this 28 loan ought to be repaid by the people of Ireland. It was for those who had expressed these sentiments formerly now to afford some reason upon which they justified the remission of the repayment of this advance. Even the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, in the eloquent speech with which he introduced his motion of instruction to the Committee to divide this Bill into two parts, had failed, though he had urged much against the misappropriation of the revenues of the Church, to breathe a syllable or to utter a word against such a misappropriation of the funds of the people of England. The Government were, however, now prepared to remit that appropriation without one syllable of explanation from the Government; for though he had heard the speech of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Morpeth), and though he had since read that speech, corrected by authority, yet he had failed to find any explanation afforded as to the course proposed by Government. It was true that the noble Lord had admitted that this was not the least difficult branch of the whole matter, but there the point rested, and he (Mr. Harvey) had no doubt but that if instead of a gift of 1,000,000l., this measure had extended to 5,000,000l., it would as easily have been disposed of as at present. With regard to the original grant of 1,000,000l., he begged to say that he would not express an opinion hostile to the assistance which had by that means been afforded to the clergy; on the contrary, he thought it most proper, and his only complaint was, that there had been no discrimination used in dealing with it. It might be just and proper to afford a gift or grant to a man pre-eminent in the discharge of his clerical duties; but, on the other hand, he could fancy that there were some clergymen of the Irish Church who were not to be found resident in their parishes—not promulgating the doctrines of the religion of which they were the ministers, but who were to be found in the club-houses of Cheltenham, or whose tithes were remitted to them in Paris or elsewhere. The pluralist was thus paid in the same way as the man of small means and of great labour, and this was the undiscriminating principle upon which the loan had been administered. It was true that it had been insinuated by the wisdom of the Government that the remission of the million was but a small 29 price to pay for the great benefit which would result to the community; but, even so, it was marvellous that the Government should not have endeavoured to inform the people of England, who were to pay the price, the nature of the benefit that was to ensue. Often had the outpourings of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin gone forth that Ireland and her interests were neglected in this House—that everything that was Irish was regarded with distaste by the House; but he would declare that the activity of the Irish Members not only succeeded in occupying the attention of the House, but that also, as in this instance, they secured benefits to their country. He hesitated not to say, that a more beneficial measure than the present could not have been obtained for them even from a Parliament sitting in College-green. It was a measure essentially selfish and conservative. It was a selfish measure, because the Government and their adherents supported it with a view to their continuance in place, and the Conservatives supported it because the maintenance of the clergy was a portion of their own measure. The only extenuation to be advanced on behalf of the noble Lord was, that he was not the author of this suggestion, but had adopted it lest the measure should be lost. He did not doubt but the Bill was supported by one party because they regarded it as an instalment, a sort of 6s. 8d. in the pound, and as a step by which to obtain the remaining 13s. 4d. This would be of no advantage to the people of England. He believed that every man was quite prepared to recognize the claims of the clergy to all their existing interests, and he was ready to pay them not 75l. out of the 100l., but 100l. so long as they lived, but after that he was anxious to have the entire property to be disposed of according to the wisdom of Parliament. If the Government had propounded, or should propound, wholesome measures of Reform, he ventured to say, that so far from finding any prejudice in the minds of the people of England, they would be the first to recognize the system to which he had thus but slightly alluded. But he was prepared to show, that by this Bill not less than 5,000,000l. of English money was given up to the Irish Church; but without entering into that question he maintained that let the tithes belong to whom they might, even if the Church was 30 wholly abolished, the whole tithe property was attached to the people, to be disposed of as Parliament should direct. It was true that the House was told that the remission of the million was the oil to the measure, and would facilitate its pas sage through another place. He begged to inquire what evidence of concession there was at this moment in the quarter to which he referred. On the contrary, the other House of Parliament was now running the race of popularity with this branch of the Legislature, was now manifesting a peculiar jealousy for the vested rights of the lower orders, and a desire to throw the shield of their order round the unprotected. He would not give the House of Peers the opportunity of saying that they had saved the country the sacrifice of the million to which the Representatives of the people had consented. But it was said that it was impossible to recover the amount advanced. If so, let it at once be declared by the Government to have been a loan advanced upon bad security, and, with true commercial spirit, let it be classed amongst the bad debts which they had incurred, but let it not be said that it was the price or purchase-money of a benefit to Ireland. If the arrears of tithes could not be enforced, he was at a loss to know how it was possible, mutato nomine, a rent-charge for the same purposes was to be levied. He had looked to the laws relating to tithes in Ireland with some trouble, and he found the result to be this—that the Bill of 1823, known as Goulburn's Act, encouraged voluntary composition for tithes. Then came the Bill of 1832 (Lord Stanley's), which made composition compulsory; and at the present moment the law was, that the same remedy was afforded for the recovery of tithes as was provided for the recovery of rent. Again, he contended that tithes were a primary charge, and recoverable as such; and he begged to inquire from the right hon. Gentlemen opposite in what manner they thought the recovery of this substituted rent-charge could be enforced? He had no doubt but that before two Sessions were over, the House would be informed of agrarian disturbances against tithes, or, as they would be then called, rent-charges. Agitation would follow, and he should be sorry it should be otherwise, for the simple reason—namely, the principle adopted by the Dissenters of this country, not against 31 the amount of the imposts to which they were liable, but to the system of their being obliged to contribute to the maintenance and support of a Church Establishment from which they derived no benefit. What benefit, he should like to know, would the commutation of tithe into a rent-charge be to the numerical population of Ireland? None whatever: it might be a benefit to the landlord, but it could be of advantage to no one else. The landlord, indeed, would benefit by it, for he would get the thirty per cent, now remitted. He (Mr. Harvey) called upon the Government to state in what way the people of England would ever derive any advantage equal to the amount of this 1,000,000l. now remitted to the clergy. With the example of Ireland before them, the tenants of England would in a few years—say from 1835 to 1838, or so long as it was necessary to make agitation successful—be coming forward to claim a remission of tithes like that obtained by the tenantry of Ireland. If that were the course pursued by the tenantry, then the clergy of England would come to Parliament and require not 1,000,000l., but 3,000,000l., or 4,000,000l., to satisfy their claims on the benevolence or justice of their country. Out of whose pockets, he would ask, were those three or four millions to come? He would ask the Conservative landlords about him, who called on his Majesty's Government to give up the tax on cur dogs, and on pantiles, and who thanked God when such concessions were made to them—he would ask the Conservative landlords he said, to act honestly by their tenants, and to declare at once that they would not allow them any longer to pay down their solid money on account of Irish tithes. That language he had not yet heard from the Conservative landlords, but that language the House might yet be fortunate enough to hear from them. The hon. Member concluded by saying, that he should not propose any specific Amendment, as he did not know any specific fund upon which the million could be charged; but if the Government carved out the way, he would assist them in carrying it into effect, at the same time he should oppose the Clause.
§ Viscount Morpeth
would not attempt to defend the proceedings and the circumstances which rendered it necessary for him to call upon Government to remit the 32 repayment of the money advanced under the Million Act. The only ground upon which he urged the remission of this law was that under existing circumstances without worse sacrifices and greater evils, they could not avoid making that remission. He, therefore, opposed the hon. and learned Member's proposal for the omission of this Clause, and equally opposed was he to the other suggestion of the hon. and learned Member to enforce die payment of interest upon the sums advanced out of the Million Fund. He was opposed to the latter proposal upon the following grounds, that the payment of that interest must either be collected from the landlord, from whom he money was not due, or from the occupying tenant, or from the clergyman. He could not consent to enforce this payment from the clergyman unless the Government were at the same time to hold themselves prepared to back him in a crusade for the recovery of all the tithes which were due to him from the occupying tenant. He could not consent to recover it from the occupying tenant, because the very object of this Bill was to do away with the payment of tithes by that class of people. Finally, he could not consent to support this claim of interest against the landlords, because whilst by the Bill they were imposing a new responsibility and charge upon that party, it would not be fair, in defiance of all promises held out, to impose this additional burthen upon them. He would rather call upon the people of England not to refuse to take their part in the great common sacrifice which was necessary for the peace of Ireland—he would rather do this than depart from the terms of the compact under which this measure had been introduced, a measure equally necessary, in his opinion, to the very existence of the Church Establishment as to the safety of the empire.
agreed with much of what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had introduced this subject; but he differred from the conclusion at which he had arrived. He agreed with the noble Lord who had just sat down, that the Motion of the hon. Member would not accomplish the object for which it was intended. The people of this country, he thought, ought not to be called upon to pay a sum of money which was due by others; though he at the same time believed that they would not object to pay, if their doing so 33 could lead to a final settlement of the Question under consideration. The great objection which he (Lord Stanley) had to the payment of the million by the people of this country was, that it would be, in effect, holding out a bonus for the successful violation of the law, and imposing a penalty for its observance. It would be an act of gross injustice, which would weaken the hands of Government. He was most anxious to withdraw the Clergy from the possibility of collision with the people, and at the same time to satisfy the claims of justice. His noble Friend opposite was now charged with the administration of the affairs of Ireland, and no more important trust could be committed to his hands. He begged of him then to look to the situation in which he would place the gentry and the tenantry of Ireland by his present mode of proceeding. In the first place, he made no particular reference to any individual, the noble Lord would find a resident landlord who was respected and looked up to by his tenantry as their guide and friend. His tenants would come to him to ask his advice on the subject of tithes, and inquire whether it would be better for them to resist or not. The landlord, acting conscientiously, would tell them by all means not to resist, but to obey the law—would picture the likelihood of litigation and bloodshed if they resisted—and assure them that in the long run, Government would succeed in enforcing the law, and they would be made to surfer for their disobedience. Suppose a contrary case, of a harsh landlord, little caring for anything so that his own rent was paid, and who, consequently, recommended his tenants to make passive resistance to the law enforcing tithes, assuring them that in the end, by such conduct, they must succeed in procuring the abolition of tithes. These two distinct pieces of advice might be given and followed; and in what condition would the Government and the landlords, be placed in respect to the tenantry when he who recommended obedience to the law was held up to odium and contempt, and he who advised disobedience to the law turned out to have acted in accordance with the views of, and to receive a sort of tacit applause from, the Government, who should have vindicated the law as it stood? But, as he had before stated, if he thought there was any chance that this Bill would settle the 34 Question of Tithes and ensure peace to Ireland, he might be induced to consent to this Clause as a part of the price of so happy a change. But he would ask the noble Lord were there any fifty of those who supported this Bill who did so under the impression that it would bring about the final settlement of the Tithe Question? But his noble Friend said, he could not collect the money paid on account of tithes. Then, he would ask, what chance had he of collecting the rent-charge? He quite agreed that it was expedient to withdraw the clergyman from actual collision with the occupying tenant; but if it were supposed that beyond this advantage therewould accrue benefit to the occupying tenant to the amount of one sixpence through the operation of this Bill, that supposition was contrary to all the dictates of common sense. The occupying tenants could not benefit in the slightest pecuniary way by the new arrangement introduced by this Bill. It might be said the tithe would be paid more readily, as being intended for purposes of education. He thought not. Those who expected that, he felt confident would be no gainers. With respect to the million that had been advanced he did not desire that one farthing of it should be repaid, but he did not wish that they who refused to pay should be as well off as those who paid. Let every farthing of that million be applied to education, public works, or anything else for the exclusive benefit of Ireland. Apply it as they pleased, but let no preference, no advantage be given to those who did not pay their tithes.
said, that he was by no means desirous of procuring for his Church that which it had been asserted he was, for in his opinion a connexion of the nature alluded to by the hon. Member would secularize the Establishment. The hon. Member for Southwark complained of the people of England being compelled to bear the burthen of the million loan to the Irish clergy. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) on the other hand was ready to lavish the amount upon public works, provided he could first gratify his feelings by extorting it from the wretched people, who were unable to pay it. The noble Lord had talked largely of the mode in which he would punish them for having evaded the law, by making the tithe-defaulters pay up their arrears, in order that those who were not defaulters might not be placed in a worse 35 situation by their obedience to the law than those who defied it. Did the noble Lord recollect his loan of 60,000l.? Did not one party advise the tenantry to pay the tithes, and did not another party advise them not to pay the tithes? And did the noble Lord not do at last what the Ministers were now doing? Did he not, after taking every possible step to recover his loan from the peasantry, in the form of exacting the tithes, after using every means in his power, authorising his police to break into houses at night, driving the corn and cattle off whole districts, and turning the barrack-yards into hay and corn yards—did he not, after taking all this trouble, and, God knows, after occasioning all the useless misery which attended his proceedings, give up the matter as a bad job, and did he ever realize a single shilling of his loan? Oh, yes, the noble Lord did,—he forgot—the noble Lord got back 12,000l. out of his 60,000l. but the process of getting it cost 28,000l. and turned the whole army into a host of auctioneers and cattle drivers. In that notable instance the very persons who advised the people to resist the tithes were the persons who profited. And were the Government, after all this experience, and after the many expedients they had tried, to set to work again to try to force the people to pay their tithes in order to repay the amount of a loan which the noble Lord professed his desire not to profit by. If he had not known the noble Lord to be in earnest he should have suspected him of an affectation of cant. Did the House desire to tranquillise Ireland, let them settle the Question of Tithes. For a series of years the successive Governments had bent their whole force to accomplish the object of making the people pay them. They had turned out their infantry, cavalry, and artillery—they had shot, stabbed, and hanged man, woman, and child in their endeavour, and with what success? The value of the present Bill consisted in that it was a totally new experiment. It abolished the very name of tithes. It altogether obviated the necessity for the clergyman to come in contact in a temporal way with the peasantry and agriculturists. It diminished the amount of the impost, and it vested the collection in the hands of the landlord in the new form of rent. He had been told that the landlords would pocket the whole of the diminution, but this was not the fact. 36 The landlords of Ireland had as much interest in tranquillising their tenantry as England had, and he believed the resident landlords were as considerate to their tenants as in England, and they would not let the burthen rest altogether upon the cultivators. As to the million loan, he should like to know how its payment could be enforced? Should they go to war again to levy it, or would the House consent to let the experiment of the Bill have its full play in appeasing the people? The noble Lord had declared that the clergy ought not to be made repay it; but then if he insisted on its not being repaid he must alter the present law, for under that the clergy were those who were liable to the nation for its amount. If they did not alter the law, the clergyman would be compelled to enforce its payment upon the tenants in arrear, and thus a fresh scene of irritation would be created for the sake of this, he would call it, paltry million. There was no law in existence which would compel the landlord to pay the amount of arrears. The present Bill put the tithes upon him in future, but the arrears were intangible and hopeless. The tithe system had now disturbed Ireland for three quarters of a century. The Government at last came forward with a generous and soothing proposition for the final settlement of all the irritation which existed. If it failed, then they would have a right to turn round upon Ireland, and say, we have done all we could to appease and satisfy you; we have changed the very nature of the impost; we have relieved you of one-third of its amount; we have placed it in the hands of your landlord, and of him alone; and now we will enforce the law by every means at our disposal. The very point which the noble Lord now wished to enforce the right hon. and gallant Officer next him gave up during his recent Secretaryship, for he candidly acknowledged when he brought in and explained the provisions of this Tithe Bill, that it would be impossible to levy the arrears. Was it therefore, worth while, when both Governments had given the matter up as hopeless, to shackle this Bill with so useless, so irritating a proviso? Under these circumstances he hoped that neither the noble Lord's virtuous wish to see equal justice meted out to both parties in Ireland, nor the doctrines of the economists, would interfere to prevent the Government from passing this Bill unmutilated.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, he would not enter into the religious part of the question with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell), further than to observe, that if it was the doctrine of the Roman Catholics in Ireland that any connexion with the state would degrade their religion, it was certainly peculiar to that country; and he (Mr. Shaw) could not but think that such a sentiment would not prevail long amongst Roman Catholics there if once they could subvert the Protestant Established Church. The hon. and learned Gentleman was no doubt bound in duty to advocate the remission of the million to those who had resisted the law, for it was but a bounty to those who had followed the advice of the hon. and learned Gentleman himself.
§ Mr. Shaw
would put it to the House who was most out of order. He had in debate drawn an inference which the House could not think was very violent or unjust—that in passive resistance and refusal to pay tithes, the people of Ireland had followed the advice of the hon. and learned Gentleman. Now, supposing even that he (Mr. Shaw) had been in that expression, (which he believed no hon. Gentleman in the House thought he meant offensively) in some degree out of order, still he would appeal to the House whether it was to be borne that night after night the hon. and learned Gentleman circumstanced as that hon. and learned Gentleman was, should not only violate the order of that House, but the rules of all gentlemanlike society, by such offensive expressions as that which he had just employed? It was however, unworthy of further notice, and he would turn to the question immediately before the House. Upon that question of the advance of the million, he (Mr. Shaw) was peculiarly clear, for he had advised that House not to grant it—he had recommended the clergy not to take it—and he had from the first declared that if advanced it never could be recovered from the tithe payer. His reason was, that he regarded it as a premium to disobedience and resistance to the law—as shaking the foundations of all property, and as a millstone round the neck of tithe property in particular. And was repayment to be expected while at the same time you re- 38 warded the defaulters for the past, and added a fifth to the ordinary tithe payments for five years to come. With regard to the 60,000l. Act referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell), it was true that a large cost had been incurred, and a comparatively small sum recovered. But what was the fact?—that when all the costs had been incurred—all the necessary machinery provided—in short, all the difficulties overcome, and the people had universally commenced payment, Lord Althorp, the then leader of the Government, in an unguarded and inadvertent moment, had become personally committed to an hon. Member, of the politics of the hon. Gentleman himself, not to go on with the collection, and thence followed the fatal declaration of the noble Lord which had caused such infinite mischief in Ireland, and led to the necessity of the Million Act. It was satisfactory now to hear it admitted on all hands, that the advance had been made to the land and not to the clergy. It was, indeed, at any time absurd to contend, that when that House had sanctioned the suspension of the payment to those to whom it was legally due, and had advanced a portion of the money for the debtor to pay to the creditor, that it was the creditor and not the debtor who should repay it. While he objected to the benefit being derived by the wilful defaulter to the prejudice of the honest tithe payer, still if the question assumed the shape now given to it by the hon. Member for Southwark, simply whether the House were to remit the million or to recover it primarily from the clergy, then clearly it must be remitted as the lesser of the two evils. But he was most desirous to avoid giving the bonus to those who had been in arrear, and though he agreed with the noble Lord (Lord Morpeth) that they ought not either to charge the clergy or put them to collect from the occupying tenantry, yet he considered that they might very justly vary the bonus now about being granted to the landlord in the imposition of the rent charge according to the arrears which might be owing by any particular land, allowing the landlord to recover the same over from his tenant when the tenant was the same who had been originally liable and in default, and letting the land itself— that is, the landlord—bear the loss where the occupying tenant had changed; and 39 this latter class would furnish all the cases where the landlord could complain; and the additional five per cent, given by the present Bill over that proposed by the Bill of his right hon. friend (Sir Henry Hardinge) would more than indemnify the landlord, supposing even all his tenants to have changed. This proportion of charge might be observed whether the million was entirely remitted or a reasonable interest for it imposed as a permanent annual payment along with rent charge. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell) said, why refuse to Ireland the boon of forgiving these arrears. It was not to the sum to be remitted that he (Mr. Shaw) felt any objection, but to the principle of not even sharing that boon with the orderly and obedient, but to their positive prejudice, conferring the entire on those who had been wilful defaulters and designedly resisted the law.
§ Mr. Hume
felt the Government was in an awkward situation on the present question, for with every disposition to support them in their views, he was at a loss how to do so consistently. It ought not however, to be forgotten, that the first direct proposal for altogether sinking the million loan originated with the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Tamworth. He would also ask the hon. and learned Member for Dublin whether he would answer for the effect of the present measure in tranquillising Ireland? Let it be recollected that there were portions of four years tithes now in arrear, of which three-fifths had been paid, and two fifths were unpaid; and why, he would ask, should the persons allowed two-fifths be placed in a better position than those who bad paid? It was holding out a premium of resistance and would be a ground for resisting the payment of seventy per cent. He opposed the grant, considering that it would not answer the purpose.
§ Sir Robert Peel
was glad to have the means of refreshing the memory of the hon. Gentleman opposite, by referring the hon. Gentleman to a speech made in a former Parliament, when there was a prospect of repayment of the sum proposed to be granted. The hon. Member now said "enforce the law," and blamed him as having set a bad example on that former occasion. [Mr. Hume: You were the first to propose such a grant.] On what grounds did the hon. Gentleman then refuse to acquiesce in the grant? Why 40 because he thought that it was impossible it could be repaid, and yet the hon. Member charged him with having set a bad example in remitting what could not be levied; whilst the hon. Gentleman said, that it was clear the money was lost to England, and that any attempt to recover it would only tend to bolster up the Church in a contest against the people. At any rate he trusted the House would not follow the Government in their mad career. That speech established the hon. Member's fame as a prophet—his abilities as a logician were known and appreciated; but here the circumstances had vindicated what he foretold, when he refused to be a party to the grant of the million; and strange to say, the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin, and the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, concurred with him in his prophecy; and why should the hon. Gentleman then charge, him with the blame of the fulfilling of his predictions! The hon. Member asked also in his speech, whether it were just that the House should be driven into such a course by the imbecile folly of a Government, who proposed first one thing and then another, whilst it was clear the landlords would not repay their part. They had not paid it, at this time, and yet the hon. Gentleman turned round on him, and accused him of having set a bad example. Why, he agreed that in regard to the clergy the money should be advanced, but he must confess that he was not at all sanguine of its repayment either by the landlord or the tenant, for he considered that with respect to the Question of Tithes in Ireland, it was impossible for any Government to attempt to settle it, without including in the plan many details, open to objection when viewed abstractedly; and therefore after he had had the experience of the measures proposed and adopted by previous Governments when he was at the head of the Administration, he felt that it was impossible to recover any arrears of tithes that were due, at the point of the bayonet, and he therefore virtually proposed a remission of them. But his hon. Friend had asked, were defaulters and those who had submitted to the law, to be placed on the same footing?—and he had also said, that when the Bill was brought in, a distinction between those classes of persons should have been established. If the man who had submitted to the law could be placed in a 41 position contradistinguished from that of the man who had broken the law, he should be most anxious to follow such a plan; for the principle was just. But its practicability must be proved before the distinction could be drawn; and even if its practicability were made out, he should be inclined to doubt the policy of acting upon it, if the result should be, as he doubted not it would be, an expenditure of double the amount recovered in the attempt to recover it. On the other hand, there remained another great difficulty in the way—the making the landlord liable to the whole amount, and thus compelling him to pay, not only what it is but just possible he might recover from the occupier who was in possession when the grant was made—but also what he could not justly recover from those whose occupancy was subsequent to that period. Between those classes there should necessarily be a distinction drawn, and that he was afraid would be a very operose proceeding; but he admitted entirely the justice of the principle, and if any one would provide a machinery by which it could be carried into effect, he should be most willing to adopt it; but, as to the remission of this grant of the million, he said, once for all, that he was inclined to doubt the policy of drawing a distinction between the different parts of the kingdom; and to this effect, when he was in office he had intended to propose, on the principle which had been suggested by Lord Althorp, that the occupier of land in England should be relieved from the burthen of paying the Church-rates, and, in lieu of it, that 250,000l. or 300,000l. should be paid from the public revenues of the country. He might be told, that Ireland would derive no benefit from such a measure, as it was not burthened with Church-rates. That was perfectly true; but he nevertheless considered that when important arrangements of this nature were to be carried, they were not to be baulked because it subjected another part of the kingdom to a portion of the price to be paid for its removal. If, then, peace were likely to be conferred on Ireland by the measure now before the House, he should not consider the remission of the million an insuperable objection to it, although England must necessarily bear her portion of the loss; but his intention was to have connected three pecuniary benefits to- 42 gether—namely, an advance to the Church of Scotland, an advance from the public funds to relieve England from the Churchcess; and to meet this on the part of Ireland, he should have proposed, as a bonus, to release that country altogether from her obligatiou in regard to the million. It certainly could be shown, that in taking this course the three parts of the kingdom would not receive each of them its proportionate share of benefit, but he considered them as one empire; and unless that were the principle by which the measures of the Legislature were guided, the same objection would arise in respect to every proposition of relief, and to every attempt to abate the grievances which might exist in any one part of the kingdom. Under all circumstances, then, he could not accede to the proposition to negative the Clause, for if this course were adopted the Treasury must recover the money; the law gave no indemnity to the Treasury, and as the proprietors of the land could not be applied to, the onus must, therefore, fall upon the clergy; the Treasury would have no other remedy, but to proceed against the clergy, and the clergy would necessarily say—we must apply to the occupying tenant; and thus the police and the military would be again put in requisition, and new distractions of the most injurious tendency must be created; he therefore could not consent to negative the Clause. A great portion of the debate had been expended upon the principle of this Bill, and the prospect of its being a final settlement of the Question it involved. His experience lessened his hopes of this every day, and his expectations that a surplus would be obtained, had been completely annihilated, for an advance of 50,000l. from the public revenue was required for the purposes to which a surplus was to have been appropriated; but he had been led, by the example of other Members, to allude to the principle of the Bill. As to the Question immediately before the House—if Government despaired of recovering these arrears, as the remission of them corresponded with what he had intended to propose, he should support the Clause.
§ The Committee divided on the Clause, Ayes 252; Noes 25: Majority 227.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ The remaining clauses were agreed to.
§ The House Resumed.
|List of the NOES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Pease, J.|
|Blackstone, E. S.||Philips, Mark|
|Bowring, Dr.||Potter, R.|
|Benett, J.||Sheldon, E. R.|
|Dillwyn, L. W.||Stuart, Lord James|
|Duncombe, T.||Thompson, Colonel|
|Fielden, J.||Wakley, T.|
|Gore, Ormsby||Wallace, R.|
|Handley, Major||Walter, John|
|Hume, Joseph||Williams, W.|
|Hutt, W.||Williams, Sir J.|
|Kerry, Earl of||TELLER.|
|Marjoribanks, J.||Harvey, D. W.|