§ Viscount Morpeth
moved the Order of the Day for the bringing up of the Report of the Irish Church Bill.
§ Report brought up.
§ Mr. Shaw
had several Amendments to move, but having discussed the principle of them before, and knowing that the Government would resist them, he would not trouble the House to divide upon any of them at the present stage of the measure. He was, however, anxious to record his own opinion against that portion of the Bill which was in violation of all sound principle, and as regarded the other part 159 of it, to repudiate the notion that the friends of the Church were averse to the just and reasonable settlement of the question of Tithe property. To the appropriation and sequestration clauses of the Bill, his amendment would be simple and sweeping. It was to omit them altogether, for their principle was such that no modification would induce him to consent to them. With regard to the Tithe branch of the question, he would move to alter that part of the Bill which rendered the clergy stipendiaries on the Crown, to omit the clauses for opening the compositions, which he considered an act of great injustice, and he would also propose an alteration in the Clause which referred to the average price of corn, so as to limit its operation to the future, and not to let it affect existing contracts. He had some Amendments, the effect of which would be to relieve the clergy from further reductions in their incomes, and his principal Amendment on this part of the case would be the introduction of those clauses which were to be found in the Bill of the present government of last year for the redemption of the rent charges, and the investment in land of the money to arise from such redemption. He feared it would be giving the Speaker too much trouble to put these various Amendments from the chair, and therefore he (Mr. Shaw) would move, that in point of form the Bill be recommitted.
§ The House went into Committee.
§ Mr. Hume
proposed that a Clause should be inserted, with a view to the repayment of the million proposed by the Bill to be remitted to the Irish landlords. The sanctioning such a principle as that upon which those who had offered effectual resistance to the law, were relieved from all the consequences, was extremely likely to lead to consequences under the new arrangement which the framers of this measure did not at all anticipate. He would move a clause to the effect "that in every case where the arrears of any Tithe composition, or any assignment for the years 1831, 1832, 1833, and 1834, shall remain due at the passing of this Act, out of lands chargeable with a sum equal to the rent-charge of 7–10ths provided by this Bill there shall be payable an additional charge of 2½ per cent., to be recoverable out of and levied on the land in the same way as the former rent-charge, and subject to all the regulations and 160 provisions hereinafter to be made for levying and receiving the same. That the proceeds of this additional rent-charge be paid over to the Consolidated Fund for the purpose of reimbursing it for the advances which have already been made, or those which it may be necessary to make." In order to guard against any injustice being done to the Irish landlords by this clause, he should hereafter move, that where the same tenants did not reside on the lands, the sums which might be due by them should be remitted.
§ Viscount Morpeth
observed, that the effects of the Clause which was proposed by the hon. Member for Middlesex had been discussed fully on the night when the hon. Member for Southwark brought forward his Motion. He did not, therefore, think it necessary to enter on any further discussion with respect to this Clause.
§ Mr. Robinson
did not see how it would improve the settlement of the Tithe question by the intended arrangement, if a certain additional sum such as that proposed were to be levied every year. He was very much afraid, if this sum were wholly remitted, that it would only hold out an encouragement to the violation of the law under the proposed rent-charge.
§ Mr. James Grattan
was of opinion that the Clause would be altogether impracticable. The landlords would find it quite difficult enough to collect the seventy per cent. without imposing on them any additional charge.
§ Mr. Harvey
If the payment of a million were to secure permanent peace to Ireland, so far from objecting to that sum, there was no advance that he would not be willing to make in order to secure that object. But as he was persuaded that the new arrangement as proposed by this Bill, would not, and ought not to reconcile the payment of Tithes to the Irish people, he was unwilling that the whole of the million should be allowed to go into the pockets of the Irish landlords. By the Act commonly called Stanley's Act, the landlord was primarily liable for the Tithes of his tenants, notwithstanding any engagement to the contrary; and the repayment of that portion of the million which had been advanced ought to be secured to the revenue of the country. He would much rather give the money in the way of charity 161 to the people of Ireland, than heap it into the pockets of the landlords and the richer part of the community, the greater part of whom were not proposing to do any good to their country. In the whole course of this discussion nothing had been spoken of for the benefit of the people of Ireland—no measure of poor-laws had been advocated for their relief—all that had been thought of was, to give as large a portion as possible of the Tithes of Ireland to the landlords. The most eager advocates of the Church, who had so loudly denounced the spoliation of its property, had breathed not one syllable of the appropriation of thirty per cent. of the Tithes of Ireland, in order to place them in the hands of the secular landlords of that country. The time would come when the English landlords would put in their claim to a similar remission in their favour. It was an essential sacrifice to take from the Church the property which belonged to the Church, or if it did not belong to the Church, belonged to the people, in order to put it into the pockets of those to whom it certainly did not belong. Not one sixpence of the money which had been advanced was to be recovered, and he much feared that none of it would ever find its way into the public exchequer. Indeed he had very little doubt that hereafter it would be proposed that the Consolidated Fund of Great Britain should be directly available for the support of the Irish Protestant clergy. An opportunity had been afforded to hon. Members the other night, when he had brought forward his motion, to prevent this abandonment of the public funds: how far they had made use of it was evidenced by the smallness of the minority which supported him upon that occasion. He could readily conceive the answer which some of them would return when their constituents spoke to them on the subject, and said, "We did not see your name in that minority, when it was proposed that a million should not be squeezed out of the pockets of the people of England." "See my name in it!" would be the reply; "no, and that was the fault of the hon. Member for Southwark, who proposed to send the clergy of Ireland in search of the million—how could we support such a Motion!" But that was not the case; he had opposed the Clause in question, not for the purpose of throwing the payment upon the clergy, but in order to cause the Government to take some steps for securing it. If there 162 were difficulty in getting back the 650,000l. which had been advanced, there could be none in retaining possession of the remaining 350,000l. which the Government still had in hand. However desirable it might be to advance money to aid the Irish clergy, the interests of the people of England were certainly entitled to some consideration. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth had said, that if he had remained in office, he should have proposed to extend an equality of beneficence to the three countries; as churchcess had been remitted to Ireland, he contemplated the remission of Church-rates in England, and a grant of money to Scotland. He proposed moreover to give up the million, advanced on account of arrears, in the case of Ireland. In the spirit of that impartial justice which guided him, some proposition must have been afterwards made for extending a similar remission of arrears to England, and consequently for advancing another grant out of the public purse. For Scotland also funds were to be provided out of the funds of England. To use the expression of an hon. Member now in the Government, he would not consent that the English people should be a milch cow, although it appeared that she was to be so. Both countries—Ireland and Scotland, were making their applications to her; and how it was that she sustained the constant draughts upon her resources was to him a matter of marvel.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down commenced his speech by declaring that it was extremely painful to him to enter upon a second discussion of this subject, having so very recently addressed the House upon the same question. Notwithstanding this announcement the hon. Gentleman had entered at considerable length upon the subject, and at a considerable sacrifice of his private feelings, and, labouring under great personal suffering and pain, had addressed the House for nearly half an hour. Whether this suffering were real, or whether the hon. Member's description of it might be taken as a specimen of that "rhetorical candour" he had spoken of in the latter part of his speech, he certainly might be allowed to have his doubts. With respect to the topics alluded to by the hon. Member, he (Sir R. Peel) had certainly intended to have proposed, what the noble Lord opposite had since inti- 163 mated his intention of carrying into effect, namely, the remission of church cess in England. This would relieve the people of England from a payment amounting to about half a million, a substitute being provided to the amount of about 200,000l. out of the general public funds. This proposition, however, did not originate either in himself or in the present Government, but in the noble Lord, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. In that intention of the noble Lord he certainly concurred. The hon. Member for Middlesex need not shake his head. He was not going to enter upon a discussion of the principle of Church cess at present. Whilst, therefore, this relief was extended to Ireland, it should be recollected that when the Church cess was remitted in England, Ireland should have to meet her share of the public burthen imposed in its stead. The hon. Gentleman said, that the Church cess of Ireland had been remitted two years ago. Very true; but then the people of England were not called upon to make any payment, or take part in any payment, in its stead. England was not taxed for the Irish Church cess; the English cow was not milked; but the cow resorted to on this occasion was the Church of Ireland, the established Church which made all the sacrifices. The substitute for the Irish Church cess was entirely paid out of the Ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland. The hon. Member thought it would be unfair to allow the landlords a premium of 30 per cent. out of the tithes. Thirty per cent. might certainly appear a large bonus; his proposition was, to give 25 per cent. It was only a question of amount, for he thought there could be no difference of opinion as to the propriety of allowing some consideration to the landlords for the new burthen which was about to be imposed upon them without their consent. He did not think the House could, with any fairness, call upon the landlords to pay the whole amount of the tithes payable on their land, a burthen which was not due from them, and then tell the landlords to remunerate themselves by getting the tithes from the occupiers as they could. Some remuneration, he thought, the House was bound to give the landlord, and whatever it might be it was only a question of degree. The hon. Member for Southwark asked how hon. Members could go back to their constituents, and justify their conduct in 164 having opposed the motion which that hon. Member had brought forward the other night on this subject. He (Sir R. Peel) thought they could go to their constituents with the best grace possible for having so done. The fact was, the hon. Member had so blundered his motion that it would have been impossible for the hon. Member himself to have carried it into effect if he had been allowed. The hon. Member said, he would not trouble himself to propose any substitute for this clause, but that he would leave it out altogether. What would be the effect of that? Why, that the Treasury would have been obliged to call upon the clergymen in Ireland for repayment of the sums advanced. The clergy would then be obliged to apply to the occupying tenants for payment of the arrears of tithe lawfully due to them, and, in default of succeeding, would be entitled to call upon Government for assistance to recover those arrears; so that, after all, the Treasury would have to make good the payment. How would the difficulty be aggravated also in cases where the occupying tenant, under whom the arrears fell due, was since dead. Considering all these difficulties, he for one, as an English Member, was content to remit this million, in the hope of restoring peace to Ireland.
Mr. Randall Plunkett
had scrupulously abstained from offering his sentiments to the House upon the whole measure until the last moment, when he could do so without being guilty of what might be called obtrusiveness, in so young a member of the Legislature. Upon this measure, which must ever be essentially the most exciting subject upon which any inhabitant of the beautiful yet unhappy land he loved and lived in could possibly descant, unless, indeed, he is not susceptible of the ordinary sensibilities of human nature, and of strong sentiments, as far as he is himself concerned, and of sympathy for the poorer classes of his own creed. He felt that in offering the very few observations which he deemed it his duty, as a resident Irish gentleman, to offer to a thin house, and at so late a period of the Session, he was justified in taking the opportunity of the Appropriation Clause coming under the consideration of the House, because he deemed that that Clause, in its provisions and its objects, was an epitome of the whole Bill; for what did the Bill provide? Regulation 165 of Ecclesiastical revenues, by what? Not so much the process of exhaustion, of which we learned so much the other night, but of the simpler principle of abstraction and appropriation; and its object was—instruction. Before he alluded further to the principle, he would show the House how the practice of sacrilege, which term the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, disliked so much, had begun to work. Perhaps the House was not prepared for so early an application of that principle as he should have to recite. The following was a letter from a gentleman whom he should not further designate, than by saying that he was and is a clergyman, holding a living near Drogheda, and also the owner of considerable private property, and one of the best of men. The hon. Member read the letter, which stated that the churches of Slane, Termonfeckan, Dunany, Clane, and Moyleary, near Drogheda, had been broken open, the vestments and hangings stolen or defaced, as well as books and Bibles torn and injured, and many things carried away; and the writer further says, that he knows this sacrilege has not been confined to these churches, but does not choose to add aught but what fell under his own knowledge. The noble Lord opposite would hardly tell him as he did the other night, that he doubted, for he had no great objection to show the noble Lord the letter. Well, the object of the appropriation was instruction. It might surprise hon. Members, that when the Irish peasantry were starving, and calling out for food, that you gave them literature instead of loaves, and paper instead of potatoes. But how was the country to escape from the dilemma in which the conduct of the Government had placed it. He would turn to the Arcadian simplicity of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin for the solution. The hon. and learned Member told him the other night, when very angry, at his calling certain friars, Franciscans, that they were educational monks, and that he was happy to say, that there were more than 4,000 of these educational monks in Ireland. Could it be wondered, then, that only (by the Report of the Government Commissioners of Education), 140 clergymen of the Established Church, had applied for schools under the new Board, while upwards of 1,300 priests had done so? The thing was evident, and these monks were to get hold of all these 166 funds—to get hold of the instruction of the youth of the kingdom. It was not for him to allude to the splendid orations of those gifted Englishmen, who, from those benches, advocated the cause of the suffering pastors of the persecuted faith in Ireland. He wished, certainly, that the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, were present, as it struck him that in the various details which were so ably handled by so many Members on that side of the House, that he glanced at a topic, which he would wish to impress upon the minds of some hon. Members, because he thought it would be productive of some striking results, both as showing the iniquity of the proposed measure, and the causes why the Reformation should not have made more progress in Ireland—he meant with regard to the extent of ground over which the duties of Protestant pastors had been hitherto extended—without taking more than the most cursory review. The area of Ireland was upwards of 27,000 square miles; therefore the beneficed clergy of Ireland had an area, on the average, of more than twenty square miles, over which to extend their pastoral cares. But in Connaught there were much more than 7,000 square miles, whence the 103 clergymen there (if there were half the number) had sixty-eight square miles, on the average, to attend to. He would appeal to any hon. Member who, like himself, had canvassed a large county, what he thought of traversing fifty-six square miles, even in a britchska? In justice to the eloquent oration of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, he must say, that he went with him heart and soul when he said, in his exordium, that had he felt, as did the right hon. baronet, the Member for Tamworth, what would be the evil results of that measure, rather than allow it to pass the second reading, he would have died sooner. He could tell the right hon. Gentleman that there were some within, and many without these walls, who, rather than admit a principle destructive of the muniments placed around the ministration of that holy religion in which their infancy was baptized—their manhood confirmed—the dearest ties that bind mortals here below were knit, and which, they trust, when life, not too dear or delightful to the Protestant of Erin, was over, will give their mortal remains to a Christian grave, would have died sooner. That could not, however, 167 affect the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, who had already admitted the principle. He concluded by protesting, however late, against passing a measure having sacrilege for its means, and of which the object was to apply the funds of our Church for, to say the least of it, a very dubious purpose.
§ Mr. Tooke
then rose and said, that he had an amendment to propose in the Appropriation Clause, the object of which was, in his opinion, so just and liberal, that he could not anticipate any objection to it. He proposed the introduction of the following words in the Clause to which he had referred—"That out of the reserved fund the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should allow an annual stipend, not exceeding the sum of 40l. in any one case, to such meritorious ministers of the Established Church as shall have officiated as curates, and who, possessing no preferment whatever, and being destitute of all other means of support, shall, by reason of age or infirmity, have become incapable of exercising their clerical functions; with a like provision in favour of the widows of such curates."
Viscount Morpeth opposed the Amendment, which was negatived, and the Clause was then agreed to.
§ Mr. Fitzstephen French
said, that the difference between the Clause about to be proposed by him, and the 89th Clause of this Bill, for which he wished to have it substituted, was merely striking out the definite period of ten years, in which the tenants are obliged to pay off the mortgage, and allowing them to discharge it at their own convenience. The object in offering a loan on a reduced rate of interest was, to induce the tenants to come forward generally to purchase, which, at the rates now demanded by the Commissioners, was considerably more than could well be expected. It would scarcely be believed that the increase on the yearly fine of the tenant, arising from interest on the purchase money at five per cent., amounted in all the dioceses, except Armagh, to about fifty-five per cent. That was supposing the tenant to have paid for his property a yearly fine of 1,000l. to the bishop, on payment of which sum, or less, for the last 200 years, his lease had been renewed. He would, if he should purchase, be immediately and permanently subject, fine and interest together, to 1,550l. a-year. In Armagh, the amount 168 demanded was still more extravagant; the increase on the fine was there 150 per cent., so that if the yearly fine be supposed 1,000l., as above, after purchase, the tenant would be immediately and permanently subject to 2,500l. a-year, where before he paid but 1,000l. Could it be wondered at, that the tenants should hesitate to subject themselves to such charges, and if any could be induced to come forward and purchase, by an offer of a permanent loan, at a reduced rate of interest, not subjecting the Government to any loss, why should it be resisted? In fact, if a loan at three per cent. would bring about purchases, it was the obvious policy of the Government to offer it, since the interest of Exchequer bills, in which, by the forty-fourth section of this Act, the money procured for the perpetuities must be invested, was only about two and a quarter per cent., and the tenants, after all, would be very heavily mulcted. The rates would be nearly—
If the loan at three and half per cent. were confined to ten years, it would form no sufficient inducement to any tenants to come forward to purchase. The present value of a reduction from five per cent. to three and half per cent., amounting to a bonus of one and half per cent. for ten years only, was worth, at five per cent., about seven and half years' purchase, or little more than one-third of the value of the perpetuity of twenty years, which a permanent reduction of one and half per cent. would be worth. The real bonus per cent. would, therefore, be equivalent to little more than one-third of one and a-half per cent., or one-half per cent yearly for ever, and the increase of charge, instead of being 1,550l., as at five per cent., would still be equivalent to nearly 1,490l., instead of being reduced to 1,365l., as it would be if the loan were permanent. It was clear, then, that if the Government meant to induce the tenants to purchase, the loan must be offered permanently at three and a-half, or three per cent., and that neither would be any loss to the public, nor any unreasonable boon to the tenant, still leaving him subject to a very heavy charge. Some measure of this 169 kind was necessary to render the fund productive; in fact, Government, by the introduction of a clause offering money to purchase the perpetuities at a reduced rate of interest, had confessed that the Commissioners were demanding an imaginary value for these fee-farms. They acknowledged that something must be done to induce the tenants to purchase; but they offered a reduction of one-half per cent, when the difference between the tenants and Commissioners amounted to one year, and a sixth of the beneficial interest. The provision of the Temporalities' Act had been shamefully violated—a most unjustifiable exercise of the veto of the Lord-Lieutenant had taken place. He alluded to the case of Sir James Strong, in which arbitrators were appointed under the provisions of the Temporalities' Bill. Several thousand pounds were by them deducted from the sum demanded by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who were condemned to bear the entire cost of the proceedings. The Lord-Lieutenant interfered in a manner never contemplated by the Act, which gave him the power but in cases of fraud, and put a stop to the proceedings. Sir James Strong lost the benefit of the arbitration, and the Commissioners were still persevering in their unjustifiable demands. Under these circumstances, and considering the Clause as a compromise between the tenant and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, he thought he was fully justified in calling on the House to support him.
Fine and Interest of Purchase Money together. Yearly Fine. 5 per cent. 3½ per cent. 3 per cent. In all dioceses but Armagh 1000 1550 1365 1330 In Armagh 1000 2500 2050 1900
§ Mr. Sergeant Perrin
thought that the principle of the Amendment was highly objectionable, and he was decidedly opposed to its adoption, He should, for the purpose of exemplification, put a case. Suppose any hon. Member of that House wanted to sell an estate—a fair rent is given for it—the parties agree upon the price. But what would that hon. Member think if, instead of the money, it were proposed to give him in payment a rent charge of 3½ per cent. Yet this was precisely what was proposed to be done by his hon. Friend, the Member for Roscommon. The proposition of the hon. Member was, to give a rent-charge of 3½ per cent, instead of paying down the money, and to this proposition he (Mr. Perrin) was decidedly opposed.
§ Mr. David Roche
thought the hon. Attorney-General was mistaken in the view he took of the proposition submitted 170 to the House by the hon. Member for Roscommon. The hon. Member proposed to do nothing more than was done by the Government itself, who, when they borrowed money from the public, gae a rent-charge of 3½ per cent. on the country in payment. This was precisely analogous to the proposition of the hon. Member, and he could see no sufficient reason why it should not be adopted.
expressed his approval of the proposition of the hon. Member for Roscommon. Surely there was no injustice in substituting a rent-charge of 3½ per cent. for the payment of the money, if it were inconvenient to pay it—to be, however, returned in the same way as the quit-rent, giving, in fact, the tenants aright to redeem under the provision of the hon. Member's proposition. The adoption of the proposition would tend to facilitate the augmentation of the Perpetuity Purchase Fund.
§ Viscount Morpeth
was apprehensive, if he acceded to the proposition of his hon. Friend (Mr. French), that he would be justly amenable to a charge made against himon a former night, of burdening the Perpetuity Fund with more than it was able to bear. The funds placed at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were very low at present, and the proposition of his hon. Friend, if agreed to, would tend still farther to curtail them.
§ Mr. Shaw
thought, that if the terms of sale were too high, they ought to be altered; while he confessed that the present Amendment was a complicated mode of effecting that object, and it was difficult to imagine how principal, but at three and a-half per cent., was ever likely to be repaid. He felt, however, that some further inducement to purchase on the part of the tenant was wanting, and that it would be beneficial to the Perpetuity Purchase Fund itself.
§ The Committee divided on the Amendment; Ayes 17—Noes 144; Majority 127.
Mr. Bingham Baring
rose to move certain Clauses which he should beg to bring up at this stage of the Bill. In doing so, he stated that he opposed the Bill, not because he was enamoured of existing abuses or of sinecures—none of which he wished to continue; but because the Government would not allow them to reform the Irish Church without paying a dear price for it: and not only so, 171 but would not allow them to recover those national funds which were gradually and surely diminishing by the efforts of lawless violence. What was the price which the Government required to allow them to reform the Irish Church? It was not the 58,000l. "surplus." No! They no more looked at that than did Napoleon at the immense revenues of which he was possessed, which he regarded merely as the means of obtaining some future and grander station, some loftier elevation. His objection to this measure was again, that it was not a final measure. It was very true, his noble Friend opposite (Lord Morpeth) said it was a final measure; but he was afraid that on that head his noble Friend's word could not be relied upon. It would be only "final" till it was necessary to introduce a new principle to carry it further. The Church of Ireland was left by this measure in almost as bad a condition as it was at present. The distribution of Church revenues, and the proportion of persons to revenue, were left in almost the same anomalous state as at present. The revenues of the Irish Church were lately calculated as being the revenues of a rich Church. Whereas they had now become, by gradual extortions those of a poor Church. In the first place, came the Church Temporalities' Bill, with its commutations, and reductions and averages: Secondly, there was the disproportion in which its revenues were distributed; and the revenue of the Church arising out of the tithe population, he thought that some new modification of the benefices in Ireland was necessary to remedy many anomalies which arose out of the present system. There was a third cause, and that was, that the Irish Church was the Church of the minority and not of the majority, of the people. To all these anomalies, the Bill afforded but a slight remedy. It only sequestered those parishes in which the population had been reduced to fifty; but there were others above that number which might in a very short time be reduced below it. And if the Bill continued in its present state, he was of opinion it afforded a very strong inducement to the Catholic population to diminish by violence the Protestant population to the minimum fixed by this Bill. They would have every petty Agitator going in his progress through Ireland, and speaking to the assembled multitudes, "Come, we have succeeded 172 in diminishing the Protestants, so as to exclude them from such and such places, to the number, (suppose) of ten; let us endeavour to succeed in doing so, in fifty this year," and so on. Again they would have the hon. and learned Member for Dublin annually coming down to this House with his Report, stating that in such and such parishes, by the grace of God, Catholicism had increased, or Protestantism diminished, the effect of which had been to bring them within the operation of the Bill; and calling upon the House for its application of the principle again and again. And he was afraid lest the hon. and learned Member should propose (not satisfied with his success under this Bill), that he should propose to abolish Churches where the number of Protestants now fixed at fifty, did not exceed sixty, eighty, or even 100. So that they should have a succession of struggles year after year. That surely could not be the object or the intention of Government, and therefore he was quite sure they would agree in the plan proposed by him (Mr. Bingham Baring) in the Clauses which he should shortly move for leave to bring up. Of those Clauses, one vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners all the revenues of the unsequestered parishes. And he should deal only with the unsequestered parishes. Clause the second gave to these same Ecclesiastical Commissioners—(he had chosen them because they were fixed upon by the Bill of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley)—it was indifferent to himself who they were; but he thought it fit to place the funds in some such hands because they would have the opportunity and the power of removing abuses, &c., and thus prevent the necessity of a frequent recurrence to Parliament. The second Clause then enacted, that these Commissioners should have the power of altering the limits of benefices; and the third gave them the power of endowing benefices not sequestered. These were the principal Clauses he proposed, the rest were matters of detail. He would merely state further that whereas this Bill would reduce to a certain amount the revenues of the Irish Church, he (Mr. Baring) was convinced that at a certain future time Protestants would require a larger, or at least as large a sum of money as they now possess, for the endowment of their Church. The noble Lord (Lord Morpeth) had stated 173 from certain tables that Protestantism had decayed in Ireland; but he believed that Protestants had greatly increased; for in 1733, they were 600,000; according to the Bishop of Dromore; and now by the Report of the Commissioners they were 1,600,000. During the same period the population of England had increased from 5, to 8,000,000; and if that population which was a manufacturing as well as an agricultural country, (whereas Ireland was completely agricultural) if that population had increased at the same rate as that of Ireland, it would have been now 12, instead of 8,000,000. Under those circumstances, he thought he was justified in affirming what he had just stated, with regard to the Irish Protestants. There were, he believed, about 1,100 benefices; and allowing only 300l. per annum to each (which was excluding all allowances for curates which in many instances were actually necessary), the present revenue was scarcely sufficient. In short, he could not see on what principle Gentlemen opposite could refuse to support his Clauses. Whatever might be the intentions of others, it was, he was sure, that of the Government, to make this a final measure; and, following that intention up, which they had so often expressed, and for which for one, he (Mr. Baring) gave them full credit: he called on them to vote with him.
§ Lord Morpeth
I am glad to be able to say that my objections to the Clauses of the hon. Member, if any, will be those of detail merely; the principle which they involve being one to which I not only assent, but which (so far, at least, as I recollect it in those Clauses), I am determined to assert. I rejoice, too, at any proposition, coming from the quarter to which the hon. Member now belongs (the Opposition Benches) which seems to rest on true liberality, and I am inclined to believe, that my noble and right hon. Friends would have been almost inclined to follow the principle of any hon. Friend opposite in the introduction of some such Clauses, had it not been from the apprehension that the extent of change, and coldness and indifference to existing "landmarks" which those Clauses introduce, might have provoked a still further opposition, and tempted a still more obstinate resistance than, hitherto, it has been our good fortune to meet. As I heard the Clauses, they do not interfere 174 either with the principle, or the working of the Bill which I have had the honour to introduce, so far as relates to the sequestered benefices which are beyond our reach. Certainly they might go far to remedy the effect of those great disproportions and irregularities in the extent of the Ecclesiastical territory, which, confessedly, would still remain where our spirit of innovation did not carry us far enough in attempting to remove them; but I feel, after this Bill has gone so far with no supplementary provisions, I cannot feel myself authorized in unconditionally giving my consent to these Clauses, unless I find them urged on me by a very general expression of feeling in this House.
§ Mr. Shaw
thought, that the effect of the Clauses would be to vest too great a power in an irresponsible body; at all events, the proposition required more consideration than it would then be possible for the House to extend to it; on that account he trusted the Government would not consent to entertain it.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
thought that the principle involved in the Clauses was most valuable, and hoped the House would not be induced lightly or negligently to suffer it to pass by. He for one was ready to adopt the Clauses at once. No one felt more strongly than he did, that it was the duty of Parliament to make the surplus fund conducive to the purposes of Protestant education; and he thought that the hon. Gentleman was entitled to the gratitude of the Protestants of Ireland for having brought forward his proposition.
§ Mr. Hume
said, it was most gratifying to him to find a proposition, which he had brought forward fifteen years ago, and for which he was nearly torn in pieces, suggested by an hon. Gentleman belonging to that political party to which the hon. Member for Winchester was attached? The hon. Gentleman was perfectly correct when he said, that the present measure would not be a final one unless it contained some such provision as that which he proposed. Nothing could be more consistent with justice, or with the interests of the Protestants in Ireland, than that the funds should be applied in the manner that the hon. Gentleman suggested.
§ Sir Robert Peel
thought, that the valuable part of the discussion was the admission of the right hon. Gentleman the Chan- 175 cellor of the Exchequer. He had understood the right hon. Gentleman to admit, that he was ready to assent to the principle of Clauses which would appropriate the revenue of every parish in Ireland, except the 860 particularly described in the Bill, to purposes connected with the Established Church. The right hon. Gentleman distinctly acknowledged that principle, because he talked of the fund to which the Clauses referred as an unappropriated fund. He (Sir Robert Peel) apprehended that the people of England would make no objection to the principle of providing a fund for the education of the people of Ireland. There were some difficulties no doubt; but the principle being agreed upon, he did not believe that any objection would be made to a grant for the purposes of education. The proposition now made was, that they should provide a sum of 40,000l. for education purposes—that an increase of the grant was required. The noble Lord (Morpeth) in dealing with this subject, talked first of a reserve fund; but finding that he could create no such fund, he then came down, and asked for 50,000l. to realize the expectation he had held out. He hoped his hon. Friend would not precipitate a vote on the question, which certainly required a more mature consideration than it would then be in the power of the House to bestow upon it. To any distribution of Ireland into districts, he should decidedly object. At the same time, he should be sorry to give a direct negative to the proposition before the House.
§ Lord John Russell
thought, that the right hon. Baronet had not exactly understood his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he said that, with the exception of the 860 parishes, the revenue would be appropriated exclusively to the purposes of the Protestant Church. All that his right hon. Friend admitted was, that the endowments of the Church might be better distributed than they were at present. That was the principle which he (Lord John Russell) understood to be involved in the Clauses brought forward by the hon. Member for Winchester; and he thought it to be an extremely proper one. In the general proposition contained in the Clauses, therefore, he was fully disposed to assent; but in some respects, he thought they would require a more mature consideration. He was glad that the suggestion had been made, but thought it 176 would not be advisable to press it to a division.
§ Clauses negatived.
§ The House resumed—the Bill reported.